Are you thinking about growing cannabis from the comfort of your own home? Here’s everything you need to know about cannabis seed germination. Germinating marijuana seeds,how to germinate marijuana seeds,how to store marijuana seeds,germinating marijuana,how long to germinate,marijuana seeds,seedling cannabis,germinate marijuana seeds,how to germinate marijana seeds,germinating your cannabis seeds with paper towels,marijuana seedling stage,weed seedling stage Growing seedlings indoors isn't hard. Learn all you need to know about water, light, soil, fertilizer, and more in this detailed care guide.
Germinating Marijuana Seeds: Step by Step Guide
The life of any plant begins with germination , making this process the most important in your plant’s life. You will undoubtedly come across many different methods for germinating your marijuana seeds when conducting your online research. Some may be successful, but others will disappoint you. The following guide will provide you with an effective list of practices and critical information home marijuana growers can utilize to help ensure they’re preparing the best crop possible to produce some smooth, enjoyable hits.
Please continue reading to find out everything you need to know about cannabis seed germination. And if you’d like even more information on the wonders of growing cannabis from the comfort of your own home, please consider exploring the top-quality grow kits provided by our cannabis industry experts at a Pot for Pot today , along with their range of expertly written educational articles.
What Does it Mean to Germinate Cannabis Seeds?
Germination is the natural process by which a particular organism grows from a spore or seed. In this case, the term is referring to the sprouting of a cannabis seedling from a seed , which can be encouraged by help from the cannabis grower. Germinating your seed is the first crucial step in the cannabis growing process, and it can be surprisingly simple with the right tools. Even though the process of getting a seed to sprout and bear a healthy plant is a challenge for some growers, it doesn’t have to be when you start with a grow kit from a Pot for Pot. With our help, your plant will sprout and start growing in no time!
What to Understand About Germination and Endosperm
The first thing to understand is that seeds come naturally equipped with their own starting food- endosperm. It plays an essential role in ensuring your plant reaches its full potential. As a seed begins to sprout, this starchy blanket around the embryo provides nutrients to a growing plant. If it doesn’t seem like a lot, don’t be fooled- there’s enough starch there to feed humans.
That starch is only part of what you’ll need, however. You’ll also need to provide specific temperatures to germinate your seeds. Ideally, you’ll want to keep the temperature around 25 degrees Celsius (77 F) for the best results.
What Happens During Germination?
The process of germination is when plants start to sprout from their seeds, and it’s relatively the same throughout the plant kingdom. A little bit of moisture makes the tiny plant inside crack open its outer shell and sprout upwards while pushing its root downwards. Once it’s cracked through the shell, you’ll need to give your little babies a bit of water and some love for the fun to begin.
Your seeds will need the right conditions to break through their shell and continue to grow, however. Otherwise, they may take longer to germinate. Our seedling starter kit can help you create those perfect conditions. It makes sure your seed has just the right amount of water (so that it stays moist, but not too wet). Once it has germinated and grown enough to sprout its third set of leaves, simply move your young plant into the a Pot for Pot fabric pot for continued healthy growth.
It’s best to germinate seeds indoors where you can better control the temperature. Seeds are more likely to sprout in a warm and stable environment.
How to Sprout Marijuana Seeds
Marijuana plants start as a seed . That tiny thing resembling a pebble is a whole plant securely stored with a supply of food to support itself for a few days. In the germination process, the food converts into sugars, which the plant uses to cut the shell and develop its root. Identifying a healthy seed is, therefore, the first thing that you need to do.
The sprouting process is the foundation of your marijuana plant, so do not take this step lightly. Other than starting with a high-quality seed, you need to ensure that your conditions are optimal. It is challenging to optimize the natural mediums, which is why a medium such as Jiffy Pellets comes in handy.
Different Ways to Germinate
There are many ways to germinate seeds, but we recommend using peat pellets. Not only is it the safest way to start your seeds, but it’s also the easiest. Jiffy is hands down one of the best brands of peat pellets on the market , and if you are thinking about germinating using peat pellets, this is the way to go. This method is great for avoiding the risk of damaging new roots. We’ll get into more detail about the wonders of Jiffy Pellets in a later section of this article. But first, let’s explore the benefit of peat pellets in general, along with some other mediums growers can use to facilitate effective cannabis germination.
Peat pellets are comprised of decomposed vegetable matter which your plants will absolutely love. When you add water, it expands, creating a nutrient-dense medium that is a good replacement for soil. When the roots are visible, you can transport the whole pellet into a Top Soil mix with fortified a Pot for Pot Superb Soil so it can continue developing without accidentally causing root damage.
