Seeding Cannabis

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Learn how marijuana seedlings develop by checking out the pictures of marijuana seedling growth day by day, With identification tips included Marijuana Seedlings Now that your marijuana seeds have sprouted, what’s next? How do you care for your little baby marijuana seedlings? Your germinated seeds must be placed in a more suitable Growing weed is not only interesting but good fun too. Not everything is as rosy, though, for it’s also a bumpy ride full of twists and turns. A good start is always…

Marijuana Seedlings: Their Anatomy, Growth, and Identification

Your day-by-day and week-by week guide to marijuana seedling plants‘ progress from emergence to vegetative stage

In this post, we’ll talk about the normal growth of marijuana seedlings. It will give beginner growers a pretty good idea of what to expect day by day and help you keep your cool and not react with panic whenever you suspect trouble.

We understand that taking care of marijuana seedlings can be a nerve-racking experience. But it shouldn’t be. Just look at the pictures in this post and compare them with your little plants to see if they are doing okay. And if in doubt, consult our guide to seedling problems and how to solve them.

Table of Contents

Marijuana Seedlings from Day 1 and Onwards

So you’ve germinated your seeds between wet paper towels or using some other method and placed the sprout into a grow medium, like soil, or soil mix, or coco, or rockwool. We recommend covering the sprout by the medium completely, so that its tap root has something to push off from when it’s trying to dig deeper. And when the tap root has established itself in the medium, it pushes the seedling out of the medium and its ‘helmet head’ comes up.

If the medium is moist enough and coarse enough, the shell can peel off on its own. Otherwise, the seedling can be stuck in the shell and needs your help (see the link above to remedy this and any other problem). Below the shell, there is a thin film covering the cotyledons. Sometimes, it sticks and doesn’t let the cotyledons open, even after you have successfully removed the shell.

This is day 1 for three OG Kush Auto seedlings. Only one of them has cast off its shell on its own.

We have removed the shells from the seedlings on the right and in the center. The one in the center still retains the film though.

Sometimes, you will see the weed seedlings sprouting yellow. Don’t worry: it’s perfectly normal. The green color in plants is due to chlorophyll, a natural chemical that plants produce in the presence of light. And this process needs time. Give your yellow sprout a couple of hours under light, and it will start to turn green.

The First True Leaves

When the seedling sprouted, the pair of cotyledons will be ‘glued’ together – the way they used to be inside the seed, but soon they will move apart, and you will see the first tiny pair of true leaves tucked between them. Of course they will be whitish or yellow, too, at first.

On day 1, the cotyledons will be most probably pointing down, but on day 2 they will definitely straighten themselves (and so will the stem), and the first leaves with serrated edges will start to turn green and grow imperceptibly. These first leaves will have only one ‘finger’ each. The second pair – three fingers, the third – probably five.

Most of the Growth is in the Root Zone

The growth in the first week may seem painfully slow to you, but don’t you worry: the plants will pick up pace eventually, and right now a lot of progress is happening underground where the root system develops. The main root, called tap root, tries to reach as deep as it can.

That’s why it’s recommended to use deep pots or tall party cups for cannabis seedlings. But secondary roots also actively grow at this stage which will be evident to you if you use rockwool or jiffy pellets: the root tips will grow through their sides.

Control the Height of Your Marijuana Seedlings

Marijuana seedling height is controlled by the amount of light it receives. If everything is just right, the seedling is sturdy and not too tall: probably 2-3-4 inches the first several days, and hardly much taller when it is 1 week old or even 2 weeks old.

The seedling’s main business at this time is root development and the growth of leaves, not the overall height. If you see that each successive pair of leaves eventually grows bigger than the previous one, your young plants develop beautifully. At day 10, the span of the second pair should be the same as the span of the first one.

When Does the ‘Veg’ Begin?

It’s hard to point to the exact moment in time when a young plant stops being a seedling and begins its vegetative stage. You’ll see it happen when your cannabis starts to get noticeably bigger overnight. It may just grow higher, or rapidly develop side branches, or its leaves will get very large very fast. When you witness this sudden spurt in growth, congratulations: the vulnerable seedling stage is over and the plant has started vegging.

On day 1, one out of three OG Kush Auto seedlings has yet to ‘unglue’ its cotyledons.

This is Day 1 for Cream Caramel that managed to cast off the shell while emerging from the soil. It’s still yellow because it hasn’t yet been exposed to light.

Cream Caramel seedling at day 2. The cotyledons and the first pair of true leaves are already green. The stem is brownish-purple, but it’s perfectly normal.

OG Kush Auto at day 3. The seedling is in the process of straightening up.

This Six Shooter seedling is at day 4, and you can already see the second pair of true leaves.

