How To Make Sure Your Cannabis Seedlings Thrive
Growing cannabis allows you to get in touch with the roots of the plant, both literally and figuratively. As the plants begin to grow, they become slightly easier to maintain. The trickiest part of the process is getting them off to the right start. Seedlings are inherently at their most delicate stage. They need a lot of help to thrive and become a large, beautiful, flowering cannabis plant.
If you’re a first-time grower, it’s best to optimize your first experience as much as possible. Once you’re comfortable with the basics, you can work with a wide variety of strains and growing techniques. Newcomers will find that autoflowering cannabis and an indoor grow to be a winning combo for growing healthy plants with beginner-level knowledge.
The Fascinating World Inside Your Cannabis Seedlings
Every single piece of information your cannabis plant needs to grow is contained within a tiny seed. It only needs water, light, and nutrients to become a massive, towering Sativa plant or a broad and bushy indica plant. It’s a humbling experience to watch that tiny little seed become a fully formed flowering plant over just a few weeks. It’s almost like magic.
Water is the key to getting the magic started. Water penetrates the seed and essentially wakes it up. The enzymes within the seed activate growth processes. Within the seed is a temporary energy store that your seedling will use to sustain itself until it’s strong enough to obtain energy from its environment.
The seed erupts from the top and the bottom. At the bottom is the taproot, which is what the seed uses to forage for water and nutrients. The seed sends out two tiny leaves to push through its exterior, sending the baby stalk of the plant above the soil in search of sunlight. Over time, this stalk will grow to produce more leaves.
Choose the Right Seeds
First-time growers will find that autoflowering seeds are the easiest to work with. Autoflowering seeds are built to be strong. They grow quickly and require the least amount of maintenance. It’s wise to opt for autoflowering strains while you’re mastering the basics of homegrown cannabis. You’ll get an easy and productive first run that will provide a usable harvest with a little room for error.
Keep in mind that there’s a bit of a tradeoff with autoflowering seeds. They’re very forgiving, fast growing, and resistant to disease, but they won’t produce the same amount of cannabis flowers as traditional seeds. That having been said, it’s still a substantial amount. An autoflower plant will yield 2 to 9 ounces of cannabis. For many cannabis users, one plant’s harvest will last more than a year with proper drying, curing, and storage.
Build the Perfect Container
Autoflowering cannabis plants shouldn’t be transferred. You need to keep them in the same container throughout the entirety of their lives. Although autoflowering plants are generally strong, they also have shorter lives. Plants often need time to rebound after they’ve been translated, and your autoflowering plants don’t have that kind of time to work with.
The size of the container required is specific to the strain of cannabis. Most strains won’t require a container larger than 15 liters. The majority of growers use 12-liter containers. The container can be made of anything. Some people grow their cannabis in burlap bags to promote drainage and aeration of the roots. You don’t need to use plastic if you don’t want to.
Drainage and Airflow
Drainage and aeration are two of the most important factors when growing cannabis. The roots can’t be weighed down or densely packed by heavy soil, and the container needs to be designed to allow air to move through.
Air and drainage go hand in hand. If excess water can get out, air can get in. Cannabis needs to be watered well, but allowing water to accumulate around the roots can drown the plant and cause the roots to rot. You want the ground around the bottom of the container to be a little wet. It’s a sign that the container offers sufficient drainage. If your container has drainage holes, make sure they’re open and unobstructed.
You can use a moisture meter to give yourself some peace of mind as you care for your plants.
Using the Right Growing Medium
You can’t put average potting soil or dirt from your garden into a pot and use it to plant your cannabis seeds. The medium you use plays an important role in the drainage and airflow process. You shouldn’t use anything too dense or claylike in consistency.
To make their own growing medium, some people combine coco coir (fiber from coconut husks) with compost, vermiculite, and nutrients. Alternatively, you can purchase coco coir potting soil premixed with everything your cannabis needs. These mixes are often less expensive than purchasing the ingredients you’d need to mix your own soil, since the individual ingredients are sold in large quantities.
You can always switch to mixing your own growing medium once you find your footing. If you use premixed cannabis growing medium for your first grow, you’ll understand how the medium should function and what to expect. Plan to take some notes on your observations.
Germinating Your Seeds
Once you’ve all set to grow, it’s time to germinate your seeds. From a scientific perspective, seed germination is a complex and fascinating process. Fortunately, the seed fulfills most of its destiny itself. All you need to do is provide it with the support it needs to germinate.
In order to sprout a taproot, your seed must enter an imbibition phase, which means it’s soaking up water.
The easiest way to germinate your cannabis seeds is by using paper towels and a container that allows for a little bit of airflow. The hinge top containers that berries come in work wonderfully for this purpose, as they’re already equipped with little vents to allow air to circulate. You can use any container with a lid that you feel comfortable poking a few holes in.
Dampen a few paper towels and wring them out. You want the paper towels to retain moisture, but you don’t want them soaking wet. Place your cannabis seeds on top of some paper towels and gently cover them with the rest of the paper towels.
The moisture and airflow will work together to soften the exterior of the seed after a few days. It helps to spritz the paper towels with water to keep them from drying out.
After some time, you’ll notice a small white taproot emerging from one end of the seed. As soon as the taproot appears, the seed is ready to be planted.
Starting Your Seedlings
Autoflowering cannabis seedlings should be planted directly into the pot you’ve prepared for them. There is a specific formula for calculating how deep seeds should be planted. The depth into the soil should be two times the width of the seed.
Cannabis seeds are on the larger side. A depth of ¼ to ½ an inch should work perfectly. Make sure to plant your seed with the taproot side facing the bottom of the container.
Optimizing The Environment
Seedlings are more delicate than maturing cannabis plants. Your plant’s needs will change throughout its life cycle, requiring further retooling when it is ready to begin flowering. Your seedlings need a gentle touch.
While LED grow lights are wonderful for adult cannabis plants, they’re too strong for seedlings. Use a CFL lightbulb, and keep it on most of the time. Seedlings do best on 18 hours of light and six hours of darkness for the first two weeks of their lives.
Too much humidity will cause your seedlings to rot, and too little moisture will cause them to dry up. Your grow area should retain a constant level of humidity as close to 50% as possible. Place a hygrometer near your plants. Use a humidifier (or a dehumidifier) to adjust the moisture to the appropriate level.
Seedlings are too fragile to handle the heat. For the first two weeks, the temperature surrounding your seedlings should stay between 70 degrees and 75 degrees. Using a fan to cool down the area may help.
Preserve Your Harvest with Stori
Growing cannabis is a lot of hard work. The seedlings are only the beginning of the process. You’ll grow your plants to full maturity, harvest the flowers, dry them, and cure them before they can be used. It’s a labor of love, and your resulting flower deserves a little extra care.
Top-shelf wine doesn’t come in a plastic bottle, and you shouldn’t put top-shelf cannabis in a plastic bag.
The Stori case comes equipped with everything you need to store your cannabis and keep it fresh. The childproof lids are designed to hold size 1 Boveda packs, which turns the pods into little humidors. You can even cure your cannabis in the pods and store it there indefinitely.
How to Use a Moisture Meter | Hunker
Seed Germination - an overview | Science Direct
Determining the Proper Depth to Plant Seeds | The Spruce