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growing weed from seed 101

How to grow marijuana outdoors: a beginner’s guide

Growing cannabis is a fun and rewarding experience, but it is also challenging and takes a certain amount of time and money. For a first-time grower with limited resources, an indoor grow is probably too costly of an option.

The good news is that a small outdoor garden can yield plenty of quality cannabis without a large monetary investment. If you have access to a sunny spot in a private yard or even a balcony, terrace, or rooftop, you can successfully grow cannabis.

This guide to outdoor growing will go over all the different factors you need to consider in order to set up your first outdoor marijuana grow.

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Benefits of growing weed outdoors

  • Low costs: Relying on the power of the sun, you won’t need to spend a ton of money on an outdoor grow. You’ll need some soil, fertilizer, seeds or clones, and maybe a small greenhouse to get them started. You won’t need to pay for electricity for lights, AC units, or dehumidifiers, and you can even collect rainwater.
  • Big yields: The sky’s the limit with outdoor plants—you can let them get as big and tall as you want, as long as they’re manageable. One plant can potentially yield up to a pound of weed! Growing a handful for yourself is plenty. With an indoor grow, your space is a lot more restricted.
  • Environmentally friendly: Indoor grows can be wasteful, using a ton of electricity to power all those lights, fans, and other equipment. The sun and the wind are free!
  • It’s fun and relaxing: Don’t underestimate the therapeutic value of gardening. It’s relaxing to spend some time outside, roll up your sleeves, and get your hands dirty for a while. And there’s nothing better than smoking something you grew yourself.

Step 1: Consider the climate

It’s crucial to have a good understanding of the climate in the area you’re going to grow. Cannabis is highly adaptable to various conditions, but it is susceptible to extreme weather.

Sustained temperatures above 86°F will cause your plants to stop growing, while continued temperatures below 55°F can cause damage and stunting to plants, even death.

Heavy rains and high winds can cause physical damage to plants and reduce yields, and excessive moisture can lead to mold and powdery mildew, especially during the flowering stage.

In addition to weather patterns, you need to understand how the length of day changes throughout the seasons in your area. For example, at 32° N latitude (San Diego), you will experience just over 14 hours of daylight on the summer solstice (the longest day of the year), while at 47° N (Seattle), you will have about 16 hours of daylight on the same day.

Understanding the amount of sunlight throughout the year is crucial to causing plants to “flip” from the vegetative to flowering stage, when they start to produce buds.

It’s good to utilize local resources, as experienced gardeners in your area will have a wealth of knowledge about growing flowers and vegetables, and that information can also be applied to growing cannabis. If you have some experience gardening and growing veggies, you will probably find that growing cannabis outdoors is a fairly easy endeavor.

Step 2: Pick a space for your outdoor grow

Choosing a space for your outdoor grow is one of the most important decision you’ll make, especially if you’re planting directly in the ground or in large immobile containers.

Your cannabis plants should receive as much direct sunlight as possible, ideally during midday, when the quality of light is best. As the season changes and fall approaches, your plants will get less and less sunlight throughout the day, which will trigger the flowering stage.

Having a constant breeze is good for your plants, and especially in hot climates. But if you live in an area with a lot of high winds, consider planting near a windbreak of some sort, like a wall, fence, or large shrubbery.

Finally, you will want to consider privacy and security. A lot of people want to conceal their gardens from judgmental neighbors and potential thieves. Tall fences and large shrubs or trees are your best bet, unless you live in a secluded area. Also, most state laws require that you keep cannabis plants concealed from the street.

Some growers plant in containers on balconies or rooftops that are shielded from view, while some build heavy-gauge wire cages to keep thieves and animals at bay. Whatever you decide, think about how big you want your final plant to be—outdoor cannabis plants can grow to 12 feet tall or more, depending on how much you let them go.

Step 3: Decide on cannabis genetics

The success of your outdoor cannabis grow will also depend on choosing the right strain to grow for your particular climate and location. If you live in an area with a history of cannabis growing, chances are good that many strains will successfully grow there, and some may have even been bred specifically for your climate.

Seeds vs. clones

Plants grown from seed can be more hearty as young plants when compared to clones. You can plant seeds directly into the garden in early spring, even in cool, wet climates.

The main drawback to growing from seed is there is no guarantee as to what you’ll end up with. If your seeds don’t come feminized, you could end up with both males and females, in which case you’ll need to sex them out to get rid of the males (only females produce buds).

Even when you do have all female plants, each will be a different phenotype of the same strain. To get the best version of that strain, you’ll need to select the best phenotype, which can be a lengthy process. A lot of beginning growers start with feminized seeds.

Depending on the legality of cannabis in your state, you may be able to buy clones or seedlings from a local dispensary. Some growers stay away from these because they feel they aren’t as sturdy as growing plants from seed.

Autoflowering seeds are another popular choice for outdoor growing, as they start blooming as soon as they reach maturity regardless of the length of day. You can either have a quick-growing crop, or fit multiple harvests into a year with autoflowering cannabis.

The downside to autoflowering cannabis is they tend to be a lot less potent.

Step 4: Acquire some soil

Soil is made up of three basic components in various ratios:

  • Clay
  • Sand
  • Silt

You can plant directly in the ground or buy soil and put it in pots. Cannabis plants thrive in soil rich with organic matter, and they need good drainage. If you decide to plant directly in the ground, you’ll need to understand your soil composition and amend it accordingly.

