Most cannabis growers will tell you that the seedling phase is the most important of all the stages of cannabis plants’ life. Royal Queen Seeds recommends that whether you are growing marijuana from seeds or from a clone plant, the hands-on part of cultivating cannabis starts when the plants are still in their seedling phase. A crucial part of the seedling phase is when you will transplant your juvenile plants to a larger pot or in their final pots. If you get this stage wrong the growth of your plants could be lost.
Why is it important to care for marijuana seedlings?
After germination or after cutting a clone from the parent plant, the seedling requires a space to root. The objective is the growth of a healthy root zone or root system. If your sprout find it hard to grow this now, it’s most likely that they will never be able to recover it is also more likely that your seeds won’t reach their full potential in terms of growth. Some seedlings that fail this early might not even grow at all. Therefore when you buy marijuana seeds, you need to ensure that your seeds are fresh and viable so that these will sprout or germinate.
The best growing environment for seedlings
When your seeds have germinated, these will be called seedlings. These fragile, juvenile cannabis plants requires to be handled delicately. You need to care for your plants like you would your own child because these will rely on you for almost all its growing needs. If you intend to grow it in outdoor soil, you will make sure that your outdoor climate and environment is conducive to growing this strain of cannabis. If you will grow your cannabis indoors, inside a growing room or tent, you must make sure that your seedlings get the best growing environment including lighting, soil, air, and nutrients.
Seedlings may also be very frail and may need extra support. You can prop this with a small stick or a toothpick and some garden wire. You must also provide an 18/6 light/dark schedule because this is ideal for seedlings.
There are many forms of grow lighting but the most conducive is white light. A good light source should be either CFL, MH, or LED. But if your growing room has a window that gets enough daylight then this could do for now.
Unknown to most growers, roots grow in the dark. This is why you need to use an 6:18 or 4:20 dark/light schedule on a nonstop 24-hours a day light cycle. High humidity is needed at this stage at 70%, and 20–24°C range on temperatures . These are perfect seedling settings and will not apply to the next stages of a cannabis plant’s life. You need a propagator; a spray bottle of water and thermo-hygrometer are your tools to aide you create that perfect humid environment that seedlings love.
You will notice at this time that there are plants that will have floppy or stretchy. Don’t worry because this is not your fault. These may be due to genetics. Also, most often it’s an indicator that the grow lamp is placed too far from the canopy. A cool white 250W CFL can hang 15cm with no issues above a dozen seedlings without leaves getting burned.
Choosing the ideal starter substrate material
Your seedlings’ growing medium should be wet but not waterlogged. A dry-wet cycle should be your goal. Do not overwater your plants because this can cause mold and root rot. Using a sprayer mist plants if you are unsure. To test for the medium, touch it and feel its dryness or how wet it is. This is a good way to decide if you need to adjust the humidity levels inside your growing area. You must remember that switching to another medium once the plant is set can be dangerous. You must keep this simple and maintain consistency. You can’t initially grow seedlings in soil and transplant these later into a bucket.
All about choosing cups, cubes and other small containers for planting
You may use blocks or rockwool cubes and for hydroponic growing. Your seedlings should be placed in a cube, a small one will do, so that this can be transplanted easier later. Cut down a cube chunk from a block. This is a good way to transplant cannabis plants without adding too much stress to the seedlings.
There are so many types of cannabis cubes but of all the recommendations, Rockwool may not be a good idea for people who want to continue soil growing. Rockwool retains water more than the soil around it and these results in a sludge-like, green, algae growth in the soil. So don’t take any risk of your seedlings dying from root rot.
A medium rich in oxygen will drain excess water and nutrients well is the best mix for soil growers and coco coir growers. From these two materials, there is an overlapping at the seedling stage. Coco cubes or peat are usually the easiest to utilize and are also very expensive as well. The same as rockwool blocks, you will be able to monitor root growth as white strands usually stick out from the coco cube. Those who would like to grow in hydro or organic and those who are growing clones usually are more successful when seedlings are started with cube growing mediums.
There are also coco and soil growers who use small pots made of plastic or party cups as a starter. Lightly fertilized soil combined with coco or perlite with 30% upto 50% perlite is usually the most widely chosen mixed media for cannabis seedlings. As long you ensure that the bottom of the container has ample amount of drain holes and that it will be able to hold the amount of medium, this can suit as your starter pot. You can also improvise by using coffee cups, plastic party cups or any small cup. Just poke small holes at the bottom.
Transplanting seedlings and when to do it
When is the perfect time for seedling transplant? The best time is right before they grow over what their current container or pot can hold. The advantage of cubes is that you can see roots peaking out which means that it is time to transplant to a larger cup. When you begin with a small pot or a cup, you are only relying on clues that are above the ground or medium. Usually when the true leaves of the small plant have appeared and have covered the outer area of the container then this is the right time. Vertical growth of the seedling is another obvious clue.
But do not wait very long before you transplant them. Plants can get root-bound and this can put stress to your plants. It could take time for root-bound plants to recover too and plants can remain stunted forever. Usually, it could take 7 to 10 days for the seedling to develop its roots and is ready for transplant.
How to transplant cannabis seedlings safely
Where you buy marijuana seeds, you can ask for good starter cubes to grow your seedlings. Cubes can be the simplest to use because you can safely transplant your cannabis plants. You can cut a hole to size from a big block or create a hole into the medium using your finger and plug in the cube for a good fit.
Potting your plants should be done safely. Initially, do not fill your big container with soil up to the top. Leave room to water the pot later. Packing the pot with soil full will just cause water to spill from the pot and it won’t be absorbed by the soil to get to the roots.
Create an hole in your large container using a small pot. Make this hole in the soil or planting medium after you have dampen the soil. This will be the perfect spot where you will place the transplanted seedling.
Wait until the soil or the planting medium in the small pot is dry. Flip the dry plant upside down, and pat it gently at the bottom. Hold the plant from the base of the stem and remove it from the compact soil or planting medium and release it out of the container all in one piece. Slide the plant into the large container. Add to replace lost topsoil or coco and add a little more moisture.
Should you use small pots or big final pots
If your final pot or container is up to 11l, you can germinate your seeds directly. This is the most viable option avalailable when growing starting from a cannabis seed. Clones does not develop roots apparently in large containers. At the start seedlings in larger containers or pots will usually grow slower than those that are in small containers. At a few weeks of growing, you will see the obvious difference is undeniable.
If you do not transplant, you can reduce the possibility of a transplant shock. However, you will out a limit the potential of your plants. Usually, an initial and final transplanting is the best way to go for autoflowering strains that have a short flowering cycle like autoflowering cannabis plants. Bigger pots are always the best. Cannabis Transplanting is stressful for the plants but it should not be avoided. You must practice perfecting this technique to avoid plant stress for your future plants.