Starting seeds for hydroponics doesn't have to be difficult. In fact, it's really easy! Learn how to do it in 10 minutes with this Epic Gardening tutorial! Full picture guide on how to germinate cannabis seeds for hydroponic growing. Foam collars and Rockwool cubes are used to protect the fragile taproot Before you can enjoy the pleasure of having plentiful hauls of cannabis, there are several stages of cannabis growing that take precedence. Unless you are able to successfully germinate cannabis seeds, you won’t have a plant to harvest. In order to give your seeds a good start in their early days, you will need to foll
A Simple Guide to Starting Seeds for Hydroponics
You’re not alone — when I first started gardening, I was a soil gardener.
Starting seeds for hydroponics systems was unknown to me until I started to build deep water culture and ebb and flow systems. Once I built those, I had to learn how to start seeds hydroponically.
One of the main benefits of hydroponics is the absolute control you have over your growing environment. Knowing that, I didn’t want to germinate seeds in soil and then transplant into a my hydroponic system, adding a bunch of dirt to the system.
There had to be another way.
Here are just a few reasons why you want to start seeds in a hydroponic system as opposed to soil:
- Much cleaner than starting seeds in soil
- Seedlings grow faster after germination
- Easy to transplant into a larger hydroponic system
That second reason is a cool one. As soon as your tap root pops out, a hydroponic system is going to help it grow faster than soil and prevent it from becoming rootbound.
Step 1: Get Your Materials
You don’t need much to get started. If you build your cloner yourself, the rest of the materials will cost you under $50 bucks and will last you for quite a while. If you decide to go with a store-bought cloner, it’ll bump up the cost a bit but you’ll also be getting a much higher quality product.
Seed Starting Materials List
– You can either build your own or use something like the Clone King and starter plugs (#3 below)
- Seeds – find at your local nursery if possible, or buy many places online. A personal favorite of mine is RareSeeds.com
Step 2: Fill The Cloner With Water
Fairly simple step here. All you need to do is fill up your reservoir to just under where your net pots sit. Don’t worry about pHing your water or using reverse osmosis right now – standard tap water will be fine.
Step 3: Set Up the Air Pump
Place the air stone in the reservoir and connect the tubing. Connect the other side to the air pump and plug it in. You should see some beautiful bubbles start to come out of the air stone. These bubbles are what will keep the roots of your seeds moist and stimulate growth.
Step 4: Place Starter Plugs and Seeds
Soak each starter plug in some water and then place it in a net pot. The moisture will help the seeds germinate.
Drop 2-3 seeds in each starter plug. We use more than 1 seed because not all seeds will germinate and we want to make sure that every starter plug has a sprouted seed – otherwise we’ll have to replant!
Step 5: Maintenance
This system is very easy to maintain as your seeds sprout.
If you want, you can place a transparent cover over the top to keep in some moisture and increase the temperature of the system, but it’s not necessary.
Make sure to moisten the starter plugs with a few sprays from a spray bottle every day so your seeds have enough moisture to sprout.
When your seeds sprout, clip off all but the strongest seedling from each starter plug.
That’s it! Your seeds should sprout in 3-5 days for most plants and you’ll be ready to start growing some truly epic plants in your hydroponic system in no time!
If you’re more of a visual learner, I have a three part video series from my YouTube channel that goes into the entire setup in detail.
Part One: The Basic Setup
This is the visual version of the blog post. Helpful if you just need to SEE to learn (like me).
Part Two: Making Sure Seeds Germinate
This part of the series talks about some of the maintenance and troubleshooting you might run into when starting seeds, including the infamous “why do they keep falling over” problem that a lot of beginners run into.
Part Three: pH Water and Add Nutrients
This part of the series talks about the need to pH and add nutrients to your reservoir after the seeds have germinated. Because they feed off of their seed leaves at the start of their life, you can get away with not doing this until the seeds germinate.
By the way, I’m using the Bluelab pH Pen to fill all of my pH needs. It’s awesome!
Germinate Seeds for DWC (Hydroponic Germination)
This guide will show you how to germinate seeds for DWC (Deep Water Culture) growing.