Basic Mediums for Marijuana Germination
There are many different germination methods, and results will vary. Here are some basic ways to sprout your seeds :
Sprouting marijuana seeds in regular soil is a common practice. Soil is a natural medium and can protect the seeds as they develop their fragile roots. For this option, be sure to start with the right type of soil for marijuana. Use a seed starter or fertilized potting soil with a pH of around 6- 6.5. Soil has both minerals and spores that support growing marijuana plants. Soil can have too many nutrients for fragile seeds so take care when doing this method that your soil isn’t too hot.
Water is another method for sprouting a marijuana seed. Soak seeds in a cup of water in a dark place for 24 to 48 hours. Plant after 48 hours whether or not the seed has sprouted a tail or not. The advantage of using water is that you can ensure adequate moisture for germination. The plant will also have an easier time breaking its shell compared to when it is in a soil medium. It is really important that your water is chlorine free and ideally pH neutral to slightly acid. (with a pH of 6.5- 7.0)
This mineral wool comes from volcanic rock and other materials such as limestone and basalt. To make this material, the ingredients are heated into molten lava and rapidly spun into threads. These threads then undergo compaction, curing, and finally, cutting.
While Rockwool is a suitable environment for germination, you’ll need to adjust it a bit for growing marijuana. First, you’ll need to add fertilizers- around 600 parts per million. You’ll also need to reduce the pH, which is too high to support sprouting. It’s also a bit dangerous to use, so please wear gloves and protect your mouth and eyes while handling it.
Would you like to save money and reduce the number of trips you need to take to your local dispensary to stock up on marijuana? Consider trying out the potential of your green thumb by investing in one of our top-quality cannabis growing kits today.
The Best Marijuana Germination Medium: What to Know About Jiffy Pellets
For the best results, you need a precise understanding of how to get started growing your marijuana plant. As stated a few sections above in this article, choosing Jiffy Pellets as your initial medium is probably the best way to go. Every a Pot for Pot kit includes a Jiffy Pellet, so you don’t need to worry about purchasing it separately, and if you run out, you can order some refills or one of our expansion kits .
What is a Jiffy Pellet and How Does it Work?
A Jiffy Pellet is a natural, biodegradable growing medium conveniently available as little compact discs that help sprout seeds into seedlings. Jiffy Pellet composition includes peat moss, a mesh, and other ingredients such as lime, fertilizer, and ammonium to help seedlings grow.
Jiffy Pellets are both a container and a potting mix for sprouting seeds. Peat moss is a medium that’s rich in organic materials, and the mesh securely holds the peat moss in place. Using Jiffy peat pellets either indoors or outdoors is an effective method to grow healthy and robust marijuana plants.
To use a Jiffy pellet, water it first. Then, place your marijuana seed a bit below the surface level. When the plant is strong enough, transplant the entire pellet to a larger pot.
What are Jiffy Pellets Composed of?
To help you better understand the advantages that Jiffy Pellets can provide to your seed germination efforts, let’s take a moment to explore the various beneficial components they contain and how they work to benefit your plants.
Technically, a Jiffy peat pellet is a small disc made of compressed material. However, Jiffy pellets enlarge up to seven times their original size when you add water , creating a suitable environment for the sprouting process. The fine netting keeps the Jiffy pellet ingredients in one place as your seed sprouts. Said ingredients include:
Peat is an organic medium that provides plenty of nutrients for sprouting seeds. It is made from sphagnum peat moss, which has a high water-holding capacity as a result of its fluffy and light texture. Peat provides excellent root aeration, making it easy for roots to grow without interference.
Lime, Ammonium, and Fertilizer
Jiffy pellets are primarily made from peat moss. However, peat moss on its own is not ideal for sprouting seeds. That’s why they also include lime, which raises the pH of the medium. Jiffy Pellets have a pH of 5.5, compared to peat moss’s 4.4.
Jiffy Pellets also include fertilizer that provides seedlings with all their required nutrients for the first 1-2 weeks. You won’t need to add anything else as your seed sprouts. After transplanting, you can apply fertilizer, if desired.
How Big are Jiffy Pellets?
Jiffy pellets come in diameters of 24 mm, 33 mm, 41 mm, and 70 mm. The sizes vary to cater to the various needs of different seedlings. The larger Jiffy Pellet sizes are convenient to handle and are ideal for marijuana.
How to Germinate With Jiffy
Jiffy pellet instructions are easy to follow and will take you less than 20 minutes to set up, ensuring you’ll be able to start your cannabis seed germination project quickly and easily without wasted time or effort.
Choose Your Container
The first step is to place your pellets in a container. Ideally, you can use a Jiffy pellet tray. Ensure they do not overlap and leave a small border for water retention.
