How To Germinate Cannabis Seeds In Peat Pellets

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In this guide, we’ll walk through the cannabis life cycle. When thinking about growing cannabis,… A step-by-step guide for successful cannabis germination grounded in science. Reviews strategies for germinating cannabis seeds and offers tips for success. Jiffy or pressed peat discs came on the market to make the process of germination, cloning and transplantation easier…

Germination Guide

If you are starting with seeds, you’ll have to germinate them to get the grow started. In this chapter, you’ll learn all about the natural conditions that cannabis seeds germinate under and then we’ll show you a failsafe way to germinate your seeds.

What is germination?

A cannabis seed is just an embryonic plant enclosed in a protective shell and germination is the process of reactivation of metabolic machinery of the seed. The outer shell splits apart and the embryonic plant emerges as a seedling. For cannabis seeds, this process takes between 1 and 7 days.

What makes seeds germinate?

Cannabis seeds lie dormant until they meet the right conditions to begin germination. In tropical conditions, cannabis seeds germinate in the warm rains of early spring. The well-drained soil of the forest floor wouldn’t be waterlogged, but it wouldn’t dry out. The ideal temperatures would be between 70°F-80°F (21°C-26°C), with 60-80% relative humidity. These spring seasonal signals tell the embryonic plant contained in the seed that conditions are right to begin its life cycles. These are the same conditions you will emulate to germinate seeds.

What’s the easiest way germinate cannabis seeds?

Peat moss pellets are pucks of dried peat moss enclosed in a fine netting. As a mostly inert medium that retains water well, peat moss pellets do a great job of mimicking the natural conditions of spring jungle floor.

What you need

Peat moss pellets – Get them online or at local department/hardware stores – they are widely available.
Filtered water – You probably have this in your fridge. pH balance between 5.5 and 6.5.
Cannabis seeds – Learn more about cannabis seeds in our guide

Step 1 – Flood the Peat Moss

Peat plugs come dried and compressed, so you need to flood them with water. Use some warm filtered water from your fridge, rainwater, or distilled water that’s pH balanced between 5.5 and 6.5. Add water until the plugs are saturated, then drain the excess water. The plugs will swell 4-5x their original volume.

Step 2 – Insert Seed

Most plugs or pellets have a small hole in the top. Insert the seed between 1/4-1/2″ (6-12MM) deep and lightly cover with an excess medium.
All emerging seedlings look identical, and most mature plants look very similar. If you start multiple strains at once, make sure to label them. Plastic plant labels can be fixed to peat moss plugs to identify the plant through its life – adding dates makes it a self-contained record.

Step 3 – Wait for it!

The next few days is mostly a waiting game. Put the pellets in a partially covered container to prevent drying out and follow these two simple rules:

DO keep the pellets warm and moist throughout germination, cannabis seeds germinate best in these conditions.
DO NOT flood or over-saturate the pellets after the initial flooding, since this will prevent the roots from getting enough oxygen. Too much water and the seedling will ‘damp out’ and fail.

One easy method to ensure that you get the right amount of water is to use a spray bottle to wet the outside edges. Another is to quickly dip the bottom of the pellets into the water; moisture will wick upwards to the rest of the pellets. Either method will encourage roots to grow outward.

Step 4 – Care for it!

As your young seedling emerges from the seed, you’ll notice that it has a set of ‘built-in’ leaves that don’t look a lot like pointy cannabis leaves. These are the cotyledons, and they are there to help the young seedling bootstrap the photosynthesis process. Young seedlings need light right away – but not too bright for the first few days

Keep the peat pellet moist until the seedling is ready to plant in a growing medium, but never saturate the pellet since that can drown the young plant. Add water from the bottom up by dipping the pellet quickly in water. This will promote rapid root growth as the roots will grow down after the water.

When is it time to plant the seedlings?
You’ll know when it’s time because roots will be bursting out of the bottom of the peat pellet. Plant the pellet in a solo cup sized container using a quality soil mix. Water without nutrients for the first few weeks.

