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Xlr8's seed germination technique: Germinating in Rapid Rooter plugs

Xlr8

Member of the Year: 2012 - Nug of the Year: 2012 - Member of the Month: May 2011, Mar 2012 - Nug of the Month: Sept, Dec 2012
My seed germination technique

I really like Rapid Rooter plugs. I've been germinating seeds in them since I started growing, and now use them for cloning, too. They're great as they can be used to germinate for soil or hydro, and easy to use. They contain important micronutrients and beneficial organisms to stimulate rapid root development. They have a really nice balance between moisture retention and airiness.

Here's my process:

I soak seeds for a few hours in a glass of RO water. The Rapid Rooter is soaked overnight in a glass of RO water.

Making sure my hands are clean and sterile, I shake the excess moisture out of the rapid rooter, or give it a gentle squeeze. Basically, you want them to be "moist" but not soaked/saturated.

I take a sterile tweezers, squeeze it together, and I stick it into the hole of the rapid rooter while I gently twist it around some. I've had better luck if I deepen the hole slightly, and loosen it up a little inside the rooter plug. You could also use a pen, etc. Basically, just loosen it up and make it about a 1/4" deeper than they come from the factory.

I use a clean pen cap as a tool to scoop the seed from the cup of water, and place it into the rooter. I used to do the "paper towel" method of "pre-germinating" seeds, but it is better to plant them directly in the rapid rooter (or whatever medium you use). You will have better success, and quicker development if you skip the whole paper towel thing, in my experience. When putting it into the rooter plug, I put it in pointy end up (hinged end down). Positioning it this way will allow the taproot to make the turn it needs to, and will put the seed in a better position to succeed and remove it's "helmet".

I place the seed about half way down into the rooter (again pointy end up) and then I tear a small piece of rooter plug to cover the hole on the rooter. It should not be "jammed" in there, but placed in somewhat loosely. The hole should be fully covered to not allow light in.

I place the plug in a humidity dome, under t5's. I don't use a seedling heat mat (only for clones and not directly under). I mist the dome periodically, but high RH isn't needed to germ seeds. The rooters shoudn't be allowed to fully dry, and should be moistened periodically with plain RO water.


  • Pre-soak seeds in glass for a few hours
  • Pre-soak rooter plug 12-24 hours (probably doesn't need to be that long)
  • Use RO water from store - do not PH balance it
  • Shake/squeeze out excess moisture in the rooter
  • Use a tweezers or pen to loosen up the hole, and make it slightly deeper.
  • Position seed in the rooter plug, pointy end up
  • Cover the hole on the rapid rooter plug by tearing a small piece of the plug, and loosely covering the hole.
  • Place rapid rooter, with seed in it, inside humidity dome, under flourescent lights (I use T5's).
  • Rooter plugs should be moistened with plain RO water periodically, but only moistened
  • Heat mat is not needed - and it can dry the rooter plug too fast. Humidity only needs to be around 50%. I just mist the humidity dome periodically.
  • No nutrients are needed with seedlings until the 3rd set of true leaves.
  • I transplant when roots are showing through the bottom and sides of rooter plugs


I've had 100% success over the last year or so this way. There are lots of ways to do it successfully, this is just mine. X

chocolope_seedling_roots.jpg

 

Xlr8

Member of the Year: 2012 - Nug of the Year: 2012 - Member of the Month: May 2011, Mar 2012 - Nug of the Month: Sept, Dec 2012
Going to use this method when I germinate the beans I got from BiD :thumb:+reps

Cool - thanks for the feedback, Hozona, and the reps. Let me know how it goes or if you have any questions! :)
 

WizHigh

Member of the Month: Dec 2012
Great thread, I needed to see this since ive seem to forgot how to grow from seed since ive been rooting clones :) REPS!
 

Xlr8

Member of the Year: 2012 - Nug of the Year: 2012 - Member of the Month: May 2011, Mar 2012 - Nug of the Month: Sept, Dec 2012
Great thread, I needed to see this since ive seem to forgot how to grow from seed since ive been rooting clones :) REPS!

:thanks: Wiz! :)
 

Buckshot

Member of the Month: Nov 2013 - Nug of the Month: Mar 2013, Dec 2014 - Plant of the Month: Mar 2018
As I read below I seemed “combative”, I don't mean to be it is just my experience as well.

Personally I don't like those plugs for seeds... but your suggestion of putting a piece of the plug on top would allow enough resistance on the leaf to allow the tap root to penetrate the plug as some of my seedlings pushed up too much. My real problem with them is later as they do not break down well and if they are not buried completely with the space around the stem carefully filled in they are a haven for bugs, so I don't even use them for clones anymore. I have gone back to the old school peat pellets you soak in water, I know neanderthal right? :3: . I agree with skipping the paper towel method but when you have “special” seeds it allows you to monitor more closely what is going on with more control over the seed and if you have a lot of seeds you can see the poor performers and cull them before they are even planted.
 

