“Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.”
Growing your own cannabis plant starting from seed is a remarkable journey. Understanding the biology of the plant is one thing, but comprehending how a little miracle bean can turn into a gigantic tree producing flowers that can affect your body and mind is nothing short of an evolutionary miracle. Or rather a co-evolutionary story of plant and human.
Start Growing Weed From Seed
Our favorite thing about growing your own weed starting from a seed, rather than a clone, is that you get to see the full life cycle and enjoy a plant that is unique, just like you. An entirely new genetic makeup will enter the world for the first time, and if you're lucky, something remarkable might be born.
Raising a cannabis seedling, however, requires some patience, gentle hands, and a smidgen of luck. Thankfully pot seeds are remarkably vigorous because they are what's called endosperm seeds, which means they have almost pre-formed cotyledon leaves before you even add water. Below is a brief guide on the techniques we have found yield the most success when starting seeds and raising your seedling to a healthy plant ready for transplanting. And, don’t forget, a Pot for Pot’s Complete Grow Kits take the guesswork out so you always wind up with a splendid harvest!
Related: Why Grow One Plant?
1) Germinating Your Cannabis Seed
To accelerate germination, soak your seed in a small container with lukewarm water and place it in a dark and warm place (like a kitchen cabinet) for 12-24 hours, but no longer. By drenching the seed, it absorbs the water thoroughly, activating the germination process on a physical and chemical level. Doing this helps to loosen the shell as it becomes a little softer making it easier for the embryo to crack it open. When your seed sinks to the bottom, it is ready to be planted, and sometimes the seed will pop out a small taproot. A seed can still be planted though if it does not sink or put out a taproot. When a seed pops a taproot (often called a tail), it becomes more vulnerable and it is better to plant it before this root emerges.
2) Planting Your Weed Seed
We see best results with seedling pellets that are made of a mix of compressed peat moss and coco husk. To expand, soak it in water for 10 to 15 minutes. Using warmer, lukewarm water, instead of cold water, will speed up the time the pellet takes to fully expand. Once your seedling pellet has absorbed enough water and has expanded to its maximum size, gently squeeze to remove excess water. The growing medium should be like a damp sponge that would not leave streaks on the table. Dig a small hole about 1/4 inch deep for your seed. Use a spoon to lift the seed out of its bath. If it has popped out a taproot be careful not to damage it. Gently place the seed into the hole and lightly cover it with dirt from the pellet. Now that you have started the germination process, your seedling will come above ground within two weeks. The older the seed, the longer it takes for it to germinate.
Want an easy-to-use starter kit for Cannabis seedlings? Check out our Seedling Starter Kit, perfect for nurturing your germinated seeds into viable, healthy plants.
3) Weed Seedling Sprouts 🌱
Perhaps the most exciting stage, your plant baby will come above ground in 1-2 weeks, with the average popping up in 5 to 7 days after planting. As your seedling comes above the soil, its shell might take a few days to fall off. It’s best to leave it alone, nature has the job covered. If it does not come above ground after about two weeks, the chance of success is dramatically reduced, and it’s best to try again. Even the best seeds have an 85% germination rate. When your seedling comes above ground, it is going to want to see a direct light source.
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4) Lighting for Your Cannabis Seedling
Marijuana seedlings require a medium amount of light-- enough to get energy to grow, but not too much light that to get burned. Leaving your seedling in direct sunlight will cause the leaves to curl, while too little light will cause the seedling to stretch. If growing outside, seedlings want to see a direct light source to stop them stretching. If inside, a sunny windowsill with more than half a day of sunlight works wonders. Otherwise, 24 to 30 inches from a grow light is an excellent supplement. Your seedling should not stretch more than 6 inches at most.
Related: The Cheapest Way to Grow Pot Indoors
5) Watering Your Cannabis Seedling
For cannabis plants young and old, it’s best to use bottled, distilled, or filtered water as these are without chlorine. If using tap water, let it sit for 48 to 96 hours before watering to dissipate any chlorine. Chlorine can also be eliminated by boiling for 20 minutes. Under normal conditions, after soaking your seedling pellet, it should contain all the moisture your plant needs before it comes above ground. As it grows, it will only need about a shot glass worth of water at most per week to keep the medium damp. Seedlings don’t drink a lot of water, which makes sense given their size. Your plant will do better in a growing medium which is damp but not soaking wet. Overwatering is just as deadly as drying out!
Damping off happens when the seedling is in too moist of an environment. The young plant’s immune system is not strong enough to ward off a fungus that results in the plant rotting from the bottom of the stem. When this happens, the plant will bend over and die if not treated. To help fight the infection, lightly spray a 0.5% solution of hydrogen peroxide around the affected area. However, the best option is to avoid this by not exposing your seedling to too much moisture.
