What is propagation?

Propagation: 1 The action of breeding or multiplying by natural processes; procreation, generation, reproduction. 2 The action of spreading an idea, practice, etc., from place to place. 3 Increase in amount or extent; enlargement; extension in space or time.

Propagation is 'The Grow'. However most people treat propagation as the actual events occurring between the planting of the seed and the transplant of that seedling to the main grow environment. Here we will treat propagation as the entire process of growing from seed to harvest. Propagation also includes the logistics of the grow.

So what are you going to do? Are you going to buy a batch of 10 seeds and grow them all in one go? Are you going to then kill the males and just smoke the females? Are you going to keep the males and produce more seeds from the females? How many seeds can a female plant produce? Should I plant my 10 seeds in one go? What should I do to guarantee that all my seeds will grow? These are the questions that you should be asking before you begin to grow and this is where propagation logistics comes into play. The answers depend largely on the size of your grow area and what your budget is.

Let's say we have about $200/£180 to spend on seeds. We can buy an expensive strain like a G13 cross and then we can grow the G13 and produce more seeds from it. We can get anything between 100 and 2000 seeds depending on plant size and grow conditions. If we grow this season for 4 months and at the end produce a lot of seeds then we may never need to buy seeds for this strain again.

There is something else we can do called -CLONING.

Figure 3.1 - Here are some clones by Slowhand.

This is a technique where by we can grow a number of plants and select a good female. Then we can take cuttings from that female mother plant and grow these cuttings into new plants. Clones always keep the same sex and vigour of the mother plant. It is also possible to create a garden of plants that will last for decades through cloning from a single female mother plant. Cloning is discussed in detail in a later chapter

For the new grower it is advised that you buy 10 seeds and only germinate 3 the first time followed by another 3 the following week followed by the last 4 in two weeks after that. This will allow you some degree of experimentation as you may fail on your first attempt to germinate the seeds because of lack of any previous cannabis growing experience.

For people who have germinated seeds once before in the past, it is advised that you germinate 5 followed by another 5 the next week. If you are a long time grower with a good amount of growing experience then you can germinate all 10 in one go. Again you do not have to do it this way. It just helps reduce the risk of failing all the seeds because of bad germination methods.

During your plants growth you may decide that you want to pollinate ONLY ONE of your females. This means that you need to have two grow areas. One for growing all your female plants and another for growing a single or more females mixed in with some males. As we said before this depends on how much grow space you have and how much money you want to spend. It is important that your pollination room is kept well away from your female grow room. Pollen can travel by air and it is advised that the two areas are kept well apart. Also bees and other insects can spread pollen. Not only that but you can too. Always wash your hands and face after handling a male plant. This saves problems of pollen from a male plant getting onto a female that you wish to keep for sinsemilla.

Figure 3.2 - Pollen from the male plant can be collected by shaking it over a clean surface such as a sheet of glass. The pollen can then we swept up by using a credit card. If you gather it in a piece of paper like this then you can

Figure 3.3 - Store male pollen in a test tube like this. If kept out of the light pollen can keep for a long time. You can use this pollen to make seeds from a female plant by sprinkling some of the pollen onto the female flowers. Photography film canisters also make great pollen storage units. Both picture by Slowhand.

Figure 3.3 - Store male pollen in a test tube like this. If kept out of the light pollen can keep for a long time. You can use this pollen to make seeds from a female plant by sprinkling some of the pollen onto the female flowers. Photography film canisters also make great pollen storage units. Both picture by Slowhand.

Figure 3.4 - This is a great picture of an indoor grow room by GIYO. The light hanging down over the plants is a HPS light. It gives off an orange glow to the grow room.

Figure 3.4 - This is a great picture of an indoor grow room by GIYO. The light hanging down over the plants is a HPS light. It gives off an orange glow to the grow room.

So being logical we can see that we have paid a bit of money for 10 seeds and that we want to get 100% germination results. The following passages will tell you how to achieve that success rate.


Seeds can be germinated in a number of ways. Some ways guarantee more success than others. It is recommended that you consider the 'rockwool SBS propagation tray' method.

Figure 3.5 - Germination picture by BushyOlderGrower.

Seed soil propagation:

This is a method whereby the seeds are placed down in moist soil about 3mm or the length of the seed from the surface. The soil is kept moist (Not soaking wet) by sprinkling water over it once a day. This has a moderate success rate. Out of 10 seeds only 7 - 8 may germinate.

Seed towel propagation:

Figure 3.6 - This is an example of some seeds that have germinated. This method is the towel germination method. Picture by Kryptonite.

