Germination is the first stage in the life cycle of your plant. Getting it right positions your marijuana crop for healthy development and bountiful harvest. Just when we thought we'd seen all the weird gardening hacks … Cannabis sativa sp. is commonly known as marijuana and has been grown throughout the world for thousands of years. Cannabis seeds germinate in 3 to 7 days, though some varieties may take 10 to 15 days. While germination is a natural…
How to Germinate Marijuana Seeds: A Step-by-step Guide For 2021
Germination is the first stage in the life cycle of your plant. Getting it right positions your marijuana crop for healthy development and bountiful harvest. Therefore, it’s worth taking the time to fully understand all the variables involved when you want to germinate marijuana seeds. Due to the varieties of pot seeds, choosing the right strain for cultivation can be challenging, especially for first-time growers. You’ll also have to consider where to buy marijuana seeds at a cost-effective price.
The list goes on!
This guide answers all these questions and provides a step-by-step approach to the following:
Pre parations for germinating weed seeds
How to choose the right seeds
Where to buy marijuana seeds
The five standard germination methods
How to provide the most conducive growing conditions
It also covers some of the rules of thumbs to help your plants produce the highest yields possible.
It’s a long and exciting read, so let’s get the ball rolling with the seeds.
Choosing The Right Pot Seeds
The first step is to choose where to get marijuana seeds . You can get high-quality seeds online or from seed banks near you. Depending on the market demands or your preferences, you have to choose between Sativa or Indica. Your dealer will present you with a variety of strains to select. However, you want to buy feminized marijuana seeds.
That’s because the female cannabis plants are better at producing the massive buds and high quantities that weed lovers crave. Remember to ask for them when buying your seeds. You may not see much of a difference in the seed stage but making this strategic seed selection makes all the difference when your plants mature.
How to Identify Good Marijuana Seeds
Marijuana seeds are p retty distinctive. The fertile ones usually appear dark brown, black, gray, or red-brown with a slight glow as though the peel has some wax. Seeds that look different with colors like light-green, yellow, or white may also germinate, but the color should tell you they’re not high quality.
Usually, such seeds are not ripe because they were harvested at the wrong time. Healthy seeds are oval and small. On average, they should be between 2 to 3 mm thick and 2 to 5 mm long. When buying marijuana seeds , look for dark spots or tiger stripes on them. You also have to take the size and shape into account. In case of any doubts, a float test can help determine the viability of your seeds.
Although it’s not 100 percent accurate, placing your seeds in distilled water for about 2 hours can determine their viability. Seeds with sufficient mass will sink before the time is out. This indicates that they will sprout. But this test is only advisable when you’re ready to germinate them since the water will activate the seeds.
Tip : Keep your hand dry when handling marijuana seeds since moisture on your finger may damage them. It’s recommended to wear linen gloves to keep seeds safe.
Choosing The Right Cultivation Method
So you’ve selected the right seeds and are ready to germinate. If you’re like most growers, the top question on your mind is, “What is the best metho d to germinate marijuana seeds ?” Chances are you’ve experimented with marijuana germination but didn’t get the expected resulted.
That’s all right because even seasoned growers don’t get 100% germination. There will be some seeds in your batch that are duds. However, you can make significant improvements with the suitable cultivation method.
You should ask yourself specific questions to help choose the suitable method. Some of these questions include:
What kind of grow medium is available?
Can your budget afford all the necessary components?
How much time do you intend to work on your setup?
The answers to these questions will help determine the method you should use to germinate your marijuana seeds. But generally speaking, there are five standard methods you can use.
Continue reading to learn all about them.
5 Basic Ways to Germinate Your Seeds
Using a germination station offers one of the easiest ways to get your pot seeds started towards germination. It is a tool designed solely for this purpose. Doing so ensures that your seeds get the optimal conditions for germination. Assuming you lack the experience and time to try your hands at more demanding methods, using the germination station is the best option.
What is the Germination Station?
The germination station is a dedicated device with a growing space that ensures that cannabis seeds get optimal conditions for germination by allowing you to fully control the humidity and temperature. Usually, the problems faced when germinating marijuana seeds result from a medium that is too dry, too cold, or too wet.
