Healthy cannabis sprouts
Once you’ve decided how you want to sprout your marijuana seeds, you want to know what to look for to make sure your seeds have been activated. A cannabis seed that sprouts will split along the seam that joins the halves of its husk, and within just a few hours a whitish tail will appear. Driven by gravity or instinct, the tail grows longer rapidly, screwing its way down into the soil until the fledgling root can supply sufficient leverage to raise the husk containing the two seed halves upright. From that position, the two seed halves fold out to act as biological solar panels that gather energy and begin a plant’s first chlorophyll production even as the tiny taproot sprouts hairlike feeder roots that stretch outward to strengthen its grip on the earth.
From the center of where the marijuana seed halves split, the first “sucker” leaves will begin to emerge as soon as they’re exposed enough to do so. Cannabis sucker leaves resemble spearmint leaves, being spearhead-shaped with no lobes, heavily veined, and fuzzed over with fine hairs that give them a rough texture. From the center of the pair of sucker leaves, the first pair of lobed leaves will grow from either side of a lengthening stalk; these will almost always be three-lobed “chicken-foot” leaves. If your plant grows successfully, the next pair of leaves will be five-lobed, then seven-lobed. A healthy sprouting state can lead to an excellent vegetative period. It is not unheard of for former seedlings reach about 4 feet tall in late July, growing an inch higher each day, and sprouting a new pair of hand-length upper- most “sun” leaves about every two days.
How to Protect Young Plants
Young plants will of course be kept from view, even where growing cannabis is legal, but also give thought to placing starter pots in protected locations (atop a roof is ideal if it’s feasible), and preferably under a ventilated clear plastic bubble. Transparent shields that help to thwart insects and rodents bent on eating your sprouts can be made by cutting plastic soda or water bottles in half, punching small ventilation slots around the perimeter of the lower half, then covering your plant with the inverted cup. Cannabis shoots have proved to be remarkably tough against cold, and there have been numerous times when I’ve brought snow-covered trays of tiny seedlings into the I house, where they showed themselves to be unharmed by the experience. Even so, very cold nights—20 degrees F or below—can freeze a sprout solid, killing it, so it pays to have a few of these inexpensive pop-bottle shields on hand in early spring.
Next to keeping your seedlings constantly moist, the most important element a cannabis sprout needs is sunlight, as much as it can get. In northern latitudes where spring days are short, a problem that outdoor growers contend with is sprouts with green sucker leaves reaching desperately for sunlight at the end of a stem that keeps growing until it cannot support itself. More sophisticated growers sprout their seeds in an indoor grow closet, where young plants are bombarded with enough light and heat to make their first leaves large and lush, at the end of a short, stout stem, and ready for transplanting as soon as the snow melts. Outdoors-only growers must nurture those long, delicate stems by propping them up with sticks or wires to keep the stem from rotting against earth that must be kept wet, and to force tiny sucker leaves to face the sun they vitally need to grow more leaves and a stronger stem. With a little TLC, most long- stemmed shoots can survive to become 5-foot plants.
How Much Light Do Plants Require?
This is a question you will be asking yourself both as a grower and as an environmental designer. Your plants’ needs will change based on where they are in their life cycle and what type of environment you ultimately decide to grow them in.
Sufficient light is especially critical at the delicate sprouting stage, when you almost can’t give seedlings too much light. The most obvious sign that growing cannabis plants—especially newly sprouted seedlings—aren’t getting adequate light is an elongation of whitish stems ans talks caused by leaves reaching desperately upward in search of light. If they don’t get it branches will become so long that they can’t support themselves and fall down, sometimes breaking, but frequently developing a potentially fatal rot wherever a stem lies against damp earth. Weak northern spring sunlight made it necessary to actually prop seedling stems above the ground with small Y-shaped twigs until they grew enough leaf area to absorb enough light to nourish a strong growth structure.
Generally speaking, the more light the better where plants are concerned, but there’s a point at which plants can no longer assimilate all of the light that shines on them. This is called the light saturation point, and for a typical adult plant it is around 500μmol/m2. For contrast, the PAR available on a bright summer day is about 2000lμmol/m2. Subjecting plants to light beyond their particular saturation point is wasteful of light and usually of electricity, and is actually counterproductive because plant growth slows in too-bright light—like lazy couch potatoes, they stop reaching for the sun because it isn’t necessary.
The simplest way to regulate the light particle density radiated onto your plants is only as complicated as raising the grow lamps to lessen light intensity or lowering them to increase it. A standard 130-watt LED grow light can deliver between 200-1400μmol/m2 as its height is varied from 3 feet to 6 inches.
It’s important to note that plants don’t use both ends of the spectrum adjacent to the green portion at the same time. Blue light is needed mostly during the leafy summer stage and the red spectrum during blooming.
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