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The complete guide to germinating cannabis seeds

Germinate

Before you can be met with bountiful hauls of dank buds, there are several stages of cannabis growing that take precedence. Unless you can successfully germinate cannabis seeds, you won’t have a plant to harvest. Give your seeds the best possible start in life by reading our definitive guide to germination.

Contents:

THE ART OF GERMINATING CANNABIS SEEDS

Often overlooked, it is all too easy to assume that the vegetative and flowering stages of cannabis growth are the most critical parts of the plant’s life cycle. However, with the chance of failure high unless you know what you’re doing, poor planning when it comes to germination can make or break your next grow. Giving your cannabis seeds the best possible start on their journey to bulging buds is a surefire way to encourage a healthy and robust plant.

Small, fragile, and in desperate need of a helping hand, there are several ways you can germinate your cannabis seeds. All methods have varying degrees of success, with both advantages and disadvantages. It is important to note that even with advanced growing expertise and top-of-the-line equipment, you may still end up with a few failed seeds. This is a natural part of dealing with a living organism. At Royal Queen seeds, we only sell feminized cannabis seeds, so there is no need to worry about removing male plants.

WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR IN CANNABIS SEEDS

Regardless of where you get your seeds from, it is best to give them a slight (and delicate) inspection before planting. Most of the time, all seeds will germinate; however, poor-quality seeds will produce a weaker plant. Unfortunately, that is something you will not find out until well into the vegetative and flowering stages.

To avoid disappointment, seeds that have a darker colouration stand a better chance of germinating, while pale green or white seeds are likely to fail. Even if dark seeds look slightly damaged, they should be planted anyway. There is a good chance they will still germinate, even if the outer shell is somewhat crushed.

GERMINATION TEMPERATURE PLAYS A CRUCIAL ROLE

Before we jump straight into the germination methods, there are a couple of germination golden rules. For the best results, we recommend staying within these guidelines, no matter how you choose to germinate. That being said, of all the factors to consider, temperature is one of the most critical. Seeds will always seek out even the smallest amount of moisture, but they use temperature as a sign that they need to do so.

• The ideal temperature is between 22° and 25°C (71–77°F)
• Your growing environment should be damp/moist, but never wet
• Relative humidity range should be between 70% and 90%
• Seeds favour fluorescent lighting (Cool White code 33)
• Minimise the amount of seed handling you do
• In hydroponic/rockwool plugs, the ideal PH value is 5.8–6.2

GERMINATION TEMPERATURE PLAYS A CRUCIAL ROLE

WHAT IS AN EXPECTED GERMINATION TIME?

Three fundamental principles will trigger that first small taproot to appear: warmth, moisture, and darkness. With the promise of moisture, a single root will take shape before slowly developing into the cannabis plant we know and love. In the right conditions, seeds will begin to develop within 12–36 hours of moisture being introduced to them.

Timescales can vary, as it all depends on how ideal your germination environment is (see the golden rules above). Even the worst grower could make a seed germinate, but it may take a few weeks and, of course, increases the risk of a weaker plant.

CHOOSING YOUR GERMINATION METHOD

GLASS OF WATER APPROACH

Arguably one of the least effective methods, but it is still viable. Incredibly simple to facilitate, beginner growers may opt to germinate their seeds in a glass of water. Half-fill a glass or bowl with water that is approximately 22°C (71°F).

After 3–5 days, the seeds will start to open, and you should see tiny white tips appear. Once these roots reach 2–3mm in length, use extreme care to transfer them from the water to pre-prepared soil pots.

The soil pots will need small holes (roughly 10–15mm deep) for the newly germinated seeds to be placed into. Once the seeds are secure, you will want to place a fluorescent light 13–15cm (5–6 inches) away to encourage growth. Finally, don’t risk overwatering your seeds at this early stage. Use a plant mister to make sure they stay damp but not soaking wet.