Water Your Jiffy Pellets
You can use tap water or distilled water. Keep in mind, tap water may have chlorine, which is harmful to your plant and can cause it to dry out faster. However, you don’t have to buy distilled water to prevent chlorine problems. Evaporate the chlorine by pouring your water, and let it rest for some time. Use very warm water, around 95oF, to help the pellet expand faster.
Plant Your Weed Seeds in the Jiffy Pellets
Place the seed in the middle of the enlarged pellet. Don’t place the seed too deep, or it will not sprout.
Cover Your Seeds
To avoid moisture loss, use a plastic cover – this usually comes with the pellets. You can also use plastic wrap. If you don’t have a Jiffy pellet dome, you will need to water again after around seven days. Avoid dropping water from the top; otherwise, you will disturb the developing seeds.
Transplant Your Plant into Some Soil
The seeds are usually ready for transplanting after two weeks. To do this, simply make a hole in the soil and place your pellet directly in that spot.
An Alternative to Jiffy Pellets to Consider
Coir is a popular alternative to Jiffy pellets , with Coconut Coir leading the trend. This material is made from coconut husks. If you choose this medium, use a coir Jiffy Pellet tray to hold it. Coir has water retention capacities similar to peat, but not as good, and it is more airy which means you will want to water it more often and make sure it is compact.
Coir also repels insects and is reusable , so it can help you if you choose to expand your growing operations to include more cannabis plants.
What to do After Germination
After your seeds have germinated, they need to go into a pellet so the roots can spread out and grow. You may be wondering just how far in the jiffy pellet the seeds should be planted once it has germinated. You’ll want to drop the seed about a half-inch to an inch. If the seed has not sprouted, it’s okay to place it in the jiffy pellet – as long as it has soaked for at least 12 hours, but no more than 24 hours. If it has sprouted, drop the white root downward, so that the head of the seed is about an inch below the surface.
Damping-Off With Hydrogen Peroxide
Once your seed becomes a tiny plant, it’s now known as a seedling. This is great, except that seedlings are very delicate. You’ll want to be on the lookout for the number one seedling killer: damping off. Damping-off occurs when something (such as fungi or other diseases) causes the nutrients in your plant to stop being transported properly. The stem becomes mushy and falls over, and your plants will die young. The risk increases when there is minimal direct sunlight and air circulation, combined with warm temperatures and high humidity.
Eventually, your plant will be able to protect itself, but until then hydrogen peroxide is an excellent solution to this problem before it can begin. Hydrogen peroxide provides oxygen to the soil and reduces the chances of fungus spores developing.
To effectively prevent damping off, combine 1 tsp. of hydrogen peroxide with 2 cups of water. Use this solution to water the plants. Or you can soak the seed in 1% hydrogen peroxide before planting.
Frequently Asked Questions: Marijuana Seed Germination & Jiffy Pellets
Before signing off with this article, let’s take a few more moments to cover some key points included in this article to ensure you understand the basics of everything you’ll need to know when advancing forward in the seed germination process. We’ll also cover the answers to a few common questions new home-growers may want to address before getting started.
Germination is the process of seeds developing into new plants
All weed seeds need water, oxygen, and proper temperature in order to germinate.
It takes 1-2 weeks for weed seeds to germinate
We love jiffy pellets. They mimic the plant’s favorite natural medium; good soil.
The Bottom Line: What a Pot for Pot Can do For You
Germination can be tricky, but not if you have the right tools. The quality seedling starter kit from a Pot for Pot makes going from seed to seedling fairly effortless. It’s included in all our kits, or you can purchase it on its own. Simply select the seeds and provide some love and we’ll provide everything you need to grow healthy plants.
Do you enjoy an occasional marijuana smoke break but want to avoid costly trips to the local dispensary every time your bud stash starts to run low? Consider growing your own marijuana from the comfort of your home with one of our top-quality cannabis growing kits.
Learn how to cultivate marijuana. Find the best marijuana growing advice for seed germination, cloning, pruning, trimming, and curing to help maximize your yields.
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Step Two: Germinating Marijuana Seeds and The Seedling Stage
December 31, 2018
Germinating marijuana seeds means “activating” the seed,. which is the first step to start growing your weed (or technically the second step after building your grow room ). The seed contains not just the embryo, but also the food that plant will use during its very early stages of life. When exposed to moisture and warmth, the seed will naturally “activate,” and begin using its stored food to develop a taproot and push up from the grow medium. In order to achieve successful germination and rapid early growth, it is crucial to maintain ideal conditions for your germinating seeds.
