We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know. If you love City Paper , get it every day in our newsletter. Hopefully all of you aspiring growers have been able to get your seeds Hi Nico, Quick question: Should I germinate my seeds before planting? If so, what's the best way to do it? Thanks, Cori W. Hi Cori, thank you for writing Planting germinated cannabis seeds is the method least taxing to your nerves. Click to read about how to plant germinated weed seeds like a pro!
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Hopefully all of you aspiring growers have been able to get your seeds so we can move to the next step: germination.
Take great care handling seed and seedling. Most flower and vegetable seeds are simply planted directly in the soil, but because of the value of cannabis seeds, germinating seeds prior to planting is encouraged. Growers can achieve a much higher survival rate by germinating in a non-soil medium and then transferring the seed to soil once the tap root has emerged from the seed.
Here is one of the simplest and most successful methods: Put a double layer of paper towels on a dinner plate, then thoroughly soak the towels with water and tilt the plate to drain off the excess. Place your seeds on top of the wet towels and cover with another double layer of soaked paper towels. Be sure excess water is drained off—you don’t want the seeds to be swimming.
Cover the plate with an upside-down plate or pot lid. A plastic bag or plastic wrap also works. Don’t make the seal tight—you want to leave some openings to allow air flow.
Keep the germinating seeds away from direct light. For best results, keep them at about 75 degrees Fahrenheit. A radiant heat source, like a heating pad, helps expedite the process. If you’re using a heating pad, be sure to keep the heat setting on low and place a folded hand towel between the heating pad and plate: Direct contact between the plate and heat source can cook your seeds.
Under the right conditions, seeds usually open in one to five days, so check them daily. Do not allow the towels to dry, and add water as needed to maintain moisture. Some seeds can take as long as 10 days to germinate, but if seeds have not opened within 10 days, they are not viable.
When the seeds open, the first thing to emerge is the root. Once the root sprouts it can grow quite fast.
When the root grows to a few millimeters in length, the seed is ready to be transferred to soil. Always take great care not to damage the tap root when handling. The best soil to use for a sprouting baby ganja plant is a “seed starter” or “seedling” mix. These are light neutral blends with very little fertilizer. Heavily fertilized soils will kill seedlings quickly, and cannabis seedlings prefer loose, aerated soil that their roots can easily penetrate. A bag of good starter soil is easily identifiable: When you pick it up, it should feel light and fluffy. Soils that are heavy and compact are not good for seedlings.
Now, on to potting (no pun intended). A healthy seedling will be ready for transplanting into larger container, with richer soil, in about a month. A 16- to 20-ounce container is ideal for a seedling’s first home (many growers use a Solo cup). The container must drain, so punch some holes if needed.
Fill your container with pre-moistened soil and create a hole about a half-inch deep for your seed. The tip of a pencil works well for making the right sized hole. The seed should be about a quarter-inch below the surface.
Place your germinated seed, root down, into the hole and cover lightly. Do not pack the soil on top of the seed; a light protective layer of soil is all that is needed.
Once they sprout in one to three days, new seedlings will need lots of light, and fluorescent grow light works best. Give your baby ganja plants 16 hours of light per day.
It’s very important to have a breeze on your plants immediately. A fan placed at the proper distance and speed should create a breeze just strong enough so your plant “dances,” but not so strong that it’s bent in one direction.
Without a breeze, indoor ganja plants won’t receive the stimulus needed to develop sturdy stems and branches, which the plant will need to bear the weight of big, sugary buds.
The Potanist is written by Bud Baker and Herb Green (yes, those are pseudonyms; yes, they are real people). Reach them at [email protected]
Graphics by Stephanie Rudig
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Seed Germination & Planting
Hi Cori, thank you for writing us! Your question is pretty simple to answer, but sometimes not so simple to do! In short, yes, most growers tend to germinate seeds before planting them into their grow medium of choice.
To be clear, however, germination of seeds is not necessary prior to planting in medium. You can sow seeds directly into the medium and they will also germinate there, but not always with the same success rate. The reason growers choose to germinate outside the grow medium is because it is easier to control the conditions surrounding the seeds. This leads to the second part of your question, which is the best-case practices for germinating seeds – this leads to the harder answers.
