Strengthen Seedlings Before Planting
Before your seedlings graduate from windowsill to planting bed, they need to acclimate to outdoor growing conditions. The process of transitioning seedlings from protected indoor growing conditions to outdoor realities of wind, cold and direct sun is called hardening off.
Tackle this process slowly, over the course of a week or two, and you’ll have sturdy seedlings ready to withstand whatever nature throws at them. Rush the process, and you could scorch, damage or even kill the young plants.
Harden off fragile seedlings over the course of 6-14 days. The idea is to expose plants gradually to outdoor conditions, each day incrementally increasing the time seedlings spend outside.
Withhold water gradually over the course of hardening off. Don’t allow seedlings to wilt, but also don’t pamper them by keeping soil perfectly moist.
Stop fertilizing seedlings 3-4 days before you plan to start hardening off. Don’t fertilize again until you plant seedlings into the garden.
Initially place seedlings outdoors in a sheltered spot – protected from wind and direct sun. Each day following, expose plants to another 30-60 minutes of filtered sunlight. Work your way up to giving plants direct morning sun, followed last by noon-day sun. By the end of the hardening-off time frame, seedlings should be experiencing the same amount of sunlight they’ll receive in the garden.
Bring seedlings inside for the first two nights. If shuffling seedlings from place to place proves too difficult, tuck them into a partly shaded spot for a few days. Great choices include a location under a tree or picnic table, a covered porch, or an area next to a building where the structure’s shadow will shelter seedlings. After 3-4 days, move the seedlings to a slightly sunnier site.
Watch The Temperature
Keep tabs on predicted nighttime lows. If temperatures dip near freezing, move seedlings indoors or cover with a spun-polystyrene row cover, which protects plants from frost while allowing water and some sunlight to pass. You’ll get the best frost protection when you mount the row cover so it doesn’t directly touch foliage.
Unless freezing temperatures are forecast, plan to leave seedlings outside overnight by the third or fourth night. Place them near a building or beneath a table to provide some protection. By the sixth night or so, expose seedlings to night air without any protection.
Time To Plant
After seedlings experience a week or so of hardening off, you’ll notice stems are stockier. Tuck plants into the garden on an overcast or drizzly day when winds are calm. Water in seedlings using a fertilizer solution diluted to half strength.
After planting, continue to protect seedlings if high winds, frost, hail or heavy downpours threaten. Shelter plants beneath buckets, row covers or cloches. A plastic gallon jug with the bottom removed makes a good cloche for a seedling.
How to germinate cannabis seeds
So, you’ve decided to grow your own cannabis plants. You purchased a pack of seeds, assembled cultivation materials, cleared a space in your garden, and are ready to grow your first cannabis crop . With everything in hand, it’s time to begin the very first step of cannabis cultivation : germinating seeds.
What is germination?
Germination is the first stage of the cannabis growth cycle : the process that brings a cannabis seed out of its hibernation period and starts the cannabis growth process. After all, seeds in a bag don’t spontaneously start developing roots. Also known as “popping” seeds, seed germination begins when a seed receives environmental cues letting it know the setting is perfect to start growth.
Germination is the process that brings a cannabis seed out of its hibernation period and starts the cannabis growth process. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
When a seed enters an environment with enough moisture, it will increase in size and slowly break out of its shell. A seedling or germ forms from which roots will emerge, helping the baby plant absorb nutrients from the soil. Seeds naturally develop roots facing down and stems stretching upward, allowing the young cannabis plant to simultaneously feed off light and earth.
It’s essential to acquire high-quality cannabis seeds for germination, as these will go on to become high-quality cannabis plants. Seeds that are fresh-feeling or too green indicate that they haven’t reached full maturity, while pale-green, white, or very dark cannabis seeds may have trouble sprouting. However, it’s tricky to know the outcome of a popped seed, so trying may be worthwhile. If you’re not ready to pop your seeds yet, store them in a dark, cool place until it’s time for germination.
Preparing to germinate cannabis seeds
Germination itself is a crucial aspect of cannabis cultivation. The seed germination process is the foundation of every marijuana plant, and steps can be taken to boost successful popping. For example, some cultivators improve germination attempts by soaking seeds in 1% hydrogen peroxide or a compost tea for 12 hours beforehand to kill any dangerous pests.
The environment in which seeds germinate also plays a role in the outcome. While there are several different germination methods, each requires proper moisture, minimal handling, and warm springtime temperatures between 68-72 degrees Fahrenheit.
How to germinate cannabis seeds
The best germination method depends on the cultivator’s choice. Here are some of the most common ways to pop your cannabis seeds.
How to germinate seeds in soil
Soil is an easy, more natural method with which to germinate your cannabis seeds. The soil protects the fragile roots from any interference, and soil is, after all, where a cannabis plant would grow in the wild.
Soil is an easy, more natural method with which to germinate your cannabis seeds because the soil protects the fragile roots from any interference. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
First, make sure you use the correct type of soil, either gently fertilized potting soil or a seed starter with a pH level of approximately six (6). The soil contains the right acidity and enough nutrients to strengthen your young cannabis plants for the first two weeks. Be careful not to add more nutrients, or you risk overfeeding and killing your seeds.
Place the soil in a small pot and use your finger or a pencil to push a small hole in the dirt, a bit more than half an inch deep. Insert the seed into the hole and bury it with soil. From this point on, don’t touch your seed. The young plant is fragile and knows how to position itself in the soil bed.
Gently water the soil with a spray bottle and situate your pots under a fluorescent lamp. Keep seeds away from the windowsill, as the temperature is too volatile for germination. In general, you’ll want to keep the temperature in the range of 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Monitor your soil every day and keep it moist. Within four to seven days, you should see tiny stems sprouting from the soil.
