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GYF : Prepping Plants for the Pre-Vegetative Stage

By now, your cannabis seedlings should be fully sprouted. If they have roots, have stretched, or have multiple sets of “true leaves”, they are ready to begin the pre-vegetative growing stage.

Growers often want to skip this stage and transplant seedlings directly into large pots. However, transplanting cannabis seedlings into small, pre-vegetative pots can be useful in establishing a small root zone before beginning the stages of aggressive growth. Remember, seedlings are still extremely vulnerable to stress. Overwatering, underwatering, excessive heat, cold, and light can all be influencing factors that produce struggling, slow-growing plants. By providing young plants with pre-vegetative parameters like small pots, stable lighting, and ideal day/night temperatures, new growers can be assured that their new plants will have the best chance of success.

Ready to get growing? Read the following article to learn more about transplanting cannabis into small pots for the pre-vegetative stage.

Three methods for identifying your plant is ready to be transplanted

There are three methods for deciding whether or not your seedlings are ready to be transplanted.

#1 Roots
#2 True Leaaves
#3 Stretching

Rooted Seedlings

The first is the simplest: if roots are exiting in your seedling’s jiffy pellet, they are ready to be transplanted. Root expansion is a sign of good things to come. However, this also means that your plants will require more water and nutrients over the coming weeks.

Roots may not always exit a jiffy pellet during the germination stage. So, growers must also examine the leaf structure of their plants. For example, the presence of “true leaves(Cotyledons)” is a good indicator of plant vitality and growth. Unlike the “sucker leaves” which first emerge from the seed shell, true leaves will be much larger, resemble typical cannabis leaves, and indicate future growth, progression, and plant establishment. Seedlings with true leaves are also ready to enter the pre-vegetative phase of growth.

Some seedlings tend to rapidly stretch. Sometimes called spindly, or “leggy” seedlings, these plants have soft and tender stalks and will require some extra care. However, even in the absence of other determinants like true leaves or roots, stretchy seedlings are a solid indicator of plant growth. These seedlings, along with others displaying these characteristics, will be ready to move into the pre-vegetative stage of growth.

Step #1: Examine Your Seedlings

Using the three methods indicated above, examine your Cannabis plants to see if they’re ready to be transplanted.

Step #2: Obtain Containers and Potting Soil

Choose a small container/pot and high-quality potting soil for this process. A small pot will encourage steady, realistic growth during the pre-vegetative stage. Seedlings also have a small, unestablished root zone. So, by transplanting them into a smaller container, growers can avoid all the expected issues that come with overwatering small plants in large pots. Hasty growers that transplant seedlings into large containers have a tendency to overwater them upon transplant, but with an insufficient root zone, these plants quickly drown in the excess moisture of muddy, over-irrigated medium.

For first-time growers, high-quality potting soil is a must. There is a large debate surrounding “the best” system for growing cannabis. Hydroponic systems certainly have their advantages. But simply put, growing in soil is the easiest way to ensure a successful harvest. Soil-based mediums like peat moss are extremely porous – this means they absorb water and drain easily. And unlike hydroponic mediums, soil can easily be enriched with an array of organic, mineral, or mix-method nutrient programs. In short, soils are the most predictable and simplest system to manage. So, for new growers, we highly recommend investing in high-quality potting soil for your first attempt at growing cannabis. Here are some of the features to look for in both containers and high-quality potting soil:

Step #3: Transplant Seedlings into Containers

If you’ve examined your seedlings and obtained containers and potting soil, it’s time to transplant your plants into their pre-vegetative homes. Take each container and fill them with a small amount of potting soil, approximately ⅓ or ¼ of the total volume of the pot. Then place the jiffy pellet into the pot and fill the surrounding area with soil. “Leggy” or stretched seedlings can often present new growers with a challenging transplant. If you happen to have one or more seedlings that have stretched, bury the leggy stalk of your seedling deeper into the soil. This will support the soft stalk of your seedling, while also stabilizing the canopy height of your entire crop.

Step #4: Establish a Pre-Vegetative Environment and Feeding Schedule

Just like the germination stage, plants have specific needs during the pre-vegetative phase of growth. Here are some of the most important pre-vegetative parameters to put in place:

#1 Lighting
#2 Envirnoment
#3 Cannabis Plant Nutrients

Lighting

The same low-wattage fluorescent or led light lighting that was used for germinating seeds can be used to support plants during the pre-vegetative stage of growth – just make sure these lights are close enough to your plants (approximately 6”- 10” away) to avoid further stretching. However, if you happen to move to HID lighting during this stage, consider the opposite approach to lighting height. As still unestablished plants, seedlings are extremely vulnerable to light stress. So, give your plants a canopy threshold of at least 30” to avoid light bleaching or leaf damage. Set your plants under your light of choice and install an indoor lighting timer with a photoperiod of 18 hours of light and 6 hours of darkness.