If you are new to growing cannabis, and would like some extra help germinating your cannabis seeds. Then check out this awesome video from Percys Grow Room . It will take you step by step through the germination process.
Where to get your cannabis seeds from? (Seed Banks That Ship to USA)
Marijuana seed can be obtained from many sources (online and offline), the quality and the and genetic diversity can vary based on where you’re getting cannabis seeds from. Online seed banks are your best bet if you’re not located in a region with recreational legalization established.
There are many reliable outlets sell high quality seeds, here is a list of The Best Online Seed Bank for Feminized Seeds that ship to the USA, in the industry. These seed banks have strong reputations and are known for providing high quality genetics.
If it’s your first time growing, it also pays to get feminized seeds. Dealing with identification and removal of males is an additional complication that inexperienced growers can avoid simply by purchasing feminized seeds.
The choice is always up to the grower, but I strongly believe feminized seeds are a justified expensive and recommend them for any new grower.
Mature Cannabis Seeds, This Is What You Need to Do
Once you get your marijuana seeds, you will want to check if they’re matured. If you use a good seed bank, like the ones in the list above, then you will most likely receive quality seeds that are ready to be germinated.
Matured marijuana seeds shell tends to be very hard, darker brown or deep tan, with lighter accents (stripes). If they look fresh and green, it means they didn’t reach full maturity, they’re pretty much useless .
How to Germinate Marijuana Seeds
Before you plant the seeds, you need to germinate your cannabis seeds, and to do so, you will need three main things; water, heat, and air, like every living being on earth. There are a few common methods for germinating seeds, and some seed banks provide detailed instructions for how to germinate the seeds you purchase from them. Some banks also provide a guarantee on germination rates, and will provide replacements or refunds, but only when their instructions have been followed.
Although we recognize a number of methods as being successful means to achieve germination, always follow your provider’s instructions when applicable, particularly so that you may take advantage of any guarantees included with your purchase.
Now, how to germinate marijuana seeds ; the following method (paper towel germination) is the most common, and one of the most simple. Here is what you need:
- Clean plate, and another one to be used as a cover (optional)
- Paper towels
- Marijuana Seeds
And here is the method:
- Soak 6 paper towels sheets in a distilled water.
- Take 3 of the soaked sheets and put them on the plate.
- Put the marijuana seeds on the soaked sheets, each seed should be an inch or more apart from the one next to it.
- Cover the marijuana seeds with the remaining 3 of the soaked sheets.
- Now, if you need to create a dark environment for the seeds, you can take another plate (the same size) and flip it over to cover the seeds/paper towel sandwich. This is not necessary if you have a dark place to put the seeds, such as a cabinet, drawer, closet, etc.
- Finally, as for how long to germinate marijuana seeds in paper towel: just give it some time. The germination period is different from one seed to another. Some seeds germinate quickly, others can take up to a week.
Check your germinating marijuana seeds at least once a day. You will probably need to add more distilled water as they begin to dry out. You don’t need to completely drenched the paper towel, but it should always be damp to the touch. Once the seeds split, you will see a single taproot coming out (see the picture below). You will know that your beloved cannabis seeds are successfully germinated.
Once the tap root is approximately 0.25-0.75 inches (0.6-2.0 cm) it’s time to move them into a starter medium (rockwool cube, peat moss plug, etc.) or soil and straight to your grow room.
Important tips to ensure successful germination for the marijuana seeds:
- Keep the seeds in a warm environment, between 70-77°F. High humidity is also preferable; germination rates tend to be higher at around 70-80% RH.
- Make sure to keep the paper towels sheets soaked all the time. If them seem like they’re getting dry, simply add some distilled water to keep the sheets saturated.
- Open the plate’s only once a day to check the progress.
- As the seeds begin to split, do not, I repeat, DO NOT touch the seeds or the tap root. It’s very important to keep this area clean and sterile.When you are ready to transplant them to the medium, use sterilized tweezers if possible.
Moving Your Germinated Seed to A Pot
Due to the limited root system the germinated seeds have, best practice is to plant the germinated seeds in small containers. This will increase the plants’ accessibility to oxygen and nutrients by avoiding overwatering.
When plants are initially placed in large pots, they cannot use all of the water and nutrients around them very quickly. This results in damp conditions that facilitate the growth of mold and certain pests. Thus, we prefer to start our seedlings in small containers like solo cups, then transport them to a bigger container when they start developing a larger root system (once they hit the seedling stage).
Here is what you need to do:
- Acquire a small 2 inch pot (or solo cup) for each germinated seed
- The soil you will be putting in the pot shouldn’t be dense. It has to be rather loose and airy. You generally want a mixture of potting soil and perlite, roughly 70:30 to 50:50.