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OG Kush Auto at day 6. A bit stretchy and bent as a result, but oherwise healthy.

OG Kush Auto at day 8. Firts pair of leaves a bit wavy, probably due to overwatering at some point.

On Day 10 or so, the spans of the first and second pair of true leaves should be the same. This Six Shooter is actually 13 days old which means that its growth has been too slow.

A very sick seedling. Besides yellow, dry, and brittle leaves (due to too aggressive LED light), you may also notice that the second pair of true leaves, though developed, is much smaller than the first one. This assymetry is a clear sign of major trouble.

Green Crack by Fastbuds at day 11 develops nicely. However, there is evidence of mild heat stress.

This 2 week old Auto Euforia seedling has leaves with 1, 3, 5, and even 7 ‘fingers’.

With noticeable side shoots at every node, this young cannabis plant shouldn’t be called a seedling anymore. Now it’s entering the vegetative stage and will develop rapidly.

The Color of Healthy Marijuana Seedlings

Generally, your seedling’s leaves should be medium green, not too light and not too dark. If the green color is too deep, it can mean that there’s too much nitrogen (N) either in the medium (soil mix), or in the plant food that you’re feeding your cannabis.

If the green color is just a bit too dark or too light, maybe it’s the genetics (see below). And when the leaves are turning purple or you see purple veins, purple stem, or even red stem, it also can be attributed to genetics. However, sometimes the cooler temps, especially at night or during the lights-off period, may lead to reddish hues in stem or purple leaves. White stem (usually with some greenish stem color) doesn’t mean there are any troubles.

Yellow is the Color of Trouble

The yellow coloration is a different story. Most often, it’s a sign of trouble, so don’t be complacent and resolve the issue a.s.a.p.

The only exception is when you see yellow veins or yellow in the middle of leaves first thing in the morning. It’s because the growing parts of the seedling haven’t yet been exposed to light. Watch them for a couple of hours, and, most probably, these new leaf parts will produce enough chlorophyll to turn the healthy shade of green.

This picture was taken at lights on. The new tissue in the middle hasn’t received any light yet, that’s why it’s yellow.

Another case of normal yellowing is when cotyledons die off at some moment. They are necessary in the first few days of a seedling’s life, before true leaves develop. Then cotyledons become redundant, get yellow and dry. This is inevitable and happens sooner if the cotyledons are far from light or shaded by true leaves above them.

This plant is probably 3 or 4 weeks old. The cotyledons have already served their purpose, and now it’s time for them to die.

Marijuana Seedling Identification: How Much Can You Really Tell?

Some people are very impatient to identify their marijuana seedlings. Maybe, you’ve bought a mix of different seeds, and they are not marked in any way, so you can’t tell the difference between them. Or a friend has given you a bean or two, or you decided to try some bag seeds. So, what can a seedling tell you about your future rewards, if any?

Frankly, marijuana seedlings don’t reveal much. The only thing that you can tell with any confidence is whether your seedling is an Indica or a Sativa. Often, you can see the difference in the very first set of true leaves. Indica leaves have darker green color compared to sativa leaves that are more light. Indica leaves are also shorter, broader, and ‘rounder’.

Judging by broad, round leaves, this seedling has dominating Indica genes.

This Green Poison Early version has narrow, light green leaves that point to its Sativa heritage.

The Identification of Sex in Marijuana Seedlings

As for the seedling gender, you can’t tell male from female. Only when a young plant starts flowering, or, to put it more correctly, when it shows preflowers at the nodes, you can determine if they are female hairs or male fists.

This seldom happens earlier than at 3 weeks (in the quickest of automatic strains). For photoperiod varieties, you can only wait until the vegetative growth really kicks in and the first preflowers appear. Alternatively, you can speed up this process by switching your light schedule to 12/12, which can be done even from day one. However, it will be a significant stress for your seedlings if they start flowering like this and then you decide to revert them back to veg with 18 hours of light and 6 hours of darkness.

This plant has clearly shown its sex. It’s a boy. Note that you wouldn’t see male or female flowers in a seedling; only in mature plants.

A much younger cannabis plant has already shown male flowers.

Yet another plant (mature) showing male flowers at the nodes.

This young plant, probably 3 weeks old and not very healthy looking, shows the first white pistils (female hairs) on top. The yellow color in the middle probably means that the picture was taken at lights on.

Identifying a Keeper by Smell

There is one more thing that you can do to understand what you actually grow: you can slightly rub the leaves and smell them. The aroma should be rich and pleasant for you. That’s what breeders do who germinate hundreds of seeds and want to decide early on which ones to keep and which to discard. And, of course, you should look for marijuana seedlings that are healthy and vigorous, not sickly and small.

