Everything you need to know how to quickly and successfully germinate cannabis seeds. Compare different methods of marijuana seeds germination and choose the best one Cannabis Seeds sprout easily with our step by step guides for germinating weed seeds in soil, water, tissue, rockwool, & more! Starting your seeds hydroponically has many benefits, but many people are unsure how to go about it.
How To Quickly And Successfully Germinate Cannabis Seeds
All cannabis plants, whether tall and lanky Sativa trees or compact and sturdy Indica bushes, start from a single weed seed. This tiny brown nut contains everything necessary to eventually yield hundreds or even thousands of grams of potent buds! However, to reach that point, it’s important to place the seed in a special environment that will trigger life inside it, crack the shell open, and let the roots and stalk out.
In this article, we’ll be explaining how to germinate cannabis seeds and tell you about the best ways to do it. Before we start though, it’s important to know what environment cannabis seeds are most likely to pop in. Since in nature, they germinate in spring, logically, you want to put them in conditions that mimic fertile ground in spring – think plenty of moisture, little light, and mildly warm temperatures of around 18-22 C (64-71 F). Now, you’re ready to learn about the best ways to germinate cannabis seeds. Let’s dive right in!
Main Methods Of Cannabis Seed Germination
The following three methods have proved to be some of the easiest as well as the most effective. This means each of them is a great way to help your cannabis seed to sprout.
Germinating Cannabis Seeds In Soil
When spread naturally, marijuana seeds germinate directly in soil. So, why not recreate the natural process? This method is great for beginners because of how few steps it requires. All you need to do is make a 1.5-2cm (0.5-1 inch)-deep hole in the soil, place your seed in it, and lightly cover it with more soil. Then, water the spot above the seed and keep an eye on it to make sure the area stays moist most of the time. It’s also a good idea to cover your starting pot loosely with a plastic bag or a wrap to keep the environment humid and warm until the seedling shows up from the soil. This method is preferred by many because it eliminates the stress of transplantation that, at times, can be too tough on fragile seedlings.
Cannabis Strains For Beginners
Germinating Weed Seeds In Water
If you’re not ready to get your hands dirty just yet, it’s fine! Some growers start their seeds in a glass of water. This method is easy and quite effective. Practice shows that germinating in water normally makes around 90% of weed seeds pop. This method is pretty self-explanatory – all you need to do is place your cannabis seeds in a glass of fresh water away from light. Usually, the nuts crack open on the second day. For older seeds, however, the process may take up to 7 days, which is also fine. After the taproot shows, the seed is ready to be planted. Some growers wait for the seeds to drown (about 24 hours in), then transfer them to a wet paper towel – the method we’ll be explaining next.
How To Germinate Marijuana Seeds In A Paper Towel
This next method is a true classic that’s been shared grower to grower for generations. It’s also pretty simple and has everything you need to maintain the perfect environment for cannabis seeds to pop. To use this method of germination, place your seeds on a clean paper towel, fold it over them, and spray the towel lightly with water. After that, put the moist towel on one plate and cover it with a second plate to keep the seeds in the dark and not let the moisture evaporate. That’s pretty much it! This method can also be modified and improved upon. For example, instead of a paper towel, you can use two cotton pads for each of the seeds – these will be easier to open when it comes to removing the seed. Instead of plates, you can also place your seeds in an airtight container or ziplock bag to ensure the moisture stays in the towel/cotton pads.
Easy-To-Grow Cannabis Strains
How To Germinate Cannabis Seeds In Cotton Wool
Start with making a layer of cotton wool moist but not dripping wet, so that the excess water won’t suffocate the seeds. Then place your seeds on top, cover them with another layer (also moist), and put everything in a dark place.
Make sure the cotton wool is covered and won’t dry out while the seeds germinate.
The difficulty with germinating cannabis seeds in cotton wool is that the emerging roots may get entangled in it. For this reason, it’s better to use cotton pads in which cotton is more compacted and there is less fiber sticking out.
How To Germinate Autoflower Seeds
Cannabis is cannabis, and germinating autoflower seeds is exactly the same as any other variety. Just make sure to use the most effective technique because with autos you don’t want to lose any time at any stage, including germination.
Also, autoflower growers often choose the straight-into-the-final-pot method of germination to spare their precious babies any shock of transplanting.
Alternative Methods Of Cannabis Seeds’ Germination
Now let’s move to the more modern methods of cannabis seeds germination. These aren’t necessarily better in terms of germination rate, but still have some pros as well as cons that we find important to explain.
