Question of the Week:
Hello,
I'm a first-time grower and I've come across a few issues. I had a strain of White Rhino die right before my eyes. The stem was weak and the plant fell over while still in the seedling stage. I heard sunlight would help it grow so I left it outside for two days. It still died. Now I have Arjan's Haze one and three. The seed for AH1 is fine, the root popped out and is in the soil, but AH3 still hasn't poked through. The same thing happened to my White Widow and I had to toss it out. Any suggestions?

Submitted by:
Brandon C.

Answer from Nico:
Hey Brandon. Thanks for reading HIGH TIMES and for writing in!

Germinating seeds and raising seedlings can be more difficult than you’d think and many people have issues, so don’t feel bad.

First of all, buying seeds, even from the most reputable of dealers, is never a sure thing. There is no way for breeders or consumers to really know the viability of every seed. Sure, we have technology now that tells us which seeds are most likely to germinate based on a host of factors such as size, color and moisture, but no one ever really knows what lies inside. Some seeds simply do not come up while others come up very weak.

However, your problem with the tenuous seedlings is something that can be fixed. Here’s a few tips that might help you with the younglings:

HEAT:
Temperature is the primary trigger for seed germination. This is because typically in nature seeds lay dormant through the cold seasons and sprout in the spring when the sun provides the longest and fullest light. Seeds can sense dramatic changes in temperature and this is a prime catalyst for germination. Using a heat pad under seeds wrapped in a moist paper towel greatly improves the chances your beans will pop.

LIGHT:
Once your seed germinates, it becomes all about light. To start, light provides the signal direction for which way is up. The taproot (or main root shoot) will grow away from the light source while the cotyledons (or first leaf set, usually still with the seed shell attached) will push upwards towards the light. At this point, your seedling should be in a peat-pellet, Rockwool plug, or pot of soil.

Your light source will be essential in determining how well your seedling develops during this critical time. If the stem is weak and thin, it may be because it needs more light and is stretching too much to find it. It is for this reason that many growers choose to start seedlings indoors, under an HID lamp, before moving young plants outdoors to fight for sunlight, which can be too irregular for young plants. Using bulbs such as high-wattage compact fluorescents (CFLs) is a cheap and easy solution. Also, recommended are 150- or 250-watt HID bulbs such as metal halides (MH) or high-pressure sodium (HPS) bulbs. These can be found at local hardware stores such as Lowes -- just remember to buy the correct ballast for these fixtures.  

WATER:
The last major consideration for germinating and raising young seedlings is moisture content. This is one area that tends to trip up many first-time growers. Seeds need to have moisture in order to germinate, as do seedlings once propagated. However, over-watering can cause plants to wilt and die quickly, especially at a young age. There is a delicate balance between watering and allowing the grow medium to dry out enough to allow the roots structure to develop. Roots grow while searching for water. It is also important to remember that roots grow at night and breath in oxygen -- not CO2 like the rest of the plant. Over-watering not only prevents roots from stretching, but saturates the soil or grow medium to the point where it is difficult for air to get down and permeate the root zone. It is recommended that you use a fine spray water bottle to water young seedlings and to spread the moisture out evenly around the base of the plant and grow medium.

Lastly, putting plants outdoors at such a young age is not recommended. Seedlings should be stable and at least three or four inches tall and have several leaf sets before attempting to let them be outside on their own, unprotected.

Thanks for reading everyone and remember: Grow… And help the world grow, too!

Got questions? Email ‘em over to Nico at Edit.Grow@hightimes.com and be sure to put “Nico’s Nuggets” in the subject line!