Not much of identification guide, we know, but it is what it is.

So now you know enough about marijuana seedlings to stop worrying and enjoy the process of growing. And if you want to make sure that your sprouts receive all the proper L&C, check out our article describing the ideal conditions for your weed seedlings and how to take good care of them.

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Marijuana Seedlings

Now that your marijuana seeds have sprouted, what’s next? How do you care for your little baby marijuana seedlings? Your germinated seeds must be placed in a more suitable growing medium if you have started them in paper towels, rock wool or peat pellets.

Seedling containers

  1. Small planters utilize your space better
  2. Small planters grouped together are the most efficient way to use your grow light source
  3. A small container keeps the roots together and is easier to feed and water.

Planting your marijuana seedlings

Place garden soil in your container up to about 1” from the top. Pack l ightly . Make a hole with a pencil, eraser-side down about ½” deep and put in your germinated seeds, root side down and cover with soil. If your seedlings are already in a seed-starter of some sort, simply bury them in the dirt and cover with ¼ to ½” of soil. Water until the soil is damp, not soaking. It is not necessary, but some marijuana growers like to give the young plants some support. Long wooden kitchen matches (minus the head) work well.

Watering and feeding your seedlings

During this phase, feeding or the adding of nutrients or fertilizer will not be necessary unless you have chosen a soilless mix. Watering should be done perhaps twice per day with a misting bottle for the first few days. How often you water will depend greatly on temperature and humidity. Once the marijuana root is better established, you can slowly cut back to watering every 2-3 days. If you are not sure, you can test by placing your finger into the soil. If it feels dry, then add water. It is important to note that the number one cause of early crop failure is overwatering. Wilting or drooping leaves on your plants are a sign that your plant is thirsty. Plants will revive quickly from such dehydration. While many gardeners use tap or well water, the more sophisticated growers use reverse osmosis, filtered or bottled water and adjust the pH (acidity/alkalinity) of the water. If you are using municipal tap water, fill a bucket or a reserve reservoir and let it sit for several days. This allows most of the chlorine present in the water to evaporate. DO NOT water directly on the plant. They are very delicate at this stage and the stem and roots are easily damaged. Water around the seedlings a few inches base of the plant. It is best to water your plants first thing in the morning for best uptake.

Marijuana seedlings lights

Marijuana seedlings require very little light and can be grown under CFLs (spiral compact fluorescents), tube fluorescents, LEDs and the blue light from Metal Halides (MH). Stay away from incandescent lights as they put off too much heat and too little light. The higher the Wattage your light source, the further away it should be from your seedlings unless you are using LED grow lights with good ones running nearly cold. Too far away and the plants will stretch towards the light making them weak and spindly. Too close and the bright light and heat may damage them, except with LEDs. Let us say you are using fluorescents or LED grow lights. It would be fine to place the light a foot above your plants to start and give the seedlings a chance to ‘harden up’. If they react favorably, you may lower the light a little bit each day until the lights are maybe 4” above your plants. Blue light dominant LEDs and full spectrum LED grow lights offer an excellent start, lower electricity costs and very little if any heat. High Pressure Sodium (HPS) lights are generally not used for seedlings as they do not require the amount of light that HPS puts out, and more importantly, HPS is deficient in blue light. Blue light is what plants use to point them towards the light source. This is called phototropism. Have fun and good luck growing out your marijuana seedlings!

How to care for marijuana seedlings

Growing weed is not only interesting but good fun too. Not everything is as rosy, though, for it’s also a bumpy ride full of twists and turns. A good start is always key for a good finish, so having a solid understanding of the ins and outs of marijuana seedlings can be the difference between success and frustration. By controlling their size, boosting the growth of their roots and providing them with the right kind of nutrients, we’ll lay the foundations for stronger plants and better yields later on.

The first stage is as quick as it is beautiful: right after germination, the embryo emerges through the seed coat and turns into a tiny root when sowed. As it receives nourishment and moisture, the little seedlings start to appear. In botany, this stage is known as the stage of development, and it extends from the germination and subsequent emergence of the cotyledon (two round-shaped primary leaves) to the unfurling of the first true leaves (a set of jagged leaflets). These plants are still rather fragile and spindly, and many inexperienced growers fail to properly analyze the needs of the newborn seedlings, sometimes even causing them to die.

Searching for light: what to bear in mind

Sometimes, our little kids grow more than it’s good for them. An excessive vertical growth gives way to weak plants with low yielding capacities. This can be down to either environmental or genetic factors, as it’s the case of sativa plants:

– Shoots also have a strong survival instinct. In the same way as roots reach out for nutrients, shoots grow towards the light. This phenomenon is called positive phototropism, and auxins play a major part in it. So, if your plant shows an exaggerate vertical growth, it may be suffering from stress due to an absence of a strong light source.

