When to germinate weed seeds for outdoor

When is the best time to plant cannabis outdoors?

A number of states now allow cannabis cultivation for adult use, and even more states allow cannabis cultivation for medical purposes.

The increase in cultivation reform has resulted in a rise in interest in growing cannabis among cannabis consumers.

Cultivating cannabis can be one of the most rewarding activities that a person can do, and with a pleasant reward at the end of all the hard work (assuming the cannabis is grown right).

If you are thinking about cultivating cannabis, one of the first things you will need to determine is whether to cultivate cannabis inside or outdoors.

Why cultivating cannabis outdoors can be better than growing indoors

Cultivating cannabis outside has the following advantages over cultivating cannabis indoors:

  • Reduced equipment costs
  • No increased electricity bill
  • Larger harvest
  • Lower carbon footprint
  • Often easier to incorporate organic cultivation methods
  • Cheaper nutrient/input costs

Growing cannabis indoors has its benefits too, but for people that want a lower maintenance garden, cultivating cannabis outside is the way to go.

An obvious question – when is the best time to plant cannabis outdoors?

One of the first things that a grower needs to determine when planning a sun-grown garden is when to put plants into the ground.

A one-size-fits-all approach does not work. A number of factors are involved:

  • What is the latitude of where the garden will be located
  • What is the altitude of where the garden will be located
  • What is the precipitation level where the garden will be located
  • What will the temperature be like while the plant is in the ground

Ultimately what a grower needs to try to avoid is planting the plant(s) too early in the year, which could result in the plants dying due to the soil/air being too cold.

Also, the grower needs to avoid planting the plants too late in the season so to ensure that the plant(s) has enough time to go through a full growth cycle.

Generally speaking, you want to plant your plants in the ground outside in early to mid-May, similar to when it’s recommended to plant tomatoes.

Tomatoes do not grow exactly like cannabis, but for planting purposes, they are almost identical. With that being said, each part of the country is different.

A great resource to look up the recommended planting date for where you live is the Farmer’s Almanac.

Simply enter your location and it will tell you when is the best time to plant tomatoes outside, which can double as the date for when to plant your cannabis too.

Getting started ahead of time is key

If you are growing from seed, you will want to germinate the seeds at least 6-8 weeks before planting.

A way to cut down on the prep time is to use a clone if you are able to. Clones are often harder to find than seeds. Each route provides its own advantages.

Growers can get a head start by letting their plant grow indoors for a few weeks prior to putting them inside. This obviously requires a greenhouse or indoor garden.

By allowing your plant to grow in a controlled environment while the air and soil outside is warming up, you give your plant some additional growth time, resulting in a larger plant.

Other tips that can help

If you live in an area where the warm season is shorter than in other parts of the world, there are two tricks that can really help.

The first is growing your cannabis plant in a container rather than planting it into the ground.

This allows you to move your plant to the most favorable parts of your yard to get the most sunlight as the season goes along.

Putting your plant in a container also allows you to bring the plant in at night when the temperature drops below a desirable threshold.

The second tip is using a concept known as light deprivation, or ‘light dep.’ This method involves cutting back on the sunlight time that a plant receives by cover the plant up after 12 hours of sun.

It’s a tricky method that requires using a tarp over a greenhouse or building a box that can go over your plant.

When you first plant your cannabis plant outside, the amount of daylight at that time is usually around 14 hours.

As the season goes along, and your plant is big enough, you can cap the amount of light it is exposed to at 12 hours and your plant will start to bloom faster than it normally would, thereby helping your harvest come sooner.

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

Image lightbox

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

Image lightbox

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

Image lightbox

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

Image lightbox

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.