How Long Should a Taproot Develop Before Planting?

Introduction to Taproot Planting

Before a bumper harvest of beautiful dank buds is realized, several stages of plant growth have to be executed. Most times, priority is given to the vegetative and flowering stages of plant development. One critical stage that is often overlooked is germination; being a “preliminary” stage, it’s easy to write it off. But as you will learn below, handling cannabis plants correctly during the germination phase can greatly improve overall outcomes. This raises the question of what is a taproot and how long should a taproot develop before planting?

What Is A Taproot?

Britannica defines taproot as “the main root of a primary root system, growing vertically downward.”

The taproot will appear immediately after a seed cracks open. From this taproot, other roots will progressively develop. Knowing how long to wait for the taproot to develop before it is transplanted ensures the best outcome and protects the integrity of the taproot as it is particularly fragile and easy to damage at this stage.

There are different schools of thought on exactly when is the right time to transplant cannabis plants. An important factor to consider is the time when handling the seed will do the least harm to the growing parts as well as ensuring it is grown enough to withstand the shock of transplanting.

Keeping this in mind, the best time to transplant a germinated cannabis seed is to wait until it is 1-2 cm.

This is ideal because at this time the root shows all the signs of full germination but it is still small enough to be handled without harm.  Care should be taken not to miss this window as sprouted cannabis roots grow very quickly and can easily get to a size where it would be difficult to safely handle the root without damaging it.

When transplanting the freshly germinated seed into the medium of choice, the seed should be placed approximately half an inch below the surface; the taproot should be pointing downwards. This allows for the downward growth trajectory of the taproot and also allows the shell to make its way upwards through the medium. The medium transplanted should provide moisture, warmth, and light that is needed to help the young seedling grow optimally. The seedling should be kept in the medium for a couple of weeks before it is ready to be transplanted into larger containers for the vegetative phase.

Why Should The Developing Taproots Be Protected?

The taproots perform various functions. Damaging them during the formative stage could cause damage to the whole cannabis plant. This could lead to negative effects such as stunted growth and poor performance. The taproots also have microscopic filaments which could very easily be damaged during handling. The taproot also gives the base from which other fibrous roots grow. This keeps the tree in an upright position and supports the weight of the branches especially during the flowering phase when there is a lot of bud formation.

Other vital functions carried out by the taproots are the uptake of water and nutrients. Even in conditions that are a bit dry, taproots will grow deep in the search of moisture to nourish the plant. A plant lacking a well-developed root system gets highly disadvantaged and ends up with drastically reduced production.

What Factors Determine Seed Germination?

Before the taproots develop to a point where they can be transplanted, they have to successfully germinate. Though it seems like an obvious process, it is definitely one that requires some thought. The germination of a seed is determined by very many factors, key of which is the quality of the seeds. Quality seeds can be purchased from established cannabis farms with the guarantee of an almost 99% success rate.

Despite the seed being viable, several factors need to be present to ensure germination.

Cannabis seeds require the following conditions in order to attain the best rates of germination:

  • Moisture – Ensure the seeds are moist but do not allow them to soak for too long. Very hard seeds could be soaked for 24-32 hours but the soaking period should not extend beyond that.
  • Peace – This might sound a bit strange but the seeds should be left alone during the period of waiting for the taproot to appear.
  • Warmth – Warmth is necessary for the germination of most seeds. Ensure you have kept the cannabis seeds in a warm environment.
  • Gentleness – Check the seeds gently to avoid harming the taproot when it eventually appears. It is usually very fragile and can snap off easily.
  • Plant Root Down – After the taproot has appeared and the seeds are being transplanted, care needs to be taken to point the taproot downwards into the medium to prevent the seedling from having to re-orient itself.
  • Plant Knuckle Deep – The germinating seeds should be planted at about half an inch below the surface of the medium. This allows for the rest of the germination and early growth of the cannabis plant to go on without too much of a struggle.

Interesting fact

Cannabis plants in the wild germinate mostly in the spring, in order for them to take full advantage of summer for growth. Therefore it is a clever trick to mimic spring conditions to encourage optimum germination.

Enough emphasis cannot be placed on keeping the seed moist. If the taproot breaks through the seeds’ shell and does not find water to sustain it, it will die. This is another valid reason why vigilance should be kept to spot that sprouting taproot.

What Is The Best Medium For Germination?

It is often recommended to germinate cannabis seeds before transplanting them. This allows the grower to keep tabs on the germination success rate as well as being able to control the germination environment. When purchasing seeds from us, allows the option of feminized seeds which will not require the extra step of removing males in case the purpose of cultivation is purely for bud.

Below are some effective methods used in the germination of cannabis seeds:

1.   Glass of water approach

This is a very simple method that involves the use of a glass of water. Half fill the glass or bowl with 22°C (71°F) water.

Keenly observe, after 3-5 days, the taproot should appear at which point the seed should immediately be transferred to the soil pots you have pre-prepared. As usual, when handling the fragile taproots, exercise extreme caution.

While the soil pots are being prepared, small holes between 10-15mm deep are made in which the freshly germinated seeds are put. The seeds at this point should not be overwatered. Instead, a plant mister can be used to ensure that they are moist and not soaking wet.

2.   Wet kitchen towel method

This is probably the most common method of germination. Either absorbent paper or cotton wool pads could be used. With the kitchen towel method, a damp not wet) kitchen towel is placed on a surface. The seeds are then placed on it, spaced a few centimeters apart. The second damp cloth is then placed on top of the seeds. As with the glass of water technique, immediately the taproot is spotted, at about 2-3 mm, it is time to transplant. Kitchen towels hold moisture relatively well and are therefore ideal for germination.