Optimizations & Alternatives

Germination Heat Mats

Germination heat mats are just like heating pads, but they don’t get as hot and are water resistant. These are especially useful for germinating seeds in colder conditions.

Germination Enclosures

One of the best ways to simulate tropical climates is to use an enclosure to conserve moisture and heat. You can make your own from cheap plastic containers, or buy a special purpose kit made for peat pellets. Used along with a germination heat mat, you can easily set up a tropical jungle climate anywhere.

If you want professional results with no hassle and complete stealth, try a professional grow-box.

Can I germinate seeds in paper towels?

Yes, you can germinate marijuana seeds in moist paper towels. Just put a damp paper towel down on a plate or other container and spread the seeds around. Add another damp paper towel or fold over the existing towel to cover all the seeds. You will need to keep the paper towels damp at all times throughout the germination process – a spray bottle can really come in handy for that. Covering the seeds with another plate or plastic will prevent it from drying out too quickly, just make sure that there is still some airflow for when the seedling emerges.

After a few days, the seed will crack and the embryonic cannabis plant will start to emerge. Once you see a solid root begin to emerge, you will need to transplant it into your growing medium. While this approach might be slightly faster than the other methods we’ve shown here, we don’t use this method because of the risk to the plant and main root during transplanting.

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Can I germinate seeds directly in the growing medium?

That’s how it works in nature and it’s easy to do. Use a solo cup sized container filled with soil or coco and place the seeds about 3/4 inch (~ 2cm) deep. Keep the medium moist but not wet until you see the seedlings emerge between 3 and seven days later. The reason we recommend peat moss over directly planting in soil is that it is easier to control moisture levels in peat plugs due to the texture and qualities of peat. Experienced growers often sew directly into the growing medium.

Many farmers use rock wool cubes for starting clones and germination, particularly hydroponic growers. While these work well and are economical, they come with drawbacks. We recommend that new growers begin with peat pellets.

How long does it take to germinate?

From the time that you place your seed into the germination medium, you should start to see the emerging seedling within 2-5 days. Cannabis seeds germinate faster when they are kept at the correct temperatures, between 70°F-80°F (21°C-26°C), with a 60-80% relative humidity. Cooler temperatures will slow the germination process or stop it altogether. Germination is usually complete, and the plant is a young seedling within seven days. If you warm the seedlings with a heat mat, they can emerge in as little as 24 hours.

Should I germinate with nutrients?

Germinating plants don’t need any nutrients; it can burn their new leaves and roots. That’s why it’s best to grow seeds in an inert medium, like peat moss pellets or a paper towel. Young seedlings don’t need nutrients until they are a few weeks old.

Do cannabis seeds need light to germinate?

Not really, but they need light within the first day or so of emerging from the seeds, so it’s a good idea to germinate with a light source. Light sources also help increase the temperature, helping the germination process. Sunlight, fluorescent or low powered LED grow lights are all great options.

What if the seed gets stuck on the seedling?

They usually loosen and come off after a day or two. If it doesn’t come off, you can try to separate them. The easiest method is to find the direction of the crack and use a pair of tweezers to ‘help’ the seed continue cracking. Be careful that you don’t clamp the seed down or you can clip the folded embryonic leaves.

Next up, read our seedling care guide to learn how to care for your new seedling.

Germinating Cannabis Seeds – A Step by Step Guide

Germinating cannabis seeds is one of the most exciting parts of the whole grow. It is almost magical to summon new life from a dormant seed; however, it can be very frustrating when things don’t go well. In this article, I explain how to germinate cannabis seeds successfully. I begin by reviewing the science of germinating cannabis seeds. I then describe several common cannabis germination strategies and share some cannabis germination tips and tricks. At the end of the article, I provide my step-by-step guide to germinating cannabis seeds. Be sure to watch my Germination Tutorial on YouTube!

