It’s easier to grow legal marijuana than ever before. But without the skills to do so, germinating marijuana seeds to start your crop can be challenging. Before harvesting big plants with sticky buds, you must know a foolproof way to get your seeds going.
Germinating Marijuana Seeds: The Best Method
Each grower might have techniques or tricks, but getting your seeds growing starts with a few simple steps.
- Prepare Your Medium
- Apply Your Labels
- Prep Your Seeds
- Start Germinating
- Add Your Seeds
- Cover Your Seeds
- Watch For Signs of Germination
- Plant your Seed
- Weed, Feed, and Get Weed
Before you run off and try to germinate your weed seeds, you better understand all the wrinkles that might come your way. Don’t test your green thumb on growing a crop of green without reading to the end, or you could end up ruining your cannabis plants before they take root.
Step 1: Prepare Your Medium
Before planting a seed, you must prepare for its germination by selecting a final growing medium. The last thing you want to do is start your seeds germinating and kill them because you weren’t ready to plant them.
It’s up to you whether you want to use dirt from your yard, a commercial preparation of potting soil, or even small plugs of soil for a hydroponic system. For each, you’ll need to ensure readiness before you get your seeds going.
Soil from your yard most likely lacks the proper nutrients for healthy plant growth. All plants need fertilizers that help maintain their roots, cells, and development. Marijuana plants are no different.
At a minimum, you need to check the soil for potassium, phosphorus, and nitrogen. It’s easy to test your soil for these vital nutrients. Then head to the store or shop online for the best available fertilizers for your grow setup. There are many options, so consider that each has upsides and downsides.
Organic soils and fertilizers are the ‘cleanest,’ with no potentially harmful chemicals and a list of ingredients that might include mostly natural substances, like bat guano and other-nutrient rich additives. Inexpensive non-organic fertilizers might contain concentrations of dangerous chemicals that you don’t want in your smoke. Shop carefully.
It’s also essential to understand that marijuana, like all plants, needs nutrients in varying quantities as it grows. In general, the following rules apply to fertilizing nutrients:
You will likely need to adjust your nutrient levels as your plants mature from seeds to seedlings to full-grown sticky trees. Those adjustments are straightforward to do with a hydroponic system, but it costs a lot of money to get one up and running. Alternatively, a simple soil-based grow takes a little more work but can pack just as much reward into each plant.
In addition to ensuring your soil has the proper nutrients, consider these other preparations:
- Ensure your potting containers are sterile by soaking them in a bleach solution overnight before thoroughly rinsing them.
- Don’t add dirt without checking for tiny seeds, weeds, mold, bugs, fungi, and other pests. Consider using a torch to kill anything that might be growing in any backyard soil prior to using them.
- Use a large wheelbarrow to mix your soil with your fertilizers. Consider testing it, adding your nutrient amendments, and testing again in a few days.
- Before using your soil, add plenty of moisture. You don’t want the dirt to become mud, but it’s a lot easier to add significant moisture in a wheelbarrow where you can easily mix the dirt for an even soak, as compared to doing so in a narrow bucket or small seed container.
Once you have your soil all set, place it into appropriate containers. Seedlings might seem small, but full-grown marijuana plants might need large containers for the best results. Consider that two-gallon buckets would be the absolute smallest container your plants would tolerate. It’s always better to use a bigger container if you can.
Step 2: Apply Your Labels
When you start your crop, it can become tempting to overlook simple things. Don’t forget to label all of your containers appropriately, or you could end up with a big problem.
For example, if you mix up your seeds in the excitement of preparing your germination, you won’t realize your mistake until quite late in the growing process. Since different cultivars and different varieties need specific conditions for optimal growth, that can leave you with stunted plants and weak harvests.
Blue Dream is one of the easiest strains to grow, but even it requires that you know what plant you have!
Instead, always use labels to itemize each seed. You can use popsicle sticks, sticky notes, tape, or even store-bought plant labels. It’s up to you, but make sure each seed carries a label wherever it goes, from your germination station to its growing container.
Step 3: Prep Your Seeds
Marijuana seeds can be pretty soft or relatively hard. The older a seed is, the tougher and dryer it tends to be. So, if your seeds are pretty old, give them a head start. Dampen a paper towel thoroughly, and let it dry enough or wring it out so it is not dripping.
Place your seeds on the towel, and fold the towel over in half, forming a neat bundle with the seeds inside. Use a marker to label your pouch with the type of seeds you have inside.
Then, seal your bundle in a clean plastic bag or plastic container with a lid. Keep your seeds moist but not wet for a day or two.
Doing so will help soften the hard outer shell of the seed. It’s possible that the seed will begin to crack, and you might see the sprout begin to form.
If your seeds are soft and new, you can likely skip this step entirely. But there is no harm in getting your seeds soft before germinating. Your seed may split and begin to germinate with just this step alone.
Step 4: Start Germinating
The best way to germinate marijuana seeds is to use a seed pellet. These pellets are disc-shaped, natural, and biodegradable, with a dimple in the middle. They are available in a range of sizes. You can set them out in a seed starting tray from the store, or you can repurpose an aluminum oven tray or similar.
Seed pellets contain all of the nutrients a seed needs to get started, making them both a potting mix and a container. Since the container breaks down naturally, you directly transplant your seedlings into your growing medium without issue. That’s why a seed pellet is ideal.