3.   Planting directly into the soil

As we have seen above, the main reason for knowing how long a taproot should develop before transplanting it is to avoid damage to it as it is very fragile. Planting the seed directly into the soil or another medium avoids this very delicate step altogether. Another advantage of planting directly is that while both the glass method and paper towel methods are prone to temperature fluctuations, the temperature in the soil is pretty stable.

To germinate seeds this way, the growing seeds are filled with premium-quality soil which is then soaked in water. Growers often choose to lace this water with a “root stimulator”. To carry out this method, holes that are roughly 10-15mm deep are made in the soil and the seeds are placed in them. They are then loosely covered with care being taken not to compact the soil. This is because the fragile taproot should be given an environment of little resistance to ensure it doesn’t struggle to penetrate the soil, a factor that slows down the growth of the plant. The soil is then strayed to keep it moist.

In some instances, just spraying the holes before the seeds are placed is adequate in providing enough moisture to encourage the development of the root. The growing pots can be placed in a damp environment with appropriate temperatures to further encourage germination. In 4-10 days, a young seedling should sprout, which also indicates that the taproot has developed underneath the soil. The entire plant including its soil can be transferred at this point to a larger pot for the next phase of growth.

4.   Using wool blocks

During germination, it is often quite difficult to maintain the ideal temperatures between 22–25°C/71–77°F, This is why this method is ideal. The wood blocks are soaked the same way soil would be. The wool retains water for the period of germination. The seeds are then placed in the wool blocks and the blocks are placed in a plastic tub with a lid, preferably one that has a dome.  The plastic container dome will create an almost tropical environment for the seeds. Placing them in a temperature-controlled cupboard further improves germination results and in just one or two days, germination should have started. Unlike other methods, seedlings can be kept in the wool block environment for two to three weeks, or until the taproot pokes out of the bottom of the block.

Tips to Improve the Germination of Cannabis Seeds

Though germinating your seeds should be a painless process that should be achieved quite speedily, several variables need to be taken into consideration. Germinating your seeds in a manner that will not compromise your flower later on or expose your plant to fungal infections require some thought. Having some plants not germinate is a loss most cultivators would rather not contend with.

1. Don’t Let the Culture Medium Dry Up

As explained in previous sections, seeds require moisture to germinate and later on, to thrive. The series of biological processes that allow the energy needed by the plant to break through the casing of the seed requires adequate moisture. Constantly monitor the moisture of your growing medium to ensure it doesn’t dry up as that will practically kill your seed.

2. Don’t let the taproot develop beyond 2cm

Allowing the taproot to grow for a prolonged duration is not recommended. This is because the root will be exposed to excessive light and air which could permanently damage it and therefore impede the growth of the cannabis plant. As we have seen, there is a fine line between allowing enough time and letting too much time pass. When the transplantation is done at the right time, the roots will be healthy and well established and the plant will flourish.

3. Not germinating the seed in the soil

Though it is possible to germinate cannabis seeds in the soil, this method has some disadvantages, especially for beginners. Soil germination is fraught with concerns like compacting the soil too much, drowning the seed, or even burying the seed too deep. Paper towels or peat plugs are preferred alternatives and they yield better results.

4. The optimum humidity and temperature for germination 

As previously mentioned, providing the right humidity and temperature are vital in ensuring seed germination. Factors that should be considered are the geographical setting, the time of year, and the circumstances of the growing space. The ideal humidity for germination is about 70% while temperatures are between 24°C and 26.6°C. Providing an environment that does not consider this not only slows down the process, it also might affect the success rate.

5. Planting the seed properly

When seeds are placed to germinate, the area with a crown (indent) should be placed facing up to ensure the fragile taproot is not damaged once it emerges. On transplanting, care should also be taken to ensure that the taproot points downwards. The crown of the seeds usually acts as a hinge to enable the taproot to find its way into the soil. Without this hinge, the taproot might struggle and give up altogether.

6. Planting at the right depth

Planting the seeds too deep may produce an environment that is not conducive to germination or growth. Conversely, burying it too shallow may also damage the root; this happens because the root may be forced to bend thereby creating a weak and stunted stem. Optimally the seed should be buried about 2cm below the surface and as it begins to grow, the stem can be covered to provide optimum stability.

7. Planting several seeds in the same pot

As tempting as this may sound, this is not a good idea. Cannabis plants need ample space if at all they will thrive. Planting them in one pot robs them of the space their roots need to develop optimally. It is a common belief that a plant will grow according to the vessel it is planted in. Planting many plants in one pot makes them compete for resources and stunts their growth. Your cannabis plants will develop weak stems which will lead to insufficient branches and undernourished plants.

The Importance Of A Healthy Cannabis Taproot

How long you give your taproot to develop before you transplant it will have a big impact on the rate at which your cannabis plant will grow as well as its final outcome. Growing is a process that is literally “ground up.” This is why the germination period is vital in ensuring thriving plants.

Handling the taproot improperly during the fragile germination stage could cause damage to its filaments or it could even snap during the process of transfer. Leaving it out for too long before the transfer could also expose it to too much light and air, causing permanent damage. Developing and maintaining a strong root network early on plays a big role in the vibrancy of the plant down to the bud production later on.

Greenpoint Seeds is a leading supplier of high-quality regular and feminized cannabis seeds. To ensure your plants get the great start they deserve, purchase quality seeds from us and be confident of a 99% germination success rate. Also, signup to receive our newsletter as well as company updates, and any promotional deals we may have.

We look forward to having you as part of our cannabis community as we find even better ways of increasing quality yields.

When have you been transferring your germinated seeds? Let us know about your experience in the comment section below.


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