The germination station enables growers to overcome these challenges. The station is the right size, user-friendly, and inconspicuous. It has a heat mat that keeps your growing medium warm with the right amount of moisture. You can house your seedlings in the germination station until their roots are at least 1” in length.
Components of The Germination Station
The station is designed to have everything required to get started with germination. Its components include:
Waterproof heating mat – You may get the 17 Watts, 120 volts heating mat with dimensions 9” X 19.5”.
Humidity dome – Retains moisture in the growing medium for the dampness required by seeds to sprout.
How to Use the Germination Station
The germination station allows you to use any growing medium of your choice in its cell seedling trays. Below are the steps involved:
Step #1: Soak your seeds for 24 hours in water
Step #2: Collect and place the seeds in the cells and use a small amount of medium to cover them.
Step #3: Watch for the sprouting of the first leaves to place proper lighting over the germination station.
NB: Light isn’t one of the prerequisites in this method; therefore, you don’t have to provide your seeds any light when using the germination station.
The Paper Towel Method
The paper towel method of germinating cannabis seeds is popular among home growers for several reasons. It is relatively more affordable, and you only need a few household items like a paper towel or cotton pad to get started.
Pot seeds do well with paper towels because they are kept protected and moist in the paper towels. Some argue that cotton pads do a better job of retaining moisture and are better suited for this method. However, affordable and non-porous paper towels will also do just fine.
Tip : Remember to buy single-ply paper towels instead of the cloth-like ones because the new taproots of your germinated seeds may grow into the cloth-like paper towels.
Let’s look at the steps involved in this method.
The items required for this method include the following:
Hand-held plant sprayer (optional)
Bowl or plastic bag
Step #1 – Spread a handful of your pot seeds on a paper towel and place another layer of paper towel over your seeds.
Step #2 – Moisten your seeds with a hand-held plant sprayer, or you may manually sprinkle some water on them with your hands if you don’t have a sprayer.
Step #3- Place your towel-cushioned seeds between two plates and cover it with a bowl turned upside-down. You can use a plastic bag to protect your seeds instead of the bowl.
Step #4 – Maintain a temperature of about 72° Fahrenheit or 22° Celsius and avoid putting your seeds on a windowsill.
Step #5 – Check on your seed after two to 5 days. By now, you should notice some seeds sprouting with tiny roots shooting from them.
You should regularly check on your seedling from the moment you find that they are sprouting. When the roots are between 0.1 – 0.2 inches or 3 – 5 mm long, transfer them to a growing medium like soil.
Starter Cubes And Seedling Plugs
Another common method of growing cannabis is the use of starter cubes and seedling plugs. The cubes and plugs help set up a seedling station by making the entire germination process quick and easy.
You only have to place your seeds in the cubes or plugs, provide enough moisture, and your seedling will grow automatically. The cubes and plugs are designed with holes to accommodate the seeds. You can scarcely go wrong with this method since the cubes and plugs leave little room for error. Hence, you should achieve a high germination percentage. The best part, there are several types to select.
The Best Types of Starter Cubes For Germinating Cannabis
Rapid Rooter Grow Plugs(Pros & Cons)
The rapid rooter grow plugs are the typical plugs used for hydroponic setups. They have round bottoms and don’t stand alone. Their makeup consists of a custom composting method that uses natural fungi to accelerate growth.
Hence the name rapid rooters. They are also 100 percent organic and made entirely from biodegradable materials. However, they need to be nutrient or water-soaked before use. Below are the pros and cons
There are 50 rooters available at a go.
It’s 100 percent biodegradable and organic.
They are usable in soil and any soilless growth medium.
New growers may find it tricky to use.
Rapid Rooter Mats (Pros & Cons)
Rapid rooters also come in the form of mats. These types are sectioned off and created with holes meant for germinating seeds. You can buy them with 98 planting areas for seed germination.
They can accommodate 98 marijuana seeds at once.
Using them makes transplantations easy.
Each cube is sectioned-off with already-made holes to house seeds.
They come with flat bottoms and cube shapes that enable them to stand alone.
It may be inappropriate if you’re on a tight budget.
Rockwool Starter Cubes(Pros & Cons)
Rockwool starter cubes are a must-use for hydroponic marijuana farms. Using Rockwool cubes for the germination process allows you to place your seedling into your hydroponic system safely. They are made to resist mold and retain adequate moisture to germinate the seeds. But before you decide to go with these, it’s worth knowing their drawbacks.
