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germinating marijuana seeds in water

Moist vs Soaked cannabis seed germination test

What’s the best way to germinate cannabis seeds? Let’s pursue our germination test series with another critical matter: should the seeds be placed in moist conditions, or is it better to completely soak the seeds to ensure the highest germination rates and the fastest germination speed? The answer may surprise you!

Moist vs Soaked cannabis seed germination video

To assess moist vs soaked germination conditions, Dutch Passion made a side-by-side germination test. 15 cannabis seeds were attempted to be germinated in soaked conditions and 15 seeds germinated in moist conditions. Does adding too much water to your cannabis seed germination help improve germination rates, or does it have a dramatically negative effect? The video, below, shows exactly what happened.

As shown by the video, perfect germination occurred when the cannabis seeds were germinated between lightly sprayed (i.e. moist) cotton pads. All 15 seeds germinated perfectly. However, of the 15 seeds that were placed between soaked (saturated) cotton pads, only 3 seeds were able to survive. The others showed brown coloration on the embryonic root, this is a sign that the root had started to rot in the waterlogged conditions.

How much water should you use to germinate cannabis seeds?

In the Dutch Passion ‘moist vs soaked’ cannabis seed germination experiment, some simple cotton pads were used. This is usually a reliable way to germinate seeds, whether you are using feminised seeds, regular seeds or autoflower seeds. Note that for the successfully germinated seeds in moist conditions, a minimum amount of water was used and delivered the best results. Just 3 light water mist sprays were given to each cotton pad.

The advantages and logic of germinating cannabis seeds in moist conditions

For the 15 cannabis seeds that successfully germinated in moist conditions, we ensured that the cotton pads were lightly sprayed (3 times for the lower cotton pad, 3 times for the upper pad).

The key principle is that cannabis seeds need only a small amount of moisture to soften the shell casing and allow a root to emerge into a moist, oxygenated environment. Once the root has emerged, access to oxygen is just as important as access to moisture. The root needs very little moisture at this stage.

Cannabis roots, healthy cannabis roots ensure a healthy cannabis plant

The disadvantages and problems caused by trying to germinate cannabis seeds in soaked conditions

Of the 15 cannabis seeds that attempted to germinate in soaked cotton pads, only 3 survived. That’s because the waterlogged conditions simply didn’t provide enough oxygen for the root to grow.

Both the upper and lower cotton pads were soaked in water and the seeds were placed in-between. The soaked conditions allowed the shell casing to soften and open. However, as soon as the roots started to emerge, most of them simply started to rot and die. The easiest way to spot this is via the brown discolouration the root tip.

This is usually a sign of root damage, and for freshly germinated seeds this is often fatal. Even if the seedling survives, with root damage the plant may be permanently stunted only allowing a small, poor yielding plant to grow.

Soaking cannabis seeds during germination causes them to stagnate.

Dutch Passion advice on cannabis seed germination

There are many different ways to germinate cannabis seeds. We should also remember that cannabis seeds have found ways to germinate for thousands of years without human intervention.

But since cannabis home growing became so widely adopted, many growers want to aim for the very highest germination rates that they can achieve. If you are buying the best cannabis seeds at premium prices, you may want to get your seed germination rates as high as you can possibly get them.

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For that reason, the Dutch Passion team recommend the cotton pad seed germination method. Remember to lightly spray the upper and lower cotton pads only 3 times each to create moist conditions. Adding more water, and soaking the cotton pads will only decrease your germination rates.

How to germinate cannabis seeds in cotton pads?
How to germinate cannabis seeds in soil?
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If you are serious about giving your cannabis seeds and seedlings the best possible start in life then the following blog is essential reading. It explains how to avoid the top-10 mistakes made by growers with seeds and seedlings.

Germinating cannabis seeds in moist cotton pads results

In the Dutch Passion cotton pad seed germination video 5 cannabis seeds were placed in-between 2 cotton pads. Each cotton pad had been lightly sprayed with 3 squirts from a simple water mist spray bottle. To evaluate the seed germination test properly, a total of 15 seeds were germinated with 100% germination rates.

