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If you're interested in growing cannabis the good old-fashioned way, check out our ultimate guide to growing weed from seed. Growing cannabis from a seed is super easy, affordable, and fun.
With the right experience, you can eventually learn to grow your own seeds/new strains. If you're ready to become a master cannabis grower and breeder, here's how it's done.
What Are Cannabis Seeds?
Cannabis seeds are the foundation for growing a living cannabis plant. In the wild, a cannabis seed is produced when a male cannabis plant’s pollen fertilizes a female plant.
When you're growing cannabis for flower buds, you don't want this to happen. If you plan on breeding new strains or using hemp seeds for hemp seed oil, then you want pollination.
Here are the three main cannabis seed types you can buy and what to look for:
- Regular: Regular seeds have an equal chance of becoming either a male or female cannabis plant. Regular seeds can be used for breeding new cannabis plants.
- Feminized: Feminized seeds are seeds that only grow into female plants. Choosing this type eliminates the risk of growing male plants. However, there is a small chance that female cannabis plants display hermaphrodite traits featuring both male and female sex organs.
- Autoflowering: Autoflowering seeds begin flowering after a certain period of time instead of waiting for a change in light cycle like traditional photoperiod plants. Autoflowering plants can be harvested in as little as 10 weeks allowing growers to reap multiple yields throughout the year.
Choosing the Right Cannabis Seeds
The first step in growing weed from seed is finding the right seeds. One of the easiest ways to source high-quality cannabis seeds is from your licensed dispensary. However, not everyone lives in a state that has legalized cannabis for medical or adult use.
If a dispensary is not available, users generally turn to online seed banks that ship to their region. Many seed banks are able to ship seeds to the United States as “souvenirs,” not to grow.
Ordering seeds online is safe and effective, although it is illegal in the United States. There is a slight risk that your seeds shipped from an international seed bank will be detained by U.S. customs and confiscated.
However, many seed banks use stealth shipping techniques such as hiding the seeds in an inconspicuous object such as a DVD case or other souvenir.
If you get a chance to visually inspect your cannabis seeds before you grow, there are characteristics you should look for when growing weed from seed. Here are the characteristics to look for in a high-quality cannabis seed:
- Size: Generally, indica seeds can be larger than the smaller sativa seeds. In addition, indica seeds can display stripes while sativa seeds are usually one color.
- Color: Avoid growing with a green or pale-colored seed. The best and most mature seeds have a dark brown color and may feature dark stripes or spots in brown, black while, or tan.
- Firmness: A seed’s rigidity must be relatively hard and not soft or broken.
On top of inspecting your seed quality, you must also choose the type of strain you want to grow. Nowadays, there are a variety of strain types with unique growing characteristics.
Do you want a fast-growing plant? Are you looking for a short-growing plant to fit in your closet? Indica plants tend to grow shorter and bushier compared to taller sativas.
Best Way to Germinate Marijuana Seeds
The next step in growing weed from seed is germination. Cannabis germination refers to the process of sprouting your cannabis seed to grow into a plant. There are a few ways to begin the sprouting process:
- Soaking method: Drop one or a few cannabis seeds in a container full of warm bottled or purified water. Allow the seeds to completely soak until they sink (for about 24 hours). Leave your seeds in a dark and warm space. Avoid leaving the seeds submerged for too long, which increases the risk of root rot.
- Paper towel method: One of the easiest and most affordable ways to germinate your seeds is using the paper towel method. You'll be covering your seeds with a couple of moist sheets of paper towel and two paper plates to create a dark and protected environment. A heating mat can help maintain the warm temperatures needed. When the seeds have begun sprouting, you can place them in your grow media.
- Soil method: The final way to germinate your seeds is by directly starting to grow in soil in a small container. After soaking, the seed can go inside a half an inch hole with its root pointing down. If not soaked, the pointy end can face down. Cover the seed with your soil and moisten the top. It can display noticeable growth after about 5 days. Plastic wrap or a plastic lid over the container can create a greenhouse effect to keep the humidity level between 70 and 90%.
Pro temperature tip: With any method listed above, keep temperatures between 75 to 80º F.
Cannabis Garden Set-Up
Cannabis seeds can be grown indoors or outdoors. Generally, many weed growers grow indoors due to local cultivation laws. Regardless of where you grow, here are a few considerations to keep in mind:
- Location: Consider how much light your plant can get in your location and the amount of shade surrounding it. Is the height enough for your plants? Do you have enough space for lights? A grow tent is a great option for indoor marijuana growing.
