Tuesday February 23, 2016
(For information on where to buy seeds in Colorado, click here.)
It’s not too early to start planning an outdoor garden. Aside from determining the layout, working the soil and gathering supplies, home growers should begin stocking up on seeds in preparation for early germination to ensure plentiful garden growth for a fraction of the cost of store-bought plants. The same can be said for growing cannabis from seed.
Benefits of Growing Cannabis From Seed
Though many indoor cultivators prefer to grow their cannabis from clones, opt to start from seed for many different reasons. One common reason is the seed’s ability to produce a “tap root” which anchors the plant in the soil. Clones are not able to produce tap roots (only fibrous root systems) and are therefore less sturdy and less capable of absorbing nutrients. Tap roots dig deep into the ground in search of water and nutrients, which is especially valuable in outdoor environments.
There is also a greater variety of seeds available (as opposed to clones) which is ideal for medical patients or anyone interested in a customized cannabinoid content. Online seed banks are known to sell seeds from many breeders and can often ship anywhere in the world, but often vary in quality and always come with the risk of confiscation (as it's illegal to mail marijuana products to or within the U.S.). For those living in states where it is legal to cultivate cannabis, your best bet will be to purchase seeds from local, legal marijuana businesses.
Cannabis plants grown from seed also tend to experience less stress resulting in a higher yield, better resin production and an increased likelihood of survival. They are also less likely to experience transplant shock when transitioning from an indoor to an outdoor grow environment and better for breeding because of the chance of a male plant (if breeding is not an objective, male plants should be removed from the grow area as soon as possible).
Things to Consider When Choosing Strains
Gardening requires a lot of planning and cannabis cultivation is no different. Some of the things to consider when choosing the best cannabis seeds include:
Space restrictions:Indicas consume less space than sativas, which can be traced back to their origins. For example, indica strains originated in areas with fluctuating weather conditions resulting in plants that grow smaller, quicker and more hardy. Whereas sativa strains, which originated from equatorial regions of the globe, tend to grow larger and require more time to mature. Indicas are therefore more common for indoor grows and sativas for outdoor grows.
Grow requirements:Some plants are more finicky than others. To produce the best yield, growers should consult breeders or seed banks about the best practices for growing a specific strain including nutrient requirements and average grow time.
Personal preference:Above all, buyers should purchase cannabis seeds based on their own personal preference. This is the perfect opportunity to grow popular or unique strains, or just stock up on an old favorite to avoid excessive trips to a dispensary.
Distinguishing Cannabis Seed Quality
Leftover seeds from sacks gone by are very different from seeds in a seed bank or dispensary; they may be male or hermaphroditic, weak and unable to germinate or prone to stress and genetic disease – or they may not.
It is possible to determine the quality of cannabis seeds based on their appearance, however. For example, immature seeds (seeds that are small, brittle, shriveled and a light green or grey) and old seeds (seeds that are cracked and dry) have a low success rate for germination. These can be planted (and may even produce flowers) but should never be purchased.
Healthy seeds should be dark brown with a glossy finish and free from cracks. The shell should be very firm (it shouldn’t break under minor pressure) and stored in a cool, dark, air-tight container.
Feminized vs. Standard Seeds
Many cannabis seed distributors sell feminized seeds for a slightly higher price tag than standard seeds due to the effort involved in their production and the increased likelihood of producing a female plant. This is especially favorable for personal growers who are strictly limited on their plant count.
Feminized seeds are produced by either cross-breeding two female plants (one of which has been stressed to the point of becoming hermaphroditic) or forcing a single female to become stressed and pollinate herself. The results are an almost guaranteed female (otherwise hermie) plant every time.
Growing marijuana is not only an adventure, but an expression of our new-found freedom in the US. If you’ve been thinking about growing your own marijuana, consider starting with seeds for both stability and an awesome variety.