For the best outcome, attempt to keep your seedlings in an environmental range of 70-75 degrees Fahrenheit (21-24C) and a minimum of 50-60% relative humidity. Digital thermometers/hygrometers can help manage these environmental ranges. Misting your plants is also a good solution for increasing humidity during this stage.

As roots expand from your seedlings, the need for plant food will increase. This transition period from germination to pre-vegetative is a great time to begin a scheduled feeding program. “Base Nutrients”, or nutrients that give your plants an array of micro and macronutrients, root building supplements, plant hormones, and vitamins are all recommended for the production of top-tier cannabis. Some or all of these supplements can be purchased as a package in nutrient kits or a collection of fertilizers specifically designed to assist in the cultivation of four cannabis plants.

Check out the GreenPlanet Nutrients Starter Kits available below:

Step #5: Monitor Your Pre-Vegging Plants

Expect your plants to be in the pre-vegetative stage for approximately 10-14 days. But what does healthy growth look like in the pre-vegetative stage? Here are some of the positive things to look out for during this phase:

  1. Increased Metabolism: You’ll notice that the soil drys out quicker and your plants need to be irrigated more often.
  2. Broader Leaves: Soon the true leaves of your plant will become broader, darker, softer, and more in number.
  3. Vertical Growth: Expect a daily increase in plant height.

If you notice the development of these characteristics over the next few weeks, your plants have likely established a root zone in their new, pre-vegetative homes and soon you’ll be able to change protocols and enter the stage of fast, aggressive growth.

Buy Items Mentioned In This Blog:

Join us for more information about growing cannabis at home! For more tips on transplanting your cannabis seedlings into pots, contact our team at Grow Your Four.

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  • GYF : Prepping Plants for the Pre-Vegetative Stage
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  • Transplanting Cannabis Seedlings Into Jiffy Pellets
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  • How to Germinate Cannabis Seeds
    Germinating seeds can be time-consuming, but unlike the other options above, starting cannabis plants from seed allows growers to have complete control over the genetics that enter the garden.
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Transplanting Cannabis Seedlings Into Jiffy Pellets

If your initial germination process was successful, it’s time to move your cannabis seedlings into jiffy pellets. The goal of this process is to provide new sprouts with a medium in which they can establish a small, but strong root zone.

New growers often skip the first stage of germination and sow cannabis seeds directly into moist soil, only later to be disappointed when seeds cease to sprout. This fruitless process can be caused by two reasons. First, if the soil is too wet, seeds can become waterlogged and turn to rot; second, cannabis seeds germinating in soil often have an unpredictable trajectory. If sown too deep, for example, the taproot may search for oxygen above ground and send the rest of the plant deeper into the soil. With the paper towel method, however, cannabis seedlings have the best chance of successful germination. Once the taproot is exposed, growers can avoid root rot, successfully predict the trajectory of the plant and safely transfer seedlings into their next home.

Ready to get growing? Watch our YouTube Series or read the following article to learn more about transplanting cannabis seedlings into jiffy pellets.

Step #1: Soak Jiffy Pellets

Jiffy’s are small, cost-effective, compressed peat pellets. Because of their size and highly porous nature, Jiffy pellets are ideal for germination. Begin the process by preparing a nutrient solution of B vitamins and water. B vitamins reduce plant stress during transition phases of growth, promote root development and usually contain absorbable elements like potassium. About 2 litres or half a gallon of water will be sufficient for hydrating four Jiffy Pellets.

After the nutrient solution is prepared, toss your Jiffy pellets in to soak. Wait 5-10 minutes for the Jiffy’s to adequately absorb the nutrient solution. You can check if your Jiffy’s are prepared by gently squeezing the outside of the pellet. If any pieces of peat haven’t been loosened, place them back into the nutrient solution for another 5 minutes. Once the Jiffy pellets are thoroughly soaked, gently wring them out and place them to the side. Like the paper towel method, the goal of this process is not to bog down your seedlings with a soaking wet environment, but rather provide them with a moist, dark area, with high levels of humidity.

