Transform Ordinary Solo Cups Into a Hybrid Hydroponic/Soil Plant Booster: If you have ever attempted to start plants indoors before your last frost, you probably know what it is to get a root bound plant. No matter the size of your growing container, it does not take the roots too long to find its outer boundaries. This m… Learn how to germinate and when to transplant your seedlings so you get the fastest growth. This step-by-step tutorial includes pictures plus hints and tips! Read our detailed guide on how to germinate marijuana seeds using the plate method & other safe ways. Start your pot-growing adventure the right way today.
Transform Ordinary Solo Cups Into a Hybrid Hydroponic/Soil Plant Booster
Introduction: Transform Ordinary Solo Cups Into a Hybrid Hydroponic/Soil Plant Booster
If you have ever attempted to start plants indoors before your last frost, you probably know what it is to get a root bound plant. No matter the size of your growing container, it does not take the roots too long to find its outer boundaries. This method uses the benefits of hydroponic growing to keep those roots thriving, while preparing your plant to live in soil.
Step 1: Watch the Video
This Youtube video leads you through all of the steps of converting red solo cups into an outstanding hydroponic/soil planting solution.
Step 2: Keep a Couple of Your Old Solo Cups
You can use new ones of course, but why not get some use out of them first. We don’t judge you based on what was in the cup prior to starting the project.
Step 3: Let’s Put Some Holes in the Bottom of One Cup
Or I have found you can easily do up to five of these at a time, but you will want one hole-free cup for every cup into which you put holes. You can use a nail, scissors, box knife, any number of things to cut your cups; however I find that for the smoothest process and the least chance of unintentionally cracking out your cup, warming a screwdriver over an open flame for about a minute and then pushing down with some force and melting through works best.
Step 4: Put Potting Soil Into the Cup That Has the Holes
I have used straight compost for this before as well. Whatever growing medium you would normally use for a potted plant should be used here.
Step 5: Place Inside the Solo Cup Without Holes
Step 6: Plant Your Seedling Into the Cup
It is time to put your seedling into the new creation. Plant it like you normally would when transplanting a seedling into a larger pot. Then give it a good initial watering. There are drainage holes in the inner cups, so your plant should not get water logged, and the outer cup will prevent water from spilling out.
Step 7: After a Good Initial Watering, Water Sparingly
You want those roots to seek out the holes in the bottom. If the soil goes completely dry and there are not yet roots in the bottom, make sure to water to keep your plant alive, but as soon as you see a root peeking out the bottom of the inner cup, quit watering from the top.
Step 8: Add Hydroponic Solution to the Outer Cup
Once you see that root peeking through, add hydroponic solution to the outer cup. The roots will thrive, and the plant will get tons of nutrients from the hydroponic solution. Your plant will grow as if it was in a much bigger pot, and be very health to transplant outside later.
How to Germinate & Transplant Cannabis Seedlings
In this tutorial, you’ll learn how (and when) to transplant your new cannabis seedlings so they grow as fast as possible!
Did you know that seedlings in solo cups often grow faster than seedlings started in big containers?
The reason some growers transplant their plants instead of starting them in their final container is that seedlings usually grow faster during the first few weeks of their life if you start them in something small like a solo cup. The growing medium dries out much faster in a smaller container, which means your seedling roots are always getting access to lots of oxygen at all times. It also makes it more difficult to overwater your plants!
If you start seedlings in a solo cup, you should try to transplant to a bigger pot around the time the leaves reach the edges of the cup. This seedling is ready for transfer!
If seedlings get too big for their cups before transplanting to a bigger container, you may accidentally limit your plant’s root space. This slows down growth and can cause puzzling deficiencies! So if you do start in small containers it’s important to transplant your seedlings on time to avoid letting them become rootbound!
“Rootbound” seedlings are often droopy and may display odd symptoms that are hard to explain. If seedlings are rootbound you’ll see during the transfer process that the roots have wrapped all the way around the outsides of the container, preventing the plant roots from doing what they need to do. Try to transfer to a bigger pot before this point!
For many growers, it’s simpler to start plants in their final containers. Although your seedlings may grow slightly slower at first, you never have to worry about transplanting them. You also avoid the possibility of shocking them during the transplant process.
That being said, if you want the fastest growth from your seedlings and don’t mind transplanting, starting in small containers like solo cups may be the way to go.