Germinating Cannabis Seeds In Peat Pellets Or Starter Cubes
If you want to give your seeds special treatment and make them feel loved from the very first day in your grow op, you might want to get your hands on peat pellets or starter cubes. So, how do you germinate marijuana seeds in rapid rooters, peat pellets, and starter cubes? These are all individual plugs of peat or a special seed starter mix that are incredibly easy to use and don’t leave much room for error. In the case of peat pellets (you may also know them as jiffy pellets), all you need to do is soak them in warm water, which will make the pellets expand. Then, squeeze the excess moisture out and place your seed (pointy side down) inside the pellet. Starter cubes and rapid rooters don’t require squeezing, but whatever you choose, you need to make sure your medium is slightly moist at all times. One of the greatest advantages of this method is that the seed germinates in complete peace and doesn’t need to be transferred from the pellet/starter cube/rapid rooter. After the seedling is out, just plant it into the soil together with what you were germinating the seed in.
Fast Flowering Cannabis Seeds
If you’re wondering how to germinate marijuana seeds for hydroponics, peat pellets, unlike other methods from this article, aren’t suitable for hydroponic setups. However, the rest of the techniques we’ll be discussing can be used for both soil and soilless media.
Germinating Cannabis Seeds In Rockwool Cubes
If you’re growing your seeds in a hydroponic setup, you might want to look into rockwool cubes for germination. As a material, rockwool is inert, cheap, and easy to find. Fans of hydroponic grows often choose rockwool for its mold-resistant qualities. The process of germination in rockwool cubes is the same as described in the previous method: simply place a seed inside a cube, water it, and keep it moist until the seedling is out.
Even though many growers prefer using rockwool for germination of their cannabis seeds, this method has quite a few drawbacks. First of all, the pH of new rockwool is not suited for cannabis seeds. It’s far too high and needs to be lowered before use. That’s why rockwool requires soaking overnight in pH-ed water and properly rinsed afterward. The second drawback of using rockwool for germination is that it’s a synthetic material that’s bad for both your health and the environment. When working with rockwool, it’s advised to use gloves and protective masks, because little pieces of the material can easily get into your mouth, eyes, and even end up in your lungs. Lastly, germination rates for seeds placed in rockwool cubes aren’t that great either – you can wait for your seeds to pop for weeks without any result.
Cannabis seed germination methods comparison table
In this article, we’ve covered five main germination methods. To sum everything up, here’s a comparison chart that can help you decide on how to germinate your marijuana seeds.
How To Germinate Cannabis Seeds For Hydroponics
DWC systems have seen a huge rise in popularity among home growers, making the question of germinating cannabis seeds for hydroponics extremely relevant. Is it any different? Not really, because the basics stay the same. You can still start with the paper towel method or a glass of water. However, we suggest using either starter cubes or rockwool when germinating cannabis seeds for hydroponics, as this will take the risk of damaging the sprouts to the minimum.
Here’s what you’ll need to do:
- Soak your starter cubes or rockwool pieces in clean, pH-neutral water for an hour.
- Place a seed inside the cube.
- Put the starter cubes/rockwool cubes with seeds in them inside the grow tray.
- Fill the bottom of the grow tray with an inch (2.5cm) of clean water or a very light nutrient solution.
- Dial in the temperature (20-30C/69-89F) and humidity levels (80-90%).
- Keep the lid on for conditions close to a greenhouse.
That’s it! After a couple of days, you’ll see your sprouts emerging.
How Long Does It Take For Marijuana Seeds To Germinate?
Your preferred method won’t make much difference in how long it takes for marijuana seeds to germinate. What actually matters when it comes to germinating cannabis seeds quickly is the quality of the seeds, their genetics, and how old they are. Normally, fresh seeds of good quality will never take more than 5 days to show taproot. However, if your seeds have been waiting for their hour for a little too long, it may take them around 10 days to germinate. Luckily, this won’t affect any characteristics of the future plant.
How To Germinate Old Cannabis Seeds
There are several tricks for germinating old cannabis seeds, all of them aimed at making the shell softer or thinner to help the sprout break out:
- Germinating cannabis seeds with hydrogen peroxide. Before germinating old cannabis seeds, try soaking them in a glass of room-temperature water with a teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide mixed in. This solution will help rehydrate and soften the seed’s shell. After 24 hours in this solution, switch to your preferred germination method.
- Scarifying old seeds. This is another proven method of germinating old cannabis seeds. Try lining a small matchbox with sandpaper, placing the seeds in, and shaking them there for about a minute. This will cover the seeds in microfractures, making it much easier for the sprout to break through. After scarifying the seeds, use your preferred germination method.
Tips For Caring After Germinating Seeds And Seedlings
As we’ve already pointed out, cannabis seedlings are very gentle, and you need to be careful not to put them in any danger or stress. Use the following tips, and your seedlings will make it safely to the next stage of their lifecycle.