- Dig a hole approximately 0.5 inches, or one knuckle deep, in the middle of the pot using a pen, and drop the germinated seed in it ( tap root faces down ). Make sure to transfer the germinated seed gently and carefully, I usually avoid using my hands to move the seeds; a pair of tweezers would do the job.
- Lightly cover the hole/seed with soil (enough to block the light without obstructing the seedling when it emerges).
- Now, add a little bit of water. Make sure the soil still covers the seed after watering it. Not much water is necessary, and you shouldn’t need to water again until after the seedling emerges.
Final Steps – Marijuana Plant Seedling Stage
Place the small pot(s) in your grow room, and turn the lights on. The seeds technically don’t need the light at this point, but they immediately do once they pop out of the soil. Having the light on and waiting for the plant will assist the young plant to develop better and faster. You can leave a fluorescent light close to the surface (a couple of inches away) from the plant since fluorescent lights don’t emit a lot of heat, but HID or LED should be at least 24 inches away, if not further. Refer to the light manufacturer’s instructions to see if they provide a recommendation for distance from the canopy at various stages of growth.
Here are a few other things to keep in mind for germinating your seeds:
- The temperature should be around 73 F at all times . Warmer temps will not cause any problems, at least until closer to 90 F. Cooler temps, however, can stunt growth in early stages.
- Humidity should be around 60-70% RH.
- When you water the pots where you planted your seeds, you want to make sure giving them just the right amount of water without over saturating the soil, which may cause suffocating the sprouts and kill it. Using a spray bottle can do the job; they do not need much water early on..
- Make sure your pots have holes in the bottom to allow water to drain.
- Do not overwater! It is really easy to overwater and cause severe stunting or even kill the seedlings. If you can feel any moisture at all when you touch the soil, they do not need water yet.
- In 3 to 7 days, you should start seeing the first signs of your newly born cannabis plant.
- Once you see the first sprouts; have your fluorescent lamp running 18 hours on, 6hours off in 24 hour intervals.
- In 3 to 4 weeks, the cannabis plant should be around 4 inches high, which is big enough to be moved to a bigger pot; this is the true start of The Vegetative Stage ! If you are using a solo cup, the plant’s fan leaves should now be stretching over the edges of the cup. This is a good indicator that you are ready to move up to a larger pot.
If you have any questions, and you would like more help with starting your cannabis grow, then join the cannabis growers forum over at Percys Grow Room. They have over 1 thousand members, waiting to help you with your grow.
Percys Grow Room also have competitions, grow diaries , Guides on fixing cannabis plant deficiencies, and much more. If you’re a new grower it would really benefit your grow if you signed up.
Just click here , it will take less than a minute, its free, and your plants will thank you for it.
Here is our complete Step by Step Beginners Guide to grow marijuana Indoors
- Step One:Choose the right strain/seeds. Here are the Best Marijuana Seed Banks
- Step Two:How to Build the Perfect Indoor Grow Room (For up to 6 Plants)
- Step Three:Germinating Your Marijuana Seeds and The Seedling Stage
- Step Four:Marijuana Vegetative Stage
- Step Five:Flowering Stage
- Step Six:Harvesting and Drying
- Step Seven:Curing and Trimming
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in Jan 2018 and has been revamped and updated as needed for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
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How To Take Care Of Seedlings & What To Do After They Sprout
Growing seedlings is fun, but keeping them alive can be challenging. In this detailed seedling care guide, I will show you everything you need to know about how to grow healthy starts for your garden.
Getting your seeds to germinate is one thing, but figuring out what to do with seedlings once they start to grow? Well, that’s a whole different ballgame.
But, once you learn all about proper seedling care, you can easily keep them thriving. Plus you’ll feel confident that they’ll be strong enough to survive the transition to the garden.
In this guide, I will teach you everything you need to know about growing seedlings. If you want to start from the beginning, then get my best tips for how to grow seeds indoors here.
Table of Contents
Growing Seedlings Indoors
I love growing my own seeds! No matter how many times I do it, I always get super excited when I see the first signs of life in my trays. It’s so much fun!
But after the elation of seeing your first sprouts popping out of the dirt wears off, reality sets in and you might suddenly wonder… Oh crap, my seedlings are growing! NOW what do I do. (gulp)
Don’t panic, I’ve got you covered. Keep reading and I’ll show you exactly what to do with seedlings after they start to germinate.
New seedlings shortly after germination
Seedling Care Instructions
Growing seedlings doesn’t have to be a huge struggle! With the proper care, they will not only survive but they will thrive in your garden.
