A complete guide to planting autoflowering cannabis seeds; get the most out of your plants with these fool proof steps to growing autoflowering strains. Here's a complete guide to autoflowering marijuana seed germination. Learn everything there is to know about how to germinate autoflowers! Germinate cannabis seeds in cotton pads, soil or RootIt cubes. Check our full guides for the different germination methods, tips and tricks included.
Planting Autoflowering Cannabis Seeds
Planting autoflowering cannabis seeds is a relatively easy process, but to get the most out of your plants you need to follow a series of steps that are completely different from those that seasonal seeds have. An autoflowering cannabis seed needs a bit more care than normal seeds. You need to speed up the growth as much as possible so you don’t get teeny plants with no more than 5 blunts on them. We’re going to give you a series of things you’ll need to do in order to get the most out of your plants.
Germinating Autoflowering Cannabis Seeds:
The first thing that you’ll need to do is germinate the seed properly, using the paper towel method that we’ve talked about here before.
Once your seeds have germinated or opened, however you prefer to call it, you’ll need to prepare some small Teku 7×7 pots with soil, don’t use jiffy pellets or anything like that as the roots need plenty of space to grow.
Fill the pots with soil first and then water them; once the plant breaches the top of the soil you mustn’t wet it again. If you water it before the seed has come out then it will probably move up towards the surface which can cause a whole list of other issues. The best thing to do is to water first and then wait to water it again until the sapling grows a bit.
Bury the seed about half a cm to 1cm down into the soil, making a hole with a pen or a toothpick and putting the seed inside with the little root facing downwards. Cover it with a bit of soil without compacting it too much and leave it there until the plant begins to grow above the soil. What we usually do is leave it for 24h with light during this process until you transplant the seed to its main flowerpot. If you don’t have grow lights then use the most powerful one you can so that it doesn’t get too cold in the pot.
Up until this point the process has been exactly the same for seasonal seeds, but that’s about to change. You’ll need to wait for the plant to break the surface and have that little growth spurt that cannabis plants tend to get when they’re looking for light. This can take 4 or 5 days, and you’ll need to keep a close eye on them so you don’t leave them for too long. Make sure that the plant doesn’t begin to develop in that flowerpot, the maximum time you should leave the plant in it is 6 days.
Now is when you’ll need to transplant your autoflowering plants to their permanent home. Autoflowering strains that take two months prefer pots that are about 7L, whereas those that take three months much prefer pots that are 11L, no bigger.
Fill the flowerpots to the top with soil, nice and compact so that when you water the water doesn’t go all the way to the bottom, although make sure you don’t compact it too much as the plants need a good oxygen/water ratio to breath and grow; with no oxygen the roots won’t be healthy at all and you’ll end up with a dwarfed plant. You’ll need to keep the light at 20h until the end, or make sure it’s in a spot where it can get the maximum amount of sunlight hours.
Once those pots are full of soil, you’ll need to make a hole to stick your small plant in. Make it deep, as you’ll need to bury part of the trunk as well, to the point where the bottom of the trunk is just 5cm long from the soil to where the first leaves are. Then, water the edges of the pot little by little so the soil gets properly humid.
The reason you need to bury part of the trunk is because even more roots can come out of that small piece of stem, and it also gives the plant stability and strength so that it doesn’t bend and break and it can spend more energy on growing branches and foliage. The more roots it grows the more the plant will grow, which is how you can easily speed up the growing process. Once you’ve buried it, water the plant with about a liter of water mixed with a low concentration of growth fertilizer; some substrates absorb water easier than others, so it might be trial and error in your case and you’ll need to adapt the amount of water to how absorbent your soil is.
I use a liter of water with Canna Terra Professional, and no excess water comes out of the holes in the flowerpot which means it’s adequately watered. You can read all about substrates here.
From this day onwards you’re going to need to check and see if the soil is dry; until it is completely dry you shouldn’t have to water it again, and this should take about 7 days. The best way to check if the soil is dry is by lifting up the pot; if it’s still pretty heavy then it still has water in it.