This is a method whereby the seeds are placed either on a damp towel or on a damp piece of cotton wool. Cheesecloth may also be used. The seed is then covered with more damp wool or a damp towel. The towel/wool must be kept moist at all times. If the material dries out it may damage the seeds. Everyday check to see if the seeds have started to produce any roots. If they have then immediately transfer the seedling to a grow medium (such as soil) using a pair of tweezers. Do not touch the root. This has a moderate to high success rate. Out of 10 seeds 8 - 9 may germinate. The problem with this method is that sometimes the transplant can cause the seedling to go into shock. This can kill the germination process leaving you with nothing. With practice you can get all your seeds to germinate.

Propagation kits:

This is a method whereby the seeds are placed in small unit, called a seed or clone propagator, which is designed to help plants germinate. One such kit is called a rockwool SBS Propagation Tray. Some of these kits can be heated and look like a miniature greenhouse. At the bottom of the tray is a small area where water, or even better Asome germination hormone' is poured. Small grow cubes called rockwool cubes are placed into slots in the tray, which automatically dips the rockwool into the solution (Figure 3.8). The seeds are placed into tiny holes in the cubes and the cover is then put back on the unit.

Figure 3.7 - Propagation kit and Clones by Strawdog.

This has a very high success rate. All the seeds can sometimes germinate and in most cases often do. The disadvantage to this method is that you need to spend money on the tray, rockwool and grow fertilizers. The price of the tray is about $10/£10, the rockwool cubes $5/£5, the grow fertilizers $5/£5. If you have spent $50/£50 on seeds then why not spend the extra $20/£20 on getting a small kit together like this. The other advantage is that you can use this same tray to help root your clones.

Figure 3.8 - Overhead shot of some seedlings germinating in rockwool. Picture by Shecky Greene.


Drafts are a killer and will stunt germination. Always make sure that you keep your germinating seeds away from any open windows or fans. Also make sure that the room is kept warm. A cold room can inhibit your germination rates. The other thing to look out for when using germination fertilizers is to make sure that your mixture is correct. Do not use high doses of fertilizers with seedlings. In fact water is all seedlings should need. You do not need to add anything. Some people do use germination solutions though, but make sure that you keep these solution strengths down low. An incorrect mixture can burn your seedlings and cause them to fail. Another thing to do is to leave your seeds alone to grow. Do not go fiddling with them, hence the term ^digging up your seeds'. Some people tend to disturb the soil to see how their seeds are doing. This is a bad move and can break or even damage the seed and root. The other thing to keep in mind is that some strains produce seedlings that have weak stems. This means that the seedling may tend to lean, sometime more than 90 degrees, to the left or right. If you find that your seedlings need support then use a small stick to hold your seedling up. Tie the stem to the stick using a piece of thread. Never tie the thread above a growing shoot or the seedling will push up against the thread and tear itself. You may continue to use a stick to support your plant as it grows. If your plant still has a weak stem during vegetative growth it is recommended that you give the base of the stem a little shake. This will help the plant to develop a more solid stem. Outdoors the wind shakes a plant and causes it to develop this solid stem. You can fake the wind by doing this mildly every morning for two or three seconds. However if you read on you will find that indoor fans help do this. (Note: Never bring a stick from outdoors indoors for support as the stick may have some bugs on it. Some bugs such as spider mites can go undetected in their incubation nests inside the wood.)

Seeds must also be viable if they are going to germinate. Never use white seeds. These are immature. Find seeds that have white and grey markings or another colour apart from white.

Crushed seeds will also not germinate. Old seeds may have trouble germinating. Always try to use the best seeds you can find.


During the stages between germination and vegetative growth the grower may find that he/she needs a bigger pot. Transplanting is done nearly always as early as possible. One example of a transplant is when the seedlings are ready in their Rookwool SBS tray. The seedling is lifted from the tray along with the rockwool cube and placed in another grow medium such as soil, or maybe even a hydroponics setup (more about hydroponics later). That is called a transplant. There is not much of problem when transferring the cube and seedling to the soil. Just dig a small hole in the soil for the cube and place it in. Cover the cube with soil. The cube will not effect your plants growth and will add support if anything.

If you have started your seedlings in soil then you may want to transplant the plant to a bigger pot. The problem with transplanting is that people like to move the soil and roots along with the plant from one pot to another.

This means that the plant must be lifted out with the soil in place. How is this done? Well there are two ways. The first way is that one does not need to remove the plant from the smaller pot at all. All you have to do is cut away the base of the small pot and place this pot into the bigger pot of soil. The roots will grow down through the bottom hole of the old pot and into the new one. The roots will always find their way down. The other way is too make sure that the soil is very dry. Delay watering your plant for a couple of days and let the soil settle hard. Then you can use a clean knife to cut around the inside of the pot. Cut deep, but do not damage the roots. When you have done this push your fingers down into the side and lift the plant and soil out. You will have some breakaway soil but this does not matter, as long there is not too much of it lost. Quickly place the plant into the larger pot and fill with soil. Give your plant some water so that it will take to the new soil. Never ever try to lift your plant by the stem. Even though the stem may look safe and strong this nearly always causes problems down the line. You should always have a firm grip of the soil when transplanting. Some people like to clean the roots, but I would not recommend it for cannabis. If your soil is very compact you maybe able to turn the pot upside down and tap the whole medium out as one solid mass.