Follow these instructions for taking care of seedlings after germination…
Light For Seedlings
Light is one of the most important factors of seedling care, and that’s why I’ve listed it first. Some will grow OK sitting next to a sunny window, but most will require more light than that.
You can learn more about proper lighting for seedlings here, but I’ve listed some quick tips for you below.
- When to start using lights – You should turn the grow lights on as soon as you see the first specks of green popping out of the dirt.
- Types of lights – There are tons of options here. You can buy a full-blown system, or just get the grow lights.
- Amount of light – Ideally, the grow lights should hang 3-4 inches above the seedlings at all times, and be kept on for 12-14 hours a day (an inexpensive outlet timer really comes in handy for this!).
Seedlings leaning over
Proper Seedling Watering
Proper watering is another extremely important part of successful seedling care. Seedlings need consistently moist soil. They can’t survive long without water, and should never be allowed to dry out completely.
However, never allow the soil to be wet all the time either. Soggy soil promotes pest infestations, mold growth in trays, and diseases that can kill your seedlings, like damping off.
Plus, too much water will ultimately kill them, and you don’t want that. Here are some tips to get it right…
- How often to water – You should check on your seedling trays a few times a day to see how moist the soil is. Once the top layer of soil starts to dry out, then it’s time to water. They will need to be watered more often as they grow larger.
- How to water – The best way to water is by pouring it into the tray, and then allowing the soil to absorb it through the drainage holes. Bottom watering will help ensure the roots get plenty of moisture, and avoid disturbing or displacing the delicate seedlings. Be sure to dump out any that’s not absorbed after 30 minutes.
- How much to water – Fill the tray just enough to cover the holes in the bottom of the cells so they can absorb it.
An inexpensive soil moisture gauge is a wonderful tool that will help you give your seedlings the perfect amount of water. I highly recommend getting one.
Watering seedlings from the bottom, not the top
Seedling Ventilation & Airflow
A common question I get from newbies is when to remove the humidity dome for seedlings. Great question!
It’s time to remove the dome lid once most of the seedlings in the tray have started to grow. But it’s best to do this slowly by ventilating the lid, rather than just removing it.
Start by propping it open an inch. Then keep propping it another inch or so every few days until the lid is completely off. Once the humidity dome is off, you can leave it off.
Airflow is also important for growing seedlings and preventing some common problems (like mold and overwatering).
Once the lid is off, I like to use an oscillating fan to provide additional ventilation, and help to strengthen them.
I keep my fan plugged into the same outlet timer as my grow lights. I set it on low so it rotates and gently blows over the seedlings all day long, then it automatically turns off at night.
Keep in mind that the soil can dry out very quickly after you remove the lid, especially if you use a fan, so you should check the moisture level more often.
Preparing to remove humidity dome for seedling ventilation
Thinning Overcrowded Seedlings
If there’s more than one seedling growing per cell, then you will need to thin them. It is really hard for some people to do this, but it’s very important.
Below are a few tips to get you started, but you can learn how to thin seedlings step-by-step here.
- Why do seedlings need to be thinned? – Because otherwise they will start to compete with each other for light, water and nutrients. It’s also really difficult to give seedlings proper airflow when they’re overcrowded.
- How big should seedlings be before thinning? – You can start once your seedlings have a few sets of their true leaves. Snip out the weakest so that only the strongest one is left growing in each cell.
- How to pick the strongest seedling – Keep the one that looks the healthiest and is the most compact, and pinch or snip out the leggy or weak looking seedlings. If they all look the same, then just choose one of them to keep per cell.
Using an oscillating fan to grow strong seedlings
Fertilizing Your Seedlings
Once you start to see true leaves, it’s time to begin fertilizing them as part of a regular seedling care routine. But you don’t want to feed them a full dose of fertilizer, because they are just babies. Follow these tips…
- How to fertilize seedlings – Start feeding them with a weak dose of liquid fertilizer at first (about 1/4 of the regular dose). Then slowly increase the strength of the dose as they grow larger.
- The best fertilizer for seedlings – I recommend using natural, organic fertilizers rather than synthetic chemicals. Chemicals are notorious for burning seedlings, and they don’t work as well as organic types do.
I use (and highly recommend) an organic compost solution (you could also buy tea bags to brew your own) on all of my indoor seedlings.
Liquid kelp and fish emulsion are also wonderful, and seedlings absolutely love them… but beware that these can get a bit stinky when used indoors.
A few of the best fertilizers for seedlings
Transitioning Mature Seedlings
Once your seedlings grow larger, it’s time to start thinking about transitioning them to the next phase. Most will do best when they’re put into larger pots, rather than left growing in the small starter cells.
That will give them plenty of room to grow larger before it’s time to move them outside and into the garden.
