Handling cannabis seed germination is no difficult task, but it requires a great deal of precision and care. If you can provide that, you’re good to go. One of the most tricky things about growing your own cannabis is how to correctly germinate cannabis seeds. Here's an easy guide on how to go about that. Learning how to germinate cannabis seeds is essential to all future growing success. Properly popping beans puts you on the road to healthy plants and heavy harvests. But there are a few things to consider in order to master how to germinate cannabis seeds the right way.
How to Germinate Cannabis Seeds
Cannabis, better known as marijuana, is getting more popular across the United States as more medical reports deem it highly useful for better health and more states legalize its sale and use. There’s no question of how potent and beneficial marijuana is for health and recreation, so it is no surprise that more individuals are more getting interested in growing the herb in their homes.
Like any other plant, cannabis goes through the germination process before full growth. Handling cannabis seed germination is no difficult task, but it requires a great deal of precision and care. If you can provide that, you’re good to go.
Below here, we breakdown the main aspects of cannabis seed germination you need to know.
The Ideal Germination Conditions for Cannabis
For maximum cannabis seed germination, you need to provide the following conditions:
Marijuana seeds need adequate moisture in the soil to develop properly. You can maintain moisture by using well-watered soil or a naturally-moist medium such as compost. Alternatively, you can use mulch on the ground to lock the moisture in.
Your seeds need a stable setup during planting to guarantee proper germination. You can achieve this by placing the seeds about 1.3cm to 2.5 cm into the medium, not any further or closer to the medium surface.
Marijuana seeds require a proper balance between hot and cold temperatures for proper germination. Keep the temperature around the germinating area adequately warm, because colder temperatures tend to delay the germination process.
Marijuana seeds need direction when being germinated. When placing the germinated seed into the growing medium, ensure that the white root is looking downwards into the medium and the seed body is looking upwards. Positioning it otherwise means the root will have to reorganize itself, which can slow germination.
Seed Germination Methods
There are more than a few options to choose from when picking a method for your seed germination process. We list and explain the best of them below:
Use Starter Cubes & Seedling Plugs
This is the most recommended cannabis seed germination method on this list because of its ease. Starter cubes and seedling plugs are specially designed for the purpose of seed germination, so they come filled with the right kind of planting mix and a hole drilled adequately in the middle for placing your seed. All you have to do is place your seed carefully into the hole and close it with a simple pinch of the nearby planting mix.
- They have high germination rates thanks to adequately pre-set conditions
- They are easy to use; you open them up and start planting
- They give less room for error
- Some of them are designed to allow hydroponic growing (water-based planting)
- They aren’t too expensive
- Are usually sold in packages of 50 plugs or more at once, no less.
- Some plugs dry out too quickly after opening.
- Some plugs must be soaked for a while first before use.
Plant your marijuana seeds directly in the final growing medium
Another good method for germinating your cannabis seeds is by planting them within your final growing medium from the very beginning, whether it is soil or compost or water.
- The seeds don’t get transplant shock during transplanting
- The seeds get accustomed to the medium early on, which fosters growth
- Some final mediums are not adequately nutrient-rich to support cannabis seed germination in its earliest stages
Use a germination station
For best seed germination results, you can alternatively employ a germination station before transferring to a final growing medium. Germination stations are pre-designed to offer optimum conditions for germination.
- Germination stations are cheap to purchase
- You can create your own DIY germination station at home using a plastic dome fitted over a plate that’s placed on a heating pad.
- Germination seeds are only appropriate for the early stages of growth, unlike, say, the final medium.
Soak Your Marijuana Seeds in Water Overnight
Alternatively, you can germinate your cannabis seeds using water alone. Place the seeds in a glassful of mildly warm water overnight and wait for the white root to break through the seed shell. Then you can transfer to a final growing medium.
- It works well for seeds with extra hard seed coats
- Cuts out all the extra preparation required in soil-based germination
- Some seeds, especially the older ones, cannot germinate in water because they require a longer time
- There is always the risk of over soaking the seeds and killing them
Try the Paper Towel Method
The most DIY cannabis seed germination method on this list is the paper towel method, which involves wrapping your seeds in thin paper towels, making them wet and leaving the setup a warm place. Soon enough, the white roots start showing and the seeds can then be transplanted.