Xlr8

Member of the Year: 2012 - Nug of the Year: 2012 - Member of the Month: May 2011, Mar 2012 - Nug of the Month: Sept, Dec 2012
As I read below I seemed "combative", I don't mean to be it is just my experience as well.

Personally I don't like those plugs for seeds... but your suggestion of putting a piece of the plug on top would allow enough resistance on the leaf to allow the tap root to penetrate the plug as some of my seedlings pushed up too much. My real problem with them is later as they do not break down well and if they are not buried completely with the space around the stem carefully filled in they are a haven for bugs, so I don't even use them for clones anymore. I have gone back to the old school peat pellets you soak in water, I know neanderthal right? :3: . I agree with skipping the paper towel method but when you have "special" seeds it allows you to monitor more closely what is going on with more control over the seed and if you have a lot of seeds you can see the poor performers and cull them before they are even planted.

Hi Buckshot -

Everyone has a different approach - no worries. I've never had any problems due to the plugs personally, and I think they are amazing for seedlings and clones. But, everyone's individual mileage may vary, and the important thing is to find a reliable, repeatable method that works for you. I realized that people feel passionate about their methods, or the paper towel method... and that's okay, too.

One thing that's important with "Rapid Rooter" style plugs, is to loosen up the hole a bit before placing the seed in the plug. I use a the back end of an ink pen, after sterilizing it with alcohol first. If the seed isn't placed deeply enough in the plug/rooter, or the hole isn't loosened a little, they can push themselves back out from time to time. I do this with clones/cuttings, too. BUT, as long as it's loosened up a little, and yes it helps to stuff a piece gently in the hole on top, they work almost flawlessly in my experience. I've only had one cutting/clone fail when using rooters, too - I love them for clones.

As far as bugs being an issue with these, I've never heard or experienced that personally, not saying it hasn't happened. I will say I've had bug issues pop up, and still hadn't found them in the plugs.

They are made from composted tree bark and organic materials, so they shouldn't be harmful to the environment. What I like is that they have micronutrients, and clones and seedlings seem to really thrive in them. They also work for hydro or soil. I have no affiliation with them, in fact I am starting to prefer some of the knock-off plugs by Sun Leaves. The "Root Riot" brand works well, too.

The paper towel method is brutal on seedlings during a really critical time in their development. Why do we need so much control - they will do their thing just fine without us? In fact, I tested the paper towel method side-by-side with seeds I put directly into the rooter plugs, and the rooter plugs definitely were off to a faster start and had less issues. I've been sold ever since! OMM, Closet Farmer have used this method with good success, and this is also essentially how Subcool from TGA Subcool germinates (he actually flips the plugs upside down and makes a new hole - he likes how they stand on their own upside-down).


As far as the paper towel method - I think Doc Bud summed it up better than I can (and I have a lot of respect for Doc's work):

"...if you're talking about popping seeds, please don't use the paper towel method. It breaks all the rules and is only really good for 5th grade science class. Sure, seeds germinate this way and you can grow plants.....but it's far from the best way!

Here are the rules....not my rules....but actual scientific rules based on plant biology.

1.)Do not expose the roots to light
2.)Do not handle or disturb roots
3.)Allow the emerging radicle to orient itself via gravitropism (look it up if you don't know what I'm talking about)
4.)Keep bright light on the emerging seedling

What this mean is that you should germinate in such a way that the seed and root are in total darkness, IE under the soil.

Soak the seeds in water for 18 hours then plant them 1/4 inch deep in soil or vermiculite or a rapid rooter, oasis cube, etc.

If you want more females, make sure they emerge under bright light and temps of about 72-74 degrees with a weak 3-1-2 nutrient charge.

The first 24 hours of a seed's life is a huge determiner of sex.....I've got some long posts here and there on the forum regarding seed germination if anyone cares to search. But if you learn one thing....DON"T USE THE PAPER TOWEL METHOD.

Soak 'em and plant 'em."

------------------------
NOTE: I think it's interesting Doc feels that the first 24 hours is critical to determining sex. Cannabis has the interesting distinction of environment affecting M/F traits, as it's not necessarily pre-determined prior to germination. I've also heard sex isn't determined until just before flowering - regardless, it's clear that environmental conditions impact M/F characteristics.

Please don't think I'm being combative either, but I believe in the method I outline as it's produced nearly perfect results for me, and others who've given me feedback on the method. Heck, I don't think I've had a seed fail to germinate successfully this way - ever, again, aside from forgetting to loosen the hole when I started using the method and germing this way, and even then it was just once I think.

