A Complete Beginner's Guide to Cannabis Seeds
Cannabis growers don’t make the headlines. Still, as states approve permission to grow, sell, and possess, citizens can and will grow their own. They may use their harvest for personal recreational use or medical therapy. But, grow they will!
Growing cannabis is not like any other houseplant. If you plan to nurture a few plants in your kitchen window or a sizeable crop in a grow room, you must start with seeds. That takes little more education than you’d think.
A Complete Beginner’s Guide to Cannabis Seeds
- It takes two! Holly, gingko biloba, willow, yew, laurel, and many other plants are dioecious. That is, to reproduce, you need a male and a female plant. Cannabis, too, is dioecious.
So, to create the most potent marijuana, female plants are kept from male plant contact to avoid a drain on their flowers. The most valued cannabis product is without seeds (sinsemilla), plump with resin pods.
But, if you want seeds, you must mate the male and female. Once the male pollinates the female, female produces seeds. Unfortunately, that will kill her, and the seeds will drop.
- Some plants cross-gender. They become monoecious as the result of some environmental stress. A Darwinian survival mechanism, such plants produce both male and female flowers.
You can produce the hermaphroditic condition intentionally. Feminized seeds produce buds on every plant. You can feminize the seeds with treatments that fool the natural sexual development. Growers may use Silver Thiosulfate, Colloidal Silver, or Rodelization methods. But, it’s not a plan for beginners.
Because most feminized seeds produce imitations of their female parent, they tend to produce male and female flowers. Because that reduces the yield and potency, most professional growers avoid them altogether and not use them for breeding.
- Buy seeds smart. It’s tough to recognize sex in seeds; it’s easy to find seeds around your growing plants. In both case, you want to trust credible sources. High Times listed these sources best for 2017:
- Swamp Boys Seeds developed McFly White Fire #3, Nookies, Triangle Kush, Trigerian, Nookies, The White, and more. They distribute through SeedsHereNow.com, SoleSeeds.com, NeptuneSeedBank.com, Greenline Organics Seed Bank, and other authorized dealers.
- Source Genetics won awards for Cookie Monster, Gluekie Monster, and Schlemons. When Brian Kaiser interviewed the legendary O. G. Kush Man for Frank at Square Space , Kraiser opened with, “The THC levels of his flowers are incredible and their flavors are equally impressive.”
- Top Dawg Seeds, creator of JJ’s Nigerian Haze, Tres Dawg, and Star Dawg, offers scores of strains through dispensaries throughout the Bay Area and other locations in California.
There are many more reputable seed breeders and dealers. But, with a little self-education, you can prepare yourself for a visit to your dispensary where your budtender should be able to pick out for strain, quality, and growing support.
- Seeds want to germinate. They are engineered to do so. In the wild, they would fall to the ground, and under the right conditions, they would sprout and grow. But, you want to do this more carefully to get the value from the price you paid.
The right conditions allow an epicotyl to sprout from the seed. Some growers use tweezers to fold the seeds in a damp paper towel until the epicotyl breaks through a crack in the seed. It will be the source of the plant stem and leaves.
The easier way may be to place the seed 0.25-inch into a potting soil in a starter pot or plug. Covering the seed with the soil, you keep it moist and warm (70 ° F) until you have a seedling.
- Invest in the best. Quality cannabis comes from quality seeds. It helps if your seeds come with an explanation of their genetics. Breeders take pride in the products they create over time, blending and merging genetics for health, safety, flavor, and psycho-physical effects.
You can observe some qualities in color, size, and feel. In most cases, you want to favor plump round seeds. You want seeds that are dark and rich in color. And, you want to confirm the seeds are free of mold and pathogens.
- Store seeds well. When you consider price per seed, cannabis seeds are not cheap. The cost reflects the science and patience that produced them, the risk taken by breeders, and the expense of distribution. So, you should care for your seeds.
If you grow at home, the grow space decides how many plants you can raise at a time. Most growers try to cycle their grow, so they always have something blooming. But, you must take care of those extra seeds or seeds waiting planting.
Seeds should be handled with care. Touching them risks transference of your germs to the seeds and the final product. So, most growers use gloves and tweezers to handle them. They store them well in containers certified as organic-worthy. They prefer amber glass containers with tight lids stored in dark cool places. Refrigerating or freezing seeds or storing in plastic kitchen bags may compromise the moisture and degrade the seeds over time.
All you need to know
Growing cannabis takes time and patience. Cannabis seeds, seedlings, and plants do not take care of themselves. Raising weed from seed is not like planting and ignoring a philodendron houseplant. It is more like fussing over homegrown African violets or orchids.
For those who care about their strain of choice, it is worth the trouble. For many, it is a fascinating hobby. And, most of all, it saves money for and provides a source for medical marijuana needs.
A Guide To Buying Cannabis Seeds
If you are buying cannabis seeds for the first time, or are a seasoned grower, here are some top tips and advice on how to pick the right seeds for you.
Follow this guide to ensure you aren’t being exploited by tricky marketing tactics selling cheap and inconsistent seeds or even straight hemp!
Think About Your Needs, Space & Time
With so much choice in the cannabis seed market, it can feel overwhelming when buying cannabis seeds.
