The Science of Treating Weed Cotyledons

The Cotyledons of a Weed Seed: Understanding the First Leaves of the Plant:

Most consumers associate marijuana with a well-known image of a signature fan leave. However, only experienced cultivators know that fan leaves are not the first to grow on the cannabis plant.

The leaves that every grower impatiently expects and watches out for are called cotyledons – these are the first small leaves, usually growing in pairs, that emerge from the ground and signal that the seed has successfully germinated.

These leaves are round and have smooth edges, unlike the jigsaw-like fan leaves everyone can recognize from afar.

The Science of Treating Weed Cotyledons: eAskme
The Science of Treating Weed Cotyledons: eAskme

In the process of the plant's smooth growth and maturity, these leaves fall off, so they don't grow on the plant throughout the entire cycle.

However, their role in the initial plant development is critical.

They perform the plant's initial photosynthesis processes, essential for further plant growth via light absorption and inner vegetation proliferation.

Inexperienced growers may fail to manage cotyledons properly; some even remove these leaves to encourage the development of fan leaves on the plants.

However, this practice is ruinous for your crop health; cotyledons should be treated very gently, as their damage can hinder your plants' flowering potential.

Here is a detailed guide on managing cotyledons and better understanding their role in your weed plants' health.

So, What Is a Cotyledon?

Cotyledon leaves are the first to emerge on the weed plant and other plant embryos.

They are also called seed leaves, which emerge directly from the seed and serve as the basis for stem formation.

They typically grow in pairs, while some plants produce three cotyledons in one go.

Here you can read more about cannabis plant anatomy.

Why Are Cotyledons Needed?

As already mentioned, these seed leaves emerge from the germinating seed. In physical terms, they help the sprout break through the seed's firm coating and allow full sprout development.

Once they reach the soil surface, they help the seed develop further by absorbing sunlight and performing the vital photosynthesis function.

Thus, the joint work of the seed in the soil and cotyledons above the surface aids the germinated seeds to begin growing into the full-sized weed plant.

Following the plant anatomy basics, one should never underestimate the value of seed leaves for healthy plant development.

They contain the vital store of food and nutrients for directing energy and food reserves to the plant so that the weak seed gains power for further growth.

After the cotyledon's surface, the seed will soon yield the plant's central stem, which emerges between these leaves.

The authentic marijuana leaves we're all accustomed to will soon grow on that stem.

Thus, you may treat cotyledons as pioneers that pave the way for stem growth and perform the initial photosynthesis tasks later transferred to the developing fan leaves.

As soon as fan leaves produce enough nutrients and energy for the plant's growth, the developing plant no longer needs cotyledons' assistance.

So, these leaves start yellowing and fall after completing their crucial task of initiating the plant's growth.

Is It Okay if Cotyledon Leaves Fall Off?

Some cultivators may be scared off by the yellowing and falling cotyledons. They may suspect a plant disease and rush to water it or squeeze more nutrients into a healthy plant.

However, this process is a natural and normal stage of weed plant growth.

The need for cotyledons disappears as soon as fan leaves are well-developed and can perform photosynthesis for the plant.

So, they fade away and fall ill, giving way to larger and more powerful leaves.

Fan leaves can already be pruned if you want to train a plant and give it a more manageable shape.

How to Tell that Your Plant's Cotyledons Are Fine?

Don't expect the cotyledons to look like regular weed leaves.

Their shape and length are not typical for cannabis, and it's normal for plants to have such leaves at the beginning of their development.

So, don't rush to write negative reviews on your seed bank's website or accuse the seller of selling you the wrong seeds.

Just wait for the stem to emerge, and then watch your regular fan leaves develop on it; this stage is called vegetative, accompanied by quick and powerful plant growth and leaf development.

Should Cotyledons Be Pruned?

No, there's nothing to be done with cotyledons if you want your plant to develop to its fullest and give you a harvest of thick, dense weed buds.

These leaves will fall on their own as soon as their mission is complete, and the plant has a well-developed stem with plenty of fan leaves.

The best solution is not to touch the cotyledons and to avoid any manipulations with them while the plant is still small and vulnerable; the process can go naturally, or you can pluck those leaves off when the plant is strong and high enough.

My Cotyledons Are Too Tall; What Should I Do?

At times, cotyledons grow too tall, resulting in over-stretching. In this case, you can aid your plants by removing the cotyledons from the shade and preventing their stretching with vital physical support.

It's also vital to monitor whether your cotyledons have gotten too far out of the soil; in this case, the risk of toppling over and dying is too high.

Thus, you can take remedial action by placing the plant deeper into the soil and watching it develop more healthily.

Cotyledon Asymmetry:

If you're a fan of botany, you might be interested in studying the phenomenon of cotyledon asymmetry.

No, it won't affect your yield; neither will your plants grow somehow differently from those with symmetric cotyledons.

Yet, the science of cotyledon overview is an exciting sphere for those who want to know their weed plants better.

Besides, with this information, you won't startle at your plants day and night, worrying whether everything's fine with them or they urgently need your help.

Professional botanists distinguish an outer cotyledon (far from the radicle) and an inner cotyledon (which adjusts to the radicle).

You might notice the first signs of a difference two days after germination, with the outer cotyledon being up to 50% heavier than the inner one.

Further on, the difference gets smoother, but the outer cotyledon remains heavier by around 20% throughout the plant's development.  

Watch Your Cotyledons to See How Your Plant Grows?

So, here you go with the main data about cotyledons, their role in the plant's development, and their overall appearance.

Don't panic if your plant's cotyledons fall off, as it's a natural process of the plant's maturity.

Knowing the basics will help you become a better grower and understand the ins and outs of the process at every stage of cultivation.

The author of this article is Tia Moskalenko, an expert writer at AskGrowers specializing in cannabis cultivation.

Tia examines the Internet deep and wide to see how her materials can aid beginner farmers in improving their yields and getting the most out of the weed-growing experience.

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