Step #2: Transplanting Seedlings Into Jiffy Pellets

Examine each sprout: if the taproot is at least ¼” long, they are ready to be transplanted into jiffy pellets. Carefully take each seedling and place them in their respective pellet with the taproot facing down. Tweezers may be useful in this task, as long as they have been sanitized beforehand with boiling water, alcohol or hydrogen peroxide. Finally, gently cover the seed shell in a small amount of soil. Do not compress any of the topsoil covering the seed. The point of layering the shell in soil is just to provide your germinating seeds with an adequate amount of darkness and humidity.

Step #3: Place Seedlings in a Germination Tray and Dome

Take your expanded jiffy pellets and place them in a standard 10” x 20” germination tray. Then, cover them with an appropriate 4” or 7” humidity dome. Since your seedlings will be living in this tray for the next 10-14 days, there are several tools available to help manage and control the environment. A light source, heating mat and digital thermometer/hygrometers are just a few examples of tools needed to stabilize the environment within this tray. Here are some of the features of each piece of equipment:

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Sunblaster™ T5HO Nanotech Combo Kit

Lighting:

Choose a low wattage, low-intensity light source. T5 fluorescents or LED lighting is a great option to consider. At this stage, the light source is only there to encourage upward movement, not vigorous growth.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Super-Sprouter-Heat-Mat.png
Super Sprouter® Seedling Heat Ma

Heat Mat:

A heating mat’s purpose is to raise the temperature of a small space to an adequate level. Especially during the colder seasons, a heating mat may be essential for providing your seedlings with a constant temperature of at least 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21C). Also, consider purchasing a heat mat temperature control gauge to maximize the efficiency of your tools.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Growers-Edge-Digital-Thermometer-Hygrometer.jpeg
Grower’s Edge® Digital Thermometer & Hygrometer

Digital Monitors:

The purpose of a digital thermometer/hygrometer is to measure the constant temperature and humidity of a given space. Some monitors even come with extended probes, allowing you to measure the temperature/humidity of specific sections of the humidity dome. For the best outcome, attempt to keep your seedlings in an environmental range of 70-75 degrees Fahrenheit (21-24C) and a minimum 70-80% relative humidity

Step #4: Set It, But Don’t Forget It

Over the next few weeks, your seedlings will begin to develop a root zone that will spread through the jiffy pellet. Also, the “true leaves” of your seedlings will begin to appear. Unlike the “sucker leaves” which first emerge from the seed shell, true leaves will be much larger, resemble typical cannabis leaves, and indicate future growth, progression and plant establishment.

This period of growth will be slow: in some cases, the transition period can take up to 14 days. So, don’t worry if you can’t see measurable growth overnight. Set your plants up for success, leave them be, but don’t forget them. Monitor your tools, control levels of temperature and humidity, and if necessary, spray your plants with a light solution of B vitamins or liquid seaweed solution. Be patient and soon enough, your seedlings will be ready to continue growing as established plants during the vegetative stage.

Join us for more information about growing cannabis at home! For more information on transplanting your cannabis seedlings into jiffy pellets, contact our team at Grow Your Four.

Buy Items in the blog

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  • GYF : Prepping Plants for the Pre-Vegetative Stage
    By now, your cannabis seedlings should be fully sprouted. If they have roots, have stretched, or have multiple sets of “true leaves”, they are ready to begin the pre-vegetative growing stage. Growers often want to skip this stage and transplant seedlings directly into large pots. However, transplanting cannabis seedlings into […]
  • Transplanting Cannabis Seedlings Into Jiffy Pellets
    If your initial germination process was successful, it’s time to move your cannabis seedlings into jiffy pellets. The goal of this process is to provide new sprouts with a medium in which they can establish a small, but strong root zone. New growers often skip the first stage of germination […]
  • How to Germinate Cannabis Seeds
    Germinating seeds can be time-consuming, but unlike the other options above, starting cannabis plants from seed allows growers to have complete control over the genetics that enter the garden.

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How to Germinate Cannabis Seeds

There are three ways to begin growing cannabis at home: start from seed, take cuttings, or import genetics as fully established plants. Each option has its pros and cons; however, starting cannabis plants from seed is arguably the safest and most fulfilling process for beginners.

Click Here to Check Out Our YouTube Video on Germinating Cannabis Seeds & read the blog to be well versed.