Note that the moist cotton pads were placed on a dinner plate and the plate was sealed with transparent kitchen film. This ensured that the moist cotton pads didn’t dry out. If this happened, the germinated seeds would eventually die. The experiment took 4 days, though many home growers would perhaps inspect after the germination after a couple of days and re-plant the germinated seedlings into a grow container.

Germinating cannabis seeds in soaked cotton pads results

Experienced cannabis growers know the dangers presented by soaked/saturated seed germination conditions. That’s why many of them avoid using e.g. toilet tissue, which can hold a lot of water and not drain well. In the Dutch Passion moist vs soaked seed germination video, only 3 of the seeds just about survived the waterlogged conditions. All the rest were ruined by the soaked/saturated germination conditions.

Once the root emerges from the seed, it needs a certain level of aeration in order to survive. Leaving cannabis roots in waterlogged conditions inevitably results in root rot. That’s why so many growers find that they achieve superior results when using grow containers (e.g. air pots or felt sacks) that offer superior root aeration levels. Experienced growers know that overwatering plants or seedlings can stunt growth, and in worst cases kill the plant.

The main message for growers is that it is very easy to get low germination rates even from perfectly viable cannabis seed simply by using germination conditions that are too wet/soaked. To get the best germination rates, use moist conditions. Never use soaking wet conditions for cannabis seed germination. If the root emerges and spends too long in these saturated conditions the seed/seedling will die.

Germination of cannabis seeds

The first stage for any grower is germinating the seeds. To achieve best results, we should use healthy, quality cannabis seeds. All seeds from Philosopher Seeds come in labeled packages with a batch identification number, so the product tracking is much easier.

Although seeds do not need much to germinate, we do have to consider a few basic aspects to be successful. It’s kind of a prenatal stage in which the grower has to be very careful to meet the few needs of the seeds during this phase.

What are the needs of a seed to germinate?

First of all, we should state that healthy and viable seeds do not need any type of additive or special handling to germinate.

Germination of a cannabis seed

Basically, seeds need 3 things to germinate:

  • High moisture level (80-100%)
  • Average temperatures (20-24ºC)
  • A bit of oxygen

Cannabis root hairs

Different propagation media for germinating cannabis seeds

These are the most commonly used mediums to germinate marijuana seeds:

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    Glass of water: Some growers use a simple glass of water to germinate their seeds. You just have to put them in the water and in few days you’ll see the radicle sprouting. This method works well especially for hydrating the seeds, but we must remember that they can’t be soaked in water for more than 2-3 days, otherwise they may rot. Using RO water is advised, although you can also use tap water (let it set for some hours so it reaches room temperature and all chlorine is evaporated). Once you see the radicle, it is time to plant the seeds in a suitable growing media. Many growers add a few drops of hydrogen peroxide to the water to accelerate the process.

Germination of cannabis seeds on paper towels

Regardless of the chosen substrate, put the seeds about 2-3mm deep and cover them with a thin layer of substrate. Always remember that seeds are living organisms and some of them may be weaker than others. We are especially concerned about customer satisfaction and always encourage you to tell us your experience. Producing seeds is a passion for us!

Seed banks do not produce seeds but optimism!” Goeffrey Stephen Hamilton

Grow lights for germinating cannabis seeds

Right after the seedlings start sprouting from the seeds, they need a light source for proper growth.

If you are growing cannabis outdoors, make sure that your plants have enough sunlight for proper development.

Seedlings sprouting under fluorescent tubes

On the other hand, if you’re growing indoors, use fluorescent tubes or CFLs during the first days. In some days/weeks, you can change to MH lamps or LEDs, always checking the temperatures inside the grow room.


There is a method for germinating aged seeds which have lost most of their germination capacity. Although this method is not necessary to germinate our seeds, it can be useful for some of you.

This method implies keeping the seeds at very low temperatures for a short amount of time, and then let it reach room temperature slowly. In this way, we replicate the winter-spring period, which stimulates the germination of seeds. Seeds are kept for 3 days in the freezer, 3 more days in the fridge and 3 more days at room temperature before starting the germination process.

The best method to germinate cannabis seeds

There is neither a miraculous technique to germinate seeds, nor a miraculous method to grow cannabis. Each grower has its own preferences depending on knowledge, equipment,etc. The key point is understanding the needs of the plant.