In order to germinate and survive the first days of life, cannabis seeds and seedlings need to be kept under certain conditions like warm temperature, high levels of humidity, darkness for seeds/lots of light for seedlings, and, of course, peace and quiet. Outdoor environments can therefore be too unpredictable – if the weather changes and brings heavy rain or wind, or if a bird or cat decides to try and snack on the seedling, the young plant most likely won’t survive and you’ll have to start all over. That’s why we recommend germinating your seeds and growing seedlings indoors, where you have full control over their environment.
Choose Soil For Seedlings Wisely
There’s a common term among growers used to describe soil extremely rich in nutrients, and that’s “hot”. While hot soil is beneficial for cannabis in general, especially when made and used correctly, hot nutrient-rich soils, or super soils, are not the best option for young marijuana seedlings. In the early stages of cannabis development, the plant’s nutrient needs are quite low, and too much of them can actually hurt the young plant’s health. So, make sure to use more neutral soil for seedlings. A good trick that you can implement in your practice is to cover nutrient-rich soils with a layer of a more neutral medium and plant the seedling in this upper layer. The plant will develop, and once it’s ready for bigger nutrient intake, its roots will reach the underlying “hotter” soil. Remember that the vegetative stage requires nitrogen-rich media.
Give Seedlings Enough Light
After spending so much time inside its dark shell, seedlings are hungry for light, and plenty of it! As we suggest starting your plants indoors, this means you’ll need to install a light to satisfy the seedlings’ needs. The vegetative stage of cannabis requires mostly blue light spectrum, so anything from fluorescent lamps to full-spectrum LEDs, 100W and up, will work fine for seedlings. Just make sure the light is placed close enough to the plants. The optimal distance for fluorescent lights is 5-6 inches (13-16cm) and 8-12 inches (20-30cm) for LEDs. In case the seedlings need more light, they will let you know by getting tall and leggy. This condition is dangerous for them, so make sure your baby plants are receiving enough light.
Keep Them In A Mini-Greenhouse
Finally, another nice touch to keep your sprouts safe and sound would be to provide them with a small improvised greenhouse of their own. Loosely covering the starting pots or pellets with a plastic bag will do the trick. However, in garden stores, you can also find specialized containers with tall transparent lids. Whatever you choose, this will help the seedlings stay warm, hydrated, and safe from any dangers of the outside world.
Is It Legal To Germinate Cannabis Seeds?
This is a tricky question to answer, as the situation depends on the jurisdiction of your country of residence.
If you’re a citizen of Canada, the U.S., the Netherlands, or Spain – all countries with lighter cannabis policies – it’s legal to germinate cannabis seeds. However, additional rules apply depending on what part of the country you live in and what seed type you want to germinate. Nonetheless, it’s safe to assume that germination of cannabis seeds is legal everywhere where it’s legal to grow cannabis, and especially if you’re planning to start a garden of medicinal marijuana, you likely won’t break any rules by germinating seeds of strains with THC content lower than 1%.
In other countries, governments may draw the line at germination. For example, in the UK, it’s legal to trade and keep cannabis seeds, but you have to be careful with their germination, as this is where the law gets broken.
In our blog, we’ve covered the legality of cannabis seeds and everything you can do to stay safe. For more information, check out the following articles:
- “Where in the World Is It Legal To Buy Cannabis Seeds?” for tips for residents of Europe, China, South Africa, New Zealand, Turkey, and more.
- “The Legality Of Cannabis And Its Seeds In The UK”
- “Is It Legal to Buy Cannabis Seeds in the USA?”
- “Canada Pot Laws”
What’s the best temperature for germinating cannabis seeds?
Cannabis seeds prefer a warm environment for germination, with the most optimal temperature being 25C (78F). However, it’s okay to add/subtract a couple of degrees from this number while still keeping the air warm.
What’s the best pH for germinating cannabis seeds?
The perfect pH for cannabis seed germination is between 5.5-6.0.
What’s the best soil for germinating cannabis seeds?
It’s better to use light, easily drainable soil for germinating seeds, as this will not restrain the growing sprout. The soil for germination and seedlings should also be neutral or very light on nutrients – “hot” and nutrient-rich soils are only suitable for mature cannabis plants.
What’s the best humidity level for germinating cannabis seeds?
The germination stage requires high humidity levels of 80-90%.
What’s the fastest way to germinate cannabis seeds?
All methods described in this article are more or less the same in terms of the speed of germination. Much more depends on the freshness of your seeds – the fresher the seeds, the sooner they will germinate.
Do weed seeds need light to germinate?
Weed seeds germinate in the dark. So, even after you put a germinated seed in soil, you can keep the lights off. Until the seed pops up through the surface, that is.