- It is so cheap; the thinnest (and cheapest) paper towels work best
- It is so easy to do.
- Thicker paper towels can be hard to separate new seedlings from after they’ve sprouted
- There is a high possibility for errors during transplanting, such as root breakage when seed roots are found to have grown into the paper towel, not on its surface.
- Paper towels can dry if unattended, thereby killing the new seedlings.
Planting Germinated Seeds
Once the cannabis seeds have germinated, they need to be planted in order to grow into proper cannabis plants. The recommended method for planting cannabis seeds includes the steps below:
Step One : Set and prepare your planting medium. You can use either a rooting cube or a planting mix for planting, depending on your preference. Rooting cubes have no major preparation requirements –have one ready from Oasis, Jiffy or another good brand. If you’re using a planting mix, procure sterile soil for the process. Random soil doesn’t cut it here.
Step Two : Next, add water to the sterile soil or rooting cube to saturate it. Then use a needle or chopstick to drill small planting holes within the soil or rooting cube. Please do not use your finger for this task.
Step Three : Get your tweezers and sterilize them with alcohol or spirit first. Then use the tweezers to pick the seeds, paying good attention to the fragile white roots.
Step Four : Place each germinated seed into a hole of its own, ever so tenderly, such that the root faces downward. Don’t place the seeds too deep into the ground either, because it slows growth. Move quickly because the roots are easily damaged by exposure to the atmosphere.
Step Five : Next, cover each of the holes with adequate soil or rooting cube. Make sure the planting mix or root cube is moist and not too cold.
Germinating and growing cannabis seeds requires a bit of work, but when done right, the end results are worth every minute spent. Like any other plant, cannabis seeds have to go through germination and then plant growth. Making sure each of these stages is done right will guarantee you a super bouncy harvest every time.
How To Germinate Cannabis Seeds
Growing your own weed is fairly easy, as explained in our article ‘All You Need For Growing Weed At Home‘. The hardest part for some growers though, is germinating their newly bought cannabis seeds. After all, the vulnerable seedlings are easily damaged. However, making sure your cannabis seeds survive germination is essential for a successful grow. In this blog, we highlight three tested methods that let anyone germinate cannabis seeds with minimal effort.
How To Germinate Cannabis Seeds, Step 1: Get Good Genetics
We cannot stress this enough. If you want good results, you are going to need good materials to start with. In case of growing cannabis, the first thing on that list are good cannabis seeds, of course. Besides high quality cannabis seeds all you need is some water, a warm environment (between 20-25 degrees Celsius) and – lack of – light to start germinating your future cannabis plants.
Even though living weed plants love (and need) a lot of light, germinating cannabis seeds thrive better in a dark environment. And just like there are different methods of growing your own cannabis, there’s also a choice in how to make your seeds sprout.
Want good cannabis? Get good seeds!
Germination is actually a process where you activate a dry seed that is in a ‘sleeping state’. By adding water to the seed, a small root that is inside the seed-shell will want to come out in search for more water. This will make it develop into a big taproot that’ll serve as an anchor for the plant and from which more roots will sprout. Read more about root-development in this article: ‘Clones vs. Seeds: What Grows The Best Cannabis?‘
Germinate Cannabis Seeds In Water
The easiest way to germinate your cannabis seeds is to let them soak in a glass of water. The seed will absorb the water and due this process hormones will make the seed start to grow: expansion and elongation of seed embryo.
You will see them sprout after 24 to max. 48 hours. Note that you need to store the glass of water in a dark place on roomtemperature. After sprouting they are ready to plant in soil, 1cm to max 2cm deep. All they now need is love, light, water and heat!
Ready to sprout!