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– Outdoors, plants move according to the sun, their main source of heat and light, which explains their relentless need to fight for light and avoid staying in the shadows. To prevent this from happening indoors, we recommend using grow lights properly, moving them in such a way that plants receive enough light to grow adequately.

A less potent but better-located lamp is far better than a powerful yet poorly placed one. For best results, use reflectors or grow tents that allow for a more even distribution of light.

Temperature has also an effect on our plant’s growth: if over 80°F, our kids will start to grow upwards. Be careful with environmental stress too for stressful situations such as plant transplants can cause them to become too flimsy and leggy. Seedlings react to stress or uneasiness (when they’re not happy with the substrate they’re growing in or aren’t receiving the right amount of nutrients) by stretching out. Be particularly vigilant in this regard.

– Instead, if your newborn seedlings seem unable to grow upwards because they’re either too weak or too fragile, you can use a vertical support to help them out. A slight breeze will also make shoots stronger and more resistant because plants are forced to focus their energies on the reinforcement rather than on the stretching. This means that plants will continue growing vigorously yet not so much upwards.

Watch out for stalking fungi

Some of the most common infestations affecting early plants are the ones caused by parasitic fungi generally related to Rhizoctonia and Pythium. These produce a very common plant disease known as ‘Damping off’ that causes tiny plants to wither and die.

The presence of these harmful organisms, who love wet and warm environments, prevents nutrients from moving around and so roots from absorbing them. The best way to fight them is prevention. Keep a watchful eye on the moisture levels and avoid overwatering your plants. If you see the surface of the substrate is still damp, don’t add any water. Wait until it’s dry.

Purple doesn’t always mean healthy

The color of your plants can say a lot about their health. Sometimes stems turn purple, and this might be down to multiple factors. It could be a matter of genetics. Or it could be the temperature. Just make sure the air temperature doesn’t go lower than 68°F. Otherwise, you risk getting purple stems.

If it’s limited to the stems, no need to worry. However, if it also affects the leaves, it may be a telltale sign of phosphorus deficiency. Consequently, plants will produce smaller buds, so finding a solution is paramount. All you have to do is use phosphate fertilizers.

If the coloring fails to disappear, and more and more leaves with fragile stems keep emerging, the reason could be excess nitrogen, which will lead to lower yields. The best solution is to thoroughly cleanse the root zone by overwatering your plants.

Fertilization? Yes, but with caution

First things first: root growth stimulation is a very important process. Poorly developed roots will be unable to absorb the necessary amount of nutrients to thrive and produce generous harvests. To prevent this from happening, during the 1st and 2nd weeks, you’ll have to pour some root booster into the irrigation water.

‘Till the start of the vegging phase, your seedlings will grow perfectly well without the help of any nutrients. The ones in the substrate will be enough. If you’ve picked a nutrient-rich substrate, like manure or earthworm humus, you can forget about fertilizing at least until the 4th week. If you haven’t, start using nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium-rich fertilizers as soon as the 3rd week kicks in and until the beginning of the pre-blooming stage.

Let them grow strong

Plants should be well rooted. That’s the most important thing. If you succeed, you’ll have come a long way. During the first two weeks, you’ll have to make sure roots are developed enough to absorb all the nutrients cannabis plants need. Now that plants are so young, the use of chemicals is not recommended for any little mistake could be fatal. That’s why ecological systems are preferred. Apart from less aggressive, they’re far more sustainable.

Auxins are powerful growth hormones produced by plants that greatly benefit both stems and roots. For that very reason, boosting its production could help roots grow much more quickly. Some cereal crops such as wheat or bird seed, as well as some legumes, say lentils or chickpeas, could be of great use in this regard. All you have to do is pre-soak them in water for 8 hours to obtain an excellent root boosting solution.

Transplanting

At first, plants are better off in small pots. The big ones inevitably have higher amounts of humidity in the soil, and our seedlings are too small to take up that much water, so they may end up dying. But a moment will come in which the seedlings won’t be small anymore and will need a transfer. When your seedling has developed 4 sets of leaves or roots start to entangle and get out of the pot, it’ll be the time to transplant it so that it can continue growing more, faster, and stronger.

And remember that, unlike humans, cannabis seedlings growing too much too early is a bad sign. Although it may be an inherent feature of the strain chosen, the stem growing in excess may be a telltale sign that something is wrong: this kind of growth pattern gives way to weak and fragile plants unable to support the weight of their branches or leaves.

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