Category Archives: Q & A

Germinate Seeds Without Paper Towels

Hey Dr. Grow,

I hope you can help me.  I tried germinating seeds on wet paper towels, but they didn’t grow.

Flustered in Phoenix

Dear Flustered,

We have a solution for you that should lead to successful germinating. (As long as your seeds are viable.)

This method is better than the wet paper towel method everyone suggests because with the paper towels, it’s possible for the little white root to attach itself to paper towels. If it does, you will likely break it when removing the seed from the paper towels, killing the seed. Because the little white root and the paper towel are both white, it can be hard to see, so you won’t realize you broke it.

Use this method to germinate seeds quickly, safely and easily.

Put seeds in a cup of luke warm (not cold or hot) water and set it in a dark place, like inside a cabinet, for 12 hours. After 3-4 hours, you can check to see if any seeds are floating. If they are, gently touch them to make them sink in the water.

After 12 hours, drain the water off into a strainer and plant the seeds.

It’s easy to do overnight. If you get up at 6:00 AM daily, you can put the seeds in a clean coffee cup, half-filled with water at 6:00 PM, check for floaters at 9 PM or 10 PM, before you go to bed. Then drain and plant the seeds within a couple of hours of getting up and you’re good to go.

WARNING: Don’t soak seeds in cup for more than 16 hours, or you’ll ruin them. 14 hours is okay. 12 hours is ideal.

Good Luck!

Dr. Grow

Seeds Went Through Laundry

I had several seeds in a sealed zip-lock bag that were accidentally washed with my laundry. The bag does not seem to have opened during the wash. Do you think they are still good to plant?

Many Thanks,


Hello Vman,

We’ve seen this happen several times before. From your description, it sounds like your seeds should still be viable. If the bag went through the wash unopened and had no leaks, the seeds shouldn’t have gotten wet.

Try germinating them to see if they grow. They most likely will if they were viable BEFORE they went through the wash. Even with seeds that have not been through a laundry cycle, you usually find that some will NOT germinate. They may have been too old, or the soil isn’t the correct pH, etc.

In the future, if your seeds do accidentally get wet in the laundry (or anywhere else) try germinating them right away. We place our seeds on a wet paper towel on a plate and cover them with another wet paper towel to sit in the dark for 18 to 24 hours to start the germination process.


Dr. Grow

How Long to Cure?

Hey man,

I’m always impatient about curing my buds, as soon as the first 10-14 days is up I’m digging into the stash, lol.  I’ve heard of people curing up to 60 days.

Any thoughts?



Hello “IHaveHighTimes,”

Good question about the curing.

We did a lot of research before we wrote our Harvesting and Curing Guide. What we found was that after 30 days of curing you don’t have much change in the taste, flavor or burn of the buds.

After a certain amount of curing, the buds can start to break down and lose potency. I would say if someone wanted to, they COULD do a 60 day cure, but I definitely wouldn’t suggest to cure beyond 60 days.

We cure our buds for three weeks.


Dr. Grow


Topping Problem

Hey! I have a really important question.

So, my girl was topped about a week ago. When I went to cut, I bumped into the side nodes that would eventually form my 2 new tops. This caused the SECOND set of fan leaves on one side to come out missing a fan leaf and a node.

Since I figured that part was going to cause so many issues, I went ahead and topped my 2 new tops(which are about 3 inches tall) right above their first node. I know that’s very wrong but I figured it was going to be much worse to have a plant that grew huge on one side and small on the others. I just need to know if I’m alright!

Thank you much!


Hi Zach,

Great question.

I honestly think you are good with the topping you have done with your plant so far. Granted, you don’t want to cut a node in half because it can cause an air embolism in the plant stem and cause the stem to die back to the main stock.

But if the section of stem that the node was cut has not died back then you are good to go. You can keep on topping and shaping your plant for flowering. It happens to the best of us.

I would love to hear how the plant grows.  Cheers,

Dr. Grow

I’m Losing Seeds

I’ve purchased The Growing Autoflowers book I’m confused about the fertilizer dosages of 20-20-20. In all of my other readings the dosages are sooooo much lower such as 3-0-0 of liquid nutrients. As well as stating to reduce even that amount by 3/4. I’m afraid to use that high dosage do to the fact I’m losing so many seeds. Anything that you can tell me will be greatly appreciated.

— Susan

Hi Susan,

Thank you for your question.

We aren’t hard and fast on the fertilizer ratios, as a lot depends on your soil and other growing conditions.  AutoFlowers don’t need a lot of fertilizer, but they do need some.  That’s why we recommend only using a quarter of what your fertilizer bottle says to use.

If using good soil and good (not hard) water, we have seen good success with 20-20-20, but we recommend only using a quarter of the recommended amount on the bottle.  We have also seen good results with 18-10-10 (again, using a quarter of the recommended dosage on the bottle.)

Since you have been losing seeds, it could be due to your water and/or soil.  If the pH is off, or if the water is hard, it could cause your seeds not to grow.  It also could be the seeds themselves.

We have a few questions to see if we can help you:

1.  What type of soil are you using?  Does it already have nutrients added?  Is it organic?

2.  If starting with rock wool, have you been correcting the pH first?

3.  Do you have hard water?

4.  Have you checked the pH of your soil and water?

5.  If using tap water, do you allow your water to sit out for 24 hours to release the chlorine before watering you plants with it?

6.  Are you leaving excess water in the drainage trays after watering or are you pouring that excess water off?

7.  Are you allowing the soil to dry a little between waterings or are you keeping it saturated?

8.  Are your seeds from a good reliable source, or from a friend?

9.  Have you been able to successfully grow any of your seeds yet?

If you can answer these questions, maybe we can help you figure out why you are losing seeds.  No guarantee, but we’ll be glad to give more information that might help you.