- Light: Indoor growers can choose between fluorescent, LED, and HID lighting. Fluorescent bulbs are budget-friendly, while LED offers energy-savings, and HID provides high-powered lighting
- Nutrients: Nutrient intake changes depending on the stage of growth. Refer to the manufacturer's feed chart for the best feeding schedule.
- Grow Medium: Growers can choose between soil and soilless methods (coco, sphagnum, peat, etc).
- Container: Growers can use a 5-gallon pot or a smart pot for easy growing.
Cannabis Growth Stages
After the initial seedling stage, cannabis has certain growth stages that require a specific amount of nutrients to thrive. Here's a breakdown of the cannabis plant’s life cycle:
- Vegetative Stage: The vegetative stage is when the plant will do most of its growth. This stage can last a few weeks or a couple of months. Light cycles should have 18 hours of light. Training techniques can be used to increase yield.
- Flowering Stage: In photoperiod strains, the plants begin the flowering stage when the daylight hours are under 12 hours with 12 hours of darkness. Switch to the bloom nutrient formula with a higher ratio of phosphorus and potassium during the stage.
- Flushing: Flushing is an optional step that involves a water-only diet to completely flush the nutrients from the plant before harvest. Flushing can be done up to two weeks before harvest.
- Harvest and Drying: When most of the plant’s trichomes have turned darker, it's time to harvest. Cut off individual branches and hang them in a cool, dry, and dark space for about a week to reduce the extra moisture in the buds. Generally, plants are ready when the stems produce an audible snap when broken.
- Trimming and Curing: Curing cannabis buds in an airtight mason jar allows them to improve their aroma and flavor. Curing can take up to 10 days and requires regular “burping” of the jar to release evaporation and improve freshness.
Is Your Cannabis Plant Male or Female?
If you're growing from a regular seed, you'll want to keep a close eye on your plant's growth development after about six weeks. If you're growing from feminized seeds, you won't need to worry about checking for males since feminized seeds only produce female plants. If you’re interested in sexing cannabis plants, here’s what to look for:
- Female: Female plants form pistillate hairs that signal cannabis budding. In the early stages, they are white and eventually turn a darker orange, red, or brown.
- Males: Males form pollen sacs that look like little balls without any hairs. Immediately remove these plants from your garden if you find them and want to produce the most amount of flower buds.
How to Grow Cannabis Seeds
One of the more exciting benefits of growing weed from seed is the ability to grow your own cannabis male plants. These males can be used to pollinate multiple female cannabis plants or a few branches from a cannabis plant.
Here's how you can grow cannabis for seeds:
- Waiting for the right moment: If you want to create your own cannabis seeds, you're going to need a female cannabis plant and a male cannabis plant, at the very least. Generally, males may mature faster than females. While your females are maturing, you can maintain your cannabis male by pruning its small flowers until the female plant is ready for pollination. Female plants will be ready for pollination when their flower buds have almost reached maturity and they have grown long pistils.
- Pollination: Start by collecting the marijuana pollen from the cannabis plants and wait until your females are about 3 weeks into the flowering phase before you even start pollination. You can collect pollen directly from a male plant or remove the pollen sac and store it in an airtight plastic bag until you're ready to use it. A small paintbrush allows you to apply the pollen directly to the pistil hairs of a flowering female plant. Cannabis seeds can be harvested about 6 weeks afterward.
Become a Master Cannabis Grower
Enroll in Cannabis Training University to become a master cannabis grower.
Our comprehensive Cannabis Growing Pro program is perfect for growers of all skill levels. Complete beginners can learn the basics of growing from seed indoors and outdoors. Advanced growers can learn new training techniques to optimize their garden.
In addition, we offer programs on cannabis extraction, cannabis cooking, cannabis laws, cannabis as medicine, and more, so you can become a complete Master of Marijuana. Earn your online cannabis certification today.
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Luis Cordova is a distinguished author, and renowned expert in cannabis cultivation, who possesses a Master's degree in Plant Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical Science. As a valued contributor to highly esteemed publications such as Cannabis Training University and Maximum Yield Magazine, Luis has emerged as a trusted source of guidance and knowledge in the cannabis industry. Having written thousands of informative articles, Luis is widely recognized for his comprehensive expertise on cultivating cannabis, both indoors and outdoors.