Will cracked seeds germinate?
The protective shell on seeds is there for a reason, so any cracks or chips decrease the chances of successful germination. However, much depends on how long ago the crack appeared. And, anyway, it never hurts to try.
How long for cannabis seeds to break soil?
If you put a dry seed into wet soil, don’t expect the sprout to appear sooner than 60 hours. For pre-soaked beans or those that were put into the soil when they had shown a taproot, this may happen earlier. Sometimes in as little as 12 hours.
Cannabis seeds sold in reputable seed shops sprout very fast. Seeds that are old or have been stored improperly may take up to 10 days to sprout.
Starting Off Right
Now you can see that growing marijuana from seed isn’t at all that hard. Just remember to give your seeds enough TLC and dial in some environmental conditions to fit their needs. We’ve shown you some of the easiest and most effective methods of germinating pot seeds. Which one is your personal favorite? Let us and fellow growers know in the comments below.
Herbies Head Shop expressly refuses to support the use, production, or supply of illegal substances. For more details read our Legal Disclaimer.
I’m trying my first seeds using the glass of water method, some seeds have sunk to the bottom and some are floating, are the floating ones no good?
If you lightly “tap” the floaters after they’ve soaked overnight, they’ll sink, they just weren’t heavy enough to break the surface. If they float back up, let them soak another day and tap it. If it still floats, you may have an issue. However, I’ve experienced floaters and after the overnight soak, every floater I needed to tap, sank, and germinated fine.
I used a cotton pad, wet in clear container w/ saran wrap over put in sunlight and after first day checked every 12hrs, and they cracked on the 2nd day. worked well
Hello Keepinit, we are happy to hear that our article is useful to the growers, we wish you best of luck in your hobby!
what i find the most effective way is placing in a coffee filter then putting a coffee filter on top, then put on a plate and place a cup over the seeds and coffee filters and keep moist until germination occurs
What’s the longest you’ve ever had to wait for a seed to germinate and still had a normal, healthy plant? I’ve had 100% success the last 4 strains I’ve germ’ed with seedlings showing in 3-5 days. Recently got 10 Northern Lights seeds from a local vendor, and the first three went 15 days and nothing. I retried with two more and I’m on day 8 and still nothing. Maybe just a bad batch of seeds.. I’m behind schedule now for my next grow!
most good and healthy seeds sprout after a couple days, some older seeds take longer. I usually give them a couple of days to germinate if i still see no signs after 5-6 days i start to get worried.
15 days is a lot. I’ve waited a week at most, longer than that u will see the seed get darker, kinda sluggish nd swelled, that’s a dead seed decomposing, sometimes they just flood
How’s it going? I’m new to the game and was wondering the best way of altering PH level of water? I have an abundance of 500ml bottled water that has a PH of 7.9, a good way off the optimal PH 6 required I know, but is there a way of adding solution to each bottle separately and if so any suggestions of best solution to use? Thanks.
Yes there is ph tester for water that takes drops to test which is the most efficient way to test ph. Also to adjust the ph you want to get ph-up or ph- down I believe general hydroponics is the company for it.
The pic at the top is wrong ,the seed is up side down pistols or the hairs should come out of the seed butt hole that’s how the pollen gets in .2 hairs pair seed one for seed the other for the food sac ,
What happens to Seeds overtime they dry out and the carbohydrate that’s inside of them to feed them becomes weaker. As far as the potency of genetics that does not change however I recommend soaking all Seed between 12 and 24 hours. I use of seed starter MassiveGro invented formula pH to round 5.8 I pour about a quarter inch in a cup put my seeds in there put the next couple on top of it to force them down into the liquid. Occasionally give them a shake you don’t want them to be floating when you plant them. Then I soak my paper towel are use the nice cotton felt like paper towels I think a Brauny or veva with that seed starter formula pour the seed right onto it a ring out the excess moisture put it in a 1 gallon freezer bag place bag up high where it is 80° or put it on the heat mat with a thermostat and check it after one day because it’ll sprout fast. I like to let the sprout get a half inch long and then plant it The biggest problem you have with old seed is the lack of carbohydrate it may sprout then usually burn up all it has and die right away. Unless your seeds got hot you probably won’t have any problem unless they’re more than four years old. Old seed you can assist the carbohydrate by watering the soil with potato water a few drops of corn syrup or a fish fertilizer soak and Endo Mycorrhiza sprinkled around the seed. NPK industries wrong line of Omina is a good gentle amino acid helps break down substances so plants uptake faster when everything’s good I usually mix half strength of the weak dosage. NPK raw stuff can be bought on Amazon in small 2 ounce packages there everything’s pretty concentrated usually last you quite a while. But This is where a seed starter formula comes in because it usually has the carbohydrate to keep it going right away. I use pro mix BX with added perlite and when plants are tiny etc. I always measure my water and times with measuring spoons till a plant is healthy pro mix keeps plants from damning off as long as you’re not drenching it right away because it doesn’t dry out very fast easiest way to kill seeds to drowned it that’s why I measure watering and write it down I don’t try to push or stress my plants I either used seed starter fertilizer or plain pH water until they are about 6 inches high before a poor nutrients to them and once a week I do a full soil drench and drain prior to that you’re probably talking tablespoon or two of Water. Never let your pH get above 6.4 you lock out nutrients and you also root slower, once your plants are growing an strong between the 6 inch and 12 inch stage I’ll use about two weeks of red light will actually give you more roots. You can go to in NPK-University.com sign up for Harley Smith’s advanced grow you won’t be sorry Harley is like the master of the world lol
How to germinate marijuana seeds
Germination begins the life of your plant, so it is essential to understand precisely how to do it. There are many methods for germinating marijuana seeds – some more successful than others.