How To Germinate Cannabis Seeds: Wet (Paper) Towel Germination
The best known way of germinating cannabis seeds is to put them on or between wet paper towels or cotton wool. This method exists in different varieties, as it’s not so much about the paper itself, but more about the absorbency of the material. It’s very easy to make sure the ‘medium’ doesn’t get too soggy and doesn’t dry out easily. If it does dry, you can effortlessly add a few drops of water to immediately re-moisten it.
Wet paper towels are probably the most common way of germinating cannabis seeds
The goal here is to balance out the moisture so it’s not too dry, nor to wet. Go for a piece of paper that is moist all over, but doesn’t drip when you pick it up. If the seeds stay to dry, the root that’s supposed to sprout won’t be able to make it out of its shell in search for water. If the paper is too wet though, the root will come out and quickly stop looking for water; as it’s already soaked in it. This stops the development of the root, delays the growth and might even cause the seeds to rot after a while. So, be careful not to give too much water as this is one of the most common rookie mistakes when it comes to growing weed!
Transplanting In Soil
After the root has sprouted and has gained a few millimetres in length, it’s time to transplant the seedling into its soil and put it under a light-source. As a rule, a small 1cm deep hole made with your fingertip should do. Gently pick up the seeds one by one, taking care not to touch the root. Use a clean pair of tweezers and don’t squeeze. Make sure that the roots don’t cling to the paper or cotton wool. Lovingly cover the seed with a little (loose) soil and add a few drops of water. Now, all you can do is wait whole the story continues below the surface. As soon as the seedling pops her head above the ground and green leaves emerge, she’ll needf light to continue growing.
This is the part where most growers (especially the hasty ones) sometimes lose a seed. Remember that you are handling a baby plant here. The vulnerable root is easily damaged during the transplant. If you don’t trust your steady hands, it might be better to choose another germinating method.
How To Germinate Cannabis Seeds In Soil
Another common method of germinating cannabis seeds, and probably the most natural one, is to stick the seeds directly in their intended medium: the soil. You can do this with or without soaking it in root stimulator for a few hours first.
By planting cannabis seeds directly in their soil or coco – or whatever other medium you might be using – growers cause the minimal amount of stress for the plant. Direct planting also allows the taproot to immediately dive as deep into the ground as possible. Furthermore, its leaves can enjoy the light as soon as they emerge from the developing seed. This way the seedling can start its growth with a fair chance, providing you with a steady, high-yielding cannabis plant.
Cannabis seeds and sprouted seedlings require constant temperatures of around 20-25 degrees Celsius
For this method, simply prepare your medium by moisturizing it, again, without soaking the soil completely. Then take your flower pots and use your finger to make a small hole about 10-15mm deep in the top layer to put the seed in. Cover the seed up loosely and top it off with a little water. Be careful not to give too much at once though! A stream of water can cause the seed to travel further down the pot where it’s too moist – and too deep to travel back up again.
The top layer is the perfect place to germinate cannabis seeds, as it dries out faster than the soil further down the pot. This makes it easier to ensure the right level of moisture for the seed to germinate. If it gets too wet, the seeds will rot in the soil. If it stays too dry, the plant will not be triggered to emerge from its shell. Again, it’s all about finding the perfect balance between too wet and too dry.
How To Germinate Cannabis Seeds in Plugs
Last but not least on this list is the germination of cannabis seeds in special plugs. These plugs are available in various materials, especially designed for quick and efficient germination of cannabis seeds.
Plugs are a practical way to germinate cannabis seeds
Most plugs are dry blocks of (usually) coco fibre. Peat plugs are an interesting alternative, as these contain some initial nutrients to help the seedling along. After fully absorbing about 500ml of moisture, or 250ml of a root booster and another 250ml water, they slowly turn into a moist, soil-like plug. Grow plugs usually have a premade hole in which to place the seed. After sticking the seed in the top of the plug, cover it lightly with a little leftover plug fibre. It takes a few days at maximum before you see the first heads pop. As soon as the roots grow out of the bottom or the side of the plug, you can stick the entire plug, complete with its seedling, into your intended medium. These plugs make germination and the initial transplant a piece of cake.