When To Move Seedlings To Pots
The general rule is that, once the seedlings have grown to be about twice as tall as the height of the tray, then they should be put into bigger pots. Learn all about repotting seedlings here.
Most can handle staying in the small containers for a few weeks, as long as you keep them watered.
But, if it’s going to be more than a week or two before you’re able to plant them into the garden, you should pot them up.
Plantable pots are a great option, and they make planting seedlings into the ground later on super easy.
Peat pots are popular and fairly inexpensive, I recommend buying either the 3″ size peat pots or 4″ peat pots for seedlings.
If you’re worried about the sustainability of peat, then get some that are made out of coco coir. You can use a 2.25″ size, or a 3″ size pot for seedlings. Heck, you can even buy pots made out of cow manure! Wow!
Of course you can always put them into reusable plastic pots if you have them on hand, to save yourself some cash.
Moving seedlings to larger pots
Preparing Seedlings For Planting Outside
Hardening off is a crucial seedling care step that many newbies miss. But, if you planted your seedlings from your house directly into the garden, they would probably wither and die (eek!).
Seedlings growing indoors need time to get used to being outside before they are planted into the garden. So never skip this step!
Once the weather warms in the spring (above 50 degrees F), put your seedlings outside in a shady location for several hours each day. They should be protected from sun, wind and heavy rain.
Gradually expose them to the sun over several days. Keep in mind that the soil will dry out much faster outside, and the seedlings may need to be watered more than once a day, so check on them regularly.
When the weather is warm enough, they can be left outside overnight. Learn exactly how to harden off seedlings step-by-step here.
Hardening seedlings before planting them into the garden
When To Plant Seedlings Into Your Garden
Ok, so you’ve got these seedling care steps figured out, and you’ve managed to keep your babies alive. That’s awesome! Now you’re probably wondering when you should put them into the ground.
Cold weather plants like broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, radish, parsley, leafy greens (like lettuce) and others that can handle light frost can be planted as early as 2-4 weeks before your average last frost date.
Warm weather seedlings like tomatoes, cucumbers, basil, beans, squash and peppers shouldn’t be planted into the garden until after all chance of frost is gone.
If you don’t know your average last frost date, check with a local garden center. Get more details about how to figure out when to transplant seedlings into the garden here.
Troubleshooting Common Seedling Care Problems
Once you get the hang of it, you’ll find that it isn’t all that hard to grow seedlings. But it can be extremely frustrating when they start having problems, and you don’t know why.
So to help you figure it out, here are a few of the most common seedling care issues, and their causes…
This is the biggest problem with growing seedlings indoors, and it happens when they don’t get enough light.
Add a grow light, and hang it right over the top of the seedlings. Then leave it turned on for 12-14 hours a day.
Seedlings Leaning Over, Stretching, Or Growing Sideways
Inadequate light is the main cause, but it can also happen if the lights aren’t positioned properly.
If you’re trying to grow seedlings in a window, then add a plant light. If you already have a light, then move it so that it is directly above the seedlings at all times.
Seedlings Dying After Sprouting
If your seedlings died shortly after they started growing, then it was likely because of seedling blight.
This is a disease that causes something called “damping off”, which kills seedlings at the base. The only way to prevent this is to disinfect your seed trays before using them again.
The main cause is overwatering. Be sure that the soil is never soggy, and allow the very top to dry out a bit between waterings.
Small Seedlings, Or They’re Not Growing
Seedling growth can be stunted when it’s too cold in the room, if they are over or under watered, or if they aren’t getting enough fertilizer.
Healthy seedlings growing indoors
Seedling Care FAQs
In this section, I will answer the most commonly asked questions about growing seedlings. If after reading this guide and these FAQs you still can’t find the answer to your question, then ask it in the comments below.
What are true leaves?
The term “true leaves” refers to any of the ones that grow after the first two leaves. They look like tiny versions of the leaves on a mature plant.
How long does it take for seedlings to grow true leaves?
That depends on the type of seedling. Some will start growing true leaves within a few days of germination, others can take several weeks.
It’s best to check the seed packet, or research the type of seedling you’re growing for specific timing.
How do you make your seedlings grow faster?
Heat, light, and fertilizer are three ways to improve seedling vigor, and make them grow faster.
If yours aren’t growing, then check the temperature of the room first. If it’s below 65 degrees F, then try keeping seedlings warm using a space heater or a heat mat.
Also be sure you’re providing adequate light and fertilizer to help speed up the growth. See the”Light For Seedlings” and “Fertilizing Your Seedlings” sections above for more details.
When should I water my seedlings?