Germination will always be exciting, but it does not need to be intimidating. There are many ways to germinate cannabis seeds successfully. Understanding the science and the shifting needs of the developing plant will allow you to choose the germination strategy that is right for you.

The Science of Germinating Cannabis Seeds

Cannabis seeds are among the easier seeds to germinate. They are large dicotyledon seeds that store a reasonable amount of energy for early life. Furthermore, cannabis seeds do not have any significant seed dormancy factors to overcome. If they are viable seeds they will germinate easily when exposed to the correct conditions.

Seeds become Sprouts During Germination

This may sound obvious, but it is important to consider because seeds and sprouts are different. When the cannabis seed is still a seed, it is resilient and does not depend on ideal conditions to survive. However, sprouts are different. As soon as the seed cracks open and exposes the radicle (tip of the root) it becomes a sprout. As a sprout, it becomes much more sensitive to external conditions. Whereas the seed only needs warmth and moisture to germinate; the radicle on a sprout needs warmth, moisture, oxygen, and darkness to survive and grow.

Germination Stage 1: Imbibition

The seed’s journey to planthood begins by getting wet which starts the process of imbibition. Imbibition is similar to rehydration. When wet, the testa or seed coat of cannabis seeds imbibe water which causes them to swell and soften. The force of water entering the cells in the testa physically ruptures the seed coat and allows the radicle (root tip) to escape. The imbibition of water also activates the metabolic activity within the seed protoplasm.

Warmth is Required for Metabolic Activity

The metabolic activity within the seed will only activate if the temperature is in the appropriate range. Like other seeds, cannabis seeds will not successfully germinate if the temperature is too low or too high. Room temperature is warm enough to allow germination, but warmer temperatures enable more metabolic activity and faster germination. The ideal temperature range to germinate cannabis seeds is 80-86 F (27-30 C).

Germination Stage 2: Respiration

Seeds carry stored energy to help power metabolic activity and growth until the plant can begin photosynthesis. However, just like humans and other animals, plants must engage in respiration in order to convert that stored energy into active energy that the plant can use. During the earliest stages of metabolic activity as the seed awakens from dormancy, the respiration is anaerobic or without oxygen. However, the sprout needs to quickly begin using oxygen in aerobic respiration to continue to survive and grow.

As metabolic activity resumes, the sprout will begin to grow. Cannabis seeds store most of their energy in their cotyledons in the form of starches and proteins. The plant uses energy from aerobic respiration to digest these starches and proteins into simple sugars and amino acids, which it mobilizes to grow the radicle (root tip) and hypocotyl (stem).

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Cannabis Sprouts need access to both water and air

Seeds can be completely submerged in water during the first part of imbibition. However, if they are completely submerged after the radicle is exposed then the sprout will die from lack of oxygen. As soon as the seed cracks open and exposes the radicle it needs to have access to oxygen for aerobic respiration. This means that it needs some contact with air. However, it also needs continuous contact with water. To achieve the best results in the sprout and seedling stages it is best to use a grow media that will trap both air and water. As I explain below, paper towels work well for this during the early sprout stage and germination media like Jiffy Pellets or Rockwool cubes are perfect for young seedlings.

Germination Stage 3: Orientation

At this stage of germination, the plant must orient itself to grow properly. The radicle must push down into the soil or media and the hypocotyl must push the cotyledons (first leaves) up out of the soil or media. Both gravity and light help orient the plant to grow in the proper direction.

Apply Light but Keep the Radicle in the Dark

Cannabis seeds do not require darkness to germinate. However, the radicle is sensitive to light. Bright light will stunt the radicle and can lead to a failed germination. When seeds are germinated in paper towels it is best to keep the sprout in total darkness until the radicle is about half an inch long (about 1.25cm). However, as the cotyledons emerge from the seed casing, they will be looking for light to indicate the direction they need to grow. Therefore, when the radicle is longer than half an inch it should be placed in media which will protect it from light. Once the radicle is safely in the media, light should be applied to the top of the media to signal the direction of growth for the cotyledons.