The truth is, your seedlings will thrive whether you start in a big or small container as long as you take good care of them! Neither way is the “best” method; it’s more a matter of personal preference.
How to Transplant Seedlings
1.) Germinate Seeds with Paper Towel Method
Before you can start transplanting, you need to germinate your seeds. I recommend the “paper towel” method for germination because this method is easy and hard to mess up! Learn About Other Ways to Germinate Seeds!
- Place your seeds inside a folded wet paper towel, and place it between two paper plates (or regular plates) so that they don’t dry out.
- Check on your seeds every 12 hours but try not to disturb them. When they’ve germinated, you’ll see the seeds have cracked and there are little white roots coming out.
- They should germinate in 1-4 days, though some seeds can take a week or longer (especially older seeds).
- Keep them warm if possible. One thing you can do to get seeds to germinate a little faster is to keep them in a warm place (75-80°F). Some people use a seedling heat mat but in most cases that’s unnecessary.
These seedlings were sprouted using the paper towel method!
Once your seeds have germinated, gently plant seeds in a solo cup about an inch deep, roots down.
Make sure to cut plenty of holes in the bottom of the solo cup first, so water can drain out the bottom easily!
Add your potting mix to the solo cup. Dig a small hole about 1-2″ deep and gently place your sprouted seed, root down, into the hole you made. Lightly fill around and cover with soil. You’ll see a seedling emerge a day or two later!
Here’s a quick cheat sheet for the paper towel germination method!
2.) Allow leaves to grow to edges of the solo cup
Your seedlings will take off in a day or two, and soon it’ll seem like they’re growing more and more each day!
Once your seedlings have grown enough that their leaves have reached the edges of the solo cup, it’s time to transplant to a bigger container!
These seedlings are begging to be transplanted to bigger pots (especially that big one on the bottom!)
Transferring to a bigger container at this stage will prevent your seedling roots from becoming rootbound and “choking” themselves because they get all wrapped around the outside of the soil. The outside circling of the roots prevents the plant from using water and nutrients properly, so you often end up with droopy seedlings and hard-to-explain nutrient deficiencies.
3.) Transplant seedlings to a 1, 2 or 3-gallon pot (then to an even bigger final container if you desire)
Instead of pulling the whole plant out of the container, sometimes you can just cut away the solo cup when you plan on transplanting. This is one of the advantages of starting in disposable cups – it makes transplanting easy and stress-free. You can also gently run a butter knife around the outside to help loosen the soil, turn it upside down and pat out the seedling, soil and all!
Transfer seedling into a new container by digging a hole the size of a solo cup, and gently placing your seedling in the new hole without disturbing the roots at all if possible, like this!
How to Avoid Transplant Shock
The process of transplanting from one container into a bigger one can shock your cannabis plants, especially if you wait too long to transplant.
You don’t want cannabis transplant shock!
You can help avoid causing your cannabis plants stress during transplant by following these principles:
- Transplant your cannabis plants after their roots have begun to fill container (to help hold all the growing medium together) but before the roots have started wrapping around the edges (plants have become rootbound).
- Water your cannabis plants 1-2 days before transplanting. This will help the growing medium stay together (since it’s moist), but still slide out easily (since it’s not soaking wet).
- It’s better to transfer too early than too late!
- If the roots haven’t grown all around the sides of the root ball (plant isn’t rootbound), avoid disturbing the roots if possible. There’s no need to shake out dirt, just carefully move entire root ball directly into the next pot.
- Make sure your plants are in their final container at least 1-2 weeks before you switch them over to the flowering stage, and avoid transplanting plants during the flowering/budding stage if you can since the stress may affect your final yields.
- If your cannabis plants seem like they are suffering from transplant shock (leaf symptoms, drooping, slowed growth), it can be helpful to use a seaweed kelp extract (often available as a liquid fertilizer) to help your cannabis recover more quickly. If transplanting seems scary, it’s okay to plant your seed or clone in its final destination right at the beginning, just be wary of overwatering until the plant has a few sets of leaves and is growing vigorously. You can increase the amount of oxygen available to your plants by adding extra perlite to loosen the soil and allow water to drain through more easily. after they’ve been transplanted for the best results!
If you follow all these steps, you may notice that your plant doesn’t show any signs of stress at all!
Now you just allow plants to grow!
