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starting cannabis seeds

Starting cannabis seeds
To avoid these problems it is be best to sow the seed at about 2cm depth. In addition, we can cover the lower stem as the seedling grows, so that it gains stability and produces new roots along the length of stem we have buried. In this way we can accelerate the growth of the plants.

5 common mistakes when germinating cannabis seeds

How do we germinate cannabis seeds?

Although the germination of cannabis seeds is a relatively quick and easy process, it is crucial to take into account a series of important factors in order to obtain as high a germination rate as possible. In addition, it’s in our interest that the seeds germinate as quickly as possible, and especially if we want to avoid problems like fungal infection or a low germination rate.

In our article on how to germinate cannabis seeds we explain step by step what you must do to achieve successful germination. Today we will take a look at the main mistakes made during this process, some simple errors that, as we will see, can easily be solved. Let’s see where many growers fail to germinate their seeds, it’s a great way to learn what not to do if we want to make the most of our seeds.

A germinating cannabis seed

Letting the germination medium dry out

By placing the seed in a moist culture medium, it begins a series of reactions that will lead to germination in a few hours or days. Whichever substrate we choose for germination, we must ensure that it never completely dries out, because as the seed stops absorbing moisture, it’s likely that the seed will cease its activity and never germinate.

For this reason, it is advisable to check every day to make sure the germination medium remains moist, especially if a heat source is used to achieve a higher temperature and therefore a better germination rate; the heat will cause the substrate to dry more quickly, something that must be kept in mind to avoid nasty surprises. In case of hydroponic cultivation it is always better to germinate in rock wool cubes, which of course must always remain moist.

The paper towel should never dry out once germination begins

Leaving seeds to germinate for too long

Another common mistake, in this case when germinating in kitchen paper or similar, is to let the seed germinate until the cotyledons appear. If we do this, then the subsequent transplant is very difficult, and it is very likely that we’ll damage the root in the attempt. Additionally, the longer the root is exposed to air and light, the more damage will result, so it is preferable to transplant it before this occurs.

To avoid problems, it is best to plant the seeds when the tap-root measures approximately 1cm, or 2cm at the most. This will make it much easier to transplant and we won’t harm the development of the roots, which can be expand into the new growing medium without setbacks.

Direct germination in soil

This is a common mistake that usually results in non-germination, especially if the substrate hasn’t been previously watered before sowing the seed but is watered afterwards. By planting the seed directly in the substrate, we run the risk of it being buried too deep, made worse when we irrigate the growing medium post-sowing.

To obtain much better results, first germinate seeds in kitchen paper, jiffy pellets or peat plugs used for rooting cuttings and then transplant them to the soil or to a pot once the small seedlings have been born. Another benefit of this method is that we can germinate a large number of seeds in a very small space, such as a small greenhouse, which will make it much easier to provide the correct temperature and humidity.

Temperature and humidity for germination

Cannabis seeds germinate correctly with relatively high temperature and humidity values. It will be necessary, especially during some seasons of the year, to use some source of heat to get a temperature of about 26-28ºC. For this purpose there are many options on the market, such as thermal cables or heated greenhouses. The latter are particularly interesting because they also provide the perfect high humidity environment for seed germination.

The ideal is to maintain the germination medium at about 26-28ºC and at 70% relative humidity. Lower values ​​will result in a slower and less successful germination, while higher values ​​can bring fungal or rot problems.

A heated greenhouse is perfect for germinating seeds

Planting the seed incorrectly

If you look closely at a cannabis seed, you will notice that it has a slightly oval shape, ending in a point at one end and forming a small “crater” at the other end, which is called the crown. When planting your seed (whether it’s a seed that you want to germinate, for example, in a jiffy, or a seed already germinated on kitchen paper that you want to transplant) you must keep in mind that this crown should always be facing upwards.

So, you should plant the seed with the tip down and the crown uppermost and facing you. Once the seed germinates the crown will serve as a hinge, so that the seed will open at the tip and let out the root. In case of placing the seed incorrectly, the tap root will grow upward and the seedling downwards, which should be avoided at all costs because it is likely that the seedling will not be born.

Planting at the incorrect depth

Too often the seed is buried too deep (a problem that we have already seen in case of watering after planting the seed), so the seedling may never emerge. In the other case, if we sow too close to the surface, we can find that the seed germinates well but the stem grows weak, bending and not allowing the seedling to develop correctly.