They are both cheap and readily available.
Come in handy for hydroponic systems.
It doesn’t comprise bio-friendly and organic materials
Can also lead to some health hazard: therefore, you need to wear protective clothing like masks and gloves before handling them.
You need to treat the cubes for use since their original pH isn’t friendly for cannabis germination.
Rapid Rooters(Pros & Cons)
Unlike some other types of starter cubes, rapid rooters work irrespective of your planting setup and growing medium. Generally speaking, they aren’t tricky to use since you only have to put your pot seeds into the rapid rooter with the smaller end turned downwards.
The rapid rooters have perfect conditions that your seeds require to germinate. All you have to do is to provide a place where your seeds can sprout without interruptions. In a matter of days, your cannabis seeds will germinate with tiny visible roots.
Not difficult to use, even for first-time growers.
Works regardless of the growing medium or system
It doesn’t require any setup or preparation.
Only come in sets of 50.
It only takes one week for them to dry up.
Rapid Rooter Tray
Another effective rapid method for germinating marijuana seeds is the rapid rooter tray. You only have to leave your seeds in the tray with water and watch the roots develop with time. A standard tray can go into a humidity dome and carry 50 rooters.
It makes the transplanting of seedling hassle-free.
Enables you to germinate 50 seeds at once.
It is ideal for germinating seeds or cloning when you have a humidity dome.
You only need your seeds and water to get started.
It can be wasteful if you’re germinating less than 50 seeds
Direct Growing Method
Although the various ways of germinating cannabis seeds are effective, there are times that nature’s way is also the easiest. In the wild, marijuana seeds germinate in fertile soil provided there are favorable conditions.
As a cannabis farmer, you can emulate this process by directly planting your seeds in the final growing medium. It doesn’t matter the growing medium you choose. You can get a cannabis seed to germinate provided you use the right approach. However, it’s needful to state that some mediums are more demanding than others.
Using this method means that your young seedlings don’t have to go through the shock of transplantation after sprouting since they germinate in their final resting place. Hence, it can save you some time, and the seedling development is immediate without any interruptions.
Plus, seedlings do not have to adjust to any other environment. Mind you, your marijuana plants have to deal with stress anytime you transplant them into a new medium, and this isn’t the case with the direct growing method.
Assuming you choose soil as your growing medium, here are the steps to follow:
Prepare your soil to be moist but not soaking wet.
Make a knuckle-deep hole in the soil that’s about 0.5 to 1 inch or 1.3 cm to 2.5 cm.
Place your seeds in each hole and gently cover them with soil.
Using a heating pad or light, gently keep your setup warm
Check on your seeds after two days to check for germination.
Apart from the soil, you can also use coco coir or any other soilless growing medium. However, the idea is to exclude the transplanting process. Therefore, you should only choose this method when you know your seeds will become plants in the same medium you used to germinate them.
The Water-Soaked Method
Another easy way to grow cannabis seeds that you should consider is the water-soaked method. It is simple and is just as easy as it sounds. This method involves leaving your seeds overnight in lukewarm water and comes in handy for reviving old or hard seeds.
The lukewarm water softens the hard exterior of the seeds and enables the taproot to break through the coating. When you soak your fertile and feminized marijuana seeds in water, it will take some time for them to sink to the bottom of your container.
Get clean, lukewarm water and pour it into a container, ideally glass.
Collect your seeds and pour them gently into the water and close the lead.
Observe the container for the next 32 hours.
Carefully pour out the water and transfer your sprouted seeds into a growing medium or somewhere ideal to continue germinating.
Tip : You may use any container to soak your seeds. However, it’s better to use transparent glass since you can observe the seeds and find out when the taproots break out.
Generally, you shouldn’t keep your seeds soaked for more than 32 hours. Not all seeds will germinate after 32 hours. At this point, you should remove them from the water to prevent drowning them. Instead, find a moist, warm place for them to continue the germination process. You can use a paper towel here and follow the steps outlined in the paper towel process.