4.) Transplant to an even bigger container if desired
If your cannabis plants double in height while still in the vegetative stage, you may want to consider transplanting them into an even bigger container for the best results. The final size of your cannabis plant is constrained by the pot size. If you keep your plants in small pots, they simply won’t grow as big as they would in bigger pots.
If you’re trying to keep plants small, small containers can actually be a good thing. But if you want to grow bigger plants, you need to give their roots enough space to “spread out”
What Size Final Container?
A general guide is to have at least 2 gallons per 12″ of height. This isn’t perfect since plants often grow differently, and some plants are short and wide instead of tall, but this is a good starting rule of thumb.
So if your final (desired) plant size is…
12″ ~ 2-3 gallon container
24″ ~ 4-6 gallon container
36″ ~ 6-8 gallon container
48″ ~ 8-10 gallon container
60″ ~ 10+ gallon container
Go Bigger If You Need to Spend Time Away From Your Cannabis!
If you plan on being away from your plants for more than a day or two during the grow, it can’t hurt to go up a size or two. The bigger the container, the less often you need to water. So even if you get slightly slower growth in a too-big container, you will definitely be able to spend more time away from your plants without having to water them!
5.) You’re Done!
That’s it. You’re done transplanting your weed plants!
Now you just need to worry about taking care of your plants until you’re ready to start flowering/budding. Remember plants will usually double (or even triple) in size from when you first initiate the flowering stage!
Note: You can skip transplanting if it seems like too much work for you. Just make sure you’re careful not to overwater small plants in too-big containers. Once plants start growing vigorously, you don’t need to worry as much about overwatering. Learn more about common seedling problems.
Should I start in a solo cup or in a bigger pot?
I think it’s a matter of preference. Just as a quick summary: It’s easy to give too much or too little water to a very small seedling in a big pot. With a solo cup, you just soak the grow medium and the roots get a lot of both oxygen and water at all times because the medium dries out quickly. The downside is you have to transplant a seedling as soon as the leaves reach the edges of the cup, or its growth starts slowing down. Also, if you’re not careful you could possibly shock the plant during transplant.
Seedlings started in solo cups take less room in the grow space, and tend to grow a little faster! But if you’re careful about watering plant in a big container, you can get seedlings to grow almost as fast without having to worry about transplanting.
I’ve done it both ways and each method will serve you well. In the end, don’t stress too much. Your seedlings will come out fine as long as you pay attention to them
How To Germinate Marijuana Seeds: Quick Guide with Kyle Kushman
Growing weed from seeds is both rewarding and fun. Before you purchase your pack of cannabis seeds, it’s time to do your homework.
Reading this article is a great start!
Knowing how to germinate marijuana seeds is a vital first step towards a successful grow.
The biggest hurdle you’ll experience before germinating your cannabis seeds is contradictory advice. There are as many methods as there are growers!
You can germinate marijuana seeds however you want, obviously, but for the best results, and to take advantage of Homegrown’s germination guarantee, it’s vital you follow the steps laid out in this article.
Join us as we unravel the science behind germination and detail our tried and tested way to germinate weed seeds successfully.
Don’t fall at the first hurdle. Learn how to grow weed from seeds like a pro!
What is germination?
Help! What IS germination? Germination is the first stage of your plant’s growth cycle. It’s when the seed comes out of its hibernation period and starts to sprout.
Typically your bag of pot seeds won’t start germinating, known as ‘popping,’ without the presence of water.
When you’re ready to germinate the marijuana seeds, you need to kick-start their life cycle with a little drink. The seeds will then expand, the shells will break away, and a taproot will form. If all goes well!
Marijuana sprouting isn’t rocket science, but it can be easy to get wrong. Starting marijuana seeds without water is impossible, but even with water, you need to make sure they’re warm, dark and well looked-after.
What to do before germinating marijuana seeds
As you research how to germinate marijuana seeds, you’ll notice there are several things you can do BEFORE you germinate weed seeds.
The most paramount is to purchase high-quality weed seeds like those found at trusted and reputable online retailers, such as Homegrown Cannabis Co.
Another key component of growing marijuana from seed is knowing what to do with the germinated seeds. Planting marijuana seeds is the next step, but one we will cover later.
Avoid starting with marijuana seeds that are very green, pale yellow, or fully black. Your chances of a good grow will be reduced, though it’s still possible you’ll end up with a good plant.
