Germination Guide for Autoflowering Seeds
Seed germination is the first part of a successful grow cycle, to help you start your cannabis plants with the right foot, here’s an autoflower germination guide that can be used not only for cannabis but for tomatoes, mangos, strawberries. you name it!
So here’s how to germinate cannabis seeds with the best-known methods and a couple of tips that will get you harvesting in no time.
1. First Things First: Know the anatomy of your cannabis seed
The process of autoflower germination can take up to 10 days, in order to do everything correctly and know if everything’s going well, we need to know a little bit more about the seed.
First of all, we need to understand the anatomy of a cannabis seed.
The cannabis seed has a dark brown, hard, and often striped, shell, this shell is what protects the insides which are extremely fragile.
When germinating, we need to hydrate the seed, this will soften the seed’s shell and allow water to reach the embryo, when the water reaches it, the embryo will “activate” and start developing.
Have in mind that it’s possible to drown the seed, so we need to keep an eye on moisture levels, also making sure it doesn’t dry out.
With a softened shell, it will be easier for the radicle to come out and this is when you’ll see the white taproot slowly appearing, and once it reaches 2-3cm, it’s time to plant it.
As soon as the seedling comes out of the medium, you’ll often see the shell stuck on top of the cotyledons, which are the tiny round leaves that you’re able to see once the shell has detached from the seedling.
Those leaves are responsible for feeding the plant until the first set of true leaves appear.
Also, there isn’t the best way to germinate marijuana seeds, you can do it any way you want, as long as you keep proper conditions, your seeds will germinate.
So, if you’re wondering how do you germinate autoflowering seeds? Read along for the best methods.
2. The Best Conditions For Germinating Seeds
As you may know, cannabis plants need certain conditions depending on the stage they’re in, maintaining these conditions are the best way to ensure your plants will thrive, and when talking about seeds and germination, it’s no different.
Obviously, you can grow cannabis plants in less-than-ideal conditions and they will still grow but it may end up affecting the yields or quality of your harvest.
When talking about germinating auto seeds, germinating in less-than-ideal conditions will decrease the chances of sprouting, so unlike growing cannabis in bad conditions, which will still grow but can affect the harvest, germinating in bad conditions can end up killing your seeds.
So when germinating autoflowers you should keep the temperature between 21-26°C and the humidity as close as 90% as you can.
3. Top Tricks For Germinating Old Seeds
As said above, germinating in the ideal conditions will guarantee a successful germination but sometimes seeds may be old or have been kept in bad conditions and can be hard to germinate.
So, to help you germinate old seeds, here are a couple of tricks that will increase the chances of germination.
But first of all, you need to know the best conditions to avoid these problems.
How To Properly Store Seeds
If you are storing seeds for your next grow cycle, you need to keep them in ideal conditions.
If you’re going to germinate them during the next couple of days there’s no need to do anything extra, other than keeping them in a cool place and in complete darkness but if you’re planning to store them for months or even years, you should keep them in the fridge.
You should keep your seeds in an airtight container in a fridge set at 6-8°C with a relative humidity of between 20-30%, if you can’t set your fridge to the temperatures mentioned, just keeping them in the fridge will increase the chances of germination.
Just have in mind that the better the conditions, the longer your seeds with last.
Soak in supplemented water
As cannabis seeds get old, the shell hardens and can make it hard for the water to reach the embryo, and if the water doesn’t reach the embryo, your seeds won’t sprout so if you’re dealing with old seeds, you can soak them in supplemented water.
To do this, you can fill a glass cup with water and add around 30ml of hydrogen peroxide and leave your seeds soaking for 12hs, this should do the trick.
You can also use germination boosters that you find in grow shops but usually, hydrogen peroxide works, also, make sure the water is around 22°C and it’s not getting direct sunlight.
Scarification is a method used to make ridges on the seed to help water pass through, to do this properly, you will need a piece of sandpaper but you can improvise and do it with a matchbox.
The goal is to thin out the shell so that the water can reach the embryo easily, just make sure you don’t overdo it and end up harming the embryo inside.
Slightly Open The Seed
As you may have seen, the seed is made out of two halves and has a ridge around it, if your seeds are old, that ridge may end up hardening too much and the seed won’t sprout.
So to help your weed seed germinate, you can use a knife or any other tool with a thin point to gently insert it in between the ridges and slightly separate it, after this process, you can soak your water and germinate it like you normally would.
4. Paper Towel Germination Method
The paper towel method is the easiest of all methods. You’ll need :
- 2 paper towels
- a plastic container or plates
Moisten the paper towels and wring them out so they’re damp but not completely wet.