Dr. Grow

Lighting Question

I am growing AutoFlowers using your book.

The seeds soaked 17 hrs then put straight to soil have sprouted in 3 days time.

What lighting is required? I currently have 13watt/60 equiv, 40 watt/150 equiv, and a T5 fixture amounting to 110 florescent watts. Right now I have a 13 watter a couple of inches above each seedling.

I think this is your suggestion? If this is fine what would be the next graduated lighting step?

— Maximum Bob

Hey Maximum Bob,

Glad to know your seeds sprouted well.

How much light you need depends on the size of your grow area. The size of your grow area also dictates how many plants you can grow in one space. Since I don’t know the size of your grow area (square feet and space dimensions), how much reflectivity is in the space, or how many plants you have, it’s hard to be very specific, but I can give some general guidelines.

The 26 watt (100 watt equivalent) CFLs put out the most lumens per watt in the CFL family. The T5s have a VERY good lumens per watt ratio, also. Since you said yours is 110 watts equivalent, I am assuming it has two tube lights in it. Is that correct?

Right now, with the light very close to the seedlings, you can probably get away with your 13w equivalent CFL for another week, as long as you leave it on 24 hours per day.

As the plants get bigger and start to take up more room in the area, you will want more light.

If you are limited to the bulbs you described, I would suggest using BOTH the 40 watt equivalent CFL AND the T5 to light your plants as they get bigger. If you keep them 6 – 12 inches above the plants. You may have to adjust their height daily, depending on how close you keep the lights to the plants.

If you have the money to buy more lighting, we would suggest getting any of the following:

1. Multiple 26w CFLs to hang above your plants.

2. A T5 fixture that holds 6 of the 4 foot 54w bulbs to hang above your plants.

3. A couple of 65w (300-350 equivalent) or 85w (400 equivalent) CFLs to hang above your plants.

It’s good to have lots of reflectivity in your grow area. Fairly close walls that are painted a bright white helps, as does a reflective hood.

Hope this helps.


Dr. Grow

Question About pH

I read somewhere that I must have the pH for my clients at 6.5.  How important is it to keep it at EXACTLY 6.5?

— Mark in Seattle

Hi Mark,

As long as your pH doesn’t drop below 5.5 or go above 7.0, you should be okay.  The pH always fluctuates, especially when you water/fertilize your plants.

As the plants uptake the nutrients, the pH goes in one direction and when you add nutrients, the pH goes in the other direction.


Dr. Grow

Fertilizing AutoFlowers

In your book, Growing AutoFlowers second edition, you recommend that I start fertilizing with a 20-20-20 fertilizer and only use one fourth of the recommended dose.  Can I just use a 5-5-5 fertilizer instead?

— Duke in Idaho

Hello Duke.,

Thank you for your question. I’m sure this is a question people have as well.

Even though applying basic math makes it seem like using a 1/4 dose of 20-20-20 is equivalent to a 5-5-5, it is not true.  The fertilizer is still a 20-20-20 concentration, but you are using less of it.  When in doubt, it is better to UNDER fertilize AutoFlowers, rather than over fertilize.  You can always add a little more if needed, but it is hard to correct an over fertilizing problem.

If you decide to get a 5-5-5, you should still only use one quarter of the dose recommended on the packaging.


Dr. Grow

Watering Question

The question of watering, I’m hearing all sorts of conflicting things.

My AutoFlower seedlings are growing about 3/4 inch a day.

I’ve only misted them with a spray bottle so far, so there’s been no full watering since I presoaked the soil.

Do you have any advice on this?

Keep it moist with a mister for 1/2 weeks?

Is there a point in their development when they start waterings every few days or so?

I’m balancing between keeping moist and allowing full drying before administering more water.

— Confused But Hopeful

Hello Confused,

We don’t recommend that you continue misting, especially if you live in a fairly humid climate. Misting too much can result in mold, which will require you to destroy the plants, and could harm your health. Mold is a bad thing!

In addition, as the plant grows, it is setting its roots. That means the roots grow down in the pot to areas that might be dry, because misting will not moisten the deeper soil. If the roots aren’t getting enough moisture, the plants could become stunted and reduce your yield.

We suggest you give your plants a good watering. If you’re growing in a three gallon pot (recommended in our book) give each plant about 4 cups of water. Be sure to water slowly and water close to the plant, rather than the whole pot.

Then wait four to five days and stick your finger into the soil to see if it is moist or dry. If it is moist, give them 2 – 3 cups of water each. If it is dry, give them about 4 cups of water each.

As the plants grow bigger, they will need more than 4 cups of water at each watering. And as they get bigger, their roots will spread out in the pot, so you will need to water the whole pot, not just close to the plant.

In the future, slowly water each plant until you see the first little bit of water coming out in the drainage trays. Stop IMMEDIATELY when you see a little water coming out the bottom. Then the next time you water, give them the same amount of water. If that next time you do not see any water coming out of the drainage trays, give them a little more water, slowly. As soon as you see any water coming out the bottom, stop immediately.

We watered our AutoFlowers every five days, using the methods described above.


Dr. Grow

Lighting My Grow

I have a 3ft x 3 ft grow area. How much light do I need? I need to light it at the least cost possible. Thanks in advance for your help.

— Orvin in Utah

Hello Orvin,

The general grow light standard is that you want at least 50 incandescent watts of light per square foot of growing space.

Your 3 x 3 space is 9 ft.², so if you multiply 9×50, you get 450 watts of incandescent equivalent light needed.

You can mix and match the lights you have in order to come up with at least 450 equivalent watts.

Here is a link to how to build your own grow light for less money.


Dr. Grow