Growing a healthy cannabis plant from seed is very simple, but Uncle Pete has developed a few tips and tricks to help ensure that seeds are viable and get a strong start to ensure a healthy seedling.
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Success in germinating seeds is dependent on environment. In fact, environment is of paramount importance through the growing cycle, and while the most important parameters to be controlled differ for each phase of the plant's life cycle, the point remains the same. Good results cannot be assured without a good environment.
For seed germination, the important control factors are temperature, moisture, and light. Seeds will germinate well at 72-75 degrees Fahrenheit. You do not want the seeds or sprouts to dry out at all during the germination process. Germinating seeds must be kept in complete darkness.
Now let's germinate your seeds using Uncle Pete's favorite method! Gather your seeds, four sheets of paper towel, a dinner plate, a one-gallon Ziploc bag, and a cloth towel.
Wet the paper towel with tap water if you have a clean well. Use distilled water if you are in the city and can smell chlorine in water fresh from the tap. Don't use water that feels either warm or cold to the touch. Gently squeeze the excess water out the paper towel and layer all four sheets on the dinner plate.
Place the seeds in the middle of the paper towel.
Put the plate with paper towels and seeds entirely into the Ziploc bag and seal it, then cover with the cloth towel to keep it dark and warm.
Put the entire assembly in a spot which will maintain a consistent 72-75 degrees Fahrenheit. Uncle Pete uses the top of the refrigerator, but finding the right spot before germination by measuring day and night temperature with a thermometer will minimize risk to your valuable seeds and time.
Check the seeds after 48 hours. Do not expose the germinating seeds to light until then. A healthy germinated seed will have a clearly visible root and may be planted as described below.
Most cannabis seeds will germinate within the first 48 hours, but some varieties are a bit slower. If all of the seeds haven't germinated, put everything back together as described in step three and four and wait another 24 hours before checking again.
Do this once more. Any seed which hasn't germinated within four days has a reduced chance of growing a healthy plant - it should be discarded.
Care of Seedlings
Planting the germinated seed is very easy, but be delicate with the fresh new taproot - they are easily broken. A small nursery pot or 16-ounce plastic Solo cup is ideal for planting a freshly-germinated seed.
If you are using a Solo cup, cut a small hole (approx. 1/4") on each side of the bottom of the cup to allow even drainage. Small nursery pots are more sturdy and convenient.
Fill with Pro-Mix to within 1/4"-1/2" of the top
Make a 3/4" deep hole for the seed with a Sharpie or other narrow instrument.
Place the germinated seed into the hole with the taproot down and very gently fill the hole with Pro-Mix.
Place planted seeds under a low-intensity fluorescent light source (T8 or T12).
Feed your seedlings with pH adjusted water (5.8 - 6.2) with 1/4 teaspoon of Myco Madness per gallon of water. Each cup gets enough water to soak it thoroughly. Do not water the cup again until it dries out some. Do not let it dry completely.
Add BioRoot during the second feeding by at the rate of 1/4 teaspoon per gallon or water. This provides a gentle source of nitrogen and elements that are beneficial for root growth.
Environment is important for thriving seedlings. Temperature should be maintained at 70-75 degrees, and humidity at 60-80%. Low intensity fluorescent light from a standard T8 or T12 fixture is the best - special grow lights are not needed. Seedlings and clones can be kept in the same environment.
Seedlings are exciting - much like a newborn baby. Be gentle. Don’t poke them or collapse them when handling or watering. Baby plants should be gradually hardened by providing a nice gentle wind using an oscillating fan. This swaying back and forth is what strengthens the plant's stalk and helps it to stand on its own. Once the seedlings are established, they can withstand heavier winds and pruning as described in subsequent sections.
Phenotype Hunting And Seed Breeding
When you germinate a batch of seeds, you are seeking that perfect mother plant which will be propagated by clone for years to come. Some call this strain or phenotype hunting. Everybody wants that extra special and unique cut - like those described under "Our Varieties." It takes hundreds of seeds and many strains to find that special one worth perpetuating. Nothing is more exciting to someone like Uncle Pete, but it's a long term process and does not offer instant gratification.
Gardeners should be prepared to deal with the good and the bad that comes with starting from seed. Some strains and seed batches are more stable than others. This means they are much more uniform and consistent in growth, structure, flavor, yield, and potency. Knowing what variety your seeds came from is only the first step to achieving success from seed. While nothing is more exciting than starting new seeds, the novice grower that desires quick results is much better off with healthy rooted clones that are provided to our members as free gifts.
Breeding seeds is also a profitable and exciting venture for advanced growers, and is covered for our members as an advanced topic. Trading seeds is also popular in our private Facebook group accessible with an advanced membership. We look forward to seeing you there.