GLASS OF WATER APPROACH

WET KITCHEN TOWEL METHOD

Probably one of the most common methods of germination. The kitchen towel method comes in several iterations. Some growers use cotton wool pads or absorbent pieces of paper. For this guide, we will be using kitchen towel as it is readily available and holds moisture relatively well.

Place one sheet of damp kitchen towel on a flat surface. Space your seeds a few centimetres apart before placing the second piece of kitchen towel over the top. You need to ensure both pieces are damp, not wet. Once again, when the white root tips reach 2–3mm, move the seeds (carefully) to soil pots. Use the same guidance found above for planting techniques.

WET KITCHEN TOWEL METHOD

PLANTING DIRECTLY INTO SOIL

Planting directly into your growing medium prevents having to move seeds when they are at their most fragile. That first root tip is covered with microscopic filaments that are easily damaged. Given that both a cup full of water and moist paper towels are more prone to temperature fluctuations from their environment, planting in soil is a much safer option.

Start by filling pots with a premium-quality soil that has been soaked in water. Many growers also choose to lace the water with a root stimulator. Make a hole roughly 10–15mm deep. This will be your seed’s new home. Remove the seeds from their packet and place them into the pre-dug holes. Loosely cover the seeds, but be careful not to compress the soil above the seed too much. The root will struggle to penetrate solid soil, slowing plant growth. Lightly spray the top of where you placed the seed so that your growing medium stays moist.

If you don’t like the idea of pre-soaking your soil, you can use a spray to moisten the holes before you plant each seed. With enough moisture surrounding your seeds, you can still encourage a root to develop.

Your growing pots will need to be placed in a damp climate that is within the temperature range listed under our golden rules. After 4–10 days, you should see a young seedling sprout, while the roots will have begun to develop underneath the soil. The entire plant and its soil can now be transferred to a larger pot, where normal growing routines should start.

PLANTING DIRECTLY INTO SOIL

USING STONE WOOL BLOCKS

Maintaining the ideal temperature (between 22–25°C/71–77°F) and moisture for germination is tricky. Leaving seeds out in the open environment or on a windowsill is far from ideal; a DIY climate-controlled cupboard would do a much better service. A warming mat is perfect for maintaining a constant temperature, but it doesn’t tackle the issue of moisture.

You will need to invest in a few pieces of unique equipment, but by using stone wool blocks, you can create a perfect utopia for germinating cannabis seeds. Soak the stone wool blocks in the same way you would a soil medium. The wool will retain the moisture and prevent the need to water during the early stages of germination. After the wool blocks are soaked, stick them in a plastic tray that also has a lid. Large cake tubs are ideal.

The dome of the plastic container will create your seeds’ own mini tropical climate. If you then place all the components in a temperature-controlled cupboard, you will have created a self-perpetuating supply of moisture—no need to touch the seeds again until they are ready to be transferred to your final growing medium as a young seedling. Using the stone wool block method, your seeds should germinate in one to two days.

Two or three weeks after germination, your young seedlings should be ready for their new home. At this point you have two options; transplanting them into soil pots, or taking on the challenge of hydroponics. You’ll know when the seedlings are ready to be moved because the root system should start to poke out of the bottom of the wool blocks. As long as the roots haven’t begun to engulf the bottom half of the wool block, they will seek out water and nutrients in their new surroundings and continue to grow downwards.

USING STONE WOOL BLOCKS

ROYAL QUEEN SEEDS FEMINIZED STARTER KIT

There is, of course, a far simpler way to germinate seeds. Ideal for beginners, the feminized starter kit by Royal Queen Seeds has everything you need to kick-start your next cannabis project.

The Royal Queen Seeds Feminized Starter Kit contains:

  • 3x RQS Critical feminized seeds
  • 20x Easy-Start seedling pots
  • 1x Propagator Pro
  • 1x pack of Bacto
  • 1x perlite
  • 1x fluorescent lights
  • 1x instruction manual
  • 4x AA batteries
  • 1x Royal Queen Seeds catalogue

*You will also need a measuring cup and a stirrer (not included in the kit).

