Get the Best Seeds
Getting the best seeds is the only reliable way to get the best plants. Quality seeds may sound expensive but they are well worth it in the long run.
Good seed banks test the germination rate of their seeds as well as the genetic stability of plants grown from the seed.
Once you have waited 3 or 4 months for dope and ended up with a load of old rope you start to be more choosy about the seeds you put in your grow room.
Seeds and Seedlings
Seed From Your Stash
Seeds from a batch of good cannabis will not necessarily produce good plants. Even if you know both parents of the seeds.
Female Only Seeds
These are produced by using stress or hormones like Gibrellic acid to turn part of a female plant male. Pollen collected from the male part is used to produce seeds that contain no male genetics. Hence female only seeds, these are great for crops grown straight from seed.
Seeds Are Individuals
Seeds are individuals like you and me. A packet of 10 seeds will produce 10 individual plants, even if they are the same variety each will have its own special characteristic. 1 may be taller than the rest , 1 may be shorter, 1 may be more resistant to fungus than the rest, 1 may be super strong. Of course with standard seeds around half will also be male.
There are a few ways to help increase the germination rate of your seeds. Pre-soaking the seeds in pH balanced water for 24 hours helps soften the outer shell and makes life easier for the emerging shoots. Placing the seeds in a fridge or freezer for a week or two before planting will also help. It tricks the seeds into believing they have been through the winter and that the time has come to start growing.
Starting Seeds in Soil
Germinate your seeds in pots of moist seed compost. Use deep pots that allow plenty of room under the seed so the emerging root can grow straight down. A root that curls too early can increase the chances of the plant becoming a male. Sow the seeds 1 to 2 cm below the surface and water gently with pH balanced water. Cover the pots with clingfilm or place in a lidded propagator to ensure the compost is kept moist. Remove any cover when the seeds sprout.
Starting Seeds Without Soil
You don`t have to use seed compost to start your plants. Try pots of Perlite instead or place the seeds straight into cubes of rockwool using a pencil to make a hole about 2 cm deep. You can also put the seeds between two wet paper towels but this method is stressful to the seed and unnecessary when grow mediums are so cheap. If you do use this method be careful to plant seeds as gently as possible (anyway up) as soon as they begin to sprout. Whatever medium you use the important thing is to keep the seeds moist until they have germinated.
Warm Your Seeds
Warmth means faster germination. Once planted keep your seeds at around 70 degrees using a heated propagator or heating mat. Don`t worry if you can`t heat them they will still sprout but it might take a week or so longer.
Length of Germination
Seeds and Seedlings should start to germinate (grow) 3 or 4 days after planting. You might have to wait a week or two to see anything emerge if they are in soil but be patient, things are happening. After 4 weeks or so it`s time to give up on anything that’s not sprouted.
The first set of leaves on a cannabis seedling are not true leaves and so will not have the classic cannabis leaf shape. You need to wait for the second set to grow for the leaves to start to look the way they should.
Stretched or Lanky Seedlings
When grown in low light conditions with little air movement (wind) seedlings often stretch and become so lanky and top heavy that they fall over. To counter this soil grown seedlings can be re-potted with the stem buried right up to the lowest set of leaves. If the seedlings can`t be re-potted you will need to use supports of some kind. Trimmed cardboard tubes (toilet rolls) placed over the seedlings make good supports as they still allow stem strengthening movement and can easily be removed later.
Flowering Seed Grown Plants
Cannabis seedlings need to mature into cannabis plants before flowering them. The length of time between seed germination and plants being ready to begin flowering will vary depending on plant genetics and the care given. At least 8 weeks of growth are really needed to allow the plants to build up energy reserves, particularly in their roots. Indoor growers however may find this means their plants get too large to flower. They should either flower when the plants reach a certain height (usually no more than around 30 cm indoors), trim their plants to acceptable heights a few days before flowering or use cuttings instead.
Seeds are built to germinate in darkness so they don`t require light at all for this process. It does no harm to place planted seeds under moderate light however. And the added warmth helps with germination. Once sprouted the seedlings will of course require light to photosynthesis and grow. Powerful HID lamps or hot sun can fry delicate seedlings. Fluorescent lamps or a shady place are good choices for the first few weeks. If you do use HID lamps raise them up about three times the recommended growing height. Then gradually lower them over the following weeks as the plants mature.
Seeds can be kept for many years but they become less viable as time goes by. Storing them in a cool dry airtight container will keep them fresh for up to two years or more. For longer storage dry them well, seal them in a container and put them in the freezer.
Commercial Seeds and Breeding
Good seed banks mostly sell seeds known as F1 hybrids. They are very good for growing but not for breeding. The seed banks spend lots of time (years) and effort to produce seeds that grow well and consistently. This means they have to protect their investment. If you try to breed with F1 hybrids without knowing what you are doing you will often end up disappointed.