Cannabis seeds will grow into different shapes and sizes depending on a number of factors: genetics first, followed by your grow space, pot size and grow method at your disposal.
If you are restricted with your height, chances are you will either have to grow a shorter indica variety or use training techniques for sativa seeds. If you need to do it in a shorter time, you’ll also find indica seeds more useful as they take 8-10 weeks, compared to 10-16 weeks. Sativa strains generally give the consumer a more uplifting experience and are considered more cerebral and better for day time usage. Indicas are more sedative so tend to work better for relaxing and evening use. Most breeders indicate the percentage of indica and sativa in a strain, as most strains are now poly hybrids with a number of different sativa and indica grandparents in the mix.
Is there much information about the seed producer online? Do they have social media? How long have they been active? Do they have a website that promotes buying cannabis seeds? Is there much information about their purpose, history or passion available? If they are making claims in their marketing about winning cups, can you find any details of that online? If they are making claims about how great the seeds are but there’s no one speaking about them online or providing any feedback, chances are its BS.
There are numerous bulk seed producers out there, and many take the loving care and attention you would expect and hope for, but others have seen how popular and profitable seeds can be when you don’t have any real work or overheads to produce them. Use a longstanding trusted seedbank who have good relationships with the breeders they are reselling. No upstanding seedbank will be pushing out genetics with a dodgy reputation because they wouldn’t want this to tarnish their own.
Pictures of the Seed Grown to Maturity
If a strain has a great name and tells you how great it is, but there are no pictures – is it even real? Everyone has a camera. We need to see what we are buying. Not every plant comes out looking like it deserves to be on the front of a magazine, and some of the dankest medicinal strains can be a little bit scraggly looking (its the chemistry that counts), but not putting a picture up and declaring that it is the Marilyn Monroe of weed is a little shady.
Bag appeal and cannabis aesthetics have, and always will be, a huge part of the buying cannabis seeds process. It doesn’t matter that most people are just going to grind it up into dust and set light to it, if it doesn’t look good there are people that won’t be interested in it. If this isn’t a bother for you then not to worry, but if you and your friends like to take pictures to upload or you just like growing pretty flowers, try not to get sucked into the embellished descriptions without a picture for proof – don’t get catfished.
Check the forums to see if there are any grow diaries of the strain before you buy it. Look for hashtags on social media to see what people are saying. Are there any pictures on Google?
Information on the Parents
If you see a strain that you like the look of, but there is no information on how the seeds were produced, it could be a bad sign. There’s no need to hide the parentage of cannabis genetics, in fact it’s become a necessity in the age of medical cannabis and the patient’s need to get the right medicine when buying cannabis seeds.
If you know that the strain ChemDog works really well for you, being able to see the crosses made with this strain will enable you to make a much more informed decision on your next purchase. Knowing you will get a pack of seeds with a mixture of traits from ChemDog means you can feel confident that there will be something in there that ticks the boxes for your desires.
There is absolutely no harm in contacting the breeder directly and politely asking what further information they can give you about the parents used. Where did the parents come from, what sort of traits can you expect to look out for from each of the parents? Much of the time, the breeder or someone from the team will happily answer your questions because they like the fact someone has chosen to grow their work out.
Stability of Breeding
Strains are only as stable as the breeders make them. Some parents are better at passing on traits than others, so knowing that good stable male and female parents have been used is important. If people are leaving feedback saying there’s too much variation in each of the seeds, it can look like not much work has been done in producing them. It really isn’t much effort to grow a male and a female and let nature take its course to produce a big bag of seeds but were the two parents the most suitable to cross?
Beyond knowing what the parents are, it is helpful to know what level of variation you are likely to see when you germinate the seeds. The aforementioned can play a factor in the type of seeds you buy if you are limited to plant numbers due to the fact that you may want some quite specific results.
If the seed variation in a pack of ten is five different distinguished phenotypes, you may want to pick something that is more stable and only has one or two main phenotypes in the gene pool. This will increase your chances of growing something you hoped and intended to end up with. Seeds that have been made from original parents, say from Trainwreck and Skunk, would result in an F1 cross. If these seeds are then grown out and two parents are selected to then make seeds from d so on to F3, F4 etc. That will stabilise the traits you are selecting for, so the seeds will eventually all produce near enough the same plant each time – which is desirable if you are growing one plant at a time and want the same results.
At any point of an F1+, if the selected offspring needs more of one of the parentage traits to show more, it can be crossed back to that parent. This is called a Backcross. If a strain bears the marks IBL this means it is stable- it simply stands for In Bred Line. Yes, there is a lot of incest but it seems to work well. It’s how landraces have been kept the same for generations and in some cases thousands of years.
Are They Correctly Stored?
It doesn’t matter where you are buying cannabis seeds, you want to know they have been stored correctly. There is nothing worse than buying a pack of seeds and then they just don’t germinate. If you’ve got them off a friend or someone on the internet you have to have some big trust that they have taken care of them in a specific way. Good seed businesses know the importance of storing seeds correctly.
As mentioned before, their reputation and whole business relies on good practices. They do not want to lose good seed breeders or customers by damaging the seed stock. Buying or trading seeds, you should directly ask “how have they been stored?” rather than, “have they been stored correctly”, or “in a fridge?”. You want to know what their answer is, not give them what you want to hear.