During some transplants the cannabis plant may go into shock, even if your transplant was clean and perfect. If you have kept your plant well it should survive. If the plant has not been looked after it may fail quickly. A good grower always takes care of his/her plants. Transplant shock is caused by a disturbance of the roots. If the roots are cut or fall down, the plant does not respond well to this. This is why you must always make sure that you keep a firm hold of the soil during transplants. Also refrain from feeding them for 1 week if you can. There are some transplant feeding products that work as hormones out there and you may wish to have a look at those.


There are many soils out there that advertise themselves as germination soils. They basically are the same as any other soil except they contain micronutrients and are kept somewhat 'clean' (the soil is sifted and no compost is added). Ordinary loam soil with a pH of 7 and an NPK of higher or equal amounts of N than P or K is good for starting seeds in. Even the ratios of NPK @ 5:1:1 or 8:4:4 are good. Just make sure that the N is equal too or higher than the P and K factors on the label. More about soil later.


We are now coming to the first core divide in growing marijuana. At this stage you should now know something about the History of Cannabis, How it is smoked, Cannabis Species, The Cannabis High, Seeds, How to choose and obtain seeds, Grow factors, The life cycle of the plant, Propagation, Germination and Transplanting. Now all these things are generally pre-production methods except for Transplanting. You are about to take your seedling and put it into your main grow area. This means that for the next 3 - 6 months your plant is going to be located in a certain environment. That environment is either indoors or outdoors. So let us talk about each in brief for a moment.


Figure 3.9 - Indoor Grow room picture by Shipperke.

Light is the most important factor next to choosing your strain that you must consider. There are two main ways to light your plants indoors. Natural light and Artificial light. Both ways have advantages and disadvantages.

The first thing you should know is that indoor lights produce bigger flowers (more bud) than natural window light. This means you get more THC quantity with artificial lights than you will with natural sunlight indoors. Even in countries that have hot sun for 6 months of the year you can still find it hard to produce big buds indoors under natural light. Some people have grown plants under an attic window that they open during the dry days. This will grow you bud but not as much as you would get using an artificial light system. The other side of the coin is that natural light is free, electricity is not and grow lights are a little bit expensive to buy and use. They are not as expensive as it is to run an electric cooker 24 hours a day but they are still expensive to use all the same.

Figure 3.10 - The Sun. Picture by Inf3cted.

When using a window grow try to place your plant near a window that gets the most sunlight. Sun comes up in east and sets in the west. It travels more north or south depending on which side of the equator you are. Think about it for awhile. Also remember that you have the seasons to think about. If you plan on a window grow try to establish when you want your plant to receive most of its light. You want your plant to get most of its light during flowering. If July is the best month for sunlight then you may consider producing your seedling back in April or May or even as early as late March. Try to guess when you will get the best weather. Coordinate this with the flower times directed by the breeder and you will be able to foresee your harvest time.

Also remember that people can look up and see your plant if they are sitting near the window. Do people come to wash your windows? Also remember that if you have a sativa plant then they will get big. Take all these factors into consideration when you are growing your plants with natural sunlight indoors.

If you are growing indoors then you may have a room or part of a room that you wish to use such as an attic, closet, basement, spare bathroom or hot press. These locations nearly always need artificial light. You may even decide to build a cabinet yourself. There are many ways to set-up an indoor grow room. We will discuss this later in detail.

Figure 3.11 - Indoor Grow room. Picture by


Figure 3.11 - Indoor Grow room. Picture by



Outdoor growing is growing on your own property outdoors. Guerrilla farming is growing away from your property in public areas or on someone else's property. For this part we will talk a bit about both.

Figure 3.12 - Outdoor Grow. Picture by Mullummadman.

The biggest problem with outdoor growing is keeping your grow area secure and private. Some people will rip-off your plant in a second if they see what you have (Figures 3.13 and 3.14). Others will just call the cops. Security is vital. I once heard about a small hippy community who lived near a forest here and grew their marijuana near a stream. They eventually had to stop growing as their plants where being ripped-off by the locals in the town near by. It also must be understood that the thieves where not just teenagers either. Adults will do this too. In some cases where the cannabis industry is booming, rippers are professionals and this is their main source of financial income.