6) First Cannabis Seedling Leaves & Hardening Off
The first set of leaves to come above ground are called the cotyledons. These little leaves are packed with energy and will grow to about 1/4 in in size before eventually falling off. Your second leaves to emerge will be single blades and will be serrated, looking like regular pot leaves.
They will become several inches in length. During their growth your first actual set of leaves will appear. These are typically three blades. Around this time is when your plant is “hardening off”. You will notice that the stem will start to develop a thicker skin and harden off. As the leaves of the plant get bigger, they can gradually handle more sunlight, so move it into more direct light-- the more light the better!
7) Transplanting Cannabis Seedlings
About 10 days after germination, when the baby cannabis plant has hardened off, roots will start emerging from the bottom of your seedling pellet and the plant is ready to be transplanted into a bigger pot. Be very careful not to damage the roots during this stage. Any stress will slow its growth.
Dig a small hole in your bigger pot for the seedling, sprinkle some rooting booster in the bottom of the hole then carefully plant the whole seedling pellet holding your weed baby.
Now bury so the base of its stalk is level with the topsoil. Give it a watering to set the roots in the ground, then hold off watering until you pick up the pot and it feels light in weight.
Are you ready to transplant your seedlings? Shop our best selection of Cannabis starter growing kits from small to large pots.
Related Link: How to Grow Marijuana as a Garden Variety
8. Separating the Girls from the Boys
At about 4-6 weeks into your plant’s growth, you’ll be able to determine the sex of the plant. You’ll want to separate and dispose of any male plants. This is an important step for growing marijuana because the female plants are more potent and valuable. You also don’t want male plants to compromise the growth of your female plants.
Why Do You Only Want Female Weed Plants?
Only female marijuana plants produce THC buds that are high in potency. You want to make sure your Cannabis plants are all female. If you have a male plant, it can fertilize the other female plants, and they will work to produce seeds instead of flowers and nugs.
It’s essential as a grower to know the difference between a female and a male plant so that you can remove the male plants before they contaminate your crop. Unfortunately, you have a 50/50 chance of getting a male plant when growing a plant from a seed from a nug.
There is a massive market for seeds that will only grow into female plants. But even these seeds are not a 100% guarantee you’re going to get a female plant. To ensure a good crop, you'll want to germinate and plant many marijuana seeds and then separate the females from the males when the plants begin to show their sexuality.
How to Tell if a Weed Seed is Male or Female
As your plant matures sexually, it will develop between its nodes. Nodes are the area of the plant where the branches connect to the plant’s stalk. The distinguishing characteristics that will help you identify your plant’s gender:
- Male Plants: Small pollen sacs will cluster in the nodes.
- Female Plants: Stigmas will develop in the nodes. The stigmas can catch the pollen of male plants. Stigmas have hair-like veins that will extend from the sacs in the nodes.
- Hermaphrodite Plants: These plants have both the stigmas and pollen sacs in their nodes. These are female plants that develop both sex organs when exposed to a lot of stress.
Once you can identify the sex of your plants, you’ll want to remove the male or hermaphrodite plants because they can negatively affect the harvest of your female plants. That’s why it is crucial to germinate and grow several cannabis plants to this stage to ensure you get at least one healthy female plant.
9) Grow Weed Plant, Grow!
Suddenly, before your very eyes, the plant will transform. She will grow in height and branch out, putting off leaves and a network of branches. It is your job as the grower to meet her needs so that she can reach her full potential. With a good grow kit, this means as much light as possible and lightly watering only when she is thirsty.
This is considered your marijuana plant’s vegetive stage. The goal in this stage is to keep her healthy and allow the plant to grow as big and strong as possible so that she can hold many, many flowers.
Related Link: How to Be a Professional Cannabis Grower
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Our complete grow kits include everything you need to go from seed to your very own supply of high grade medical cannabis.
9) Marijuana Flowering Stage
Your once baby seedling, now a beautiful, bushy cannabis plant, will transition to flower when she is exposed to 12 hours of consistent darkness. She will have a growth spurt of vegetative growth aimed at giving the plant ample size and strength to support those coming buds. Then, her growth slows as she delegates her energy to building buds. Flowers start as leaves that bunch up at the top of the main colas of each plant and white hair-like structures (pistils) will emerge. These become tiny buds. These budlets fatten and stack. The plant will continue to add more pistils and crystals begin to form over the buds. These are trichomes and are the main source of all the medicinal cannabinoids!
10) Harvesting Your Weed Plant
Saying goodbye is never easy. However, your cannabis plant knows when it’s her time. And your nose will too. As her buds finish developing, that classic scent that she is known for will come out in force. When the smell of her flowers starts to waver just the smallest amount, that’s her waving goodbye.