1. Gently remove the foil from the back of the seed packet and place them carefully into a dry container.

2. You will need a shallow container that is large enough to accommodate the seed tray. Fill the container with one litre of lukewarm water (22–25°C/71–77°F). Pour in the packet of Bacto enzyme, allowing it to dissolve before setting the seed tray into the container to soak. The seed tray only needs to be immersed for 5–10 seconds. Do not discard the Bacto mixture after the seed tray has been soaked.

3. After removing the seed tray from your shallow container, poke a 10–15mm deep hole into the soil of each pot, and delicately transfer your seeds from their dry container into each hole. Remember, one seed per pot.

4. Using the supplied propagator, sprinkle a 15mm-thick layer of perlite into the bottom of the tray.

5. Place your seed tray into the propagator, adjust the walls, and position the lid. The lid comes with an on/off switch for the already-attached lights.

6. Check the water level in your reservoir once a day. Your aim is to maintain an even level. After 1–7 days, the seeds should have sprouted, with visible leaves appearing. Once the seedling is 3mm tall, transfer it to your final growing medium.

IF IN DOUBT, THINK SPRINGTIME CONDITIONS

No matter which method you choose, always think about what conditions would naturally be like in spring. In their natural environment, cannabis seeds would start to sprout in-line with the seasonal change from winter to spring. Moisture is still high, and temperatures will be naturally rising. Always ask yourself the question, “Does my germination setup replicate spring conditions”. If the answer is yes, there is a good chance germination will be a success.

Time then to whip out our packages of seeds and get to work. But how do you best set to work, to get these tiny, fragile seeds to grow without problems into small plants?

How to germinate weed seeds?

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  • Kushka – 17/06/2016
  • 4 min

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  • If you read our recommendations on how to choose the best moment to start your outdoor crop, you have probably waited for the good weather to settle in and for the best temperature to start growing.
  • However, just as important as adequate weather conditions is to use the correct method to germinate your seeds.
  • The first moments of life of your plants are crucial, and yes, there is a method to germinate your seeds that yields the best results. Below we explain how to do it step-by-step.
  • Continue reading.

marijuana seed germination cannabis

You can germinate your cannabis seeds both indoors and outdoors, though our recommendation is that you do it indoors, as you will have more control over all the factors that can have a negative effect on the process. But if this is not, below we explain the best way to germinate seeds outdoors.

Our first recommendation, as we already said, would be to wait for the good weather to settle in. Having a high temperature (from 22 to 26°C) is an important factor for your seeds to decide to emerge into the world.

Step 1: protect your seedlings from climate factors and fauna, prevention is better than cure.

Outdoors we never know what dear mother nature has in store for us; in the same way that your seeds might enjoy a week of good weather and sun, there can also be thunderstorms and low temperatures on the very day they sprout. Not to mention the large variety of birds, snails and other fauna that delight in eating those tender and tasty marijuana seedlings. Bear in mind that during their first moments of life, your plants are defenceless against many dangers that threaten them; therefore, it is your job to take care of your little ones and keep them safe. How? It’s actually quite simple, you can buy mini-greenhouses for germinating or you can use a Tupperware and make holes in it for adequate ventilation, although we recommend the first option.

Ventilation is an important factor; don’t make the greenhouse airtight, open the trapdoors to allow adequate ventilation and as the covers are made of thin plastic, you can even make some extra holes if necessary.

Step 2: choose quality materials.

Today you can find high quality products on the market, specifically designed for germination and which, in addition, are not expensive. What do you need?

  • Germination greenhouse
  • Electric blanket: If you live in a very cold area, a good solution to stimulate germination is to place an electric blanket underneath the greenhouse, thus achieving an adequate temperature. It is important that the probe that measures the temperature calculates the temperature of the blanket, and not of the greenhouse, as otherwise you might heat the seeds excessively.
  • Jiffy 7: This product consists of of a compressed and dehydrated substrate pellet which, after leaving it in water for a few minutes, becomes a small sack of special substrate for germinating, and is also biodegradable. This is the star product that will optimise your germination process due to the following reasons:

– On the one hand it has the ideal structure, that is, the amount of air and water in the substrate is adequate for germination.

