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Treating Seeds for Plant Propagation

It is simply a matter of fact that growers who are starting out want to speed germination as much as possible. Unfortunately, Mother Nature didn’t make this task easy by designing each seed shell to be as hard and impenetrable as possible, which may increase the survival rate of seeds in the wild, but makes it more difficult for you to germinate your plants. To get around this, hydroponic growers often treat their seeds before planting them. Here are a few of the common ways to treat seeds for plant propagation.

Mechanical Scarification

Scarification is any method of scratching, breaking, or somehow physically weakening the seed coating to make it softer, and therefore easier to reach the moisture and gasses it will need to germinate. If you have a small amount of seeds that you want to plant, this can be done by simply rubbing them with sandpaper, softening their coats with a file, or just cracking them with a hammer. Ideally, you should do most of your damage to the outside of the seed without actually injuring the seed itself. Your seed coats should appear worn down on cracked superficially, but the damage shouldn’t appear to reach down into the inner parts of the seed. You might try experimenting with a couple mechanical techniques on selected seeds before you try it on your entire group of seeds.

Soaking Seeds

This is another popular method of softening hard shells. To do this, heat a pot of water to near-boiling, at least in excess of one hundred seventy degrees Fahrenheit. The amount of water in the pot should be at least four times the volume of the seeds themselves. Place the seeds in the pot and immediately turn off the heat source. Allow the seeds to soak in the water for about eighteen hours as the water cools. Plant the seeds immediately after treating them in this manner.

Boiling seeds for a few minutes can create a similar effect, but it is much more hazardous to the seeds. Temperatures this high are likely to injure the seeds, therefore it is not recommended.

Acid Scarification

It is also possible to soften seed coverings with acid to make plant propagation easier. However, it must be done with care because it involves handling very volatile and corrosive sulfuric acid. Therefore you should take proper precautions and wear protective clothing and goggles when applying this technique.

To do this, place dry seeds in a glass container and cover them with the sulfuric acid at a ratio of about one part seed to two parts acid. During the treatment, the seeds should be stirred occasionally to ensure an even softening of the seed skin. Try to make sure the temperature of the room where you are applying this treatment stays between sixty and eighty degrees Fahrenheit.

The length of the treatment will depend upon how thick the seat coating is. It may vary as much between ten minutes and five hours. To test, periodically remove a seed and see how thin its skin has become. When you believe it has become sufficiently thin, remove the seeds immediately. After treatment, makes sure to completely rinse the seeds for ten minutes.

Which technique works best will depend upon what kind of seed you are using for plant propagation. You may wish to experiment with multiple techniques to see which will result in the fastest germination.


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Since 1999, Advanced Nutrients has been committed to educating the community and bringing the most up-to-date knowledge to the forefront of grows across the globe. Every article you read here has been curated by Advanced Nutrients’ industry experts, so you can continue raising your bud weight… and your reputation.

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Over time, components within the nutrients settle on the bottom of the bottle. When you pour a bottle without shaking it, you can potentially be pouring out an unbalanced solution. Shaking up the nutrient bottle ensures you are pouring the right blend into your reservoir, giving your crops the nutrition they need.

Usually, it’s not a problem. But some products are incompatible with each other and can damage your plants when they’re used together. For example, bloom boosters with high PK numbers or low-grade silica products can destabilize your nutrient mix and cause nutrient lockout.

Nutrient manufacturers design their products to be used with each other. In doing so, they include specific portions of each nutrient in each product, so crops receive the right nutrition through each stage of the grow cycle. When you stick with one manufacturer, you don’t have to worry about inadvertently destabilizing your nutrient mixture. One example of why you need to stick with only one manufacturer’s products is Advanced Nutrients’ pH Perfect line. These products are designed to keep your crops’ root zone within a specific pH range. When you use them alongside products from another manufacturer, we can’t guarantee your root zone will maintain its optimal pH level.

Yes! If you’re growing with Advanced Nutrients products, you can use our easy nutrient calculator to generate the correct nutrient chart for your crops in seconds. Check out Advanced Nutrients’ nutrient calculator here. Another great resource is our library of free custom-growing recipes. Try our expert grower-tested nutrient schedules here.

You can also download our official BudLabs app to generate nutrient schedules and receive real-time notifications for specific tasks, including feeding your crops. Upgrade to BudLabs Pro to maintain profiles on an unlimited number of crops.

If you are a grower, visit this link to find the closest Advanced Nutrients Authorized Retailer. If you are a retailer, visit this link to identify our official distributors.

Our greatest passion is growing great cannabis—and helping other growers do the same. That’s why we offer complimentary cultivation support 24/7 from Monday to Friday and from 9 AM until 7 PM PST on Saturday… With the same level of advice licensed producers would pay consultants tens of thousands of dollars to unlock.
Just call 1-800-640-9605 or email support@advancednutrients.com. For Spanish-speaking growers, email spanishsupport@advancednutrients.com.

Yes! If for any reason you are not absolutely thrilled with the results you achieve when you use our products, just bring the unused portion, along with your original sales receipt, back to the place of purchase within six months, and ask for your money back. Find out more about our Grower Guarantee here.

Advanced Nutrients has spent many thousands of man-hours developing a technology that automatically balances your pH for you — putting it in the “sweet spot” and holding it there for one week.

And the technology is so “smart” that it can account for many of the aforementioned variables in your grow room. Our proprietary pH buffering agents and stabilizing mechanisms became the foundation of a new system aptly called pH Perfect® Technology. Learn all about it here.

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