Place the seeds on the paper towel, fold it over the seeds and place it in a plastic container, cover it with the lid to keep moisture in (can also use two plates instead of the plastic container, place the paper towel on a plate and use the other one to cover).
Place the container in a slightly warm and dark place.
Remember to check on it daily, we must ensure the paper towels never dry out, the seeds need to keep absorbing moisture, it’s likely that the seeds will never germinate if they don’t.
Sprinkle a little bit of water if needed, you’ll know they’re ready to be transplanted when the radicle is around 1-3cm long.
Tip: If the paper towel starts having a bad smell, it’s a sign of too much water, let it dry for a couple of days, and if the papers continue smelling bad, change the paper towels.
5. Soaking Overnight In A Glass Of Water
After many years of experimenting and looking for the best way to germinate our Fast Buds seeds, we must say that this is definitely one of the most effective ways.
This method is especially effective for seeds with a harder shell or older seeds. You’ll need:
- Glass cup
As the title says, grab a glass cup and fill it half with water.
Place the seeds in the glass and leave it in a dark place, let the seeds soak for up to 32 hours.
Most viable seeds will sink after a couple of hours and you should see the radicle after a couple of days.
Remember that some seeds may need longer until you see the radicle coming out.
If they haven’t sprouted after 72 hours, add a few drops of hydrogen peroxide to kill accumulated bacteria in the water and return to the darkness for 2 more days.
6. Using A Germination Chamber
When you get a bit more experienced, you’ll wanna look for more professional tools and the germination chamber is one of them.
It consists of a plastic base with small square cells (can come with up to 256 cells, each cell supports 1 seed), on top of a heat mat, also comes with a humidity dome, basically looks like a small greenhouse. They’re very cheap and you can make one at home.
The chamber can be used with any type of medium, Rockwool cubes, peat pellets, coco fiber, perlite, or even soil and they keep the best environment for sprouting seeds and the first days of the seedling.
To start germinating, make a small hole (1-2 cm) in moisten medium, cover without applying pressure, turn on the heat mat and spray the humidity dome, it should take a couple of days to see the seedling coming out.
7. Rockwool Cubes And Peat Pellets
Rockwool cubes are small cubes made of rock and sand fibers, with the consistency of cotton candy almost, they absorb a lot of water and usually are used for germinating seeds and clones.
Using them along with the germinating chamber has an advantage, being easy to transplant to the next medium or container.
They also can be used along with clay pellets in hydroponics. One of the bad aspects of Rockwool cubes is you can easily overwater and get root rot.
Peat pellets are similar to the Rockwool cubes but are made of compressed peat moss and come in a small disc shape.
To germinate in either one of them, we will use the same technique explained before, moisten the Rockwool or peat pellet, make a little hole (1-2cm) and place the seed inside, cover it gently without applying pressure and you’re all done.
You can place the pellet or cube directly in any type of medium or hydroponics chamber, after sprouting, the roots will continue to grow down, even if they reach the end of the Rockwool or peat pellet.
8. Planting Directly In Medium
Sometimes the simplest way is the better way. As it happens in nature, we can also sprout our seeds in our medium of your preference (coco, soil, perlite, etc..)
Just grab a pencil, or even with your fingers, make a little hole (1-2cm deep), and place the seed in it, the medium must be moist but not soaking, then cover with soil without applying pressure.
Every time you transplant a seedling, it needs some time to readjust and can cause stress, thus one of the biggest benefits of this method is you don’t have to worry about damaging your seedling when transplanting or shocking it because it already is in its final place.
9. In Conclusion
There’s no such thing as the best way to germinate marijuana seeds, a successful germination is considered when you see the first leaves, known as Cotyledons, cannabis seeds germinate correctly with relatively high temperatures and humidity. To successfully reach the flowering stage you’ll have to use different techniques, not only for sprouting but to keep the plant happy and healthy until harvest.
Whether deciding which germination method to chose or getting ready for your first successful grow setup, our advice for beginner growers will be to start with autoflowering strains. If you look for something easy, quick, and easy to maintain, like Zkittlez Auto and Gorilla Glue Auto, there’s nothing better than choosing to grow autoflowers.
The most known methods to sprout your seeds and get your grow cycle going in no time.
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!
You can find a wide range of cannabis seeds by clicking here.
Author: Javier Chinesta
Translation: Ciara Murphy
A complete guide to planting autoflowering cannabis seeds; get the most out of your plants with these fool proof steps to growing autoflowering strains.