A fantastic view on this seedling with it’s shell sticked to her leaves
After Germination: Growing Your Seedlings
So there you have it: whichever method you chose, germination should now be underway. Remember that even the best seed banks work with organic, natural materials, so 100% germination rates can never be guaranteed. If you get your technique right, though, most or all of your seeds should germinate according to plan. Once your seeds have become seedlings, the next steps of your grow await. There’s a lot of choices to make from here to harvest time: indoor or outdoor, which spot to pick, what nutrients to use, and so on. Keep an eye on our expanding grow blog collection if you want to learn more!
How To Germinate Cannabis Seeds: A Step-by-Step Guide
“It all starts with a seed.” Learning how to germinate cannabis seeds is essential to all future growing success. Properly popping beans puts you on the road to healthy plants and heavy harvests. But there are a few things to consider in order to master how to germinate cannabis seeds the right way.
Step 1: Choosing Seeds
First, you must decide on what seeds to grow and where to get them. Seek out trustworthy seed companies that have been around and have a track record of successful breeding. Take a look at our High Times Seed Bank Hall of Fame for a list of 50 of the most well-known and accomplished strain creators.
Don’t have seeds mailed to the location where you’re growing or planning to grow. Beginners might want to start with an indica-dominant strain that will stay small and stocky with a short flowering time.
Sativa-dominant strains tend to stretch more and have longer flowering times. If your seeds have been sitting around in storage for a while, check out these tips for germinating old seeds.
Step 2: Sprouting Seeds
Some people choose to use the moist paper towel method to germinate their seeds but I recommend just sowing them directly into the medium you plan to grow in. This reduces any stress the seedling will suffer through the transplanting process and secures the young plant firmly into your chosen mix.
Moist Paper Towel: Place seeds on a plate between two moistened paper towels. Put a plate on top to cover and within a couple of days, you should see the seed cracked open and a taproot emerging. Immediately and carefully (using tweezers) place your seed into your growing medium taproot down and water it in.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with using a moist paper towel, as long as you’re gentle with the emerging tap root and as long as you don’t let the taproot grow too long before planting. My belief is simply to start the plant in its own medium to reduce the likelihood of damaging the tender young roots and shoots.
Straight Into Medium: Poke a hole in your pre-moistened grow medium of choice. Drop your seed in about a quarter- to a half-inch deep. Cover the seed with more of your medium and tamp it down gently.
The important thing is to not plant too deeply and to keep the medium moist and warm for the best germination success rate. Clear plastic wrap placed over the top of the container helps maintain humidity. A heating mat underneath your plastic tray will increase your success rate as well.
Step 3: Seedling Care
Within a few days, you should see a minuscule green shoot emerging from the top of your medium. Immediately get your seedling under adequate grow lighting. Ideally, for the strongest growth rate, you want Metal Halide (MH) lighting, but Fluorescent or LED (Light-Emitting Diode) lighting works fine and won’t produce as much heat.
No matter what lighting you choose, always remember not to keep your grow-light too high above your seedling as this will make it stretch to reach the light and leave your young plant looking long and lanky.Use a timer to make sure the lights are on for at least 18 hours per day. Learning how to germinate cannabis seeds also means treating the emerging seedlings with the proper care.
Temperature and Humidity: You never want your seedlings to dry out. Keep your medium moist but not soaking wet. The air in your grow space should be kept warm, between 70-75 degrees Fahrenheit and with a relative humidity between 50-60 percent.
Use a thermometer/hygrometer to keep track of these factors at all times. As your plant adapts to its new environment, you will see new foliage sprouting forth. Your plants are now well into their vegetative stage of plant growth.
Final Hit: How To Germinate Cannabis Seeds
Now that you know how to germinate cannabis seeds, you’re ready to begin the process of growing your own weed. Just remember, provide light, food and water to your plants when they need it and keep the environment within acceptable levels of temperature and humidity. You’ll avoid so many problems by simply maintaining the proper parameters.
One last tip: Remember to label your seeds, seedlings and clones to avoid confusion and costly mistakes. Now get growing!