How to Start Cannabis Seeds Right
A seed is the distillation of a plant’s essence. It contains the blueprint for life, which it holds in storage until it senses environmental conditions favoring survival of a new plant.
Once it has made contact with the requisite amount of moisture and proper range of warmth, the seed starts the process of germination. A cascade of chemical reactions results in the rapid growth of the embryo plant, which had been kept in suspended animation.
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Marijuana germinates best at room temperature, around 72° F in a consistently moist environment. The first visible sign that a seed is germinating is a slight enlargement resulting from water absorption. Then a small opening appears along the seed’s seam as the root emerges. The root continues to elongate, growing downward, as the stem makes its appearance. It stretches out in the opposite direction of the root and uncurls, revealing two embryonic leaves called cotyledons. The seed case is now an empty shell and it may hang from one of the cotyledons until blown or rubbed off. Only a day or so has elapsed between the first sight of the root and the appearance of the cotyledons.
In its first phase of growth the seedling used energy stored in the seed, but it must soon use photosynthesis to produce its own food as its roots supply moisture and nutrients The root grows longer and lateral branches grow from the vertically growing tap root. The first set of true leaves emerge at the tip or apex of the stem, which is called the apical tip.
Healthy germination is an auspicious start for a successful plant. When the plant’s needs are met, the seedling will grow and prosper. Growers use different methods of germinating seed.
Methods for germination
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Soak the seeds in a solution of water with commercial rooting solution and hydrogen peroxide (H202) for 12 hours. The hormones in the rooting solution stimulate germination and encourage root growth. Use rooting solution according to instructions for softwood cuttings and add hydrogen peroxide at the rate of one part to 200 (.5%) to sterilize the solution, preventing infection. Drugstore peroxide is a 3% solution; if it’s used, add it at the rate of one part H202 to five parts water. Compost tea can also be used as a soaking solution to create a biologically active community around the seed.
After soaking you can place the seed between a thin wet cloth or paper towel on a plate with a clear cover or plastic wrap. When the root emerges, plant it by first poking a hole in the planting mix that is long enough for the entire root area to be covered. Then gently place the seed and pat it so the root makes contact with the medium. The other method is to plant the soaked seed into the medium before it germinates. Place it ¼ inch deep in sterile commercial planting mix. Moisten the mix with water adjusted to a pH of around 6. Keep it in a bright space with high moisture. If the space is dry, place a tall cover over the container to reduce evaporation. Keep at room temperature. If the air is cool, use an electrical tray warmer and cover.
A note on stretching
The main problem that people encounter when germinating is stretching seedlings. This is an indication of insufficient light intensity. To encourage strong, stout stems that don’t stretch, seedlings must be provided with intense light from the start: A minimum of 40-60 watts per square foot (400-600 watts per square meter). With a bit of care quality seeds will be sprouting in just a few days.
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