This guide will discuss the many ways to germinate your seeds as well as some strategies for ensuring you get the best results possible. But if even the right methods fail I stand by my seeds and replace non-germinated seeds for free.
About germinating cannabis seeds
Too long to read? Watch the video
It starts with the seed
Like all plants, marijuana starts as a seed. What looks like a pebble is actually an entire plant conveniently stored with a few days supplies of food to support itself. During germination, this food is converted into sugars that the plant uses to break through its shell and form its roots. From that point forward, the young seedling depends on its environment to provide the nutrients it will need to survive.
Germination brings a seed out of its slumber and triggers the growth process. A seed will begin germinating once it receives enough moisture.
At that point, it will increase in size and break open its shell. A germ opening forms and a root will emerge, which will help the plant absorb nutrients from the earth.
Nature and gravity ensure that the root grows downwards and the stem upward, creating a young seedling that can survive off light and earth.
Since all marijuana grows from a cannabis seed, many people want to know how to identify a healthy seed.
Honestly, it is difficult to tell if a plant will be healthy based on its seed alone. There are, however some tell-tell signs.
Planning your first grow? Check out my easy beginner seeds and grab an all-in-one Pot for Pot solution
Generally speaking, a pale-green, white, or very dark marijuana seed may have trouble germinating well. But this does not always reflect the outcome of the plant and is always worth trying.
If you are unable to use all of your seeds, store them in a cool, dark and dry place until you can. A refrigerator is ideal.
Planning for germination
Seeds are designed to germinate, but they are more likely to do so if given the ideal environment. There are many methods of germination, but they will all require:
- Moisture to help the seed expand and break through its shell
- Minimal interference so that delicate structures aren’t accidentally broken that mimic springtime (between 20°-22° Celsius or 68°-72° Fahrenheit)
If you remember these three things, your germination attempts are more likely to be successful.
It should go without saying that successful germination is important. Your seed is the foundation for your plants – which is why many successful growers choose to start with high-quality seeds.
You can also improve your germination attempts (and possibly speed up the process) by soaking your seeds in 1% hydrogen peroxide or a compost tea solution for 12 hours before using them. This process will kill any infectious agents.
3 Simple ways to germinate your seeds
The best germination method is the one that works for you, and if you are like me, you’re going to want something simple and natural.
My favorite way to germinate seeds is a 24-water soak followed by soil germination, but something else may work better for you. Here are three of the easiest ways to germinate seeds.
Germinate seeds directly in soil
Planting your seeds in the soil that you intend to grow in is the most common and often, most successful method of germinating marijuana seeds.
This method is perfect for ensuring young seeds have minimal interference since the fragile root is protected by the soil. It’s also the most natural way for marijuana plants to grow.
How to plant marijuana seeds directly in soil
The first step in learning how to plant marijuana seeds directly in soil is to first make sure you use the right type. Use mildly fertilized potting soil or a seed starter. It should have a pH of approximately 6.
This type of soil will have spores and minerals that help young marijuana plants thrive. Do not add nutrients – potting soil has enough nutrients for at least the first two weeks of the plant’s life.
If you add any more nutrients, you risk killing your seedlings due to a nutrient overdose. Place your soil in a small pot.
In my free Grow Bible you will find even more tips for sprouting seeds and how to germinate weed seeds
- Grow with my Quick Start Guide
- Discover secrets to Big Yields
- Avoid common grow mistakes
Steps to germinating cannabis seeds
To prepare the soil for your seed, push your finger into it to create a small hole that is up to 1.5cm (0.6 inches) deep.
You can also use a pen or pencil.
- Place one seed into the prepared hole and cover it with soil. If you’ve already germinated, the seed will have a root – place the root facing downward (more on that later).
