Dear Danko: Expert Grow Advice On Early Flowers, Interfering Seeds, And More

Starting plants outside, the truth about CBD, soil for seedlings, emulsifying neem oil, and more.
Dear Danko: Expert Grow Advice On Early Flowers, Interfering Seeds, And More
Dinamed CBD from Dinafem Seeds tests at over 10% CBD and under 0.6% THC/ Courtesy of Dinafem

High Times’ cultivation specialist Danny Danko answers all your burning questions about being the best grower you can be. But first, some quick tips from the expert himself:

  • Burned leaf tips are almost always a sign of over-fertilization, and plants that exhibit them should have their medium flushed with plain water immediately.
  • Harvest plants at the end of their dark cycle, before lights are turned on for the day.
  • When using extension cords, always make sure to match or exceed the wattage rating of whatever appliance you’re plugging in to avoid fires.

Subject: Starting Indoor Plants Outside
From: Raven Dawn

I want to start my plants with good old-fashioned natural sunlight and then bring them in when they start to show off their true beauty. Is it okay to start them outdoors in pots and then move them indoors?

Dear Raven,

You can start plants outside and then bring them inside as long as you follow certain protocols. Plants that are used to full sunlight will need strong indoor lighting to continue to thrive. You must make sure you’re delivering enough light to your plants when you bring them inside.

You also must be vigilant with integrated pest management (IPM) to ensure you’re not bringing pests inside along with your plants. Indoors, without predators, spider mites will reproduce quickly, and you can have an infestation on your hands in no time.

Subject: Fluorescent Distance
From: Jairin

How far should my T5 fluorescent light be from the tops of my vegetative babies?

Dear Jairin,

My recommendation for T5 fluorescent lighting distance is between 2 to 8 inches, depending on the age of the plant. Newly rooted seedlings or clones need to be a little farther away—around 8 inches is good—so they don’t dry out too quickly. With few roots to take in water and food, they need to be gently nurtured along the way. Once they’ve established their root systems and have begun growing new shoots, you can lower the lights to just a couple of inches above the plant tops. Raise the lights as the plants grow and you’ll see healthy growth, with short internodal spacing and thick stems that never have to reach for the light.

Subject: CBD MIA
From: The Weed Viking

My dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer two years ago, the “mild” variety. I have convinced him to try CBD oil, having shown him Run From the Cure and CNN’s Weed. Problem is, he does not want to get high (sigh). I want to get my hands on Charlotte’s Web seeds, but as far as I can tell, they are not for sale anywhere.

Can you tell me if this is true? And if so, why? If those seeds are that good, why are they not made available online? I understand that the Stanley Brothers, having bred the strain, can monopolize it any way they want to, but still. Charlotte’s Web could help so many people the world over.

Anyway, could you recommend the second-best CBD strain? I will make the oil with my yet-to-be-used MagicalButter machine. I can’t wait! Please help a Viking out.

Dear Viking,

Many new discoveries are being made concerning the healing benefits of CBD, or cannabidiol. Strains rich in CBD provide relief and treatment for many patients without the sometimes-debilitating effects of large amounts of THC. While these studies and anecdotal trials show promise, we shouldn’t rush to the judgement that “CBD-only” medicine or legislation is the answer.

The important thing to remember about cannabis is that it works best as a “whole plant” medicine. This means that isolating different cannabinoids, while important for research purposes, isn’t the best way to treat patients. If you’ve been hearing the phrase “the entourage effect,” that’s what it refers to. The ratio of CBD to THC is far more important than the level of either one alone. The many cannabinoids (there are plenty others besides CBD and THC) work in concert to reach our receptors and act upon our bodies.

As for Charlotte’s Web and the Stanley Brothers, there are plenty of other high-CBD strains available in the marketplace in seed form besides this “proprietary” variety. Anything from the groundbreaking CBD Crew in Spain ( and CB Diesel from MTG Seeds ( spring to mind immediately. CBD God ( Cannatonic, Harlequin, Sour Tsunami and R4 are some others. Dinafem Seeds ( sells an entire line of CBD-rich varieties, and more and more seed companies are now offering them as well. Plenty of options exist, so you don’t have to rely on any one source in particular. Good luck and healing thoughts to you and your dad!

Subject: Early Flowers
From: Wayne C.

