One of the most exciting aspects of the cannabis experience for most enthusiasts is cultivating the plant. The whole experience is quite involving and a great part of your cannabis journey. But it can get frustrating if it is not done right. Here, you will get a comprehensive guide to successfully cultivating your favorite marijuana strain.
By understanding the science behind common practices of cannabis cultivation, you can ultimately find the most effective way to grow your herb. Some tricks and tips may help you achieve this. At the end of this article, you will have a step-by-step guide to germinating marijuana seeds.
The Science Behind Cannabis Seed Germination
According to experts, marijuana seeds are among the easiest to germinate. They are made of dicotyledonous seeds that store a good amount of energy for their use in the early stages. Cannabis seeds do not depend on favorable environmental conditions to thrive. They are resilient and hardy. Nevertheless, sprouts are differently oriented.
When the seed cracks open and exposes the tip of the root (radicle), it transforms into a sprout. During this stage, the sprouts are vulnerable to negative environmental effects. Viable cannabis seeds germinate easily under the correct conditions. This is also true even if they are at the sprouting stage.
First Stage of Cannabis Seed Germination
Consider the germination of cannabis seeds during the first stages. This is the point that planthood matters. Any negative changes, such as low moisture and cold, are common. These can be detrimental to marijuana seed growth. During the first stage, they need optimal conditions, including oxygen and darkness, to survive and grow.
When the seeds start getting wet, the process of imbibition or rehydration takes effect. Here, the seed coat (testa) of the cannabis seed imbibes in water, causing them to soften and swell. As this happens, the testa is forced to rip open, allowing for the root tip (radicle) to venture out. This imbibition is integral in activating the cannabis seed’s protoplasm within it.
Warmth Is Essential for Germination
One of the most crucial requirements for germinating cannabis seeds is optimal warmth. The metabolic process within your seeds largely depends on having the proper temperatures to activate this progression. Just like any other seeds, marijuana seeds will experience growth inhibitions if they are exposed to very high or low temperatures. According to experts, room temperature is sufficient for the proper germination of these seeds. Additionally, it has been said that temperatures that are a little higher than room temperature encourage better metabolic activity in the seeds. This results to faster germination and better-quality cannabis. Enthusiast growers recommend temperatures ranging from 27 to 30 degrees Celsius.
Normally, cannabis seeds are power-packed to be able to handle the growth and metabolic activity that they have to undergo before photosynthesis takes over. Yet, they must engage in respiration just as all living things, be they be plants or humans. This process is necessary for the conversion of stored energy into active energy that your cannabis plant can benefit from.
As your new seeds awake from the dormant phase before metabolic activities, they experience anaerobic respiration, which means they undergo this process without oxygen. However, as the seed transforms into a sprout, you need to ensure that it promptly starts aerobic respiration to develop properly into a good cannabis flower.
Taking Care of Sprouting Seeds
While some people prefer using a moist paper towel to germinate their cannabis seeds, cannabis-growing veterans recommend otherwise. They suggest sowing the seeds directly into the medium you want to cultivate in. By doing so, you reduce the risk of the seedlings getting damaged during transplantation. This also ensures your seedling is well secured when planting it to the next medium of your choice.
Caring for Your Seedling
Within a few days into your cannabis seed germination journey, you should begin seeing minuscule green shoots emerging. When this happens, you should immediately get them to an environment that has adequate lighting. This is important in the process of photosynthesis as your plant continues to grow. Also, keeping your growing light too high above the seedling can be counterproductive. This is because plants tend to reach out for the light, making them stretched and lanky.
The Radicle and Lighting
According to experienced cannabis cultivators, marijuana seeds do not need darkness to germinate. Yet the radicles are sensitive to light. If you expose the radicle to too much bright light, it can stunt its growth and result in failed germination. When you are germinating the cannabis seeds in a paper towel as mentioned earlier, it is advisable to keep the sprout in complete darkness. This should be done until the radicle is approximately 1.25 centimetres long.
However, when the cotyledons develop from the testa, they will be in search of light, indicating the direction they need to grow towards. For this reason, when the radicle is longer than 1.25 centimetres, it should be put in a growing medium, which will offer protection from bright light. Once it is secured in the medium, you should apply some light on top of the medium. This will help in signaling which direction the cotyledons should grow towards.
Photosynthesis and the Germination Stage
The cannabis plant will be relying solely on energy stored from the seed during its germination stage. However, this energy is usually limited. For this reason, your marijuana plant must quickly start producing its energy through the photosynthesis process. This will happen when the cotyledons receive some light and photosynthesis commences. When the plant reaches this point, the process of germination is complete. This means it can start producing sufficient amounts of proteins, sugars, fats, and starches to support itself.
Nutrients for the Seeds
Veteran cannabis growers explain that the supplements and nutrients you give to your plant are not its food. They serve to support photosynthesis. This means that they are not necessary until your plant has started photosynthesizing. Also, it has been said that adding such supplements and nutrients to the water you use during imbibition might inhibit their germination. Therefore, it is advisable to use water that has a neutral pH level during the imbibition of cannabis seeds.