It is time to harvest your weed when:
1) the color of the stigmas (the hair-like structures coming off the buds) you want these to be 80% or more to have turned from white to orange/red/brown
2) the color of the trichomes (the yummy crystals on the buds) you want these to turn from clear to milky.
The most accurate judge of readiness to harvest are her trichomes. These yummy crystals are the key to it all but can only be seen with magnification. Peak THC is found when the trichomes are milky/cloudy in color and have rounded, mushroom-shaped heads. When they get amber, THC is degrading to another cannabinoid, CBN.
Harvest by removing any remaining fan leaves, cutting down each branch, and hanging the branches upside down to dry in a dark place with a humidity around 50%, temp around 65℉.
We hope this guide helps you find fun and success with growing your own weed plant. If you have any questions, please shoot our grow coaches an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We love to talk about plants! Check out our kits here if you're ready to get started.
FAQ about Starting Growing Weed from Seed
How long do cannabis seeds last?
This depends on how you store them. All seeds lose viability over time, but seeds with stronger genetics will last longer. Weed seeds stored in a cool, dry place are viable for one to two years. You can refrigerate your seeds and they will last for many years as long as they stay dry and away from moisture-- if they get wet, they will mold and not germinate.
How to make your weed seedlings grow faster?
Cannabis is a sentient being and when she is a seedling, she is at her most fragile. Some things, like her timeline, cannot be altered. Increasing the amount of light that a seedling receives to 24 hours a day will give her the most opportunity to grow. Managing her environment so that it is not too hot or humid, and making sure to not overwater, will set her up for success.
When to transplant cannabis seedlings to bigger pots?
Your cannababy seedling is ready to be transplanted when the plant has hardened off, she has started to show her second set of true, serrated leaves, and the roots start emanating from the bottom of the seedling pallet. This is approximately a week after germination. Your seedling should not spend more than 10 days in just the seedling pellet.
How Tall Should a 4 Week Old Cannabis Plant Be?
A healthy 4-week-old plant should be about two to three inches tall. It will have two to three sets of leaves, including the rounded cotyledons. This is assuming you are using high-quality seeds and soil. And that your plant is getting the necessary light and water it needs.
Do Weed Plants Grow Back Every Year?
No. Cannabis is an annual plant. This means that its life cycle has one season. The plant will grow, flower, and then die. In the wild, the plant would drop seeds that would grow the following season. This would mean that your female plants would need to be pollinated by a male plant to make seeds.
But to make the best marijuana flowers and buds, you do not want your female plants to pollinate. You are better off growing new plants from new seeds. More advanced growers can sometimes get their plants to revert to the vegetative state again, but this is very challenging.
Where Can I Get Cannabis Seeds for Growing My Own Plants?
You can find seeds at most dispensaries in states where it is legal to grow Cannabis for personal use. Some growers also sell their own seeds. A pack of ten seeds may cost between $50-$100. You’ll want to research which seeds are best for growing based on your skill level and the type of marijuana you like.
Depending on where you live, you’ll want to research the rules and regulations for growing Cannabis for personal use. To avoid legal issues, make sure you buy from legal, licensed growers and dispensaries. And do not ship or transport seeds into states or countries where growing is illegal.
A Pot for Pot sells a variety of growing kits to help you germinate and grow your seeds. We offer seedling pots, pellet kits, and small, medium, and large pots for plants that are ready to transition to their final flowering pot. We also offer high-quality soil and boosters to help your plant thrive.
What Types of Characteristics Should I Look For When Buying Seeds?
When buying seeds, you’ll want to buy feminized seeds from a reputable company to maximize your chances that your plants will be female. These seeds are often specially treated to ensure that they are female plants.
You’ll also want to buy well-established strains where the genetic background is easy to find. These varieties are some of the best autoflowering strains:
- OG Kush
- Cheese Strains
- Northern Lights
- Girl Scout Cookies
Then depending on your skill level, you’ll want to decide between:
- Auto-flowering Cannabis Plants: These are easier plants to grow because their light/dark cycle is easier to manage.
- Photoperiod Cannabis Plants: These are bigger plants that have one harvest. These plants are also more complicated and expensive to grow.
Other things to consider before you buy your seeds:
- The Blend: This is the percentage of the three species of plant: Sativa, indica, and ruderalis.
- Growing Environment: Some seeds grow better indoors vs. outdoors. So you’ll want to decide where you are growing your plants before you buy your seeds.
- Plant Height: Depending on your growing space, you’ll want to factor in the plant’s height potential.
- Harvest Timing: Some seeds harvest faster or more often than others.
- Potency: Some plants have higher THC and CBD percentages than others.
Do you have your seeds but need optimal growing pots? Check out our wide variety of Cannabis starter growing kits for beginner to intermediate growers.
Related Link: Common Mistakes When Growing Weed