Starting from clones is much easier than starting from seed when it comes to DWC. Seeds are fragile and require extra care when being propagated for hydroponics. This is probably the one area where soil growers have an edge over DWC. Since soil typically contains trace nutrients simply plopping a seed in moist soil is usually all it takes to get a healthy 3-4″ plant.
Materials Required for DWC Germination:
Paper Towel Germination
Start your DWC germination using a moist paper towel. Wet 2-3 sheets of paper towel using tap water. I don’t bother with adjusting pH this early into the grow. Ring the paper towel out so that it is moist but not dripping.
4.4g dry weight, 35g wet weight for the nerds out there
Spread the seeds out over the paper towel and fold over so that the seeds are sandwiched by at least two layers of paper towel. Work with clean hands and minimize air exposure after soaking.
Put this somewhere warm, 80F is ideal for germination but in my experience, anything above 65F will work fine.
Top of the fridge is an oft-recommended spot but when I actually tested surface temperatures in my house the top of my fridge was about 5 degrees colder than the top shelf in my pantry
If you live in a very cold climate like me and my fellow Canadians you can put the seeds in the oven with the light on to generate a bit of heat. Goes without saying you should put a sign up if you are using the oven method!
After 1-2 days the seedlings should crack and the taproot will begin growing. Leave them a few more days.
After 3-5 days the taproot should be over 1″ long. This is when they are ready for transplant. The seeds were a freebie so I’m ok with the 66% success rate. Typically, you should have 90% or greater germination rate for high-quality genetics.
EDIT: Since writing this post I have tried inserting the rooted seedling directly into the foam collar and found it works just as well. IMO the rockwool sleeve is not necessary.
What I do next is something I came up with out of necessity. A full rockwool cube I find to be unnecessarily large. If you’ve read my DIY Cloner article you’ll know that I feel Rockwool can create a low oxygen environment where pathogens thrive.
Rockwool serves a purpose for hydroponics germination. It helps protect fragile taproots and holds water between spraying.
Start by soaking your Rockwool in pH 5.5 water.
Take a Rockwool starter plug and cut it into 4 long strips. Use a clean knife to cut a slit in these strips.
Place the germinated taproot into the slit that you created.
Rockwool Sleeves for Foam Cloning Collars
As per my DIY cloner article I prefer foam collars over neroprene. The foam holds up better and surprisingly absorbs less water.
Trim the foam collar to create room for the Rockwool sleeve
Aeroponics Cloning Nutrient Solution
- 1 Gallon Water (Target pH 5.5) (1 mL each Micro, Gro & Bloom)
- 1.2 mL of Rapid Start
A few drops of pH Down gets me down to 5.5
Unlike soil (which has trace nutrients) cloning/germination in hydroponics requires immediate additions of nutrients. Once you get the pH to 5.5 add:
- 1.2 mL GH Rapid Start
- 1 mL of FloraGro
- 1 mL of FloraMicro
- 1 mL of FloraBloom
My starting ppm was 100 and the final ppm was around 300.
From here the process is the same as with clones. Simply run the pump on a cycle timer and let nature do its work.
The plants will not look happy on day one, but don’t worry they will perk up quickly under the light.
Rockwool Watering (Why I started using aeroponics for germination)
aeroponics cloner I needed to water the seedlings multiple times per day, even with the humidity dome! You can also see why I have the plants so close to my light now. Fluorescents are not very strong and can cause extreme stretching if they are not within a few inches of the plants.
A Comprehensive Guide To Germinating Cannabis Seeds In The Spring
Before you can enjoy the pleasure of having plentiful hauls of cannabis, there are several stages of cannabis growing that take precedence. Unless you are able to successfully germinate cannabis seeds, you won’t have a plant to harvest. In order to give your seeds a good start in their early days, you will need to follow these tips to better understand the process of germination. As a provider of indoor growing systems, Mass Hydroponics has acquired much knowledge on tending to cannabis seeds. Here is a comprehensive guide to germinating cannabis seeds in the spring.