Water your seedlings when the tray is empty, and the top of the soil is starting to dry out. Never allow the soil to dry completely though. Read the “Proper Seedling Watering” above for more details.
How do you grow strong seedlings?
All of the factors in this guide are important for growing strong seedlings. But adequate lighting and proper watering are by far the most important to help them thrive.
Can seedlings get too much light?
Yes. If you leave the lights on 24 hours a day, it can confuse them, and cause problems later on when you move them outside.
It’s best to simulate the natural sunlight pattern, and allow them a period of darkness each day.
How many hours of light do seedlings need?
Giving your seedlings 12-14 hours of light a day is ideal, and using an outlet timer makes it a snap.
When should I start seedlings?
It depends on the type of seeds. Follow the instructions on the seed packet to determine when to plant them. You can learn all about when to start seeds indoors here.
Where Can I Buy Seedlings?
You can find seedlings for sale at your local garden center in the spring and summer. Be sure to shop early for the best selection though, cause they can sell out fast.
Learning what to do after they start growing, and keeping them alive and healthy is tricky. But if you follow the seedling care tips above, it will be a snap! Not only will they survive the transition into the garden, but they will also thrive all summer long!
Looking for more more help growing any type of seed you want? Then you should take my online Seed Starting Course. It’s a fun, comprehensive, and self-paced online course that will show you exactly how to easily grow strong, healthy seedlings for your garden. Enroll and get started now!
Otherwise, if you just need some tips for growing seeds inside, then my Starting Seeds Indoors eBook would be perfect for you! It’s a quick-start guide to planting seeds indoors for beginners.
Leave a comment below and share your seedling care and growing tips.
About Amy Andrychowicz
I live and garden in Minneapolis, MN (zone 4b). My green thumb comes from my parents, and I’ve been gardening most of my life. I’m a passionate gardener who loves growing everything from vegetables, herbs, and flowers to succulents, tropicals, and houseplants – you name, I’ve grown it! Read More.
Mary Anne Watt says
My seedlings are under grow lights right now. My Snap dragons have lost their tops! A few of mystocks have little nibbles on the edges of the leaves.
What could be doing this?
Thank you in advance for your help.
Amy Andrychowicz says
How weird! It sounds to me like you somehow have a critter hiding in your flats, and it’s eating your seedlings. My guess is either some kind of tiny caterpillar, but it could be a baby slug (if it were full-sized, your seedlings would have been gone in one day, LOL!). Inspect the leaves very closely to see if you can find the culprit. They are teeny tiny when they’re babies, and can be very hard to see. Slugs only come out at night, so wait until after dark and check for them with a flashlight. Good luck!
Hello I am trying to grow Asian greens but they seem to be always leggy seedlings. I start indoors as it’s quite hot here in swq . I put them in sun in mornings and then after true leaves come plant out side under shade cloth . If I am doing something wrong your advise would be greatly appreciated.
Amy Andrychowicz says
It’s difficult to care for bean seedings indoors because they need a lot of light, and they grow very fast. A sunny window won’t be enough to keep them from getting leggy. So, for bet results, you’ll either need to add a grow light indoors and leave them on for 12-14 hours/day, plant the seeds outside in a pot or other container, or direct sow them in your garden.
Deb schaefer says
Hi! I am a gardener from forever but this year decided to go that step further and start my own plants. What an adventure! My guy is also an avid hippie gardener and we love to do things our own way in the gardens. No rules just joy! All of your information is just exactly what I was looking for. One question though, I have heard that topping the tomatoes and peppers will make for a sturdier and fuller plant. True or not true, and how is this done if it is true?? Thank you for your great advice! Happy playing in the dirt and the sunshine
Amy Andrychowicz says
Wonderful to hear, you are welcome! It’s certainly not necessary to cut the tops off of your pepper or tomatoes seedlings. I’ve never done that before, and mine all do great in the garden.
Sherri Becker says
Hi – Thank you for all the information you provide! I’m also from MN and this year is my first adventure of starting seedlings. Based on your writings, I transplanted a few of my plants that had grown to be too tall for the dome into larger pots. I’m concerned about them. It’s only been a day but how do I know when I need to start using the fan? Is that something to do right away on those that have been potted up? I got the timers and have the lights and fan on a timer but really worried about it being too soon for the air. Any help is appreciated! Thank you
Amy Andrychowicz says
You’re welcome! Great job on growing your seedlings so far, sounds like you’re doing everything right. I start using the fan as soon as I take the lids off my flats. So, you can turn yours on anytime now. Just keep in mind that the soil will dry out a little faster with the fan blowing on your seedlings. So check on them a few times a day to make sure it’s not drying too fast. Good luck!