Germinating seeds can be time-consuming, but unlike the other options above, starting cannabis plants from seed allows growers to have complete control over the genetics that enter the garden. You never know, those LA Confidential plants you got might actually be OG Kush. Or worse, the genetics you imported may be carrying dormant diseases, pathogens or pests. If you’re the type of person who likes to play it safe, especially in a new venture, consider starting your cannabis plants from seed as opposed to any other option.

Ready to get growing? Watch our YouTube Series or read the following passages to learn more about germinating cannabis seeds.

How to Germinate Cannabis Seeds

Step #1: Obtain Seeds

Since you’ll be spending weeks cultivating cannabis at home, consider researching the characteristics of the type of plant you’ll be growing. Cannabis genetics are divided into three categories: Indica, Sativa, and Hybrid. Indica’s tend to be low-growing, bushy plants with large, broad leaves; they also tend to be hyper-resistant to disease and undesirable temperatures. Sativa strains are quite the opposite, growing large with thin leaves and branchy stalks. They are also extremely heavy producers and may require more care and attention as opposed to other genetic profiles. Hybrids can be a blend of both genetic worlds, but they might lean more towards one profile than the other.

Sativa
Long Skinny Leaves
Indica
Large Broad Leaves
Hybrid
Blend Of Both Genetics

Here are some of the most important plant characteristics to consider before settling on a genetic profile:

  • Flowering Time: The time it takes for a cannabis plant to reach maturity during the flowering stage.
  • Plant Size: Some plants grow wider and taller than others. Research the approximate size of the plants you might be caring for and make sure that your growing space will be able to accommodate the width and height of four plants.
  • Cultivation Information: Look at what experienced growers have done in the past to cultivate similar genetics. Tips and advice may range from nutrient requirements, bending and scrogging techniques or other cultivation requirements like lighting, environmental preferences and potential yield.
  • Cannabinoid Content: Review the cannabinoid content of your genetic lineup. Some plants have higher levels of THC and/or CBD. Since your going to be invested in cultivating cannabis at home, why not grow what you love!
  • Terpene Profile: Terps are responsible not only for the taste and aroma of fruits and flowers but also the “effects” of plant material when consumed. Cannabis terpenes range drastically from plant to plant and can influence feelings of well-being, sedation, relaxation, creativity and focus. Choose a plant with a terpene profile that suits your own preferences in both taste and sensation

Need help researching strains? Try starting on Leafly. The catalogue of strain information is massive and well documented; even better, Leafly allows you to filter search results based on plant type, feelings and popularity. Click here to view Leafly’s entire catalogue of strains.

Types of Cannabis Seeds

There are typically three types of cannabis seeds available for purchase: non-feminized, feminized and autoflower seeds. Below we will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each seed type:

Non-feminized

Non-feminized or “regular” seeds are characteristically identical to other types of seeds; however, since non-feminized seeds come from the crossing between a female (XX) and a male (XY), their genetic information contains both sexes, and they will show one or the other sex depending on several factors. In other words, in a pack of 4 non-feminized seeds, it’s quite likely that half of the plants will be male and the other half female. So, if you’re interested in only cultivating the flowers produced by female plants, investing in non-feminized seeds may be a risk not worth taking.

Feminized

Feminized seeds only contain the female chromosome (XX), so they are almost guaranteed to be female. The process of creating feminized seeds involves crossing two female plants, instead of one male and one female plant. Because feminized seeds are usually of high genetic quality and involve no plant sexing, they are the perfect option for new growers.

AutoFlower

Unlike the two plant types above, autoflowering seeds do not require a change in photoperiod to produce flowers. In short, autoflowers produce flowers automatically – hence the name autoflower. In some cases, plants can even reach full maturity in 60 days. This is a great option for growers who want a quick turnaround or want to experiment with different types of genetics. However, autoflowering plants are not without their downsides. For example, since you can’t control the size of your plant, growers can expect a slight decrease in yield, as opposed to feminized or regular cannabis plants. Also, since there is no vegetative period, autoflower’s should not attempt to be cloned, scrogged, or trained during their lifecycle.

All AutoFlowers are feminized. Since males produce pollen and females produce flowers, the name autoflower indicates female plants that flower automatically. Autoflowers can only be female since they produce flowers and not pollen.

Grow Your Four
Pros of Autoflowering Seeds:
Plants can even reach full maturity in 60 days
A great way to experiment with different types of genetics
Expect A Decrease In Yields
No Vegetative Stage = No Training, Cloning Or Scrogging


To purchase cannabis seeds, browse a collection of genetics through the BC Cannabis Store. Once you’ve obtained your choice of seeds, it’s time to begin germination.