- After you’ve covered your seed with loose soil, do not mess with it.
- That includes pushing it down further – this will happen naturally as you water it.
- Use a plant sprayer to moisten the soil and place the pots under a fluorescent lamp.
- Don’t use a windowsill, because the temperature is not stable enough for germination.
- The temperature of the soil should be 22° Celsius or 72° Fahrenheit which is easy to achieve with lighting.
- Keep monitoring your soil to make sure it stays moist.
- Within a week (or as little as 4 days) you should start seeing stems emerge from the soil. You now have a seedling!
- Once your plants are 2 to 4 inches tall (5 to 10 centimeters), transplant your plants into a larger pot with the stems further in the ground. Your plant will now have many roots that will support it for the rest of its life.
Germinate seeds in water
As I mentioned above, germinating in water is my favorite way to start my seeds.
It may seem like a bad idea, as there are more water and light than recommended when using this method, but it works! I’ve found that it is around 90% effective.
The “trick” is not leaving the seeds in water too long.
Usually, 24 to 48 hours is enough for the seeds to show their tail, but you can leave them soaking for up to 7 days without too much of a worry.
Water germination is useful because it assures that there is the right amount of moisture to begin germinating.
If done for just a short period, it can help crack open the shell, pre-sprouting the plant right before your eyes.
Water germination shortens the process by making it easier for the plant rather than having to push through the soil.
- To germinate with water, fill a glass with tap water and allow it to reach room temperature over a few hours.
- The temperature should be around 18° C or 65° F. Do not add nutrients. Drop 2 to 3 cannabis seeds into the water and watch for any changes.
- Refill the glass with fresh water every other day while maintaining its temperature.
After about 2 to 4 days the seeds should start to split.
You can place your seeds in the soil at any point, but once the roots are 3 to 5 mm (.1 to .2 inches) long, they must be planted.
These are the basic instructions from my store that I share with new growers:
As much as I prefer to germinate my seeds in water, it does have its downside.
At some point, you will need to handle your seeds, and this is risky. Germinating seeds are delicate, and the roots are especially fragile. If you harm them in any way, your plant might not develop well.
Be very careful when placing your sprouted seed into the soil, and if possible place the root facing down.
Germinate with cotton pads or paper towels
Another easy way of germinating your seeds is to use cotton pads or paper towels.
This is a common way of doing it because cotton pads or paper towels can keep the seeds moist and protected.
While cotton pads (or balls) or the best for this method, cheap, non-porous paper towels will work as well.
Just make sure they are plain single-ply paper towels – the cloth-like ones may cause your roots to grow into the towel.
- To germinate using cotton pads, place a few seeds between two cotton pads and moisten with a plant sprayer.
- When using a paper towel, place the seeds in between two paper towels and store the towel-cushioned seeds in between two plates, under an upside-down bowl or in a plastic bag.
- Keep the temperature around 22° Celsius, or 72° Fahrenheit, and (once again) do not place the seeds on a windowsill.
- In about 2 to 5 days, the seeds will start to split open, and a tiny root should appear.
- Place them in the soil when they are 3-5 mm or 0.1- 0.2 inches long.
Read my free Grow Bible to learn more about germination and caring for your plant.
- Grow with my Quick Start Guide
- Discover secrets to Big Yields
- Avoid common grow mistakes
Like the water method, germinating this way has its risk. If you are not careful, you can damage fragile roots while transporting them to the soil. You can also tangle the root in the wet paper towel if you are not extremely careful.
Explore the beginner cannabis seeds in my shop and start germinating your first seeds!
Use your fingers or tweezers to move delicate sprouts, and don’t allow the root to grow too long before moving it into the soil.
Other germination methods
Water, soil, and cotton pads or paper towels are the easiest ways to germinate your seeds, but they aren’t the only ways. You can also use starter cubes or plugs for germinating cannabis seeds. Simply drop the seed in, add water, and wait for it to germinate.
They aren’t always as successful, but they eliminate the risk of damaging your root when transporting a young sprout to its final growing home.
Below are two types of starter materials that can safely germinate your seeds.
Germinating seeds in rockwool
Rockwool provides the perfect environment for germinating seeds.
It is mineral wool that is made from volcanic rock and other materials (such as basalt and limestone). Rockwool is man-made by melting its ingredients into molten lava that is quickly spun into threads. These threads are then compacted, cured, and cut.
Rockwool is an ideal growing environment, but it will need to be amended slightly for marijuana plants.
First of all, you will need to add some fertilizer before you use it to start seeds. The TDS should be around 600ppm. You’ll also need to lower the pH since Rockwool has a pH of 7.0, which is too high for germination.