Germination Stage 4: Photosynthesis

During the germination stage the plant relies exclusively on stored energy from the seed. This energy is limited, so the plant must quickly begin producing its own energy through photosynthesis. The young plant works to establish its radicle in the media and push the cotyledons up into the light to begin photosynthesis. Once the cotyledons open and receive light, the plant will begin photosynthesis. At this point, germination is complete, and the plant can start producing its own sugars, starches, proteins and fats.

Nutrients for Germinating Cannabis Seeds

The nutrients and supplements that we provide to our plants are not their food. Nutrients and supplements support photosynthesis. Therefore, they are not needed until the plant has begun photosynthesizing. Indeed, adding nutrients to the water used for imbibition can actually inhibit germination. It is best to use plain water at a neutral pH (7.0) to imbibe the seeds.

Once the cotyledons are open, the plant can use very small doses of nutrients. However, it is easy to overdo it and burn the plant. When and how to begin fertilization depends largely on the media that you are growing in. If you are growing in coco or other inert and unamended media, be sure to read “How to grow cannabis seedlings in coco coir”.

Cannabis Germination Strategies

There are many viable ways to germinate cannabis seeds. Different germination strategies may be more suitable for different growers. Therefore, before explaining my step-by-step guide to germinating cannabis seeds, I will review some of the more popular germination strategies.

Soaking Seeds

Many growers begin germination by soaking seeds in water. This allows for faster imbibition of the seed because it is surrounded by water. It is a safe strategy to follow as long as you remove the seeds from the water before the seed actually cracks open. If you soak seeds, you should use plain (low EC) water with a neutral pH (7.0). Filtered or distilled water is best.

The Paper Towel Method

This seems like a make-shift hack, but wet paper towels provide an excellent air/water ratio for germinating seeds. They also allow you to precisely control the temperature of the seed/sprout during germination. As a result, using paper towels can speed the germination process considerably.

The paper towels should be fully saturated with water, but not dripping wet. I like to fold the paper towel so that there are two layers below and above the seed. You can then place the paper towels in an air-tight container to prevent them from drying out. I use pyrex containers. If you use a plastic bag, just make sure that you trap some air in the bag (don’t squeeze all the air out). The radicle does need some air, but there will be plenty, even in a sealed container. Place the sealed container someplace warm and cover it to protect the radicle from light.

The main drawback to the paper towel method is that it is possible to damage the young sprout when you transfer it to media. There are some easy practices to mitigate this risk. First, use cheap, single-ply paper towels. This prevents the radicle from growing between the plies. Second, place only one seed on each paper towel. This allows you to pick up the whole paper towel and avoid touching the sprout when you transplant to media. Finally, don’t keep the seeds in paper towels for too long. Once the root has grown to about 0.5in or 1.25cm, it is time to transplant it to media.

Jiffy in cannabis crops, all the information

One of the most popular products in Grow shops is jiffy, due to its low price, versatility and ease of use. But not everybody knows about the existence of these small objects, or many people do not know how to use them. For this reason we thought it would be appropriate to create this post, explaining what it is, how to use it and the advantages and disadvantages compared to other methods.

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What is a jiffy ?

They are so called because they were commercialized by a company known as Jiffy Group and they are peat or coconut fiber that comes pressed and wrapped in a thin mesh. They have the shape of a small, cylindrical and flat disc which, when wet, swells up to multiply its size upwards, and contains a small hole at the top to introduce the seed or the stem of the cutting.

Its creator was an enthusiast of home-grown cabbages and other vegetables, but he did not like the way they sold the cuttings because of the lack of protection of the roots. It was for this reason that he began to develop individual seedlings that were easy to transplant, and thus the first Jiffy were born.

