Growing from seed is a very rewarding and meditative experience. There’s a lot of pleasure to be gained from nurturing a plant from seed to harvest. Yet, in order to get a perfect end crop, you need to give the plant a fighting start by choosing the right materials. This post is the first in our Seeds 101 series. To start off, we’ll walk you through the basics on how to find and choose the right seeds.
Do all marijuana plants produce seeds?
Cannabis plants only produce seeds after a male plant pollinates a female plant. It’s uncommon to find seeds in dispensary quality bud, and it’s also unlikely that your plants will develop seeds if you’re growing from a clone. When you smoke or vape marijuana, you’re typically consuming the unpollinated, seedless female flower. This part of the plant is named sinsemilla, meaning “without seed”.
Female plants produce significantly more resin than male plants, which is why bud from female flowers is what we’ve come to cultivate for harvest. Marijuana resin in the form of trichomes produces has a crucial role in the plant’s reproductive cycle. The trichome-heavy female marijuana bud is designed to capture male pollen spores in order to develop seeds and reproduce. When females are kept away from the males, not do you create sensimillia, but you also kickstart trichome production.
So, while all female plants are capable of producing seeds, pollination is required for their development. Breeders and seed banks play the part of geneticists and help spur evolution by selectively mixing pollen from specific male plants with the genes from selected female plants. This creates seeds featuring hand-selected and carefully chosen traits.
How to choose your seeds
Select the right strain
Thanks to all of the innovative breeders out there, modern day marijuana has become a very diverse plant. You can find fast-growing varieties, varieties designed for perfect outdoor yields, and strains selectively bred to grow well indoors. Short, stocky indica plants are typically the best indoor choice. If you’d like a plant that grows to a manageable size but has more of a sativa high, you can find a balanced hybrid with ease.
Doing a little research ahead of time will help you avoid splurging on seeds that are difficult to grow in your intended environment. If you’re lucky enough to have a great outdoor grow space, a slower-growing sativa will make the best of the outdoor season.
Here are a few sites that will help you find the right strain:
Once you’ve waded through the vast landscape of cannabis strains and found your perfect one, you then have a couple seed options. You can either purchase regular seeds, which may produce either male or female flowers. Or, you can buy feminized seeds. Feminized seeds have been bred to contain no male chromosomes. These seeds will only produce resinous female plants.
Feminized seeds are a great if you’re hoping to continue growing from clones of your plants. They also are the best choice for those just looking for a great harvest without the possibility of fertilization. The downside to purchasing only feminized seeds is that you lose genetic diversity when you replant unless you have access to a male plant from a different strain. They’re also more prone to producing hermaphrodites.
What do good seeds look like?
Here are a few ways to tell the quality of a seed before you plant it. Pay attention to these attributes:
- Color: Look for a dark brown teardrop-shaped seed featuring dark stripes or splotches of different brown, black, or tan shades. Avoid pale or green seeds.
- Size: Indicas typically produce larger seeds with distinct striping. Sativa seeds tend to be a bit smaller and more uniform in color.
- Hardness: Cannabis seeds have a hard outer shell. Don’t pick seeds that are soft or damaged.
How to find great seeds
Ask your local dispensary
If you’re lucky to live in a state that allows home growing either recreationally or for medical use, then you may have an easier time finding seeds. In California, for example, medical cannabis patients can obtain seeds that were produced inside of the state without violating state law. However, they cannot be sent via mail and you must have your medical marijuana authorization verified in order to acquire them.
Every marijuana state, whether it’s medical only or includes recreational, has its own unique cannabis laws. Asking a local dispensary or connecting with an in-state breeder can give you more information about the laws in your particular region. For the most part, viable seeds that come from out of state sources, be it domestically or internationally, are still illegal.
Online seed banks
U.S. Customs laws are quite odd. Having seeds shipped to you domestically, from another U.S. state can get you into trouble. But, ordering seeds from another country seems to be a weird gray area. There are quite a lot of international seed companies out there, and many that ship to the U.S. have been in business for quite some time. This is quite strange, considering that sale and trade of marijuana products is federally illegal. Many seed companies attempt to get around this by selling seeds as “souvenirs” that are not to be germinated.
According to GrowWeedEasy, if your marijuana seeds are confiscated while in route from another country, they’ll most likely be tossed out by customs officials. You’ll also get a letter saying that your package has been taken because it violates customs laws (see video above). If that happens, many seed banks will typically send you another package free of charge.
Having seeds is illegal under federal law as well as in states that don’t allow home growing. It’s definitely still possible to face legal repercussions from ordering seeds, but many mail-order enthusiasts will tell you that it isn’t that likely. If it’s illegal to grow in your region, you will probably face legal repercussions if you’re caught with germinating seeds. Having viable seeds in your possession is still a risk, however. So, it’s really up to you to make the personal decision of whether or not you want to order.
Beware of fraudulent seed companies that will take your money without sending you anything, or will send you things you didn’t order.
Growing from seed can be extremely rewarding. Not only do you get to watch your plant sprout from what seems like nothing, but you also have more of an opportunity to mix and match and play with genetics. Clones are typically easier to come by in most marijuana states, but if you’re lucky enough to have access to seed, it’s definitely a worthwhile experience.
Do you have any tips on finding and choosing the right seeds? Share them with us on social media or in the comments section below. We’d love to hear from you!