The next step is watering with growth fertilizers once it’s dry after that first watering. You should be at around day 13 or 14 and you’ll have noticed a bit of growth in the last couple of days. For watering, you should make your mix in a bottle with just one glass of water per pot at this stage. The next day check and see if the pots are heavy; if they’re dry then give them another glass of water but if they’re not don’t water them again until the next day. If the soil is extremely dry the next day then you’ll need to give it two glasses of water. Up the dosage as time goes by little by little and this process of dryness and water will make the plant grow a nice root system, as well as an amazing production.
Before you realize it, it will be day 25 and your plant should be beginning to flower. It no longer looks like the plants you had before, does it? You haven’t changed the seeds, just the method. Now all you have to do is follow the typical flowering steps that every seed needs; a flowering stimulant to begin with, a flowering base, a fattening products once the buds have formed, and end it all by washing out the roots. Flowers take about 20 days to properly form and the fattening period lasts about 2 weeks rather than four weeks for a seasonal seed; once you see the flowers forming properly then you need to use the fattening product.
We’re sure that if you follow these steps you’ll be extremely happy with the results that your autoflowering plants will give you compared to other grows you’ve tried. You might even see some of the mistakes that you made corrected in this article. Many people will probably say to never transplant autoflowering plants, but those people won’t get specimens as big as you will if you follow this guide!
Autoflower Seed Germination Guide
Autoflowering cannabis seeds are just like any regular ones and the process of germination is the same, in fact, the only differences are in the way you treat you seedling when it has sprouted. Some growers say that autoflower seeds can be germinated in colder temperatures but I have not tested this hypothesis myself and have not seen side by side tests that show temperature differences and autoflower seed germination rates.
There are basically two methods of germinating autoflower seeds and they are natural seed germination and germination without growing medium. In nature autoflowering cannabis seeds usually drop down in the autumn, then they survive the winter and in the spring when the temperature reaches optimal level and the surrounding area gets moist they start to germinate. Autoflowering seeds don’t like overly wet conditions and if the seeds drop into a puddle or any other water reservoir or even a swamp then they usually start rotting and die. Looking from the other extreme when a cannabis seeds germinate it looks for a wet environment and if the tap root encounters a dry environment it shivers and dies. From the environments that these seeds encounter in nature we can see that they need to be really strong to survive different conditions and that is why autoflower growers in perfect conditions can achieve more than 99% seed germination.
Autoflower marijuana seeds can germinate in a wide range of temperatures. The optimal temperature for the surrounding air is 27 degrees Celsius but a bit of variation won’t harm the germination rate.
The soil temperature should be a bit lower and it should be around the 25 C mark, but again a little variation won’t affect the germination process that much.
If you are in a colder environment you need to get a heating pad that can heat up your growing medium and if you are in a hot environment get some fans or install an air conditioning unit.
More about autoflower temperature you can find in my previous post!
Autoflowering germination process requires a certain amount of water and water is the life-juice of the seedling that encourages it to start the growing process. Cannabis seeds require clear water, they can be germinated in tap water but you should check the PH level of it because it should be in the 5.6 – 6.2 range, but you can also use distilled water.
You should definitely avoid any nutrients at the germination process and first weeks of growth because the little seedling has a certain amount of nutrients inside the seed, and too many nutrients can halt its growth.
Growing medium preparation
Before putting your seed inside a growing medium you should fully wet that medium by flushing and only after it has dried up a bit you can put the seed in it. Almost any growing medium will be suitable for autoflower seed germination and you just need to check if the PH level is not too high or too low.
After the seed is put inside that growing medium, keep it damp but not too wet as the too humid environment can cause bacteria to spread rapidly causing the new seedling to rot away.
Natural autoflower seed germination
Just take your autoflower cannabis seed and put it in a wet growing medium 2 to 3 times as deep as the width of the seed. That little plant will shoot its tap root down into the ground and with those seed leaves will try to find the light.
Because the seed leaves are growing as they search for the light they will sprout into the air and the little seedling will be firmly held into its place by the taproot. If you plant your autoflowering seeds any deeper the seedling will struggle to push itself towards the light but if you plant it right at the surface the root can get in the light that can stun the plant’s growth.
This is the easiest germination method and this is how nature intended the seeds to be germinated, so you can pretty easily germinate seeds this way and they will pop 90 to 99% of the time depending on the seed quality and age.
Some growers prefer to put the seed in water for 24 hours before planting it in the ground but that does not increase the germination rate for young seeds and usually is done for older seeds.
