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Dispensary staff should be able to give you information on the seeds they’re selling, but keep in mind that a lot of dispensaries focus on selling flower and end-products. It’s a good idea to call ahead and talk to staff to see if they are knowledgeable about seeds and can give you specific information on growing.

How to buy cannabis seeds at a dispensary

Many world-renowned seed banks are overseas in the Netherlands, the UK, Spain, and other countries where cannabis laws are less restricted. Seed banks provide seeds from a variety of different breeders.

If you buy a packet of regular seeds, they’ll come with a mix of males and females. A lot of cultivators prefer to grow these because they haven’t been backcrossed—essentially inbred—as much as feminized or autoflower seeds. You’ll need to sex out the seeds once their reproductive organs show during the flowering phase and discard the males—because they don’t produce buds and will pollenate females, resulting in seeded flowers.

Some strains also take longer to grow than others. Depending on whether you’re growing indoors or outdoors, you may want to grow a quicker marijuana strain if you live in a climate that get cold and wet early in the season. For example, indicas are known for having a shorter flowering time than sativas.

The roots grow down from the main stalk of the plant into the soil. When growing from a seed, the main root is called the “taproot.” Roots are the lifelines of a cannabis plant, pulling water and oxygen into the plant so it can grow healthy and strong.

Sugar leaves are the small, resin-coated leaves that buds form around. Sugar leaves are usually saved as “trim” during harvest and can be used for pre-rolls, extracts, and other cannabis products.

Seeds

Despite their minute size, it’s hard to miss the blanket of crystal resin on a cannabis bud. This resin is secreted through translucent, mushroom-shaped glands on the leaves, stems, and calyxes.

Cannabis really stands out in its flowers—or buds—where unique and intricate formations occur: fiery orange hairs, sugary crystals, and chunky buds enveloped by tiny leaves.

Pre-flowers begin to develop four weeks into growth, but they may take a little longer depending on how quickly the sprouting phase occurs. By the sixth week, you should be able to find the pre-flowers and confidently determine the sex of your plant.

For the last 50 years of cannabis cultivation, crossbreeding has been the name of the game. As a result, there’s virtually no such thing as a pure indica or sativa anymore. Every seed you’ll consider purchasing is probably a hybrid. Classifying a particular cultivar or strain as indica or sativa usually means that its genetic makeup tends more toward one side or the other of the indica-sativa spectrum.

Here are a few questions you should ask before making a purchase:

Indica, sativa, or hybrid?

Many cannabis consumers like the idea of growing marijuana on their own — whether it’s recreational weed or medical marijuana. People often find it incredibly rewarding to smoke buds from their own marijuana plants, and many enjoy being able to nurture plants all the way from cannabis seed to final harvest. Growing marijuana can be accomplished by either starting with cannabis clones or by sprouting and planting cannabis seeds.

Buying online may be the simplest way to purchase cannabis seeds. Online retailers often have a larger selection and may provide more detailed information than smaller brick-and-mortar stores.

Remember, seeds must be germinated before planting and there is no such thing as an iron-clad germination guarantee. Always plan on a certain percentage of seeds failing to germinate or growing into weak, unviable plants. So plan on purchasing more seeds than you think you will need. As a general guideline, assume that at least 25% of the seeds you plant will, for one reason or another, not make it to harvest. For best results, buy and plant 25% more seeds than the number of mature plants you want to produce.