Despite being a special kind of cannabis that is known for shorter harvest time and the ability to naturally proceed from the vegetative stage to the flowering stage by age only without changing the light cycle, auto-flower seeds look the same and germinate the same way as the regular marijuana variety.
But there are special considerations to be made for auto-flower seeds germination since auto-flower plants are known to have some subtle special requirements. In nature auto-flower seeds fall in autumn, remain underground during the winter and germinate in the spring and bloom just in time for summer. Reaching 80 percent germination success rate is fairly easy by imitating these natural conditions where the auto-flowering marijuana plant thrives in.
AUTO-FLOWER SEED GERMINATION METHODS
Auto-flower seed germination could be achieved using two methods: natural seed germination and germination without a medium.
Natural seed germination is allowing your seeds to germinate in the soil. This is the most preferred way of germinating your auto-flower seeds in order for it to grow better. Auto-flowering plant seedlings get shocked when being transferred to another pot so it is best to germinate your seeds from the same pot where it would remain in its entire lifetime. This pot must contain light airy soil and should have sufficient draining and air circulation much like its natural habitat.
The only disadvantage of natural auto-flower seed germination is that you would not be able to see which seed is germinating as they are under the soil. You will need more pots because of this and therefore need more space since auto-flowering plants do not thrive well when transplanted.
Germination without a medium is putting your seeds in a wet piece of cloth, towel or paper. Paper towel is preferred as it could be folded in order to wrap the seeds but is still thin enough for you to see any development in the seeds. This towel is then inserted into a clear transparent plastic bag while monitoring the temperature. It is the change in temperature that triggers germination in auto-flowering plants as they remain dormant in winter and germinate in the spring.
The disadvantage of this method is that transplanting the seedling may damage the sensitive roots of this young plant and we already know that auto-flowering plants do not survive well when transplanted.
SECURING SUCCESSFUL GERMINATION
Auto-flower plants thrive in a light airy soil that has better ventilation yet drains quicker than clay soil and make it retain less water and nutrients. Auto-flowering marijuana plants do not thrive well on clay soil. Once the auto-flowering seed or plant encounters overly wet conditions, they wither and die.
That is why watering and adding dry amendments or additives or simply known as fertilizers is one of the regular things you must do. You have to prepare your plants by making sure that its soil is rich in Nitrogen, Potassium, and Phosphorus, by adding different proven dry amendments.
Since auto-flowering plants are better adapted to the light airy soil, it is best practice to have less fertilizer. Sandy soil or light soil drains faster than clay soil and too much fertilizer on you auto-flowering plant will definitely hurt it. In terms of nutrients in auto-flowering plants, less is more.
This soil must be kept wet as auto-flowering plants are known to thrive naturally in the spring when the snow melts in the northern hemisphere. The seed must be put below the topsoil about two to three times its width. Allowing the seed to germinate in this depth will keep it entirely submerged in soil and will allow it to push itself out of it when germinating. The soil on top of the seed will also protect it from any temperature fluctuations or changes in its environment that shall affect its germination.
Understanding the soil requirement of auto-flowering plants will make us understand that they also need better water drainage and they don’t thrive well on wet soil. Because of this, you must ensure that you choose a post that is medium-sized, about 5-7 gallons that have good drainage for draining water and soil aeration.
Having a pot that is of decent size also meant that you should choose a pot where your auto-flowering cannabis will remain in its entire lifetime. Transplanting causes shock which the auto-flowering cannabis seedling may not tolerate very well. It is best to plant the seedlings or let seeds germinate in their final pots so that transplanting will no longer be a necessity.
Microorganisms in the soil also play a vital role in the development of your crops. Certain types of fungi have a symbiotic relationship with the plants. The fungi Mycorrhiza, for example, penetrate the feet of the plants and breaks down the compounds containing phosphorus in order to be easily absorbed by the plant. Mycorrhiza in turn benefit from the plant in a symbiotic relationship as the plant in turn supply mycorrhiza with amino acids and sugars.
Auto-flowering plants require proper temperature for it to germinate. The optimal surrounding temperature is 27 degrees Celsius and the being a little above it or below it is tolerable. If you are in a cold area you must ensure that the seeds are properly heated while if you are in a hot area, ventilation or even air conditioning might be required. Keeping the seeds above or below this temperature is bad for the seeds.
SOIL PH LEVELS
Another thing to watch out about your soil is your soil pH levels by keeping it neutral and never allowing it to become acidic or alkaline. A pH level ranging from 6.0-7.0 is adequate for a soil system or a hydroponic system of planting. Acidic or alkaline soil will hinder nutrient absorption of the plants.
GERMINATING OLD SEEDS
Auto-flowering plants seeds could be kept in storage for five years and may still be planted. Some growers prefer keeping the older seeds in water for 24 hours before planting it in the soil. Being submerged in water will allow the moisture to get into the seeds’ cells. Leaving the seeds for longer periods of time may damage it.
If your seeds are not germinating, you may help crack it by putting light pressure around it by pinching it lightly using tweezers of making a small cut with a knife.
The auto-flowering seeds must be kept in total darkness and only allow it to be lit once it sprouted. You may then light it with an 18-hour light cycle throughout its lifetime.
Full spectrum LED lights work best in any type of auto-flower marijuana plant. Higher lumens mean better yield for your crop too. If LED is too expensive for you, CFL of fluorescent lighting is a cheaper option.
Sunlight is still the best light for your auto-flower plants. Even if you live in an area with only 12 hours of sunlight on average, it is still more powerful lighting than any artificial lighting system that growers could produce and will still give you better yields. So, growing outdoors is a viable option for your plants especially if you are able to environmentally protect your plants in a greenhouse.
Germinating auto-flowering seeds successfully is easy by following all these steps that keeping the optimal conditions mentioned that imitates the environment where auto-flowering plants naturally thrive in.