– It is sterilised, meaning that we prevent the appearance of fungi (powdery mildew, botrytis, etc)

– It has all the elements necessary to nourish your seed/seedling during the first week; the ideal amount of nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium and magnesium. Phosphorus and calcium are particularly important for the correct development of roots.

– It has a neutral pH, which is the most adequate and makes it the perfect medium for germination; during one week you just have to add water.

– Jiffy 7 is expressly designed for the mega-industrial production of seedlings and does not require fertilisation.

– Another advantage is the specific temperature: water has a low specific temperature. This means that if we place a glassful of water in a room at 25°, it will be very hard for the water to reach that temperature. Therefore, if we place the cannabis seeds in a very watery medium (a glass or between paper towels) the temperature will be lower, while in a Jiffy, as it is more exposed to the air, the temperature will be higher and the process, faster.

However, there are people who germinate marijuana seeds in paper towels. Why don’t we recommend them? Well, although this method may be effective, it is not the most adequate and has some disadvantages. To start with, the seedlings do not receive the necessary light, as the paper towel that covers the top prevents the sun’s rays from penetrating. In turn, in the Jiffy they do receive light, and therefore photosynthesis will start earlier. Another advantage is that as soon as the root emerges in the Jiffy, it starts to turn downwards and to absorb nutrients: on the one hand we accelerate the process and on the other, when we replant the Jiffy 7 with the seedling there is no transplant shock.

Step 3: follow the method.

  • Put the Jiffys in lukewarmwater.
  • Once the Jiffys have expanded, make sure that they are thoroughly wet (don’t squeeze them, just remove the excess liquid if they are dripping). Monitor the pH (between 6 and 7) and the EC (less than 0.5 ms) of the water.
  • Insert the seed in the central hole of the Jiffy, not too deep (approximately 5 mm) with the tip pointing upwards. The marijuana plant must not be sown too deep because otherwise the root has to travel too far: it always emerges through the pointy part of the seed, turns 180°, penetrates into the soil, and once it is secure, it raises its “head” from where the cotyledons will grow.
  • Place the Jiffys in the greenhouse as well as a thermo-hygrometer to monitor the temperature and humidity.
  • Temperature control: it must not fall below 20 degrees nor exceed 30. If you put the greenhouse in the sun, it can get very hot; you must constantly monitor the temperature. If it exceeds 25 degrees, we recommend that you lift up the top cover to ventilate it. Another important factor you have to check is humidity. If it is very sunny, the Jiffys will dry up and it is important that they are always humid. You must therefore add water when necessary, though not in excess. They should only be soaking wet during the first two days. After one week we should already have marijuana seedlings; with their two cotyledons (the first two round -shaped leaves), before the first two real leaves sprout (the serrated leaves), transplant them. If they are autoflowering seeds, we recommend that you transplant them to the definitive flower pot, though if they are feminised seeds you can transplant them to a smaller pot and then, when the plants are larger, you can move them to the definitive pot.

For indoors: The same but under a grow light, fluorescent or LED. If you have the option of germinating your cannabis seeds inside your home, ideally the light intensity will be high; the less intense the light, the more the seedlings will stretch in search of light and become spindly. If you use a 400 W light ideally it should be 40-45 cm away.

Now that you know how to take your first steps, you’re ready to start this season’s crop. Have a good harvest!

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Categories

  • Cannabis activism
  • Hot news
  • Cannabis Genetics
  • Cannabis Growing
  • Growing techniques
  • Trimming techniques
  • Biological prevention
  • Organic Growing
  • Fungi
  • Indoor Growing
  • Outdoor Growing
  • Harvest
  • Grow Reports
  • Nutrients and fertilizers
  • Plagues
  • Medical Cannabis
  • Weed Recipes
  • CBD
  • Risk reduction

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If you read our recommendations on how to choose the best moment to start your outdoor crop, you have probably waited for the good weather to settle in and for the be…