I truly respect your different experiences and opinion, but I've put some thought into this and am confident enough to stand behind it 100%.

Thanks for taking the time to read the thread and respond with your own experiences - truly. I have much respect for your growing knowledge and experiences - I see how many great contributions you make here. Even if I disagree with some of what you are saying, there is no arguing that it works well for you. :)

:thanks:
 

Muttt

New Member
That's the same technique I use. I've had 100% with this method. But, I do mine with a few slight differences. Here's what I do different.

1. I don't use the hole in the rapid rooter. I flip the rooter upside down. So, it looks like a volcano, with the large side down and the smaller side up. I then use a thin blade to poke a new hole in the rooter. I use tweezers to put the seed into the hole and push it down a 1/4 inch or so. The hole closes up after you put the seed in it. No need to "plug" the hole. This method allows the plug to stand freely without the need for rooter tray.

2. When I soak the rooter plug, I use rooting powder. I put about a 1/2 teaspoon of rooting powder into a shotglass full of water. I shake and shake till the water looks milky and the rooting powder is all mixed up. I place the water in the bowl and then put 5 rapid rooter in the bowl. I push down on the rooters and when i release them, they suck up all the water that was in the bowl (only a shot glass full). This seems to be the right amount of water for 5 seeds/rapid rooters.

3. I put the seed in the rooter pointy end down. With the hinge on the seed (flat spot) pointing up. This keeps the seedling oriented in the proper position that it normally grows. It makes it so the seedling doesn't need to spin around and all that. They pop a couple days earlier this way. But, it doesn't really matter which way you put the seed in there. It's personal preferrence.


The above mentioned technique is a very good technique for popping your seeds. Very good tutorial XLR8.
 

Xlr8

Member of the Year: 2012 - Nug of the Year: 2012 - Member of the Month: May 2011, Mar 2012 - Nug of the Month: Sept, Dec 2012
That's the same technique I use. I've had 100% with this method. But, I do mine with a few slight differences. Here's what I do different.

1. I don't use the hole in the rapid rooter. I flip the rooter upside down. So, it looks like a volcano, with the large side down and the smaller side up. I then use a thin blade to poke a new hole in the rooter. I use tweezers to put the seed into the hole and push it down a 1/4 inch or so. The hole closes up after you put the seed in it. No need to "plug" the hole. This method allows the plug to stand freely without the need for rooter tray.

2. When I soak the rooter plug, I use rooting powder. I put about a 1/2 teaspoon of rooting powder into a shotglass full of water. I shake and shake till the water looks milky and the rooting powder is all mixed up. I place the water in the bowl and then put 5 rapid rooter in the bowl. I push down on the rooters and when i release them, they suck up all the water that was in the bowl (only a shot glass full). This seems to be the right amount of water for 5 seeds/rapid rooters.

3. I put the seed in the rooter pointy end down. With the hinge on the seed (flat spot) pointing up. This keeps the seedling oriented in the proper position that it normally grows. It makes it so the seedling doesn't need to spin around and all that. They pop a couple days earlier this way. But, it doesn't really matter which way you put the seed in there. It's personal preferrence.


The above mentioned technique is a very good technique for popping your seeds. Very good tutorial XLR8.

Great feedback, Mutt!

You do it much like Subcool with the upside down plug, and I know that works great, too. Thank you for commenting and sharing your thoughts, I appreciate it a ton. + rep for adding your insight and experience.

I haven't tried the rooting powder with seedlings, but it's always worked well without it, so I don't think it's necessary - curious, have you done it without, and do you notice quicker development by adding the powder? Hmm, would be great if that gave them a little more boost. If I'm being honest, I've had nearly 100% success with seedlings. I've only lost one seedling I think since I started using this method, but it wasn't the rooters fault, or the methods fault (all mine!).

As far as number 3, I must respectfully disagree. I always did it that way too, but have since converted to pointy end up. Like you, I would do the hinge up, but after a little research I learned that the "turn around" is an intentional part of the process (btw, another reason paper towel method falls flat a little, is the tap root gets pointed down - see below).

It's the "turn around" that locks it tightly into the rooter/plug/soil/medium. They do it anyway - in other words, point the tap down (pointy end) and it will still go up before coming down again, wasting energy. As you point out though, it usually doesn't matter much and they will likely flourish either way all else being equal. :)

Here's a diagram regarding point #3, and why "pointy end" up is how I do it now. Notice how either way, the tap root will go up before going down. This is what I've personally observed as well, and what caused me to convert to "pointy end up/hinge down":

marijuana-seeds-positioning.gif


Thanks again for the great feedback and support, Mutt - I really appreciate it. :thumb:

Hope you don't mind me sharing my further thoughts on pointy end up... :)
 

Buckshot

Member of the Month: Nov 2013 - Nug of the Month: Mar 2013, Dec 2014 - Plant of the Month: Mar 2018
As far as number 3, I must respectfully disagree.

