When growing cannabis outdoors a little care is needed while your young seedling beings her journey. Luckily cannabis seeds are relatively easy to care for and usually don’t require much attention, especially if they are grown in the correct environment. In an environment with favourable conditions, it is virtually impossible to stop them. Having said that, the seedling stage could be the most important and unforgiving as problems can quickly kill a small and vulnerable seedling. It is up to you to make sure that the conditions are favourable and therefore have strong and vigorous growth.
Initially, you will want to use a well-draining, neutral medium. Seedling soil or rockwool are good examples and can easily be found at your local nursery. This will keep your seedling happy for its first few weeks of growth. Your seedling will grow her “sucker leaves” first, followed by another set of leaves and only then will her 3 lobed leaves begin to grow. It’s important to note, all of her initial leaves should be handled with the utmost care at all times.
At first you can use a seedling tray or a small to medium sized pot. You will only need to increase the pot size, should you not be planting into the ground, once the height of the pot is of equal height to the plant. For healthy development you will want to ensure sufficient space for her roots to grow. Be sure when re-potting not to damage any of her roots.
Your cannabis seedlings are especially vulnerable to rodents and other animals including pets who can’t resist taking a bite! Care should be taken to protect them and sometimes it’s even a good idea to cover them with clear plastic containers, however, be sure not to forget breathing holes and be very watchful on hot days. It is also best to raise the pots off the floor like on a table to keep to keep them out of harm’s way.
Water is vital for during seedling care. Tap water is not recommended as it may contain many harmful chemicals such as chlorine which can damage or prevent the growth of young and sensitive seedlings. Distilled water with a ph level of 5.8 – 6.5 works best! The soil should be kept moist at all times but not drenched. Generally speaking, you should be watering once in the morning and again in the afternoon, however, more water may be needed on warmer days or if you use smaller pots. Having a drip tray is a good idea as it allows for a little more water to be sucked up by the plant between watering. Remember that too much water and the seedling may drown, too little water and the seedling will quickly dry out and most likely to perish. Drooping and yellow leaves are a sign of over-watering, whilst wilting and brown leaves are a sign of under-watering.
Pick a good spot with partial shade or maintain a steady temperature (with the help of a fan). As your seedling grows, it will be able to handle more and more sun and will soon be able to handle full sun as long as the soil doesn’t dry out.
Your seedlings are also vulnerable to big changes in temperature and this should be kept constant. Again, a cheap thermometer goes a long way to monitor your seedling temperature which is best between 21°C – 30°C in the day and not below 6°C in the evening.
Resist the urge to feed your seedling too soon! For the first week or 2, the seedling has enough energy stored to grow without feed. Thereafter a good natural feed with a high nitrogen content such as “nitrosol” can be used once or twice a week. Remember to halve the amount of feed so that it is even more diluted than the bottle suggests, eg: 5ml feed to 3 liters of water should be 2.5ml feed to 3 liters of water to make sure that you don’t over-feed. Overfeeding will stunt the growth of your seedling and can also burn your seedling if too rich. Leaves curling could be a sign of this.
Caring for you cannabis seedlings is fun and easy and will require a small amount of daily effort. Use the above points and you will have healthy, happy seedlings ready for the next phase of growth. Remember that consistency is key and that It really helps to talk to your plants once in a while, don’t let your girls get lonely.
Written by MJ, November 2017
~ Medical Cannabis Seed Bank