Once the cotyledons have emerged, you can now introduce small doses of the nutrients and other supplements. But you can easily burn the plant if you are too overzealous when doing it. Additionally, how you add fertilizer to the marijuana plant and when you do it largely depends on the type of growing medium you are using.
Some Marijuana Germinating Strategies
There are many effective ways to germinate your marijuana seeds. Depending on your preferences, these strategies vary from person to person. If you are a newbie and do not have a preference for the germination of cannabis seeds, here are a few of the more popular strategies.
Soaking Your Marijuana Seeds
Most marijuana growers start the germination process of their seeds by soaking them in water. This ensures the imbibition process occurs much faster because the seeds are surrounded by water. While it is one of the safest strategies to follow, you should ensure that you remove the seed from the water before it cracks open. Also, experts say that distilled or filtered water with a neutral pH of 7.0 is perfect for soaking the seeds.
Germinating Using Moist Paper Towels
During this process, you should carefully place the cannabis seeds between two paper towels that are properly moisturized. After this, you should put a cover on top of the whole setting and wait for a couple of days. You should be able to see the results when the radicle starts emerging after cracking the testa. According to weed enthusiasts, you should promptly and carefully collect these sprouted seeds (using tweezers) and place them into your secondary growing medium. The radicle or taproot should be in a water-submerged medium to encourage better growth.
Germination Using Rockwool Cubes and Peat Pellets
Using germination media such as Rockwool cubes and Jiffy pellets is ideal because your sprouts will achieve optimum water to air ratio. Also, they allow easy growth of the roots, and they are well buffered. If you prefer using this method, you can germinate the seeds directly in these media, or you can start them off using the paper towel method and transplant them once they sprout.
According to experienced growers, Peat pellets are ideal for plants that will eventually be grown in coco or soil. These pellets are pre-dehydrated and can be stored dry for many years. You should rehydrate Jiffy pellets by soaking them in pH-neutral water for about 12 to 24 hours. To ensure that the pellets are well saturated, a long soak is recommended.
For cannabis plants that will eventually be grown using methods such as deep water culture and other hydroponics, Rockwool Cubes are ideal. Unlike peat plugs, these cubes can maintain their structural integrity more effectively. They rarely break apart and clog your pumps in a DWC grow. Additionally, you should rehydrate these cubes with water that has pH levels of about 5.5 to 5.8, according to expert cannabis growers. The reason behind this is because Rockwool cubes are usually alkaline at the beginning. This acidic pH helps in neutralizing the alkalinity.
Germinating the Seeds Directly in Soil
If you wish to avoid a very complicated germination process, you can start the seeds directly in the soil. One advantage of doing so is that you avoid having to transplant the sprout, making the whole process easier to manage. However, veteran growers say that there are certain disadvantages to this germination method.
One major drawback is the inability to effectively balance the water-to-air ratio or temperature. Moreover, the seed has to orientate itself within the soil and push its cotyledons from within the medium. This process requires some extra energy. This combination increases the time it takes for the seeds to germinate, leading to a lower germination success rate.
Additionally, not all soils are good for the germination of cannabis seeds. Heavily amended soils can easily “burn” the seedlings. Also, if the soil has too much clay content, it can lead to the suffocation of the seeds.
Cannabis growers recommend placing the marijuana seeds with the pointy end facing downwards at a depth of about half an inch. You should also ensure that the soil around the seed is appropriately moist. Under optimal conditions, your seeds should start emerging from the soil after about five to ten days. During the process, you should turn on an overhead light continuously by the third day. This helps with orientation in anticipation of photosynthesis.
Germinating Seeds in Coco
Germinating cannabis seeds directly in coco can be quite tricky. This is because, even if it is well buffered, this medium requires continuous replenishment of magnesium and calcium. For this reason, satisfying the needs of your young cannabis sprout and the coco can be very challenging. Most experts in the field do not recommend this germination method. However, if this is your preferred strategy for germinating cannabis seeds, you should do some thorough research.
Germinating Your Cannabis Seeds Successfully
As much as there is nothing wrong with germinating your cannabis seeds using moistened paper towels, you should be extra careful when transplanting. If the taproot gets too long, it can create major challenges during the process. For this reason, most cannabis growers recommend germinating the seeds directly in the growing medium of your choice. Most specialists say that you should place your cannabis seed in a hole that is about 0.25 to 0.5 inches deep. After this, you should gently tamp down some more of the medium on it to cover and secure the seed.
As a general rule, you should avoid planting your seeds too deep into the growing medium. Also, ensure that the moisture and warmth are optimal to get the best results out of your seeds. For instance, you can use colorless plastic wrap over the container you use to plant your seeds. This helps to maintain good levels of humidity. Additionally, providing heating underneath your growing container can positively add to the success rate of your seeds’ growth.