To lower the pH, soak Rockwool plugs in water for at least a day. Since water has a pH of 5.5, this will bring down the pH.
It should also be noted that there are some serious drawbacks to using Rockwool.
Because it does not occur naturally, it’s not the best for the environment.
It’s also not the greatest for your health; wear gloves and cover your mouth and eyes when handling this stuff.
Because of the extra steps involved (such as adjusting the nutrients and pH) and handling issues, this method is not recommended for beginners, although it is not terribly difficult to do.
You’ll need to purchase and TDS meters for the most successful germination, but outside of that, the material is very affordable and easy to find.
Because it does not require soil, this method is ideal for those who plan to grow hydroponically.
Germinating seeds in peat pellets
Peat pellets are another way to germinate seeds without the risk of damaging young roots.
Peat pellets are compressed peat, which is made of partially decomposed vegetable matter and is simply yummy for young plants.
The pellet enlarges when you add water to it, forming a container of nutrient-dense soil alternative around germinating seeds.
Unlike Rockwool, peat is already optimized for cannabis germination.
It has a pH of 5.5 and a TDS of 625, so you don’t have to worry about making any adjustments. The only preparation required is soaking the pellets in warm water.
Once the roots become visible, (by popping out of the peat), simply move the entire pellet into the soil, rock wool, or coco coir, where it will continue growing.
This type of germination is not recommended for hydroponic setups.
Peat pellets have a good germination rate, are easy to use, and are suitable for beginners. They are also ideal for cloning.
I recommend the Jiffy brand of peat pellets which can be purchased on Amazon.
In addition to the material used to germinate your seeds, the grow environment you provide will play a huge role as well.
Your seeds will need the correct temperature and levels of moisture to sprout into a strong, healthy plant.
“Weak plants are the result of weak seeds and poor growing conditions.”
Below are some tips for creating the perfect germination environment.
How to water sprouting seeds
Watering is essential throughout the cannabis life cycle, and germination is no exception.
Not enough water and your seeds do not germinate, too much and that root doesn’t survive.
Excess water keeps oxygen from the roots and can attract mold, which is why you have to be very careful not to overdo it.
When germinating weed seeds indoors using soil or another growing medium it is relatively easy to monitor the water levels. You should water your seed until you see water dripping out from below (and not more).
Even though the seedling cannot absorb that much water, it will evaporate quite quickly, so you need to make sure there is always enough around.
If you water it until it reaches this point, it should supply enough moisture for a few days.
Lighting and temperature
Like water, lighting is essential to a cannabis plant. In a mature plant, light enables the plant to form sugars from carbon dioxide and water.
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The plant then uses those sugars to power its growth – something we humans call photosynthesis.
For a seed, lighting is important as well because it provides heat, which a seed needs to push open its shell and send its root into the earth.
The best way to give your seeds the temperature it needs is with fluorescent lights. (T5 high output with a color temperature of 6500K).
Fluorescent lights are ideal because they do not use too much power, and they don’t give off too much heat.
You can place them as close to a young plant as you need, and although your seed doesn’t need it at this point, it will as soon as those first leaves start peeking out from the top of the soil.
Incandescent bulbs can also be used because they are great at generating heat. You can’t use them as grow lights, but for germination, they work just fine.
You can also use a seedling heating pad (available at most gardening stores). These heat the seeds from the bottom instead of the top. They will not be enough once your plant has started growing, however.
Keep the temperature of the soil around 72 degrees.
Seeds germinate best in warm, humid temperatures, similar to springtime.
To create a humid environment, wrap plastic wrap around your pot, creating a biodome for your plants. Just remember to remove the plastic wrap the minute you see any sprouts emerge from the soil.
If the soil, or water, or whatever you are growing in is hotter than 72 degrees Fahrenheit, move the lamp further away from the plant.
Dry air won’t kill seedlings, but if you can reduce it, even better.
Where to germinate seeds
When you’re planning your outdoor grow and you received your seeds, it’s best to germinate them indoors. This is because indoors it is much easier to maintain the correct temperature, water levels, and light exposure.
Even if you plan to grow your plants outdoors, you do not want to try starting them outside (unless you absolutely need to).
Outdoors you must worry about rain, clouds, and plenty of other things that could keep your seeds from sprouting.
You’ll also have to wait until the final frost has passed, meaning your growing season may be delayed compared to if you had started the seeds inside.
Starting indoors gives you a head start and your plants a better chance at survival.
If you still plan to germinate outdoors, choose a location that will support the plant its entire life. You will not be moving the plant so choose wisely.
- Plant seeds when corn is typically planted in your area.
- Dig 6x6x6 holes at least three feet apart and fill them with potting soil.
