Grow At Home 101
The Journey Of Your Homegrown Cannabis Starts With a Seed
Homegrown Cannabis process from scratch is a remarkable journey.
Understanding the biology is one thing. But grasping how a miniature miracle bean can turn into a gigantic tree that not only can affect your body, but can also have positive outcomes on your mental health is nothing short of an evolutionary miracle. Or rather a co-evolutionary story of plant and human.
- 1) Where to buy seeds
- 2) Soaking your seed
- 3) Planting your seed
- 4) Above the ground
- 5) Lighting for your seedling
- 6) Watering Seedlings
- 7) Leaves & Hardening Off
- 8) Transplanting
1) Where Can I Buy Cannabis Seeds?
Cannabis seeds can be found on numerous online seed banks, but note that it is illegal to bring seeds into the US and Customs will seize any cannabis seeds that they find in packages or on a person. In legal and medical states, you may purchase seeds at ARCannabis or any other legally operating dispensary.
Discover more about how to buy cannabis seeds, the legality of doing so, and costs in Leafly’s Guide to buying cannabis seeds.
Our favourite thing about starting from a seed, rather than a clone, is that you get to behold the full life cycle and enjoy a plant that is unique, just like you. An entirely new genetic makeup will enter the world for the first time, and if you're lucky, something remarkable might be born.
Raising a seedling, however, requires some patience, gentle hands, and a tad of luck. Thankfully pot seeds are remarkably vigorous because they are what's called endosperm seeds, which means they have almost pre-formed cotyledon leaves before you even add water.
Below is a brief guide on the techniques we have found generate the most success when starting seeds and raising your seedling to a healthy plant ready for transplanting.
2) Soaking Your Seed
To accelerate germination of your future homegrown cannabis, you are going to want to soak your seed in a small container with warm water and place it in a dark and warm place for 12-24 hours, but no longer. By drenching the seed, it absorbs the water exhaustively, activating the germination process. Doing this also helps to soften the shell making it easier for the embryo to crack it open.
When your seed sinks to the bottom it is ready to be planted, and sometimes the seed will pop out a small taproot. A seed can still be planted though if it does not sink.
3) Planting Your Seed
We like to use seedling pellets that are made of a mix of compressed peat moss and coco husk. To expand, soak it in water for 10 minutes. Once your seedling pellet has absorbed enough water and has expanded to its maximum size, drain off any excess water.
The growing medium should be like a damp sponge that would not leave streaks on the table. Dig a small hole about 1/4 in deep for your seed. Use a spoon to lift the seed out of its bath.
If it has popped out a taproot be careful not to damage it. Gently place the seed into the hole and lightly cover it with dirt from the pellet. Now that you have started the germination process, your seedling will come above ground within two weeks.
The older the seed, the longer it takes for it to germinate.
4) Above The Ground
Perhaps the most exciting stage, your baby will typically come above ground in 1-2 weeks. As your seedling comes above the soil, its shell might take a few days to fall off. It’s best to leave it alone, nature has the job covered.
If it does not come above ground after about two weeks, the chance of success is dramatically reduced, and it’s best to try again. Even the best seeds have an 85% germination rate. When your seedling comes above ground, it is going to want to see a direct light source.
5) Lighting For your Seedling
Seedlings require a medium amount of light in which it has enough to grow but not too much light that it gets burned. Leaving your seedling in direct sunlight will cause the leaves to curl, while too little light will cause the seedling to stretch.
If growing outside, seedlings want to see a direct light source to stop them stretching. If inside, a sunny windowsill with more than half a day of sunlight works wonders.
Otherwise, 18 inches away from a growing light works excellently. Your seedling should not stretch more than 6 inches at most. We'll cover lighting in more depth in a later blog.
6) Watering Seedlings
For young plants, it’s best to use bottled water as it has no chlorine added. If using tap water, let it sit for 24 hours before watering to dissipate any chlorine. Chlorine can also be eliminated by boiling for 20 minutes. Under normal conditions, after soaking your seedling pellet, it should contain all the moisture your plant needs before it comes above ground.
As it grows, it will only need about a shot glass worth of water at most per week to keep the medium damp. Seedlings don’t drink a lot of water, which makes sense given their size. Your plant will do better in a growing medium which is damp. Overwatering is just as deadly as drying out.
Dampening off happens when the seedling is in too moist of an environment. The stem starts to rot at the bottom. When this happens, the plant will bend over and die if not treated. To help fight the infection, lightly spray a 0.5% solution of hydrogen peroxide around the affected area.
7) Leaves & Hardening Off
The first set of leaves to come above ground are called the cotyledons. These little leaves are packed with energy and will grow to about 1/4 in in size before eventually falling off. Your second leaves to emerge will be single blades and look like regular pot leaves. They will become several inches in length. During their growth, your first actual set of leaves will appear.
