Propagation is a critical time in the life cycle of your cannabis crop. Taking cuttings to produce future crops is a common practice with marijuana growers, and in some places, so is buying them ready to plant. Starting from seeds may seem like a mysterious process to growers, whether they be regular or feminized varieties.
Sometimes growers make the mistake of getting overzealous with the care and feeding of their seeds; often before a cannabis sprout really becomes a “plant.”
Seeds go through some very radical changes in the weeks that follow after germination (sprouting). Knowing how to treat a seedling, and gradually weaning it into juvenile planthood is an important process and will effect your final harvest of buds.
Many growers note that they reap their biggest yields from the original seed plant versus the cuttings that follow. A lot of this has to do with the fact that the plant genetics have not spent much time fighting off environmental stresses and other things that can rob valuable plant energy.
The first step is germination. Very fresh seeds are actually not well suited for germination. Unless totally dormant, seeds are going through physiological changes based on the signals they are receiving from the external environment. In nature, the the environment is whispering to the seed about what the days to come may be like. In turn, the genetics contained within the seed act on these signals during development. Seed bank research shows that in some instances external environmental factors influence the number of males to females that arise from a pack of seeds.
To help ensure a high rate of success and to maximize the number of females you get from your pack of seeds, try this:
1. Start the seeds directly in growing media under a light source -- this helps to provide a stable environment. It is recommended that your light source has some “red” or “warm” wavelengths. Warm white fluorescent lamps work great and are inexpensive.
2. DON'T add lots of organics and fertilizers; it will only stunt growth or create infections. DO keep steady temperature and moisture levels. Usually good-quality tap water is fine -- make sure it's the right pH if using a hydroponic medium like Rockwool. RO water is great if you add a small amount of a calcium-magnesium supplement.
3. A propagation dome can help you regulate temperature and humidity. Once half of the seeds have emerged, remove the dome to prevent stretching and stem rot. DON'T expose the young seedlings to any strong breezes. DO keep temperatures at an even 72 degrees Fahrenheit and maintain a 16-24 hour lights on cycle.
4. Cannabis sprouts tend to hang out for a couple of weeks after emerging before they really begin to grow. Once “true” leaves have developed, you can start to increase air circulation and begin to fertilize with a very mild solution. DON'T push emerging plants until they are ready. DO make sure they have adequate room for root development and handle young plants gently.
5. Sometimes cannabis plants started from seed will appear to grow more slowly in veg versus clones. DON'T let your plants run out of room as they develop; be sure to account for growth that will occur during the bud phase. DO give plants sufficient time to get established in veg. NOTE: Sativa dominant strains like Haze crosses don't need much time in veg at all. While an Indica might need at least four weeks from seed, a Sativa may just need a week before 12/12.