- This will give the seeds enough nutrients to start.
- Then, dig a small, quarter-inch deep hole into the potting soil and drop the seed in.
- Soak that soil with water, and water it again in a few days if the weather is warm enough.
- You can use row covers to protect your seeds and keep the area warm but be careful to not leave them on too long – young plants will need the light once they break through the soil.
In my free Grow Bible you will find even more tips for sprouting seeds and how to germinate pot seeds
Hydroponic Seed Starting 101: A Primer for Beginners
Starting your seeds hydroponically has many benefits, but many people are unsure how to go about it. Shannon McKee gives us a primer on the basics of starting your own seeds to expand on what you’re currently growing.
Many people skip starting their own seeds because of the time and effort to get them started, but there are some great reasons to start your own seeds hydroponically. It’s so much easier to just go to the store to pick up some seedlings to pop into your system and get growing, right? Well, store-bought seedlings do have some downsides that can be avoided if you start your own.
The first is that you’re limited to what you can grow in your system. You have to choose from the options available at the store. However, if you start your own seeds, you can grow anything. This means you can grow your favorite heirlooms or even rare plants that aren’t found at many nurseries.
Adding seeds to your hydroponic system means that they won’t go through any trauma or root damage from being transplanted into your system. This process may also introduce diseases or bugs into your hydroponic system from the store.
Also, you get the satisfaction of growing a plant from a tiny seed rather than just picking up a seedling. Plus, a packet of seeds can grow a number of plants for just a few bucks, whereas the cost of only one seedling can be the same amount.
Seeds are also more cost-effective than buying one or two seedlings in the long run, as you can save some for the following year. The germination rate can decrease over time, but often, you can still get quite a few to sprout over the years until you have to buy your next seed packet.
What You Need to Start Seeds in a Hydroponic System
The first time you start your own seeds for your hydroponic system may be a bit more expensive at the beginning because you need to buy more materials than in future years. Seeds need water, light, oxygen, and heat to grow. You really don’t need anything too special to grow your own seeds.
You can use a grow tray with a dome for your own miniature greenhouse to create an ideal environment. If you’ll be growing your seeds in an area that is cooler, you may want to invest in a heating mat that goes underneath the grow tray to keep it warm as this is a necessary condition for sprouting to occur. Light is good to have as well as this will help your seeds sprout.
Inside of your grow tray, it can be beneficial to use a pot that works for your seeds and their future as seedlings in your hydroponic set-up. You’ll want to use starter cubes, such as those made of stonewool (rockwool). The key here is to use something that can withstand being immersed in water without dissolving, as it could clog up your system after transplanting.
Step by Step Instructions for Sprouting Seeds in a Hydroponic System
- The first thing that you’ll want to do is to soak your starter cubes in clean water for about an hour. After they’ve been given a chance to soak, put a few seeds into the cube’s hole. You’ll want to add several just in case you have some seeds that don’t germinate. Once they sprout, you can thin out the weaker plants to allow the strongest to grow.
- Prepare your grow tray with about an inch of clean water or nutrient solution that is at half strength. Arrange the light source and heating mat as needed. You can keep the lid on to keep the heat and moisture in the tray.
- Put these planted cubes into the grow tray and add water or the half strength nutrient solution as the level goes down in the grow tray.
- After about four days, you’ll start to see some sprouts emerging.
Some people prefer to use a Ziploc bag, rather than a grow tray, when trying to get the seeds to germinate as it functions like a greenhouse. Seal the bag with a little bit of air and put it in a dark place for about four days to get the seeds sprouted. Then, you can put the starter cubes with sprouted seeds into the grow tray.
Step by Step Instructions on Transplanting
Keep your tiny seedlings growing strong with your hydroponic nutrient solution. Once they’ve gotten bigger, you don’t have to make the nutrient solution half strength.
You’ll start to see the seedlings’ roots coming out of the bottom of the cube, and this is the sign you’ve been waiting for, as it means you can start transplanting. This can take about two to four weeks depending on what plants you’re growing.
Clear up a spot in your hydroponic system’s growing media for the seedling – cube and all. Gently transfer the starter cube into your growing media, and cover it gently.
Give the root system a chance to naturally seek out the water and nutrients in your system by top watering it for a few days to give it a chance to grow the root system.
Voila! You grew your own seedlings into a strong plant for your hydroponic system. Depending on the type of plant, you’ll be able to get your first harvest about four to eight weeks from the time you transplanted your seedlings.
Cut out the dependency of only being able to grow the types of plants that are available as seedlings at your favorite gardening store. Take a little extra time to nurture your seeds so that they become strong seedlings ready to transplant into your system. You’ll be able to take pride in your efforts with how healthy your plants are and your overall system’s health.