These are typically three blades. Around this time is when your plant is “hardening off”. You will notice that the stem will start to develop a thicker skin and harden off. As the leaves of the plant get bigger, they can gradually handle more sunlight.
So move it into more direct light then.
When the plant has hardened off, roots will start emerging from the bottom of your seedling pellet and the plant is ready to be transplanted into a bigger pot.
Be very careful not to damage the roots during this stage. Any stress will slow its growth. Dig a small hole in your bigger pot for the seedling, and place the rooting pack in the bottom of the hole. Then carefully dislodge your seedling along with its seedling pellet.
The best way is to invert the germination cup and tap on the bottom, being careful to hold any soil from falling out with your hand. Now bury it on top of the rooting pack so the base of its stalk is level with the top soil. Give it a proper watering to set the roots in the ground, then skip your next watering so the roots can take hold.
Do You Prefer To Use a Hydroponics System Instead?
In all hydroponics systems, plants are placed in trays or containers that contain a grow medium other than soil, such as pea gravel, expanded clay aggregate, coco coir, or vermiculite. Various systems are then used to deliver water and nutrients to the roots:
- Aeroponic: Plants sit in a tray above a water/nutrient reservoir with their roots dangling down. Solution from the reservoir is sprayed up onto the roots at regular intervals, and excess solution drips down into the reservoir.
- Drip: Nutrient-rich water is dripped slowly at regular intervals into the grow medium where the roots can absorb it. Unused water drains back to the reservoir to be reused or to a waste reservoir and then discarded.
- Deep water culture (DWC): Plants sit in baskets above an aerated (and typically chilled) water/nutrient reservoir with their roots submerged in the solution, which allows for continuous feeding.
- Ebb and flow: Plants sit in pots in a grow tray. Nutrient-rich water is pumped into the grow tray at regular intervals and flows into holes at the bottom and sides of the pots. The pumping stops and water is allowed to drain back into the reservoir from which it was pumped.
- Nutrient film technique (NFT): NFT is like a cross between DWC and ebb and flow. Plants sit in baskets above a grow tray. Nutrient-rich water is continuously pumped from a reservoir into the grow tray and then drains from the opposite end of the grow tray back into the reservoir. This arrangement delivers a continuous flow of nutrient-rich water to the roots.
- Wick: A plant sits in a container above an aerated, nutrient-rich water reservoir, and a rope or other absorbent material (such as felt) is placed through the middle of the growth medium and into the reservoir. Through capillary action, the solution from the reservoir “climbs” the rope, providing the plant with as much or as little water and nutrients as it demands.
Let The Odds Play In Your Favour
Here are a few suggestions for increasing your odds of a successful hydroponics grow:
- Disinfect all your hydroponics equipment with isopropyl alcohol or bleach between grows to kill off any bacteria or other infectious agents. Anaerobic bacteria can build up in dirty systems and kill your plants from the roots up.
- Use clean, pH neutral water. Water from a reverse osmosis (RO) system or distilled water is suitable.
- Aerate the nutrient-rich water solution. You can place an aeration stone in the bottom of the reservoir attached to a small air pump like those carried by local pet stores. Without aeration, your plants may not receive the oxygen they need.
- Replace the water/nutrient solution every couple weeks. Don’t merely add nutrients, because nutrient concentrations may become too high as a result. (Remember to use a fertilizer with a higher nitrogen concentration during the vegetative stage and higher potassium and phosphorous during the flower stage.)
- After dumping the old nutrient solution, run a dilute water and hydrogen peroxide solution through the system to clear out any infectious agents and then rinse with plain water.
- Consider flushing the grow medium with plain water whenever you change the nutrient solution.
Keep Your Homegrown Cannabis Room Impeccably Clean
At the risk of sounding like your mother, we encourage you to keep your grow room clean. A dirty grow room provides the ideal environment for bacteria, fungi, and pests. Here are a few guidelines for keeping your grow room clean:
- After each use, wash and disinfect plant containers, grow trays, irrigation hoses, and pumps. Use soap and water followed by isopropyl alcohol or a bleach solution (1/4 bleach to 3/4 water). Then, carefully rinse everything with plain water.
- Keep your grow room free of any dead plant mater and debris. This is where many pests and pathogens can get a foothold in a garden of healthy plants.
- Watch for common pests such as aphids, fungus gnats, spider mites, and thrips. If you see even one of these nasty critters, identify it and find an effective pesticide. This is where your friendly garden store or grow store staff comes in handy
Knowing how to grow a small weed plant is likely the hardest part of actually growing it. Now that you know what to do, you are well on your way to enjoying hassle-free, homegrown cannabis.
We will have another blog that explains this process thoroughly. Stay tuned!
We hope this guide helps you find fun and success with your plant. Make sure you check our blog on how to stay safe when purchasing cannabis seeds. If you have any questions, please comment below.