When the seedling stems reach two to four inches in height, it’s time to transplant your cannabis into larger pots with more room for roots to spread down and out. After you’ve done this, you’ve successfully germinated your cannabis seeds into proper, young plants.
How to germinate seeds in water
You can also germinate your seeds by placing them in water. It’s slightly faster than the soil method, but you need to adjust your environmental factors accordingly. Remember, successfully germinating seeds requires a perfect balance of ideal growing conditions. When germinating in water, seeds need only 24-48 hours to pop their stems, though cultivators can keep them soaking for up to a week as needed. Water germination is faster because the seed gets all the moisture it needs immediately, and the shell softens and cracks more easily after soaking.
To employ water germination, fill a glass with tap water and let it sit until it reaches room temperature or around 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Add two to three plant seeds per cup and allow them to sit, watching for any changes. Change the water to fresh tap water every two days, making sure it stays at room temperature.
The seeds should start sprouting in about two days, though older seeds can take up to a week to sprout. You can remove them from the water and place them in the soil at any point once they’ve sprouted. Once the roots are about five millimeters long, they need to be planted.
The downside of water germination is that once they’ve popped, you’ll need to maneuver them into their growing medium manually. This is a delicate process, as germinating seeds are extra fragile, and any harm risks the development of your plants. Make sure to place the seed roots down in the soil when you transfer to a pot.
How to germinate seeds using paper towels
The paper towel method is also a common way cultivators pop their seeds. Some even use this method with cotton pads instead of paper towels, but the necessary steps are the same.
To germinate seeds this way, lay one paper towel on top of a countertop, place a few seeds, and cover them with a second paper towel.
Lay one paper towel on top of a countertop, place a few seeds, and cover them with a second paper towel. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Use a spray bottle to moisten the paper towels and then store the cushioned seeds between two plates, under a face-down bowl, or gently place them in a plastic bag. Maintain a temperature of about 72 degrees Fahrenheit, keeping the paper towel wrapped seeds in the dark and away from a windowsill. In two to five days, the seeds will pop inside the paper towel sandwich and emit tiny roots, ready to plant when they reach about five millimeters in length.
Use a spray bottle to moisten the paper towels and then store the cushioned seeds between two plates, under a face-down bowl, or gently place them in a plastic bag. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
The paper towel method also has its risk, as the fragile seedlings can be damaged during the potting process. The tiny roots can also get tangled in the paper towels, so make sure to move the seeds to potting soil before roots grow too long. Use your hands or tweezers to gently remove each seed from the paper towels and place them in a prepared growing medium.
How do you germinate seeds indoors?
Whether you’re planning an indoor cultivation or outdoor grow, it’s best to germinate your seeds indoors. It’s easier to maintain proper temperature, light exposure, and moisture inside, and you can protect your seeds from the elements. Indoor germination, whether using soil or paper towels, will ensure your cannabis seeds have the best chance for survival.
To germinate seeds indoors, use any of the methods described above. Within a few days, you’ll have popped seeds ready to transfer to a growing medium.
Do you need to germinate seeds before planting?
While many plants can be germinated in the ground, cannabis seeds are fragile enough that you should germinate them before planting.
Once your seeds have sprouted roots, they should be planted in soil, a soil-less medium, or in your hydroponic setup. Make sure not touch the root, caring for and navigating the seedling so that the roots face downward. Plant the seed about one inch deep in your growing medium, cover lightly, and allow for about a week for the seed to emerge from the soil. If the seed hasn’t poked through by day ten, it likely didn’t survive.
Can I sprout seedlings with light from the sun?
Im a new grower and was wondering if, rather than sprouting my seeds under a grow light, would i be able to place my seeds(which are in dixie cups) outside in the direct sunlight? If so, how many hours per day should they be outside to start?
All help is appreciated!
from what i know you keep them in a dark place Till they break throu
then after they sprout you add the light but yes sunlight will make them grow
You need conditions that are moist,slightly warm and dark. Just think of a seed in nature. It would be slightly covered in lose moist material and the warm sun would be warming up those loose materials.
You can just put a wet paper towel folded in half inside a tupperware dish in a dresser drawer.
as for your hours of light
vegging needs a min of 18/6 being 18 hrs light 6 hrs of dark
some ppl like to keep 24/0 with no dark hrs
so as its still real cold in the uk its probs best to keep them under a CLF OR UV BULB
In the sun is the best I think NAture baby.
Just keep them moist & put the seed 1/2″-1″ below the dirt & then just wait. You can cover the pot with cellophane to keep the moisture in almost like a little greenhouse.
Laugh.. Ok I am NOT A HATER!! Seriously. This is just for fun..
But come on.. the title? Can you sprout seedlings with the sun? This reminds me of my 14 year old daughter looking at a pile of dishes in the sink not knowing how to clean them because the dishwasher was broke..
Look around.. See all those trees, grass, plants, moss, algae, etc. All germinated & grown all by themselves with the sun
I love it.. I really do. One of those D’oh moments
Good luck on the grow. Nothing more satisfying (to me anyways) than growing your own & getting it just the way you want. Remember the a few golden rules.
Dont over feed/water
Dont tell anyone your growing
when your ready to harvest, wait another week & THEN harvest.
Dont rush the cure
Enjoy the moment
I soak and plant. I soak my seeds for about 12 hours. I use a solo cup about 3/4 full of seedling soil. use something like a nail to make a small hole in the soil. place the seed point down and lightly push soil over the seed. Then with a spray bottle wet the soil well. very well. and place under a cfl 40w about 4″ off the top of the cup. I keep my room at 75 not sure what that is in c. get sprouts in 12-72 hours in most cases.