Cannabis Feeding for Seedlings
Cannabis Feeding for Seedlings is all about getting the best start for young plants. Get top tips for feeding your seedlings and clones.
Cannabis Feeding for Seedlings is all about getting the best start for young plants. Get top tips for feeding your seedlings and young clones.
The feeling of some freshly delivered seeds or clones is super exciting. And although your green thumb may be itching to pop those pips there are some important does and don’ts. Take a few minutes to first learn our top tips for successful grass roots growing.
Don’t baby your babies
Germination or propagation of your cannabis plants is one of the most important stages of the plants’ life. A bad start can negatively effect your plant throughout its’ life span. From weak roots to a compromised immune system, incorrect management of your young plants will result in poor performance. During this early stage, it is vital to ensure your young plants receive the right environmental conditions and correct feeding, but “over-caring” can be just as detrimental as not caring.
Plants have evolved to handle stress, and in some cases, the stress can produce some desirable effects. This doesn’t mean you can neglect your young plants, but it does mean you don’t have to hover over them 24/7 and try to react to each and every concern. If your seeds are viable and your conditions correct, your young plants will grow quickly and reliably with very little input.
What are Cotyledons and why do they matter?
Cotyledons are the small first leaves you see when germinating a seed. These small round leaves contain all the nutrients the seed will need to germinate and grow into a seedling. When the seed is planted it has no way of absorbing nutrition and so the cotyledons are the source of energy for the start of life. Cotyledons also contribute to early photosynthesis and transpiration. Technically speaking, the cotyledons are used to distinguish “monocots” and “dicots”. Monocots are grasses and grass-like plants and dicots are flowering plants. There are many other differences between the two, such as pollen structure, root structure and even growth patterns. Cannabis is a dicot, and you can see the first two (sometimes three) leaves when the seed develops into a seedling.
This means that your cannabis seedling will have enough nutrients on board for the first week of life. Cannabis clones however do not contain cotyledons and therefore may need feeding from the very beginning.
The growing medium you choose will determine a lot of factors in your grow. You can start your seeds and clones directly in the medium or in a paper towel and then transplant the seed to your medium. It is often recommended to use a “lighter” substrate, or a substrate with a lower nutrient content than what you will use for the growing and flowering cycle. You can also start your seed in a small puk, often made of coco peat or rockwool. Once your seedling is well established and healthy, transplant it into your growing medium of choice. As long as your growing medium is consistent in its’ requirements, i.e. feeding and watering needs, you can use any substrate to start your seedling. Visit our grow medium guide for more info.
Cannabis Feeding for Seedlings
Cannabis requires low amounts of nutrition during early stages of growth. Only apply nutrients after you see the first “true” leaves. These are the leaves that grow after the cotyledons and have the traditional shape. Start your seedlings on half of the recommended dose and slowly work your way up to full strength. Whether you are using organic or synthetic nutrients, you want to make sure you don’t over feed the plant in early stages. This will cause leaf burn, root damage and ultimately poor growth. Good additives to use in early growth are beneficial bacteria and fungi, this will provide a strong base for your plant to build on. However, you must not ignore the plants’ need for macro elements and should balance your feeding accordingly.
Common cannabis seedling mistakes.
Many first-time growers are excited to give the best to their plants, often ignoring the basic requirements. “Over-watering” and “over-feeding” are good examples of this. Growers are quick to add nutrition and water at any sign of deficiency, when the plant could require something entirely different or just plain less. Cannabis plants don’t need much nutrition and water in the early stages of their lives. Watering the plant only when required and low doses of nutrition are more than adequate to sustain your young cannabis seedlings. Overdoing it will cause yellow leaves and rotting plants.
Clones are no different to seeds and require almost the identical environment for success, with the exception of humidity. Clones will require high humidity from the time you take them until they are completely rooted. Seeds only require high humidity for the first week or so and then you can gradually drop the levels.
Ensure that seedlings also receive lots of direct light and fresh air to prevent stretching. A lack of light and air movement will cause thin and lanky growth.
In a seed shell
Treat your cannabis plant as exactly that, a plant. Water her when she is thirsty and feed her when she is hungry. A good way to monitor watering requirements is to feel the weight of the pot when fully saturated and when it is completely dry. You can then judge how much water is being consumed each day and water accordingly. Young plants need watering at least weekly but some mediums or small pots may require watering as much as once a day.
Early growth is relatively straightforward and your best bet for reliable success is consistency. Young plants do not like extremes and so everything from your substrate to your feeding should be balanced. Still need a little help feeding your cannabis seedlings? Please contact our grow pros for some top shelf advice.