This method is easy and if you don’t put those automatic seeds into the water for soaking then you just need to dig a small hole and put that seed inside.
This method is the least stressful for the little seedling as you don’t move it around and the soil acts as a buffer if there are any temperature or light fluctuations.
One of the disadvantages is that you cannot control every aspect of this germination process and you can’t know which seeds will germinate and which won’t.
This not knowing also creates a need for more pots and ultimately can cost you money because some seeds will not germinate and you can’t tell which will, but you need to plant each of them inside a different container.
Autoflowers are no good for transplanting and if you want to grow your plants into 5-gallon pots then you need to put each seed inside the end pot/rock wool cube and if some of them don’t germinate you have wasted your resources.
Autoflower starting without growing medium
This is a common method between experienced growers as it gives them full control of the germination process but in a sense is a bit more difficult. This germination method has a number of variations but the most common is the method of putting autoflower seeds in a wet paper towel in an almost closed environment.
If you are using this method you need to control your humidity and it should be at the 80 % level. You also need to control the temperature of the surrounding air because there is no buffer (soil/rockwool) that can protect the seed.
You also need to put your seed germination tray in a dark room and twice a day check if the paper towel has not dried yet. I will give an autoflower germination guide (wet paper towel method) at the end of this article.
Growers can see which seeds will germinate and put only those seeds in their containers not wasting any materials.
By germinating autoflower seeds in this manner you also have full control over the germination process and you can give the seed perfect condition for germination.
Seeds will also pop faster than if they were grown right in the growing medium!
Inexperienced growers can damage seeds while handling them to their growing medium or just getting some of the environmental variables wrong.
If they are left in the paper towel too long the growth can be stunned and they can even die.
This method requires a lot more work than just putting seed into the ground. Basically there are more things that can go wrong.
How to germinate old seeds?
Old seeds are those cannabis seeds that have been produced some 3 and more years ago but that doesn’t mean that you can’t germinate them.
Usually, seeds stay valid for 3 to 5 years if stored properly but with every passing year the seed germination percentage drops and it is harder and harder for you to germinate them. In time the seedling inside the seed loses its moisture and starts to shrink getting weaker and weaker up to the point that it is no longer alive and no moisture levels can’t bring it back to life.
The process of germinating old autoflower seeds is similar to regular seed germination, but you need to let them soak in water for a while so that the seed shell can soften and moisture can get inside the seed giving energy to cells to crack that shell and push out the tap root.
In the picture below you can see seeds in water soaking up that moisture. One of these seeds has drowned and two are floating on the top.
Usually, seeds will drown in a couple of hours and if they don’t drown in a day or two then they could be damaged. This drowning indicator is not as viable because the water surface pressure will hold even the healthiest seeds floating so you can gently push them down and if they don’t sink then, the seeds are probably damaged.
Autoflower growers usually let old seeds stay in water for 24 hours before putting them inside a growing medium or putting them in a paper towel, but be careful as leaving them in the water there for longer can harm them!
While germinating seeds you can easily stress them so you need to look out for the environmental stresses that can damage your seed germination rate.
The first thing is the light cycle fluctuations and the light itself. When germinating autoflower seeds they should be in complete darkness and no light should be shining on those newly sprouted tap roots, as it happens in the ground where there is complete darkness. After the seedling has sprouted you should not change the light schedules and let those newly grown plants grow in perfect conditions.
The second stress that those seeds should not encounter is temperature fluctuations as they can also damage the germination rate, in the ideal conditions temperature should stay the same all the way till the autoflower seed has sprouted and won’t dip in the night time or rise in the daytime.
The last stress that can damage the newly sprouted tap root or seedling itself is nutrients. For the first days and weeks of cannabis growth, you need to supply only pure water with no salts and nutrients.
Method for fixing seeds that are not sprouting:
If you tried to germinate your seeds and some of them did not crack open after 5 days or more you have one last hope and it is to gently try to crack open the seed shell hoping not to damage the seedling if it is still alive.
This method is not going to work 100% of the time and in most cases, you won’t get even 50% success rates but you can apply this method as the last resort if that seed doesn’t sprout naturally.
You can do this in a number of ways and the most common are:
Try to crack it open between your teeth, by lightly crushing one end till the seed shell breaks.