Step #2: Scarring Cannabis Seeds

Scarring cannabis seeds or seed scarification is the action of gentle scratching the hard outer shell of a seed in order to speed up the germination process. Scarification is a good option to consider, especially if the seeds you happened to purchase are older than six months. All different types of seeds can undergo scarring; cannabis seeds, however, given their extremely tough shell, arguably have the most to gain. After scarring, even the oldest seeds will have an increased success rate and speed during germination. There are three popular methods of seed scarification:

Sand Paper: Probably the easiest method for beginners. Use a section of fine-grain sandpaper to scratch the outer shell of the seed – do not scar the hold seed, just a small section of the top or bottom. Scratch until scars are visible, or the fleshy part of the seed appears.

Metal File: Depending on the size and thickness of the outer shell, a fine-grain metal file may be necessary to scar the seed. Follow the same process of scarification above with this tool.

Nail Clippers: Nail clippers can also be used to chip away at the outer shell of the seed before germination, however, this is probably the most advanced method of scarring. Use the nail clippers to clip off a section of the shell at the bottom of the seed. While this process does increase the success rate of germination, new growers should be cautious of this method, as there is always the possibility of killing or damaging the seed.

Step #3: Soak Seeds

After scarring your seeds it’s time to soak them; first in a bath or nutrient solution, and later in a damp paper towel. For successful germination, seeds require a few things: moisture (humidity), darkness, and nutrients. For the best success, prepare a nutrient solution of B vitamin and seaweed extract. B vitamins reduce plant stress during transition phases of growth, promote root development and usually contain absorbable elements like potassium. Seaweed extract contains naturally occurring plant hormones like auxins and cytokines and helps to speed up growth processes like root expansion. Since you’re only soaking a few seeds, only one ounce or less of nutrient solution is required. Follow the directions for mixing on the back of each nutrient supplement. After this nutrient solution is prepared, toss your seeds in for a 15-20 minutes soak. When using older seeds, consider leaving them in overnight for the best success rate.

Step #4: Paper Towel Germination

After their bath, take each seed out and place them to the side. Then, soak a section of paper towel with the leftover nutrient solution. Afterwards, wring the excess water and nutrient solution out of the paper towel. The goal of this process is not to create a soaking wet environment for your seeds, but rather provide them a space with high levels of humidity. Finally, place each seed in the center of the paper towel and cover them with the adjacent end.

Step #5: Germination Storage

Depending on factors such as age and genetic strength, seed germination can take anywhere from 24 hours to a few days. To provide your seeds with an ideal environment, store them in a warm and completely dark environment. Place the paper towel and seeds in a plastic bag and then between two plates. This short-term storage vessel can be placed on top of a fridge, or, in a kitchen cupboard above the stove – anywhere in the home where temperatures will not drop below 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21C).

Step #6: Determine Germination Success

Following steps #1-6 can give even the most inexperienced growers a great chance at successfully germinating cannabis seeds. After giving your seeds at least 24 hours to germinate, open the plastic bag and examine each specimen. Successfully germinated seeds will have a large root exiting the top or bottom of the shell called the “tap-root”. If you do not notice a tap root within 24 hours, don’t panic, just place the seeds back into their germination container and continue to examine their progress daily. You can determine the “success rate” of the germination process by counting successful sprouts and dividing them by the total number of seeds. For example, if 3 out of 4 seeds hatched, your germination success rate was 75%.

Congratulations on starting your cannabis-growing journey with us. For more information on starting your cannabis plants from seed, please contact the team at Grow Your Four.

Read More

  • GYF : Prepping Plants for the Pre-Vegetative Stage
    By now, your cannabis seedlings should be fully sprouted. If they have roots, have stretched, or have multiple sets of “true leaves”, they are ready to begin the pre-vegetative growing stage. Growers often want to skip this stage and transplant seedlings directly into large pots. However, transplanting cannabis seedlings into small, pre-vegetative […]
  • Transplanting Cannabis Seedlings Into Jiffy Pellets
    If your initial germination process was successful, it’s time to move your cannabis seedlings into jiffy pellets. The goal of this process is to provide new sprouts with a medium in which they can establish a small, but strong root zone. New growers often skip the first stage of germination and sow […]
  • How to Germinate Cannabis Seeds
    Germinating seeds can be time-consuming, but unlike the other options above, starting cannabis plants from seed allows growers to have complete control over the genetics that enter the garden.