Planting The Germinated Marijuana Seeds The Right Way
The first few weeks after germination can be the most vulnerable days in the life of your marijuana plant. Therefore, handling them requires you to exercise extra caution. At this stage, the strain you chose makes no difference because all marijuana seedlings are quite delicate after germination.
Always keep the taproot of your seeds in mind while transplanting them. Do not touch it for any reason! The plant may survive when you touch it but break the taproot. However, the effects will show later in the life of the plant, usually as stunted growth.
Follow these tips when transplanting your sprouted seeds:
Drop the white taproot about 0.5 – 1.5 inches downwards.
Let the top part of the seed rest just beneath the surface of your grow medium.
Cover it gently and let it rest for a maximum of 10 days.
NB: Don’t worry if you mistakenly plant any seed upside down. Nature has a way of correcting such incidents. The root will eventually find its way downwards, provided there’s enough room for it.
Providing All The Right Conditions
Light is essential to most plant species, including the cannabis plant. Mature marijuana plants use it to produce sugars from water and carbon dioxide, commonly called photosynthesis. Sugar serves as the primary source of resources necessary for healthy growth and development, apart from soil minerals and nutrients.
Depending on where you store your seedling and the method used for germination, lighting may be required because the seeds need heat. When lighting is necessary, you can use fluorescent lights with 6500K color temperature and T5 high output. The temperature conditions should be around 72 °F.
Next, you need a moist, humid environment. You can spray moisture on your setup when required to keep it from drying up or wrap your pot with plastic wrap. This will create a biodome for your setup. However, you must get rid of the plastic wrap when any tap roots emerge or sprout break through the soil.
Typical Mistakes to Avoid
No matter which method you choose for germinating your marijuana seeds, there are some errors you should try and avoid. Most of these mistakes are common among new growers. Therefore, you should pay extra attention to the following if you’re growing cannabis for the first time.
Placing the seed too deep when planting or transplanting them
Overcrowding the seeds into one pot
Using an unknown soil composition
Overwatering the seeds
Using a direct method where soil conditions are unfavorable
Using too much fertilizer instead of a porous and moist environment
Overusing hydrogen peroxide in the water
Leaving seeds to be drawn in water when soaking them
Failing to hygienically handle radicles, seedlings, and seeds, especially with wet, dirty hands
Exposing the young roots to air for too long when transplanting them
Temperature fluctuation in the environment
Congratulations! You’ve made it this far, and you can consider yourself ready to germinate your seeds. However, it all begins with the right seeds bought from the right source. Then after germination comes other challenges when plants start growing toward maturity. Watching your marijuana plants go through the four growth stages of development is exciting and satisfying. But it’s also hard work so remember to enjoy yourself while you’re at it!
The weird method Redditors are using to germinate seeds
At one point or another, every gardener has found themselves late on starting their seeds. Whether you’re a beginner at gardening or just having a year when everything has been a bit overwhelming, not planting the seeds of your favorite vegetable on time can be frustrating. That’s where Reddit comes in. Reddit gardening has taken off recently, in large part due to the discovery that you can germinate seeds in the Instant Pot (you know, that thing in your kitchen you use to make stews and rice).
The Instant Pot method
The Instant Pot method involves placing your seeds in the Instant Pot on the yogurt setting. It can be credited in large part to a scientist in Ottawa who, during the 2020 growing season, found herself unable to find seeds until it was well past time to germinate them. Now, could a regular gardener have figured this method out? Perhaps. But for scientist Lyanne Betit, this was a no-brainer.
Thanks to her knowledge of organic chemistry, biochemistry, and gardening, Betit came up with the idea to jumpstart her seeds’ germination in the Instant Pot. She was already behind on the growing season and needed a way to speed things up. Knowing that seedlings in warmer climates can thrive in 89° to 91° F. (32 to 33 degrees Celsius), Betit knew the yogurt setting on the Instant Pot was the perfect consistent environment to encourage seed sprouting.
The Instant Pot method works best for warm weather crops like tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers. It can be especially helpful if you’re behind on the season like Betit, or if you just want to speed up the initial germination process. For those who don’t have a lot of surface area to dedicate to germination, the Instant Pot method is perfect.