To avoid these problems it is be best to sow the seed at about 2cm depth. In addition, we can cover the lower stem as the seedling grows, so that it gains stability and produces new roots along the length of stem we have buried. In this way we can accelerate the growth of the plants.

We should plant the seed with the root downwards

Planting several seeds in the same pot

Although it may be tempting, germinating several seeds in the same container is not usually successful. In addition to the difficulty of correctly planting several seeds in the same pot, once they are born they will compete for the little space available for their roots. Having restricted root growth does not suit cannabis plants, which will grow more weakly and with greater internodal distance.

In addition, the scarce space between the plants will also mean they will compete for available light, something not recommended if we want to get the most out of each plant. The plants will produce very little lateral branching, and will center their growth on a weak main stem, with too long an internodal distance, factors that usually affects negatively on the final yield of buds.

We hope that this article will help you avoid problems when germinating your seeds, it can be very frustrating to start a grow with all the enthusiasm and excitement, only to run into problems straight away! Do not hesitate to leave us any doubts, comments or your own tips and tricks, we’ll be happy to answer you.

Starting cannabis seeds
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How to Start Cannabis Seeds Right

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You can see the pericap of the seed still on top of the embryonic leaf, the cotyledon. The first true leaves are visible above the cotyledon. Cannabis seed photo by Professor P of Dynasty Genetics.

A seed is the distillation of a plant’s essence. It contains the blueprint for life, which it holds in storage until it senses environmental conditions favoring survival of a new plant.

Once it has made contact with the requisite amount of moisture and proper range of warmth, the seed starts the process of germination. A cascade of chemical reactions results in the rapid growth of the embryo plant, which had been kept in suspended animation.

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Sour peach cobbler cannabis seed. Photo and seed by Professor P of Dynasty Genetics.

Marijuana germinates best at room temperature, around 72° F in a consistently moist environment. The first visible sign that a seed is germinating is a slight enlargement resulting from water absorption. Then a small opening appears along the seed’s seam as the root emerges. The root continues to elongate, growing downward, as the stem makes its appearance. It stretches out in the opposite direction of the root and uncurls, revealing two embryonic leaves called cotyledons. The seed case is now an empty shell and it may hang from one of the cotyledons until blown or rubbed off. Only a day or so has elapsed between the first sight of the root and the appearance of the cotyledons.

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Marijuana: The Amazing Plant illustration by K. Abellán.

In its first phase of growth the seedling used energy stored in the seed, but it must soon use photosynthesis to produce its own food as its roots supply moisture and nutrients The root grows longer and lateral branches grow from the vertically growing tap root. The first set of true leaves emerge at the tip or apex of the stem, which is called the apical tip.

Healthy germination is an auspicious start for a successful plant. When the plant’s needs are met, the seedling will grow and prosper. Growers use different methods of germinating seed.

Methods for germination

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Germination begins when the root emerges from the seed. These germinated seeds are ready to plant.

Soak the seeds in a solution of water with commercial rooting solution and hydrogen peroxide (H202) for 12 hours. The hormones in the rooting solution stimulate germination and encourage root growth. Use rooting solution according to instructions for softwood cuttings and add hydrogen peroxide at the rate of one part to 200 (.5%) to sterilize the solution, preventing infection. Drugstore peroxide is a 3% solution; if it’s used, add it at the rate of one part H202 to five parts water. Compost tea can also be used as a soaking solution to create a biologically active community around the seed.

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Only a day or so has elapsed between the first sight of the root and the appearance of the cotyledons.

After soaking you can place the seed between a thin wet cloth or paper towel on a plate with a clear cover or plastic wrap. When the root emerges, plant it by first poking a hole in the planting mix that is long enough for the entire root area to be covered. Then gently place the seed and pat it so the root makes contact with the medium. The other method is to plant the soaked seed into the medium before it germinates. Place it ¼ inch deep in sterile commercial planting mix. Moisten the mix with water adjusted to a pH of around 6. Keep it in a bright space with high moisture. If the space is dry, place a tall cover over the container to reduce evaporation. Keep at room temperature. If the air is cool, use an electrical tray warmer and cover.

A note on stretching

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Three day old cannabis seedling.

The main problem that people encounter when germinating is stretching seedlings. This is an indication of insufficient light intensity. To encourage strong, stout stems that don’t stretch, seedlings must be provided with intense light from the start: A minimum of 40-60 watts per square foot (400-600 watts per square meter). With a bit of care quality seeds will be sprouting in just a few days.

Learn more about ‘Seeds vs Clones’ HERE.