Germinating your cannabis seeds successfully also depends on how you store the cannabis seeds. Like your cured bud, your seeds should be stored in a cool, dry and dark place.
Don’t store them in the fridge, or freezer, or in direct sunlight. Just keep it simple.
Sprouting marijuana is all about:
- Minimal handling
- Adequate moisture
- Warm temperatures (70 –77°F)
Like we said, growing marijuana from seed is simple and easy. There’s no need to complicate it but you will need to monitor your progress and keep records.
Before starting marijuana seeds, start a Homegrown Diary. You can germinate weed seeds with fellow growers and track the progress of your plants from the very start.
Do you need to germinate cannabis seeds before planting?
When learning how to germinate marijuana seeds, you may be asking yourself, why bother? Why not just stick them in the soil? It’s what happens in nature, right?
This is true, but each pollinated plant drops hundreds of seeds in the hope that one will survive. You don’t want odds like that!
There’s a better way to guarantee as high a germination rate as possible. Germinating marijuana seeds ahead of planting gives you the best chance of success.
That takes of care of why you germinate, let’s now look at the BIG question: how to germinate marijuana seeds.
My preferred way to germinate weed seeds: the paper towel method
There are so many methods, which one is the best? Follow the step-by-step guide to ‘The paper towel method’ below.
It’s Homegrown’s best way to germinate cannabis seeds.
The process is simple, and you’ll need only a few household items:
- Two plates
- Paper towels
- Bottled/purified water
- Homegrown Cannabis Co. seeds
Take two paper towels and moisten them. Remember to wring out any excess water.
Take a few paper towels and set them on your plate. Put the others to the side for later.
Using tweezers, place your Homegrown Cannabis Co. seeds on your paper towel. Leave around one inch in between each seed.
Take the second paper towel and lay it over the top, being careful not to nudge your seeds out of their designated space. Add more water if you need to.
Double-check for excess water by lifting the paper towel in one corner. If there’s any freestanding liquid, drain it! Check regularly to make sure the towels haven’t dried.
Take your other plate and use it as a lid to cover your seeds. Place it in a warm, dry spot, like a cabinet, drawer, or the top of the fridge.
Maintain a constant temperature of between 70 – 77°F.
You need to check in on your pot seeds regularly. Within 24 to 120 hours, they should pop a taproot.
Once your seeds have sprouted, they’re ready for planting.
Watch our video on how to germinate cannabis seeds for an amazing visual recap:
How long do cannabis seeds take to germinate?
Germinating marijuana seeds takes anywhere between one and five days.
Lots of things can impact the marijuana sprouting time. Germinating an old seed can take twice as long as a fresher one, for example. Or you may be trying to pop them in an environment that’s too cool or dry. Or the seeds might simply take longer – they’re a natural product and they play by their own rules.
Weed sprouting should occur within five days (120 hours). This is the only real rule you should consider. It’s very rare, but not abnormal, to have a seed pop on day 6 or 7.
Next step: how to plant weed seeds
You’re now the proud parent of seedlings! It’s time to learn how to plant a weed seed without damaging it.
Don’t panic, learning how to plant marijuana seeds is easy, and super-fun if you watch the Planting Your Seeds video I made with Nate Hammer!
What you will need for planting marijuana seeds
What do I need to begin? As with starting marijuana seeds, you’ll need to prepare a few items before you start:
- Red solo cups (or small plant pots)
- Elastic band (one per cup/pot)
- Plastic cup (one seed per cup/pot)
- Plastic wrap
- Neutral soil
- Germ Genie
Note: Germ Genie was still in development when we made the video, so we used a little Vegamatrix Grow instead!
How to plant marijuana seeds step by step
Now that you have everything you need, let’s start planting your marijuana seeds!
First, you need to prepare your cups. You’ll need one per seedling.
Pierce the bottom to add drainage holes and fill with soil.
Don’t pack the cups! The soil should be no more than half an inch from the top, fluffy, and move freely with a few taps from the bottom.
Next, you can add some food into the neutral soil. A ¼ strength grow solution.
Germ Genie: Use 1 to 3 drops.
The additional nutes keep your seedlings super happy as they develop.
Water the soil before you plant your seedling. That way, you’ll prevent them from floating out of position.
Once the water has drained through your soil, you’re ready to place the germinated seed into its new home. Use your fingertip to make a shallow hole around a knuckle deep.
Angle the taproot down into the center to stand straight, then gently move the soil over it.