What Is The Key To Germinating Cannabis Seeds?
Since it’s often overlooked, it’s very easy to assume both the vegetative and flowering stages of cannabis growth are the most critical component of the plant’s life cycle. However, unless you know what you’re doing, the chance of failure is prominent. Poor planning when it comes to germination can either make or break your next grow. Giving your cannabis seeds a good start to their journey for bulging buds is the best way to promote the growth of a healthy, radiant plant.
There are a multitude of ways to give your cannabis plant a fighting chance when germinating your seeds. Every method we are about to mention has varying degrees of success. It’s important to understand that even if you have advanced growing expertise and the latest and greatest in equipment, you may still end up with a few failed seeds. This is a natural part that comes from dealing with a living organism.
What To Look For In Your Cannabis Seeds
Regardless of where you are sourcing your seeds from, it’s in your best interest to give them a thorough inspection before you begin planting. In most cases, all of your seeds will germinate, but poorer quality seeds will yield a weaker plant. Unfortunately, many users will not realize this until the plant is well into the vegetative and flowering stages. To avoid these disappointments, it’s better to use seeds that have a darker coloration as opposed to white or pale green seeds, which are more likely to fail. Even if dark seeds look slightly damaged, you should still proceed with planting them, anyway. There is a good chance they can still germinate, even if the outer shell has sustained some damage.
Temperature Plays An Important Role In Germination
Before we take a look at germination methods and indoor growing systems, there are a couple of golden rules that we need to address first. Of all the factors to consider, temperature ranks high as one of the most critical factors in caring for your seeds. Seeds will always seek out moisture, even if it’s a smaller amount. They use temperature as a sign that they need to do it. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- The temperature is between 22-25 degrees Celsius (71-77 Fahrenheit)
- Your growing environment should be damp or moist, but never wet
- The humidity range should be between 70-90%
- Seeds will do well with fluorescent lighting (Cool White Code 33)
- Cut back on the amount of seed handling that you do
- For hydroponic and rockwool plugs, the ideal PH value is between 5.8-6.2
Expected Germination Time
There are 3 core principles that will trigger the first small taproot to appear–warmth, moisture, and darkness. With the help from moisture, a single root will take shape before it slowly develops into the cannabis shape that we have come to know and love. Under the right conditions, seeds will start to develop within 12-36 hours when moisture is introduced. Timescales will vary. This is contingent on the state of the germination environment.
Selecting Your Germination Method
When deciding which germination method to consider, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the methods. Here are some of the germination methods that are popular amongst users.
We are a big proponent of this growing method . Hydroponics is an ideal method for germinating seeds. As one of our premiere indoor growing systems, hydroponics is a more hygienic and efficient process in comparison to soil-based growing. Everything is automated in this method, allowing users to execute full control. It will also protect your plants from root rot or insects. For the best results from a hydroponic system, you will need grow media for the seed, a rock wool cube, a jiffy pellet or peat moss, pH down, pH test indicator, germination sponge, a propagator, heat mat, containers, rooting tonics, and propagation lights.
Glass Of Water Approach
Arguably one of the least effective methods, the glass of water approach is relatively simple to facilitate. Beginner growers may opt to germinate their seeds in a glass of water by half-filling a glass or bowl with water that is approximately 22 degrees Celsius (71 Degrees Fahrenheit). Although it’s not the most effective approach, it still has its place for beginners.
Wet Kitchen Towel Method
Considered to be one of the most common methods of germination, the kitchen towel method comes in a variety of iterations. Very easy and with a high success rate, this method is one of our favorites for germinating seeds. Some growers will use cotton wool pads or absorbent pieces of paper.
Planting Directly Into Soil
Planting directly into soil can spare you from the task of having to move seeds for when they are at their most fragile. The first root tip is covered with microscopic filaments that can be easily damaged. For many, planting can be a much safer option.
Educating You On The Basics Of Indoor Growing Systems
Mass Hydroponics wants our consumers to be well-versed on how to properly cultivate and care for their cannabis seeds and plants. For more information on our indoor growing systems and practices, contact us today to get a hold of some high-quality products!