Hey! we totally agree on this :3:... point end up also helps pull the shell off too
 

Xlr8

Member of the Year: 2012 - Nug of the Year: 2012 - Member of the Month: May 2011, Mar 2012 - Nug of the Month: Sept, Dec 2012

WizHigh

Member of the Month: Dec 2012
Ill be trying this method since I got my new beans in. Soaking the rooter plugs in hygrozyme and Liquanox b-1 over night.
 

Xlr8

Member of the Year: 2012 - Nug of the Year: 2012 - Member of the Month: May 2011, Mar 2012 - Nug of the Month: Sept, Dec 2012

moedog420

New Member
I've used root riot plugs since they came out and always loved them also I just started using them for seeds and they work just fine only thing different I do for seeds is I flip them upside down and they stand on their own but the real reason why I made a comment was to inform people that I noticed some little bugs on my plugs with some new seeds I started and I also just bought a fresh bag of rapid rooters and low and behold the bag of plugs were infested they look like root aphids I never even thought about inspecting my rooting plugs for bugs needless to say I will in the future possibly switch back to jiffy pellets I just thought I'd let people know my experience thanks for listening and keep up the good work
 

Cultivator

Member of the Month: Jan 2013 - Plant of the Month: Nov 2016, May 2018 - Nug of the Month: Mar 2018 - Creme de la Creme Photos: Oct 2016
Nice info x.

I use the paper towel method with great success, it the way ive always done it and it works for me. However u bring up some goo points in this thread. Maybe i'll try ur way in future, im mainly a clone person but once in a while i do use seeds soi'll try it next time around and see if there is a difference.
 

Xlr8

Member of the Year: 2012 - Nug of the Year: 2012 - Member of the Month: May 2011, Mar 2012 - Nug of the Month: Sept, Dec 2012
I've used root riot plugs since they came out and always loved them also I just started using them for seeds and they work just fine only thing different I do for seeds is I flip them upside down and they stand on their own but the real reason why I made a comment was to inform people that I noticed some little bugs on my plugs with some new seeds I started and I also just bought a fresh bag of rapid rooters and low and behold the bag of plugs were infested they look like root aphids I never even thought about inspecting my rooting plugs for bugs needless to say I will in the future possibly switch back to jiffy pellets I just thought I'd let people know my experience thanks for listening and keep up the good work

Wow, I've never heard of bugs in the plugs, Moedog. Scary! I wonder if it's possible that they became infested at the store level? Or if they had a bad batch? I've been fortunate and never had bug issues with mine. Yikes! Thanks for sharing. X
 

Xlr8

Member of the Year: 2012 - Nug of the Year: 2012 - Member of the Month: May 2011, Mar 2012 - Nug of the Month: Sept, Dec 2012
Nice info x.

I use the paper towel method with great success, it the way ive always done it and it works for me. However u bring up some goo points in this thread. Maybe i'll try ur way in future, im mainly a clone person but once in a while i do use seeds soi'll try it next time around and see if there is a difference.

Thanks for the feedback and comment, Cultivator - good to see you around! X
 

moedog420

New Member
Wow, I've never heard of bugs in the plugs, Moedog. Scary! I wonder if it's possible that they became infested at the store level? Or if they had a bad batch? I've been fortunate and never had bug issues with mine. Yikes! Thanks for sharing. X

Yeah me neither it's possible they just sat at the store for too long but I think the company that makes them prolly has some new bug killer coming out and what better way to sell your product lol it's like a guy that works for a tire store out throwing nails in the street lol seriously who knows really how just want everyone to know so they can start checking before using them I really like using still but a thorough inspection from now on smh
 

Xlr8

Member of the Year: 2012 - Nug of the Year: 2012 - Member of the Month: May 2011, Mar 2012 - Nug of the Month: Sept, Dec 2012
Yeah me neither it's possible they just sat at the store for too long but I think the company that makes them prolly has some new bug killer coming out and what better way to sell your product lol it's like a guy that works for a tire store out throwing nails in the street lol seriously who knows really how just want everyone to know so they can start checking before using them I really like using still but a thorough inspection from now on smh

There are a few competing products for these plugs though, and I've good luck with those brands as well. I would be surprised if they were to carelessly let bugs into their product as they would stand to lose a lot of business to their competition or to other germination methods as you mentioned. But yes, I think it's always good to inspect them before you buy them. I've never had any issues, but I always looked the plugs over as carefully as I can in the store, first.
 
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