How it works
Thanks to the Reddit gardening community, we have a good idea of how this method works. You start by placing the seeds between layers of damp paper towels and putting them in a Ziploc bag. The Instant Pot is turned on and set to the yogurt setting, then the Ziploc(s) with the damp paper towels and seeds is placed inside. There are some seeds that need a slightly cooler temperature and won’t do well inside. Betit discovered you can place these seeds in a Ziploc bag on the lid of the Instant Pot instead. It’s a cooler temperature than inside but is still consistent enough for seeds to germinate.
Why is this possible?
Gardeners often germinate seeds indoors so the seedlings are a good size for transplanting when the outdoor growing season begins. Because seeds require a steady temperature within a set range to germinate and thrive, the Instant Pot provides that environment. It’s warm, void of any drafts, and is a controlled environment — similar to a greenhouse, if you will, but on a smaller scale.
Depending on the seed, the consistent environment is able to help seeds germinate from one to seven days. This method, however, isn’t recommended for cool-weather crops like the Brassica family (cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, etc.) because the environment will be too warm for them to thrive and survive.
You can try it at home, too!
If you have an Instant Pot, try this method at home! If you’re unsure of the temperature your seeds need to germinate and the packet doesn’t say, the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources has compiled a list of of ideal seed temperatures. To successfully execute Reddit gardening’s Instant Pot method, you’ll need:
- Your desired seeds
- Paper towels (dampened)
- Ziploc bag(s)
- Sharpie (to mark what seeds are in which bag if germinating more than one type)
- A strainer
- Potting containers for germinated seeds
- An Instant Pot (but of course!)
A step-by-step guide
Starting the Instant Pot method may feel a bit weird at first, and you might not get it right the first try. Here’s a step-by-step guide you can follow to help execute it as best you can:
- Make small piles of four to five seeds and dampen one paper towel per pile (so, if you have three piles of seeds, you’ll need three damp paper towels).
- Place the seeds one inch apart on the bottom half of each paper towel, leaving room for roots to sprout.
- Fold the paper towel in half and place it inside the Ziploc bag. You’ll want one bag per set of seeds, making sure to label each bag with the plant type.
- Pour half a cup of water into the Instant Pot. The water will keep the Instant Pot from burning the bags, as well as help create a warm, humid environment for the seeds. Place the strainer inside.
- Set the Instant Pot to the lowest temperature possible on the yogurt setting. This should be 91° F. Set the Instant Pot for the max time available for your version, which will be anywhere from eight to 99 hours.
- Place the Ziploc bags into the strainer (stacking is OK!) and put the lid on the Instant Pot.
- Be sure to check on your seeds two times a day after the first day, as some may germinate faster than others (especially if they’ve been bought recently or have a softer coating). A majority of the seeds will germinate within a week, and you’ll know they’re ready to be transplanted to potting containers when the tiny white root sprouting from the seed is one to two inches long.
- Be mindful of mold. When you check on the seeds, examine the paper towels to make sure there’s nothing fuzzy growing. Because it can be taken care of in its early stages with a mix of water and hydrogen peroxide, you don’t want to let the mold get out of hand and ruin your germination.
- The seeds should be removed once they’ve germinated using a sanitized pair of tweezers. Grab the body of the seed (taking care not to touch the root) and transfer them to a pot with soil. Make a small hole in the top of the soil, place the seed in with the root pointing down, and bury only the white root, leaving the body of the seed above the soil. Give it a tablespoon of water.
Once germinated and planted, seedlings will need around 12 to 16 hours of light a day. If you don’t have access to this amount of light naturally, be sure you have some grow lights on hand! Thanks to Reddit gardening, seeds all around the world may germinate just a little bit faster from here on out.
How to Germinate Cannabis Seeds
This article was co-authored by Lauren Kurtz. Lauren Kurtz is a Naturalist and Horticultural Specialist. Lauren has worked for Aurora, Colorado managing the Water-Wise Garden at Aurora Municipal Center for the Water Conservation Department. She earned a BA in Environmental and Sustainability Studies from Western Michigan University in 2014.
There are 10 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.
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Cannabis sativa sp. is commonly known as marijuana and has been grown throughout the world for thousands of years. Cannabis seeds germinate in 3 to 7 days, though some varieties may take 10 to 15 days. While germination is a natural process, factors such as light, humidity/moisture, and temperature must be controlled for cannabis seeds to sprout.