I met you and bought your book at the Harvest Cup in Worcester, MA. I might have a problem. My plants are about two months old and around 2 feet high (AK-47, White Widow and Bubblegum), and I’m about to move them outside — l’m just waiting for night temps to rise a bit. Here’s the problem as I see it: Most of my 12 plants have numerous buds that are already looking ready. They’ve been under grow lights for 16 hours a day, so I think they’re getting enough light. Do I have anything to worry about? If so, can I fix it? Thanks.

Dear Wayne,

It sounds to me like you have one of two possible problems. Either your plants aren’t getting enough light, or your plants are grown from auto-flowering seeds. Sixteen hours of light isn’t really enough, and after two months, your plants should be taller than 2 feet, so I suspect that they need more light.

Next time, give them 18 to 20 hours of light and make sure your lights are close enough to the plants as well. If you’ve ruled out auto-flowers, then the amount of light and the proximity to it are why your plants are flowering prematurely.

Subject: Soil for Seedlings
From: Infcar

When growing seedlings, what would be the best soil to use? Should it be a seedling starter soil, or would a soil like FoxFarm’s Happy Frog suffice? Where I’m located, we do not have access to many different organic soils to choose from. I don’t want to use a soil that could burn or harm the sensitive seedlings. I plan on going the living-soil route, using living soil from seedling to adulthood.

I won’t use any chemical fertilizers and everything will be 100 percent organic, and I’ll feed the soil with compost teas and other organic materials.

Dear Infcar,

The soil or soilless mix you use for seedlings should be light, airy and not too “hot,” meaning mild in nutrient content. It’s easiest to purchase a bag or bale of Pro-Mix or a similar peat-based medium and add your own dry organic nutrients such as greens and and bat and seabird guano, as well as more perlite to keep it loose and quick to dry out.

If you’re using FoxFarm’s Happy Frog potting soil, I would add extra perlite and also employ FoxFarm’s Happy Frog Jump Start, which is a nutrient specially formulated for seedlings and newly transplanted or repotted plants.

Subject: Emulsifying Neem Oil
From: BBQ Billy

I live in a fairly cold area, and my neem oil is almost solid at times. It stays separate when I try to mix it into water. No matter how many times I shake up the sprayer bottle, I still see the neem-oil particulates, and the solution never seems to mix together the way it should. I sometimes have issues with mites, and I need to use the spray as a foliar preventative and for occasional flare-ups in mite populations. Can you give me some tips on properly emulsifying my oil?

Dear Billy,

First, try to find pure neem-seed oil. Many of the products on the market aren’t quite the real deal and are diluted with other products. Dyna-Gro produces a great oil that’s natural and free of additives. As for mixing, you need to add an emulsifier such as a silica additive or horticultural soap to your oil before mixing it into warm water.

Pour 1 1/2 teaspoons of neem oil into a cup and add a half teaspoon of emulsifier. Dyna-Gro also makes an excellent product for this called Pro-Tekt, but you can use dish soap in a pinch as long as it’s natural. After some stirring, add the mixture of oil and emulsifier to a quart of warm water (not hot, but around 75-80°F). Some people use a blender to get it smooth, but you can just shake the solution around inside the bottle. Be sure to spray it on the tops and undersides of your leaves for full coverage.

Subject: Interfering Seeds
From: Geert

Sup, dude? I’ve grown outside a few times, and we’re still fine-tuning our soil, but I have a question about trimming. I have a tree nearby that releases these tiny butterfly-shaped seeds that work their way into my buds. I don’t have space for a greenhouse to keep everything nice and clean. Do you by chance know anything about possibly washing the buds, or should I stick to my tweezer approach while I trim? It’s not like a plague, but every tenth bud or so I find a few seeds, and I know I miss quite a few because I find them after I use the grinder. Any and all help would be much appreciated, and keep up the writing of awesome articles.

Dear Geert,

The best thing you could do is to shield your plant using a greenhouse, but it seems you’ve ruled that out. Just keep in mind that greenhouses come in many different sizes, and there are customizable versions for almost any space or budget. Perhaps there’s another small structure you could build to protect your plants from these seeds, or you could consider relocating your plants farther away from the offending foliage. The most drastic step you could take is to cut down the tree in question, which might also free up more sunshine for your garden, but that’s a decision that I hesitate to make for you.

Send your cannabis-cultivation questions to

Originally published in the October, 2019 issue of High Times magazine. Subscribe right here.

  1. Love the info. Would like an article for first time autoflower growers. Do’s and dontS. best tips

  2. My indoor feminized plants are getting seeds. The buds are small but the white hairs have turned brown. They shouldn’t be ready to harvest for another 4 weeks or so. I haven’t flushed them yet. What should I do?

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