How To Grow More Female Plants From Standard Cannabis Seeds
Although feminized cannabis seeds have become very popular, many growers still prefer standard seeds. Feminized seeds tend to be develop plants that are rather consistent in their traits, but it is that genetic “roll of the dice” that can treat a grower of standard seeds to a prize plant to clone or save their own top-grade seeds. Saving pollen from a few killer strains – perhaps a resinous Afghani indica, a virile Thai sativa, and a fruit “Bubblegum” hybrid – lets you selectively pollinate a few buds on a particularly nice plant you have in flowering, and create a stash of your own special seeds. Cool stuff.
For the budget-minded home grower, standard seeds are not only less expensive to begin with, but the option to save your own seeds saves much more money in the long run. So in this post contains a variety of tips to help you get the most from standard seeds. You’ll increase the chances of your plants growing into the desirable females for bud production, and also get a few males for pollen and save your own seeds.
Thanks to the great minds at Dutch Passion for introducing these concepts some years ago. I’ll focus on what the current home grower should do to implement these techniques – Certain modern growing accessories have made it easy to adjust your standard plan to grow more females from standard seeds.
- Be a consistent and vigilant grower. Key to success is consistency. Consistent temperatures and humidity, a consistent watering schedule, and – most of all – a steady “day” of light and dark with no interruptions, especially during the dark period. Keep an eye out for insect pests, and nip problems in the bud, or before the bud, so to speak, to keep stress on the plants to a minimum.
- Focus on the 3rd & 4th week of vegetative growth. Keep your grow environment as close to perfect as you can during this time and you will be rewarded with more female marijuana plants. I managed 75% females from standard seeds in my last grow by following this plan. The males provided me with some pollen for breeding my own seeds (which is easy to do, and we’ll learn about in a later post.)
- Use “Cool Daylight” (6500k) bulbs exclusively during vegetation. Resist the urge to “put in one Warm White bulb for a nicer mix”. Proportionately higher blue light levels in the vegetative phase increase the chance of a plant developing into a female. This is another great argument for using CFL bulbs (Compact Florescent Lights) for your home grow. You can simply keep two sets of bulbs, one of Cool Daylight (6500k) for vegetation, and one of “Warm” bulbs (2700k) for flowering. LED lights usually have a set mix of blue and red, meaning that you’d need two of these generally rather expensive lamps to optimize your color spectrum from vegetation into flowering.
- Moderate your light schedule. Some advice floating about on the web says that you “might as well keep your lights on 24/0 for vegetation”, arguing that the extra light can’t hurt. This may be true, when growing feminized seeds, but it also happens that a lot more light leads to a lot more males if you are growing from standard seeds. Instead of the 18/6 light schedule, try going to 15/9, or even 14/10 during the 3rd and 4th weeks. Slightly shorter “days” will encourage the development of females.
- Watch your fertilizer values – Stick to a high nitrogen, low potassium fertilizer during vegetation. You don’t want to strike potassium from the mix, since it is crucial for strong stem growth and resistance to disease and pests, but aim for an NPK value that is high in N, low in K. An excellent fertilizer with a natural NPK value of about 6-4-3 (optimal for the vegetative phase) is composted chicken manure. Yep – good ol’ chick’n shit! In fact, if you add chicken manure into your soil mix, you’ll be on easy street during the vegetative phase. Alternately, use the “compost tea” method (also described in our ebook – Amazon Kindle link – iBooks link) using manure compost, and water your plants with that tea.
- Don’t let the soil dry out in the 3rd and 4th week of vegetation. Although the general rule of thumb is to water cannabis rather thoroughly and then allow the top two inches of soil to dry out before watering again, make an exception in this critical window of time and keep the soil moist, although never thoroughly wet for a long period.
- Keep temperature down and humidity up. This a tricky task. If you increase ventilation in order to keep temperatures down in your grow enclosure, you’ll carry away more moisture. I find that this is a great time to mist the plant’s leaves (especially the undersides) to treat for my arch enemy, thrips:
- For some reason these little buggers always appear on my plants. I’m thankful that they aren’t spider mites, but thrips are still a serious pain. I usually inspect leaves manually and squash their little heads with my fingers, but at this point (nearing the end of the vegetative phase) I like to treat leaves with a gentle insect spray. The recipe is 1 liter water, 1/4 teaspoon of biodegradable dish soap, 10ml of clove oil, and 5ml of rosemary oil. (Blend the soap with a few tbsp of water and dissolve the oils into that for easier blending with the larger quantity of water). This is a mild but fairly effective thrips spray that also helps keep fungus gnats in check. Fungus gnats may also multiply if you keep the soil damp at this stage. In any case, you can apply this spray without any worries, helping keep your humidity up a bit and increase your potential for more female plants.
Follow these suggestions, and you’ll be a happy farmer. In the next post, I’ll describe show you how to both gather pollen from the male plants and safely pollinate a few select buds on your female plants. This is not particularly difficult, but you must be very careful not to ruin your sensimilla crop with stray pollen!
If you’re keen on growing marijuana and want to save yourself the headaches and disappointment of learning by doing, then pick up our ebook and learn many, many more techniques specific to cannabis cultivation. A small investment in our ebook will pay you back by showing you which gear is the most effective, how to mix your own soil optimized for cannabis, lead you through the grow process, harvesting, curing, pest management and a lot more. Pick it up Here on Smashwords – Here on the Amazon Kindle– or Here on iBooks
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Writer Glenn Panik’s “How To Grow Cannabis At Home: A Guide To Indoor Medical Marijuana Growing”, is available on iTunes here, for the Amazon Kindle or via Smashwords here. You can also order the ‘stealth title’ of our information-packed ebook for the Kindle here.