Figure 3.13 - This is a picture of an Outdoor grow that has been ripped off. The smaller image shows a picture of the plant before it was ripped off.

Picture by Slowhand.

Figure 3.13 - This is a picture of an Outdoor grow that has been ripped off. The smaller image shows a picture of the plant before it was ripped off.

Picture by Slowhand.

Figure 3.14 - This is another shot of a grow area that has been ripped off. As you can see rippers are without mercy. They would not even leave a little bit of branching so that the grower could take cuttings from his plant. Picture by Slowhand.

The best way to conceal an outdoor garden is to grow the Cannabis plants among other plants that will mask the cannabis. The other way is too grow the plants is inside a brick cubicle with a sheet of glass on top. Some of you may have the advantage of living out of town and have gardens in which this kind of stuff can be constructed. Hide your crop well. Everybody does not easily spot marijuana but someone who is trained to watch out for this plant will see it right away for what it is. If you feel that unwanted people may see your grow area then you might want to invest in some form of a greenhouse that has the windows painted white but the top glass left clear. The white walls will help reflect the direct sunlight coming down around your plants.

Guerrilla growing is hard work and most often prone to rip-offs. By planting in a forest or in someone else's field you are not in any danger of being caught with the plants ON YOUR PROPERTY. Having said that the person's property that you planted on is at risk. Be a nice grower and do NOT plant on someone else's property. It is not a nice thing to do and looks bad on the cannabis growing community. Find a public area such as a forest or a hill slope. Look for an area that is away from the public eye. Look for an area that will receive plenty of light. There are lots of places for this sort of thing. You have just got to spend time finding them. This is the key to guerrilla growing. Find a good patch and you will have good bud.

Figure 3.15 - Photograph by Mullummadman.

Your grow patch, whether on your own property or public property, must be treated.

Leaving seeds in the soil and coming back four months later is generally not going to get you good results. Two main things must be done to the patch to begin the grow, weeding and digging.

Some guerrilla farmers keep it simple. What they do is start their seedlings in small plastic pots indoors. When the seedlings have developed the grower cuts the bottom of the pot away. A small piece of cardboard is taped to the bottom of the pot. The plants, in their pots, are then taken to the grow patch. A hole is dug in the ground and the pot and plant is placed in the earth. The cardboard is removed and the hole is filled in with soil. That way you have germinated your plant and only need to worry about secondary factors such as light, security and pests. The roots will find their way out of the bottom of the pot and into the soil below. Don't worry about the roots not finding a way out of the pot. They always do, that is their job.

Figure 3.17 - Picture by Slowhand.

Figure 3.17 - Picture by Slowhand.

Most outdoor growers favour this method. A patch near a river is ideal. Easy access to water helps if there is a short draught.

Figure 3.18 - This is another picture of some great cola shots by MullumMadman.


Here is a list of the basic items that are needed to grow indoors and out.

- Propagation tray.

- Rockwool cubes.

- Support sticks.

- Watering can.

- Water spray bottle.

- Spider Mite spray.

- Other bug sprays.

- A pair of scissors.

- Grow nutrients.

- Rooting gels.

- Growth enhancing fertilizers.

- Large pitchfork.

- Small shovel.

As we advance to the latter stages of this book we will see that the grower can equip himself/herself with much more items that can help them on their quest for bigger buds!


The male plant is not a good smoke (Figure 3.19). This however may not always be the case. Some strains have male plants that produce more THC than other males of a different strain. Sometimes the male can be stronger than a female from another weak strain. Most male plants from good genetics are stronger than the Ruderalis female. Males can be smoked or made into hash oil. Simply wait until the plant is flowering and then clip the top 6 inches of the plant away and remove the leaves. Throwaway any stems and branches. Cure these leaves and then find out for yourself if the male is any good or not. You may be in for a surprise.

Figure 3.19 - This is a good example of what a male plant looks like. Instead of pistils we have small round pollen sacks. The picture is from The Penguin.


Most seeds that fail to start germinating do so because their shell is too hard to break open and allow water to seep in. At the end of your germination period you may have found that 25% or more of your seeds have not managed to pop out. You can help these seeds to grow by using a method known as Scuffing.

Simply get a small box, like a matchbox. Line the inside of the box with sandpaper. Place the seeds into the box. Cover the seeds with more sandpaper. Close the box and shake the seeds in the box for a few minutes. Now the seeds are scuffed and their outer shell should be easier to pop open. Plant these seeds in soil and they should be able to germinate.

Growing Soilless

Growing Soilless

This is an easy-to-follow, step-by-step guide to growing organic, healthy vegetable, herbs and house plants without soil. Clearly illustrated with black and white line drawings, the book covers every aspect of home hydroponic gardening.

Get My Free Ebook

Post a comment