Simply place your seed pellets in your tray, and add warm water. Make sure that the water you use is clear, clean, and chlorine free. Tap water can contain chlorine that will harm seeds, so it might be better to use distilled water if you aren’t sure.
The seed pellets may expand significantly, so ensure they don’t overlap.
Remember, there is more than one way to germinate a seed. Marijuana plants tend to have fairly delicate roots, so you want to use the gentlest method to get them started. Plus, it’s essential to use natural mediums while avoiding harsh chemicals.
Accordingly, if you don’t want to use seed pellets, the best alternative method of germination is to direct sow. That means placing your seeds directly in your growing medium and skipping this step but following the rest.
Regardless of how you decide to germinate, remember that there are three essential ingredients for germination: Oxygen, heat, and water.
- Ensure there is plenty of oxygen and fresh air available for your seeds. It may be necessary to poke a few holes in your plastic cover to find the right balance of moisture control and airflow.
- Provide lots of warmth for your germinating seeds. If it’s relatively cool out, place your seedling tray near a warm radiator or on top of a commercial seed-growing mat. The more heat you introduce, the more likely you will need to add more water due to evaporation.
- Maintain high ambient humidity and damp but not wet soil. Finding the balance that keeps things moist but not dripping will speed germination while minimizing the risk of mold forming.
Step 5: Add Your Seeds
Now that your seed pellets are full-size and quite damp, take your seeds out of your towel bundle and add one seed to the dimple in the middle of each pellet. Remember to be very careful, placing only one seed per pellet and using a labeling system that ensures you do not mix up your seeds.
If you see a small white root beginning already, point it downward in your seed pellet.
You don’t want to shove the seed into the disc too hard. If you embed it deeply, it likely won’t sprout. Let it simply rest in the middle of the disc’s dimple.
If you are directly sowing, you can use your thumb to make a small dimple on the soil’s surface. The hole should be about ½” deep. Then place your seed inside and brush dirt over the top, sealing it in. Again, if you see a root forming already, set it down in the soil.
Step 6: Cover Your Seeds
Germinating seeds require a moist environment. However, very wet conditions aren’t helpful and can be just as bad as an overly dry situation.
So, once your seeds are in place in a wet seed pellet or soil, you must cover them. Seed pellets usually come with plastic covers for this purpose. Alternatively, you can use a sheet of plastic wrap to cover your seed tray or pot, helping to lock in your moisture.
A good rule of thumb is that if you see water dripping off the plastic, it’s too wet. Open the cover for an hour, and let the ambient moisture decrease. Ideally, you will see wet soil with some residual moisture on your lid. But large drips or a soaking wet tray likely indicate excessive humidity.
Excessive moisture increases the risk of mold.
Step 7: Watch For Signs of Germination
Tom Petty once sang that ‘…the waiting is the hardest part.’ So, be patient while you wait to see signs of growth. The initial burst of development may take one to two weeks before you see a tiny sprout.
Be careful to maintain a moist, oxygen-rich, and warm environment.
When you see a stem begin to form, it’s OK to get excited, but don’t plant your seed pellets yet. Instead, add more moisture if necessary and make sure your cover won’t interfere with growth. Make sure that your pellets are not sitting in standing water, as that can create big problems for the roots.
Once you see two leaves begin to grow on the top of your stem, it’s time to move to the next step. This development should occur around two weeks after the first white root shoots out of the seed.
Step 8: Plant your Seed
Don’t take your seedling out of the pellet. Instead, place the pellet in a small hole in the center of your pre-filled growing container.
If the soil in your growing container seems dry, add water before planting and mix the dirt thoroughly. When you put your seed pellet into the dirt, it should be pretty obvious that the white roots go down and the green stem and leaves point up.
Place the seed pellet in a hole about an inch deep.
Ensure that the leaves are above the soil line and that the fragile seedling stem has plenty of dirt around it for support. Don’t let it be too top-heavy above the soil line, and don’t shove it so deep that the young plant will struggle to push upward through the soil.
Provide your newly planted seedlings with gentle watering. Don’t spray the soil aggressively with a hose. Use a spray bottle or nozzle to give the plant ample moisture. The soil should be moist but not soaking wet.
Step 9: Weed, Feed, and Get Weed
Now that germination is complete keep an eye on your seedlings. Weed your containers or garden routinely to eliminate any competitors that will steal sunlight, nutrients, or water from your plants.
If the plant’s stem seems mushy or falling over, you can mound up the soil around the stem a bit for more support. Water with a solution of one teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide to two cups of water. This solution will help prevent damping off, a condition where the roots develop problems transporting water and nutrients, often due to fungal growth.
Provide plenty of consistent sunlight (or artificial light), and maintain a feeding schedule that keeps the soil chock full of nutrients. Ensure that your plants receive plenty of water but never become waterlogged.
For weeks, your plants will grow taller, stronger, and bushier. Eventually, it will be time to reap your harvest and enjoy the fruits of your labor.
All seeds need oxygen, water, and a bit of warmth to develop. Start your seeds in a moist towel and look for signs of germination. Continue the process with a seed pellet for the best results. Provide your seedlings with ample nutrition from high-quality fertilizers, and you will be drying your crops in no time. If you’re thinking about trying to grow your favorite buds, look at a seed catalog today!
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