Choosing and using marijuana fertilizers
A plentiful harvest overflowing with healthy buds is the goal of most cannabis cultivators. Light, oxygen, and water are three of the keys to reaching that goal, but fertilizer is just as essential to increasing bud growth. In this guide to choosing the best marijuana fertilizer, you’ll learn why fertilizer is important for marijuana plants along with how and when to use fertilizer to boost flower production and increase yields.
What is fertilizer?
In simple terms, fertilizer is plant food made from natural or industrially produced substances that growers apply to soil and plants to optimize growth. The nutrients in fertilizers may be beneficial to many different plants, including potted houseplants, flowers like roses and hydrangeas, and cannabis.
Fertilizer is plant food made from natural or industrially produced substances that growers apply to soil and plants to optimize growth. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Why is fertilizer important for cannabis plants?
Essential plant nutrients present in fertilizers may help cannabis cultivators raise a healthier crop of marijuana plants with more abundant leaf growth and, eventually, flowers. If you want to grow big buds, the right cannabis fertilizer can help you reach that objective. Without a good fertilizer, the buds on marijuana plants may not reach their full growth potential. Further, marijuana grown with fertilizer will probably be healthier overall, which can translate to more pleasant and full-bodied flavor in the buds.
What nutrients do cannabis plants need?
A cannabis garden needs a combination of essential nutrients and trace, or micro, nutrients. The best marijuana plant food will offer a balance of a vital trio of nutrients.
The big three primary nutrients that marijuana plants need to grow are NPK — short for nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. NPK are the collective building blocks of any cannabis fertilizer, as well as any thriving marijuana plant. Cannabis plants also need carbon dioxide and oxygen, which they obtain through airflow, and hydrogen, which comes from water.
Nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium are the collective building blocks of any cannabis fertilizer, as well as any thriving marijuana plant. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Marijuana plants also require secondary nutrients, which include sulfur, calcium, and magnesium.
Finally, there is a more expansive group of trace, or micro, nutrients that boost marijuana plant growth. These essential micronutrients include zinc, manganese, iron, boron, chloride, cobalt, molybdenum, and silicon, among others.
How and when should you fertilize cannabis plants?
Marijuana plants need different levels of nutrients depending on their growth stage. In general, marijuana fertilizer should be applied at least once weekly, along with an ample supply of pH-balanced water.
As a rule of thumb, the ideal pH balance for marijuana grown in soil ranges between 6.0 and 6.8. Hydro, or hydroponic, growers should keep their water pH in a range of 5.5 to 6.5. On average, marijuana plants need a gallon of water each day per pound of anticipated flower.
Plant growth is equally dependent on the work of fertilizers and nutrients. Here are some guidelines for applying fertilizer during different stages of growth.
- Seedling: Minimal or no fertilizer. You may want to wait until your plants have sprouted a few leaves before administering the first dose of primary NPK fertilizer.
- Vegetative: For Week 1, use an NPK ratio of 2:1:2 — that’s two parts nitrogen to one part phosphorus to two parts potassium. By Week 7, consider increasing the NPK ratio to 10:5:7, followed by a 1:1:1 ratio in the late vegetative phase.
- Flowering: At this juncture, stop feeding nitrogen to the plants and focus on elevating the phosphorus and potassium levels. It is useful to fertilize plants during the early flowering stage but not as effective in the latter weeks after true buds have formed.
In addition to weekly feeding, marijuana plants require regular watering with pH-balanced water. As a rule of thumb, the ideal pH balance for marijuana grown in soil ranges between 6.0 and 6.8. Hydro, or hydroponic, growers should keep their water pH in a range from 5.5 to 6.5. On average, marijuana plants need a gallon of water each day per pound of anticipated flower.
For even better results, make sure to research the best feeding schedule according to the weed strain you are growing.
What is the best type of weed fertilizer?
If you want to grow an organic garden, choose a natural marijuana fertilizer containing the following materials:
- Worm castings
- “Good” bacteria and fungi
- Forest humus
- Fish meal
- Blood meal
- Bat guano (aka a mix of the above elements, in addition to kelp meal and molasses, which maximize the benefits of the other ingredients)
- Biochar (aka a rich blend of carbon and charcoal)
Integrating these ingredients into regular soil can help you create a super soil with a diverse wealth of primary, secondary, and trace nutrients. While you can also purchase commercial fertilizers in liquid or powder form, natural materials often provide the most powerful nutrients.
One upside of synthetic fertilizers is that they tend to work faster than organic fertilizers. They may also be less time consuming and make a good choice for growers who prefer not to get their hands too dirty.
Bottom line on weed fertilizer
Using the right fertilizers and nutrients in the right quantities at the right time are essential to achieving an optimal cannabis grow. Ultimately, the best fertilizer for cannabis is the one that works for your schedule, budget, and level of desired effort. Growing cannabis requires a delicate balance of the right nutrients, so make sure you give your plants the attention they need and they will reward you with delicious, healthy buds.