There are many different ways to germinate seeds. Probably the best methods involve keeping the practice as natural as possible. The simplest methods use water, warmth and darkness – all conditions the seed would naturally encounter underground. Many folks simply lay some seeds down on a paper towel on a flat plate, cover them with another paper towel, then moisten the paper and place the plate in a warm dark place. A popular hiding spot has always been on top of the refrigerator, while more professional growers employ heat mats that lie flat beneath seedling/ clone trays. Heat mats are an excellent and inexpensive aid for seed germination. Whatever you decide, the temperature should be 10-20 degrees above room temperature, or range between 78 – 90F.
Of course, there are always the tricky strains or the old seeds that are quite fussy and refuse to pop. These seeds require a bit more attention and creativity. Some people prefer to soak the seeds for a short period before placing them in a moist and warm place for germinating. Some people go as far as to use mild chemical solutions to help soften the shell and prod the seeds. Other growers will even use very sharp and sterile razors to carefully slice seed shells or tips to help induce germination. These practices are all risky and should only be used as a last resort.
Once a seed cracks open, the taproot appears. This taproot will become the plants primary root from which all other roots will grow. Technically, the seed is germinated once you can see the white of the taproot. Some grows prefer to wait until the taproot is 1-2 cm long before planting the germinated seed into a medium. Once you are ready to do so, be sure to place the seed about a half-inch below the surface of the medium with the taproot point downward and the seed shell on top. Be sure there is some space for the seed shell to push upwards through the medium, towards the light. At this point, the very young seedling still needs moisture, warmth and a bit of light now to direct its growth in the right direction. The seedling will likely be in this medium and container for a few more weeks before the seedling is ready to be transplanted into a larger container for vegetation.
Thanks for reading everyone and remember: Grow… And help the world grow, too!
Planting Germinated Cannabis Seeds The Right Way
Planting germinated cannabis seeds means making them crack and show the taproot between paper towels or in a similar setup, and then gently transferring them into the medium. Knowing your seeds are viable and alive gives you the peace of mind to patiently wait for the sprouts.
It’s possible to plant pot seeds the way nature intended: straight into the medium. However, planting germinated cannabis seeds is the method least taxing to your nerves and that gives you maximum control.
Planting Germinated Cannabis Seeds: Why And When?
For experienced growers, germinating marijuana seeds is something done almost on cruise control. However, first-timers may find this a nerve-wracking ordeal. They start to panic and make all kinds of mistakes. Nonetheless, germinating cannabis seeds before planting them has its benefits.
Why Germinate Seeds Before Planting Them?
Planting marijuana seeds after germination, not before it, is the least traumatic germination method not only for the grower, but also for the plant. When the seed is awakening, the conditions should be just right. Otherwise, you can run into problems:
- The medium can be made too moist, and this can lead to damping off and similar issues.
- After a couple of days, the soil begins to dry out, starting from the surface. If the seed hasn’t cracked by this time, it won’t crack at all due to the lack of moisture.
- If you plant the seed too deep, it can suffocate, especially if the soil is soaked with water.
- Some seeds take longer to sprout. Inexperienced growers lose their patience and begin to excavate, damaging the seed in the process.
Because of all this, it’s always safer to germinate your seeds first and then put them in the ground.
Best Soil For Growing Weed
When To Plant Germinated Marijuana Seeds
Suppose you’ve placed weed seeds between moist paper towels. The seeds may crack and show taproots after only 12 hours, but this usually takes longer – typically, a day or two.
You don’t have to rush and plant them as soon as you see that your seeds are alive and well. Provide a few extra hours for the taproot to become a bit longer – a half-inch (about 1cm) is okay, although more than an inch (2.5cm) is too much and should be avoided.
Planting Germinated Cannabis Seeds Step By Step
The whole process is actually very straightforward, quick, and seamless, but for your convenience, we’ve broken it down into separate steps.