Make a lid over your cups with cling film, using an elastic band to keep it in place. Pierce the film a few times for air.
By doing this, you’ll create a terrarium that will keep warmth inside and stop the topsoil from drying out.
Wait, you’re not done! Use additional lights to keep the sprouts at a constant temperature and encourage upward growth. You can use a regular house lamp or specialized equipment.
Make sure your marijuana plants have a gap of between 6 and 12 inches from the light source.
You can expect the first set of leaves to appear pretty fast—within 48 hours!
As soon as leaves appear, remove the cling film lid.
Leave the seedlings under the light for up to two weeks more or until they’re sturdy and a few inches tall.
Consider transplanting them to a larger pot when they’re around four inches tall. They’re 100% ready to move when the second and third set of leaves develop.
Key Takeaways about germinating cannabis seeds
What are the most important things to remember?
When learning how to germinate marijuana seeds, always follow the rules below:
- Only use viable, high-quality seeds
- Ensure you store and germinate your seeds in optimal conditions
- Try not to touch them with your bare hands
- Follow our germination guide
- Plant them before the taproot grows longer than an inch
FAQs related to how to germinate cannabis seeds
We hope that our guide to germinating cannabis seeds has given you the confidence and know-how to get started.
If you still have questions, don’t despair!
You’ll probably find your question about how to germinate cannabis seeds right here.
Do germinating seeds need sunlight?
No, seeds in the germination phase don’t need sunlight or any type of light source. At this stage of development, sprouting marijuana seeds is all about being dark and wet, as if the seed were slightly under the soil enjoying a little rain.
What temperature do seeds need to germinate?
The optimal temperature to germinate weed seeds is between 70 and 77°F. Taking it closer to 77°F is preferred, but maintaining a consistent temperature is the real key to healthy seedlings.
How about humidity? For best results, you can aim for a relative humidity of around 70–90%.
Why won’t my seeds germinate?
Your seeds could be too old, too immature, dried out, stored incorrectly, low-quality, or you could just be out of luck! Sometimes, nature produces a dud. Attempting to germinate seeds using the wrong method can also ruin your chances.
Note: our germination guarantee applies only to seeds germinated with the above, paper-towel method.
How do you germinate seeds in one day?
Germinating cannabis seeds isn’t about speed. There’s no guarantee that even under the best conditions, your seeds will germinate within 24 hours.
That said, the quality of the seed plays a huge role in your success!
Follow our recommendations on how to buy cannabis seeds, store them appropriately, and provide the best environmental conditions to increase your chances of a super-quick pop.
What do I do after my seeds sprout?
It’s time to transplant them into your chosen potting medium. Be careful not to touch the taproot, and remember to use the above guide on how to plant a marijuana seed.
Will seeds grow if planted too deep?
Planting your seeds too deeply reduces your plant’s survival rate—A LOT! To reach the surface, they’ll have to use up more stored energy.
This energy is reserved for growing those all-important first leaves. Without it, any pot seeds that manage to reach sunlight could be weak.
How long can seedlings stay in trays?
After successfully germinating marijuana seeds, you can leave them in the tray or on the plate until their taproots have grown thick and strong. Seeds should be planted as soon as tap roots are ¼” and before they reach 1” in length.
Don’t let the taproots grow longer than an inch, or they’ll become fragile and be challenging to transplant.
Are there any other germination methods?
There are many methods to germinate weed seeds. Bear in mind the ONLY way Homegrown will replace non-germs is if you use the paper towel method.
Growing marijuana is a hobby anyone can enjoy, no matter their level of gardening experience.
There’s a lot to learn about how to germinate marijuana seeds, never mind all the other parts of successfully growing weed!
Thankfully the germination process is easy, especially if you follow our guidelines.
We hope that you’re confident enough to get started by now, and all your worries surrounding how to grow marijuana seeds have disappeared.
The next step is to GRAB THOSE SEEDS and start your home-growing adventure.
Good luck! Remember to check out Homegrown Cannabis Co. at any point for top tips and advice.
About the Author: Kyle Kushman
Kyle Kushman is a legend in the cannabis community. He is the modern-day polymath of pot: cultivator, breeder, activist, writer, and educator. After winning no less than 13 Cannabis Cups, there’s nothing this guy doesn’t know about indoor growing – he’s been there, done it, and is still doing it to this day!