If you have further questions or doubts before germinating your seeds, do not hesitate to leave a comment here, we’ll be pleased to help you in any way we can!

Comments in “Germination of cannabis seeds” (6)

GreenFarmer 2021-08-06
I’m just starting to learn through trial and error. I’m getting seeds from people who sell, not from seed banks. I’ve been trying about 5 seeds using variations of germinations methods – but the yield is pretty low. For peace of mind, is germination or a sprout guaranteed from every seed?

Tim 2021-08-16
Hi GreenFramer, thanks for your comment. If a seed has been properly maintained in a cool, dark and dry environment, and all the instructions for germination are followed correctly, there’s no reason for it not to germinate. Reputable seed banks and breeders (like us) will store seeds in a specialised fridge or cold room to ensure the longest life and viability possible. When seeds don’t germinate it’s usually due to inadequate storage conditions or incorrect germination conditions. I hope that helps, all the best!

Cannapot 2020-11-09
I really enjoyed reading this article. Thanks for sharing your amazing photographs.

Tim 2021-05-21

We’re happy you enjoyed it, thanks for letting us know!

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John Aitken 2020-10-08
John, yes I am having the same problem put 2 seeds per peat discs and the have came through but over a week and they are very skinny and we’re bending over I had to cut a straw sliced it to make 2 supports to keep them straight I’m watering them not to much I’ve never had this problem so I’m at a kind of loose end any help will be greatly appreciated. Regards John

Sergio 2020-07-01
Hi, I planted my Royal Gorilla & Wedding Cake seeds all at the same time, separately, in small jiffy-peat pots. It is winter here in my part of Australia – not so cold ( 10’c overnight low – 19’c Daytime Max) and it is mostly sunny – although where I have had my germinating box sitting only gets a few hours direct sun at present. I have kept all the little pots nice and moist – and just to be safe, I opened the two small vents on the top of the germinating box so that in the afternoon, in the direct sunlight, I wasn’t accidentally roasting the seeds to warm. I had some other seeds growing in the box to, tomatoes, eggplant and beans, which I planted on the same day using the same Jiffy-Pots. – It has been about 2 weeks now – And All of the vegetable seeds have begun to sprout – so the conditions of the germinating box must be Ok. But no sign of any sprouting activity with the Royal Gorilla or Wedding Cake. Maybe around a week ago, I made a small DIY planter pot out of newspaper and filled it with seed raising mixture, then planted a CBD Beyond Diesel seed – and I left this sitting uncovered in the same spot. It just sprouted yesterday. So I have moved my other seeds in the jiffy pots inside on my kitchen window ledge where it gets a lot more sun (Maybe should have done this to begin with!) My question: Is it too late now after 2 weeks of seeing nothing? – Or might I get a pleasant surprise now they are sitting a much more sunnier spot. Can it take this long to see a sprout?? I have kept them moist -and- they were planted correctly at about 1cm with the crown up

zara 2020-06-18
ive had my seeds in water for a couple of days, but still unsure if the glass should be in the dark or in light. can anyone ansa, this is my first attempt

Ando 2019-06-29
Hi,I got some seeds ( med Auto kush hindu ) I put them between 2 cotton pads and watered as per info, also had a g3 speed which sprouted almost immediately but transferred it to a clean cut cola can, wrong way round i might add and in normal compost, I over watered and managed to retrieve the seed which still had some tail left, re-planted it in canna grow dirt but as yet no show. The kush seeds 4 off have shown signs of side cracking but I think my conservatory is to hot and not much is happening, have I ruined it all or can I save them clearly a complete novice but other than the heat in conservatory in which the +G3 speed sprouted so quickly I’m not sure what the problem is, pls help..thanks

Dani 2019-07-04
Hi Ando, About the G3 seed, I’m afraid the only thing you can do now is cross your fingers and hope she’ll make it! With regard to the Auto Kush seeds, it’s advisable to replace the cotton pads every 2-3 days, using new ones moistened with fresh water. You can add a few drops of oxygen peroxide to 100ml of water and use the mix to moisten the pads, you’ll increase germination rates. Best of luck!