Learning how to germinate cannabis seeds is the first step to growing marijuana, but it's not as easy as many aspiring cultivators think. Jorge Cervantes, veteran marijuana cultivator and author of “The Cannabis Encyclopedia” shares his process for germinating cannabis seeds into healthy sprouts. 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.
How To Germinate Cannabis Seeds
Cultivating cannabis from a seed is not as easy as many beginner growers might think. Various factors are involved which will ultimately determine if the cultivator is successful and has a large harvest, or if they fail and have to go back to the drawing board. Learning how to germinate cannabis seeds is the first step to becoming a cultivator.
Some cannabis cultivators prefer to start with cannabis clones versus marijuana seeds. Each route has its own advantages, however, seeds are typically easier to acquire than clones. While clones and seeds will both do the trick, seeds also seem to be a more popular route in many areas.
It’s worth noting that purchasing cannabis seeds online is illegal and often results in less than desirable seeds being acquired by the buyer. Look for legal cannabis seed options in your area. Many reputable licensed cannabis dispensaries sell cannabis seeds, with strain options varying.
How Do You Know If A Cannabis Seed Is Viable?
If you consume cannabis long enough, chances are you will come across a seed in your cannabis flower. Whether you want to try to germinate the seed immediately, or save it for down the road, it is important that you know if the cannabis seed is viable to be germinated or not.
Viable cannabis seeds tend to have a darker color with shades of grey, black, and/or brown. A really good cannabis seed will typically have a ‘tiger stripe’ across it. Another way to tell if a cannabis seed is viable is by touching it (make sure to wear gloves when handling cannabis seeds). A quality seed should withstand a bit of a pinch. If the seed collapses under a little pressure, then it wasn’t viable.
How Do You Germinate Cannabis Seeds?
Germinating marijuana seeds is not difficult, although it does take attention to detail and the right environment. Successful germination takes the right amount of moisture, the right temperature, and a decent amount of light (sunlight or artificial light from low-intensity grow lights).
Arguably the easiest and most cost-effective way to germinate a cannabis seed is to place it between wet paper towels (often referred to as “the paper towel germination method”). Add a bit of water to the paper towels and squeeze out the excess water.
You want the paper towels to be moist but not dripping water. Place the seed(s) between the moist paper towels, place the paper towels in a sandwich bag to lock in the moisture, and put it on a window ledge where it will get some but not too much light. Keep the paper towels moist until the germinated cannabis seeds are ready to transplant.
If the temperature of the room is too cold (below 55 degrees Fahrenheit), consider using a heating mat, which can be found at most department stores in the gardening section. The success rate of the paper towel method is high as long as the cultivator keeps a close eye on the process until the germinated seed is ready to be transplanted into potting soil, peat pellets, or a different growing medium.
Various products such as “rapid rooters” can be incorporated into germination strategies, however, they are not as cost-effective as the paper towel method.
When Is The Seed Ready To Be Transplanted?
Watching a cannabis seed germinate can be a lot like waiting for water to boil — it takes time (typically a couple of weeks). The seeds will eventually crack open and a white root will shoot out of the cracked cannabis seed shell. The white root is often referred to as the taproot. Once your sprouting seed has a strong taproot (an inch or so) it is ready to be transplanted.
Find a two-inch container for your grow space, fill it full of soil (or your preferred growing medium), and poke a hole where the seed will be placed. Using tweezers, place the seed with the taproot facing down in the hole. Then, cover it with soil.
From there, you can grow the cannabis seed into a large cannabis plant. One downfall to cultivating cannabis from seed is that you won’t know if the marijuana plants are male or female for several weeks. If the young plant proves to be male, then it is basically useless. Using feminized cannabis seeds is a good way to ensure that the plants are not males, saving you quite a bit of time and headache.
Continuing Your Education
Cultivating cannabis is a never-ending educational journey. Even the most experienced cannabis cultivators will be quick to tell you that they are always learning and seeking out cultivation information.
A great way to learn more about the cannabis cultivation process from seed to harvest is via Green Flower’s Cannabis Cultivation Certificate Program. The program is led by true cultivation experts and involves insightful course materials. If you are looking to increase your cultivation knowledge this is a great way to do it!
How to Grow Weed: Germinating Cannabis Seeds
Jorge Cervantes shares his process for germinating cannabis seeds into healthy sprouts.
The gardening season is booming in North America, and it’s high time to start some tiny seeds that can grow into potent plants, says Jorge Cervantes, veteran marijuana cultivator and author of “The Cannabis Encyclopedia”.
1) Soak seeds overnight in a glass of plain water. They may float on the surface at first but should sink to the bottom in a few minutes. Make sure seeds get good and wet so that water penetrates the outer shell and growth is activated. Do not let seeds soak for more than 24 hours, or they might get too wet, suffer oxygen deprivation and subsequently rot.
2) Remove seeds from the water. Pour water out onto two paper (or cloth) towels on a dinner plate. Fold the towels over the seeds to cover them.
3) Drain the water from the dinner plate by tipping it to the side.
4) Place the seeds in a warm location (70°F–80°F; 21°C–27°C), making sure they are in darkness. Some gardeners go so far as to set the plate in a vertical position (so taproot grows downward). The seeds can also be set on a grate for drainage and air circulation.
5) Check moisture level of towels several times a day, watering once or twice to keep them evenly moist. DO NOT LET THE TOWELS DRY OUT! Let excess water drain away freely. The paper or cloth towels will retain enough moisture to germinate the seeds in a few days. Each seed contains an adequate food supply for germination. Prevent fungal attacks by watering with a mild 2 percent bleach or organic fungicide solution.
6) In a few days, seeds will sprout. Once the germinating cannabis seeds have sprouted and each seed’s white rootlet is visible, use tweezers to carefully pick up the fragile, germinated seeds and plant them. Do not wait for the white rootlets to grow more than 0.25 inches (1 cm) before planting, or growth could slow. Plant each germinated seed with the white root tip pointing downward. Take care not to expose the tender rootlet to prolonged light and air. Cover germinated seeds with 0.25 to 0.5 inches (1-2 cm) of fine, moist planting medium.
Other Tips for Germinating Cannabis Seeds
Over and under-watering are the biggest obstacles most gardeners face when germinating seeds and growing seedlings. Keep the soil uniformly moist but not waterlogged. Do not let the growing medium’s surface dry for long. Setting root cubes or planting flats on a grate allows good drainage.
A shallow flat or planter with a heat pad underneath may require daily watering, while a deep, 1-gallon (3.8 liter) pot will need watering every three days or more. A properly watered flat of rockwool cubes needs water every three to five days when sprouting seeds.
When the growing medium’s surface is dry (0.25 inches [1 cm] deep), it is time to water. Remember, there are few roots to absorb the water early in life and they are very delicate.
Some seeds have a very hard outer shell (testa) and are difficult to germinate. Such testy cases can be softened or scarified to allow water to penetrate. To scarify, line a matchbox with a piece of fine-grain sandpaper or emery board. Put the seeds in the matchbox and shake for 10 to 15 seconds. Remove the seeds and make sure they have been scuffed a bit. Just a little scuffing will allow water to enter and set germination in motion.
1) Set seeds in a matchbox with an emery board or sandpaper on the bottom.
2) Close seeds inside the matchbox.
3) Shake matchbox for 10 to 15 seconds to scarify the seeds.
This is an excerpt from “The Cannabis Encyclopedia” by Jorge Cervantes, world-renowned indoor, outdoor and greenhouse cannabis cultivator. A veteran marijuana grower, Cervantes brings 30 years of experience traveling, studying and writing to bear in his best work to date.
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!