- Cannabis seed germination is the first step of cultivation, and if we make a mistake in this first phase, any subsequent effort will be in vain.
- There are several germination techniques: in damp cotton wool or paper, in a Jiffy, directly in the substrate, in a germination greenhouse, or in water. Each of them involves a number of typical mistakes that growers often make.
- No matter what germination method you usually use, in this post we list the most common mistakes made in each of them, so that you can avoid making them.
Germinating the seed is the first step in any cannabis grow. It is the process during which the seed begins to develop, and the radicle emerges. There are several methods of germination and there are a number of common mistakes made in each of them, which can be easily avoided.
Here we explain what not to do during germination in each case, and we tell you that the method recommended by Dinafem Seeds is germination in Jiffy, as it is the simplest and has the lowest error rate.
Mistakes when germinating cannabis seeds in Jiffy
Jiffies are dehydrated peat discs, pressed into a biodegradable mesh which, when moistened, become tiny sacks of earth. Water is usually applied so that the wet discs swell and become mini containers of substrate where you can plant the cannabis seed so that it germinates inside the peat. What could go wrong with this method so that we don't get to see the seedling emerging from the Jiffy?
- Adding too much water to the Jiffy: the disc must be moistened so that it swells, but it should not be drowned. The goal is to keep the soil in the Jiffy moist during the germination process, but never drowned. Some growers water the Jiffy too much, and more often than necessary, and end up drowning the seed because excessive moisture prevents the ventilation of the seed, stopping its germination.
- Covering the Jiffy so that it is too hermetically sealed: the Jiffy has to be protected, but some people shut it away in a germination greenhouse or Tupperware container with holes, increasing the moisture excessively, which leads to the growth of fungi.
- Burying the seed too deep: The seed should be about one centimetre from the surface. Although it is true that the depth of a Jiffy is not more than 10 centimetres, pushing the seed to the bottom of the Jiffy will make it difficult for the radicle to find its way out into the light. Just insert the seed with your finger, near the surface, and cover the tiny hole made when you insert it.
- Not providing it with the right light intensity: in the first germination stage, when the radicle begins to rise up, it is better to provide too much light rather than not enough, because light does not bother cannabis. Of course, in the case of the Jiffy, we must keep in mind that the light, whether from the sun or a spotlight, is linked to the possibility of drying out. So, even if it is good that the Jiffy has plenty of light, we have to make sure that this is not drying the soil too much.
- Subjecting the Jiffy to changing temperatures: changing the temperature for example from 25 degrees (indoors) to 5 degrees (on a terrace) will make germination impossible.
- Putting several seeds in the same Jiffy: these peat pellets are not big enough for several seeds. We should use one for each seed we want to germinate.
- Keeping the seed in the Jiffy for too long. As soon as the seedling has a pair of cotyledons, it must be transferred to the substrate. The Jiffy is small and can only be used for so long before space must be given to the roots to grow in the pot or in the soil.
Mistakes when germinating cannabis seeds in damp cotton wool or paper
The method of germination in damp cotton wool or paper consists of moistening these materials and wrapping the seeds in them. In this case, it is advisable to put these wet fabrics in a germination greenhouse or Tupperware container with holes for ventilation, so that the temperature remains the same throughout the process. So where could we go wrong in this case?
- Letting the radicle grow too much: if the root becomes too long, it will probably end up getting caught up in the cotton wool or paper and will then break when detached from them before being transferred to the substrate. To avoid this, we need to do two things. First, don't let the root get too long. As can be seen in the photos, the radicle grows very fast, so we have to put it in the soil when we see that it has grown in a certain direction (we can see that it either grows in a straight line or it adopts a more curved shape). Second, do not use pure cotton wool or kitchen paper, but rather cotton fabrics such as rags or pieces of old T-shirts.
- Exposing the seeds to changing temperatures: if we keep exposing them to different temperatures, seeds will not germinate. We must ensure that the place where we put them is warm, between 25 and 28 degrees Celsius, and that this temperature is kept stable until we transplant them to the substrate.
- Leaving the root in contact with the air for too long: left in contact with the air the root will oxidise, which will in turn kill the plant. When the root begins to grow, it is best to transfer it to the substrate immediately. Or, failing that, keep it well covered with the wet fabric.
Mistakes when germinating cannabis seeds in substrate (in a pot or in the ground)
Planting the seed directly into the pot or the ground where we plan to grow is another option for germinating the seed. Let's have a look at what is usually done wrong in this case, leading to the cannabis seeds failing to germinate.
- Burying the seed too deep: the seed should be one centimetre below the surface and not any deeper. As a general rule for seed germination and cultivation, it is recommended to plant the seed at a depth equal to twice the size of its diameter. It is enough to cover the cannabis seeds, which are small in diameter, with just a little soil.
- Over-fertilising the substrate: the soil where the seed will germinate should be porous and light in nutrients. The substrate used for a flowering plant is not the best choice to germinate a seed, because a marijuana 'baby' cannot assimilate the same amount of food as an adult marijuana plant. So, let's be sparing with the diet in the soil where we have placed the seed to be 'born'.
- Using a soil with an unknown composition: the soil from the park near our house, or from the vegetable garden of the house in the village are not the best options for germination. It is important to know the composition of the substrate where we are going to plant the seed. And when we take soil from somewhere else, it may contain many minerals, or many nutrients, or a lot of fertiliser, and if we have not bought it in a bag where its ingredients are listed, we will not know its composition. So, it is important to use a substrate whose composition we know, especially for this first step in growing.
- Watering too much: a substrate that is too wet, especially in the case of autoflowering seeds, can be lethal for germination, and for the seedling's first few weeks of life.
- Putting several seeds in the same pot: unless it is a very large pot, let's give each seed its individual space so that the roots have enough room to develop. If we put several seeds in a 14-litre pot, for instance, some seeds may end up hindering the development of the others.
- Planting the seed directly in the ground where the climate is not appropriate: if the weather is too cold, too hot, too dry, or too wet it will be difficult for the seed to germinate. Since we do not control the environmental conditions in an outdoor substrate, changing weather conditions can easily hinder the germination of the cannabis seed.
Mistakes when germinating cannabis seeds in water
This method consists of putting the seed in a container with warm water and waiting for it to germinate in the days following immersion.
- Leaving the seed in the water for too long: as soon as it has germinated, and we see that the radicle has emerged, the seed must be transferred to the substrate. Water can be used to germinate it, but never to grow it. So, as soon as we have achieved the goal of placing it in the liquid, we have to take it out of there and provide it with the substrate it needs to survive.
- Overdoing the dosage of hydrogen peroxide in the water: if you want to include hydrogen peroxide to prevent fungi or bacteria during germination, you have to pay attention to the concentration. Overdoing the amount can prevent germination.
Common mistakes of any germination method
- Breaking the radicle while trying to separate the shell from the bulb. Being very invasive in the germination process can be lethal to the seed. Once it has germinated, the seedling will generally eject the seed shell itself, so we should leave the seed to do its job. We recommend intervening only if it is really necessary, and we see that the plant is growing upwards and that the shell is still attached to some of its parts.
- Handling the seeds, radicles or seedlings with dirty hands. We don't know what type of dirt we might be carrying on our hands without realising it, so we should always wash our hands before carrying out any of the germination processes. This hygiene also applies to each of the tools that are in contact with the seed during the germination period.
- Using dirty water. It is important to use clean tap water at all times.
If you have made other mistakes not described in this post, please share these in the comments section. The growing experiences of some are usually useful to others.
And please, don't hesitate to ask us any questions you have about cannabis seed germination.
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