Image of jiffys where you can see 4 as they are sold and one already hydrated*

Jiffy Pellet Sizes

They are available in different dimensions: 24 mm. (0.94 inches), 33 mm. (1.3 inches ), 41 mm. (1.6 inches) and 70 mm. (2.75 inches). Although the most used are the 41 mm. (1.6 inches) ones. They usually come in boxes of 2000 units, but luckily stores can sell you the exact number you need and at a very good price.

Are these peat or coconut discs organic and biodegradable ?

They are totally organic and biodegradable, it is the same peat used in commercial substrates, natural. Just as with the coconut fibre, this type of jiffy was released more recently for those who love growing on this substrate, but it is made up of the same fibres that are used in coconut bricks. Even the small mesh it uses is biodegradable in a very short time, so it can be considered that jiffy will leave no trace on the planet after its use.

What are the advantages of using it ?

  • More economical than any pot
  • You can germinate many seeds in very little space
  • Makes transplantation much easier
  • Keeps humidity for a long time

How to use Jiffy pellets for germination or cutting

  1. First prepare a bucket with the nutrient solution, in this case clean water and root stimulator, with the pH lowered to 6.0 and a little bit of micro life
  2. Insert the jiffy pellets so that they are immersed in the nutrient solution
  3. Wait for them to hydrate and swell, usually no longer than 10 minutes
  4. Take the jiffy pellets out of the bucket one by one and and drain it a bit to let go the excess of liquid
  5. Place them in an upright position on a tray, with the hole facing upwards, and insert a stick or similar through the hole to make it easier for the seed or stem of the clone to enter
  6. Carefully insert the seed 0.4 inches (1 centimetre), or the stem of the cutting until at least one knot is buried
  7. Wait several days until you see the roots coming out of the mesh. If it’s a seed, as soon as you see the radicles popping up transplant it. With a cutting, wait until you see quite a few roots on the outside

Infographics representing how to use a jiffy pellet*

Transplanting from Jiffy Pellets

It is very simple, in fact it is designed to facilitate the transplant among other things. The best thing is that you don’t have to take the plant out of the jiffy to put it in a pot, as is the case when transplanting cannabis from one pot to another.

In this case it is only necessary to prepare the pot where we are going to put it, to add substrate until filling up a 75% approximately, to introduce the jiffy with the plant and to add more substrate until burying all the jiffy and part of the stem.

Tips for use

The small jiffy pellets, of 24 mm. (0.94 inches) and 33 mm. (1.3 inches), are more intended for cuttings than for seed germination. This is because due to their small space the roots appear very quickly and in addition a better aeration is achieved when many clones are placed in the same tray.

On the other hand, when germinating seeds it is better for us that the jiffy is a little bigger, the 41 mm. (1.6 inches) one is perfect, because it contains more food and keeps humidity longer. The worst thing that can happen to them is that they get too dry, because then it takes a lot of time to rehydrate them.

✅ Can you use Jiffy pellets for hydroponics ?

It is not ideal, since this system needs a great aeration in the roots and jiffy does not allow this, at least at the base of the stem, so it can get to form fungi, although it would not be the first time we see it.

In this case it is much more interesting to use small grid pots with arlita to germinate and then place them in the hydroponic system. Another option is to use rockwool slabs, which allow for greater oxygenation, although we’re still sticking with the hydroponics grid pots.

Photograph of a hydroponic crop with rock wool*

Rock wool Vs Jiffy Pellets

Rock wool slabs have certain advantages as we saw before, but they have the disadvantage of being an inert material, so they need food from the first watering. Jiffy, on the other hand, contains pressed peat, which contains food for a few days, although it is always good to add root stimulator. Both are quite cheap, but it’s still cheaper to use a pressed peat or coconut pellet.

⚠️ Conclusion

A Jiffy pellet makes the job much easier for us cannabis growers and for its price it really pays off. If you have not tried them yet, I invite you to do so, because afterwards you may not want anything else to germinate, and especially to root your favorite clones. If you liked this post or think it could be useful for some other people, please share it.

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