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germinated seed

How to germinate cannabis seeds

Germination is the process in which a new plant begins to grow from a seed. Also referred to as “popping,” germination is the very first step in starting your cannabis garden.

Cannabis seeds can be acquired from an array of sources and can vary in quality. For more info on how to buy marijuana seeds, check out our Guide to buying cannabis seeds.

When acquiring seeds, you want to make sure they are matured and that they appear dark brown with lighter accents and a hard feel. You don’t want a seed that feels fresh and looks green, which indicates that the seed hasn’t reached full maturity.

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Once you have your cannabis seeds, make sure you have the space necessary to allow your plants to grow and be healthy. Don’t pop seeds when you are unsure of your grow space, time availability, or intention with your garden.

Check out these additional resources for more info on cannabis seeds:

What’s the best way to germinate cannabis seeds?

Cannabis seeds require three things to germinate: water, heat, and air. Because of this, there are many methods to germinate your seeds. The most common and simplest method involves the use of paper towels saturated in water.

For this method you will need:

  • Two clean plates
  • Paper towels
  • Seeds

Step 1:

Take four sheets of paper towels and soak them with distilled water. The sheets should be soaked but shouldn’t have excess water running off.

Step 2:

Take two of the paper towels and place them on a plate. Then, place the cannabis seeds at least an inch apart from each other and cover them with the remaining two sheets of water-soaked paper towels.

Step 3:

To create a dark, protected space, take another plate and flip it over to cover the seeds (like a dome).

Step 4:

Make sure the area they’re kept in is warm, somewhere between 70-90°F.

After these steps have been completed, it’s time to wait. You can check the paper towels to make sure they’re still saturated, and if they seem to be losing their moisture, you can apply more water to keep the seeds happy.

Some seeds germinate very rapidly while others can take several days. You know a seed has germinated once the seed splits and a single sprout appears.

This is the taproot, which will become the main stem of the plant, and seeing it is a sign of successful germination. It’s important to keep this area sterile, so don’t touch the seed or taproot as the seed begins to split.

Transplanting germinated cannabis seeds

Once you see the taproot, it’s time to transfer your germinated seed into its growing medium. Small 2-inch pots are a good place to start.

Fill the pots with loose, airy potting soil and poke a hole in the middle about a quarter-inch down using a pen or pencil.

To transfer the seed, use a pair of tweezers to gently pick it up, then drop the seed in the hole with the taproot facing down. Lightly cover it with soil.

Next, you’ll need to water the soil. Initially, use a spray bottle to provide moisture without over-saturating the soil. You want to give the seed water, but over-watering can suffocate and kill the delicate sprout.

Pay attention to the temperature and the moisture level of the soil to keep the seed happy, and within a week or so you should see a seedling begin to grow from the soil.

Germinating seeds doesn’t always go as planned. Some seeds will be duds. Others will be slow and take longer to sprout. But some will pop quickly and grow rapidly.

This is the beauty of seeds—often, you can tell which plants or genetics will thrive right from the get-go. This will help you determine which plants you want to take cuttings from for clones and which to breed with other strong plants to create a seed bank of your own.

Follow these simple steps on the best way to properly germinate your cannabis seeds, and find out how to transplant the seeds to soil after germination.

Germination

Dormancy and life span of seeds

Dormancy has at least three functions: (1) immediate germination must be prevented even when circumstances are optimal so as to avoid exposure of the seedling to an unfavourable period (e.g., winter), which is sure to follow; (2) the unfavourable period has to be survived; and (3) the various dispersing agents must be given time to act. Accordingly, the wide variation in seed and diaspore longevity can be appreciated only by linking it with the various dispersal mechanisms employed as well as with the climate and its seasonal changes. Thus, the downy seeds of willows, blown up and down rivers in early summer with a chance of quick establishment on newly exposed sandbars, have a life span of only one week. Tropical rainforest trees frequently have seeds of low life expectancy also. Intermediate are seeds of sugarcane, tea, and coconut palm, among others, with life spans of up to a year. Mimosa glomerata seeds in the herbarium of the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle in Paris were found viable after 221 years. In general, viability is better retained in air of low moisture content. Some seeds, however, remain viable underwater—those of certain rush (Juncus) species and Sium cicutaefolium for at least 7 years. Salt water can be tolerated for years by the pebblelike but floating seeds of Guilandina bonduc, which in consequence possess an almost pantropical distribution. Seeds of the sacred lotus ( Nelumbo nucifera) found in a peat deposit in Manchuria and estimated by radioactive-carbon dating to be 1,400 ± 400 years old rapidly germinated (and subsequently produced flowering plants) when the seeds were filed to permit water entry. In 1967, seeds of the arctic tundra lupine ( Lupinus arcticus) found in a frozen lemming burrow with animal remains established to be at least 10,000 years old germinated within 48 hours when returned to favourable conditions. The problem of differential seed viability has been approached experimentally by various workers, one of whom buried 20 species of common Michigan weed seeds, mixed with sand, in inverted open-mouthed bottles for periodic inspection. After 80 years, 3 species still had viable seeds. See also soil seed bank.

Stages of germination of a bean seed.

Lack of dormancy

In some plants, the seeds are able to germinate as soon as they have matured on the plant, as demonstrated by papaya and by wheat, peas, and beans in a very rainy season. Certain mangrove species normally form foot-long embryos on the trees; these later drop down into the mud or sea water. Such cases, however, are exceptional. The lack of dormancy in cultivated species, contrasting with the situation in most wild plants, is undoubtedly the result of conscious selection by humans.

Immature embryos

In plants whose seeds ripen and are shed from the mother plant before the embryo has undergone much development beyond the fertilized egg stage (orchids, broomrapes, ginkgo, ash, winter aconite, and buttercups), there is an understandable delay of several weeks or months, even under optimal conditions, before the seedling emerges.

Role of the seed coat

There are at least three ways in which a hard testa may be responsible for seed dormancy: it may (1) prevent expansion of the embryo mechanically, (2) block the entrance of water, or (3) impede gas exchange so that the embryos lack oxygen. Resistance of the testa to water uptake is most widespread in the bean family, the seed coats of which, usually hard, smooth, or even glassy, may, in addition, possess a waxy covering. In some cases water entry is controlled by a small opening, the strophiolar cleft, which is provided with a corklike plug; only removal or loosening of the plug will permit water entry. Similar seeds not possessing a strophiolar cleft must depend on abrasion, which in nature may be brought about by microbial attack, passage through an animal, freezing and thawing, or mechanical means. In horticulture and agriculture, the coats of such seeds are deliberately damaged or weakened by humans ( scarification). In chemical scarification, seeds are dipped into strong sulfuric acid, organic solvents such as acetone or alcohol, or even boiling water. In mechanical scarification, they may be shaken with some abrasive material such as sand or be scratched with a knife.

Frequently seed coats are permeable to water yet block entrance of oxygen; this applies, for example, to the upper of the two seeds normally found in each burr of the cocklebur plant. The lower seed germinates readily under a favourable moisture and temperature regime, but the upper one fails to do so unless the seed coat is punctured or removed or the intact seed is placed under very high oxygen concentrations.

Seed – Seed – Germination: Dormancy has at least three functions: (1) immediate germination must be prevented even when circumstances are optimal so as to avoid exposure of the seedling to an unfavourable period (e.g., winter), which is sure to follow; (2) the unfavourable period has to be survived; and (3) the various dispersing agents must be given time to act. Accordingly, the wide variation in seed and diaspore longevity can be appreciated only by linking it with the various dispersal mechanisms employed as well as with the climate and its seasonal changes. Thus, the downy seeds of willows, blown up and down rivers in