Another method is to do this with tweezers trying to get an opening at one end
The last method is just taking a small knife or scalpel and cutting around the seed till the seed shell breaks off, but you should be very careful not to damage the seedling if it is still alive.
Autoflower seed germination guide
First of all select a viable cannabis seeds that you will be germinating. You need dark-colored seeds that are strong and not too old. If you bought your autoflower seeds from a seed company then you probably should not worry about the quality of them as usually seed companies sell only the best quality seeds.
After selecting the best autoflowering seeds you have two options: putting them right in soil or germinating on wet paper towels. In this guide, I will show the second method.
You will need a container, clear water, and paper towels. For this autoflower seed germination guide, I chose to document one of my micro grows with a yogurt container as a pot, but the principles are all the same for any grow and the basic germination methods stay the same!
The seeds I used were Sweet Seeds – Fast Bud #2, the soil was a basic potting soil with balanced N-P-K and I used tap water.
First of all, you need to germinate your selected autoflower seeds!
Germinate cannabis seeds: Best ways
The best cannabis seeds can be expensive, so it pays to have a good germination method. Here are three different, but fully proven, methods which will give you consistently good germination rates (assuming the cannabis seed was of good quality of course)
The three detailed marijuana seed germination guides detail the use of cotton pads and RootIt Cubes, as well as traditional soil germination of cannabis seeds. The seed germination guides are equally valid for feminized seeds, autoflower seeds, regular seeds, CBD seeds, outdoor cannabis seeds or any other type of cannabis seed.
How to germinate cannabis seeds in cotton pads?
Using the same make-up cotton pads available in any pharmacy or drug store you can germinate your cannabis seeds easily. The method shows how you can germinate marijuana seeds between two damp cotton pads and then leave these pads on a dish covered in transparent kitchen film.
How to germinate cannabis seeds in soil?
Many growers have used soil for years. Germinating your cannabis seeds in soil is easy enough with a few simple rules. The germination guide explains soil preparation. It explains how to place the seed in the soil and advises on watering, temperatures etc. If you want to germinate and grow your seeds in soil then this is the guide for you.
How to germinate cannabis seeds in RootIt Cubes?
RootIt Cubes, along with many similar germination cubes, all use a moisture retaining material to geminate your cannabis seeds. Often this is a synthetic brown foam polymer, but glass wool and coco fibre have been used. The guide explains how the germination cubes are prepared and kept moist, as well as showing how to place the cannabis seed inside. RootIt Cubes and similar products are widely available online and in grow shops, they are a convenient and easy way to germinate weed seeds. If you are planning to germinate your cannabis seeds with germination cubes then this guide is for you.
Important. Avoid pulling the seed casing away from the seedling (especially new growers), you can damage the seedling. Its always better to wait until the seed case dries out and falls off naturally. Ripping the seed casing away from the first set of baby leaves (cotyledon) too early damages the young seedling and can kill it.
Each grower will have their own preferred germination method, these methods are our suggestions based on many years of customer feedback from Dutch Passion customers. Good luck!
9 Comments . Leave new
How much water do seed need during the germination (in soil) And than in the growning time? Please help me!
A seed does not need any extra water as long as the soil you are germinating in is nice and moist.
You can spray your soil with a spray a couple of times if you feel it needs more moisture during germination.
During the growing period, it’s very dependent on your growing conditions, size of pot, temperature, size of the plant etc.
So we can’t give you a perfect answer to your question. Indoors you water the plants every day, with an amount that suits the period and conditions of that plant, at that time.
Thank you very very much…I hope I didn ‘t use a wrong mix of soil! I’ll tell you! Bye.
Nice and very informative blog, thank you so much for sharing this information with us.I always keen to read such a amazing post.
Well I’m about to start my 1st grow tomorrow and will be using the auto ultimate, I hope I get this right! Wish me luck as I think I’m going to need it
I wish you a lot of good luck with your grow! If you need help, let us know
Hi, i dont have microwave foil so instead i poked a couple of holes on the cling film. Is that okay?
Yes that’s definately okey to poke some holes in regular cling film
I use a good pinched chunk of rock wool.Use enough to hold moisture to geminate the seedlings. You can watch the process .