Heavy clay soils drain slowly and don’t hold oxygen well, so they will need to be heavily amended. At least a month before you plant, dig large holes where you’ll be placing your cannabis plants and mix in big amounts of compost, manure, worm castings, or other decomposed organic matter. This will provide aeration and drainage, as well as nutrients for the plants.

Sandy soil is easy to work, drains well, and warms quickly, but it doesn’t hold nutrients well, especially in rainy environments. Again, you will want to dig large holes for your plants and add compost, peat moss, or coco coir, which will help bind the soil together. In hot climates, sandy soil should be mulched to help with water retention and to keep roots from getting too hot.

Silty soil is the ideal growing medium. It’s easy to work, warms quickly, holds moisture, has good drainage, and contains a lot of nutrients. The best silty soil is dark crumbly loam—it’s fertile and probably won’t need any amending.

If you really want to ensure good results and minimize headaches, you can get your soil tested, which is easy and relatively inexpensive. A soil testing service will tell you the makeup and pH of your soil, notify you of any contaminants, and recommend materials and fertilizers to amend your soil.

Step 5: Get some fertilizer

Cannabis plants require a large amount of nutrients over their life cycle, mainly in the form of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. How you choose to feed them will depend on the composition of the soil and your own methods.

Commercial fertilizers aimed at home gardeners can be used if you have a good understanding of how they work and what your plants need. But a first-time grower might want to avoid these, particularly long-release granular fertilizers.

Best nutrients for an outdoor grow

You can purchase nutrient solutions designed specifically for cannabis from your local grow shop, but they are usually expensive and can damage soil bacteria—they are generally composed of synthetic mineral salts and intended for indoor growing.

Organic fertilization takes full advantage of microbial life in soil and minimizes harmful runoff. There are many different natural and organic fertilizers available at local home and garden stores, like blood meal, bone meal, fish meal, bat guano, and kelp meal.

Start off with fertilizers that are inexpensive and readily available. Some of these materials release nutrients quickly and are easily used by the plant, while others take weeks or months to release useable nutrients. If done correctly, you can mix in a few of these products with your soil amendments to provide enough nutrients for the entire life of your plants.

Again, getting your soil tested can be very useful and will tell you how to amend your soil and what types and amounts of fertilizer you should use. If you are unsure how much to use, be conservative—you can always top dress your plants if they start to show deficiencies.

Step 6: Choose your containers

You may need to put all of your plants in containers if you don’t have great soil. Also, if you’re unable to perform the heavy labor needed to dig holes and amend soil, containers may be the only way for you to grow your own cannabis outdoors.

If you don’t have a suitable patch of earth to make a garden, containers can be placed on decks, patios, rooftops, and many other spots. If needed, you can move them around during the day to take advantage of the sun or to shield them from excessive heat or wind.

You can also use common cannabis nutrients designed for indoor growing because you will be using premixed soil. This will take much of the guesswork out of fertilizing your plants.

However, plants grown in pots, buckets, or barrels will likely be smaller than those planted in the ground because their root growth is restricted to the size of the container. In a broad sense, the size of the pot will determine the size of the plant, although it’s possible to grow large plants in small containers if proper techniques are used.

In general, 5-gallon pots are a good size for small to medium outdoor plants, and 10-gallon pots or larger are recommended for big plants. Regardless of size, you’ll want to protect the roots of your plants from overheating during warm weather, as pots can quickly get hot in direct sunlight. This will severely limit the growth of your plants, so be sure to shade your containers when the sun is high in the sky.

Step 7: Give your cannabis plants water

While outdoor cannabis gardens have the benefit of utilizing rain and groundwater, you will most likely need to water your plants frequently, especially in the hot summer months. Some giant cannabis plants can use up to 10 gallons of water every day in warm weather.

Growers who live in hot, arid places will often dig down and place clay soil or rocks below their planting holes to slow drainage, or plant in shallow depressions that act to funnel runoff toward other plants. Adding water-absorbing polymer crystals to the soil is another good way to improve water retention. Water your plants deeply in the morning so they have an adequate supply throughout the whole day.

If you live in a particularly rainy climate, you may need to take steps to improve drainage around your garden, as cannabis roots are susceptible to fungal diseases when they become waterlogged. These techniques include:

  • Planting in raised beds or mounds
  • Digging ditches that direct water away from the garden
  • Adding gravel, clay pebbles, or perlite to the soil

If you’re using tap or well water, it’s a good idea to test it first. This water can contain high levels of dissolved minerals which can build up in soil and affect the pH level, or it can have high levels of chlorine which can kill beneficial microorganisms in soil. Many people filter their water.

Plants grown in hot or windy climates will need to be watered more frequently, as high temperatures and winds force plant to transpire at a quicker rate.

Remember that over-watering is a common mistake made by rookie growers—the rule of thumb is to water deeply, then wait until the top inch or two of soil is completely dry before watering again. An inexpensive soil moisture meter is a good tool for a beginner.

Step 8: Protect your cannabis plants

Without the ability to control the environment as easily as you can indoors, outdoor cannabis growers have to protect their plants from storms and other weather events that could damage or even kill plants.

Temperature changes

Temperatures below 40°F can quickly damage most varieties of cannabis, so if you live in a climate where late spring or early fall frosts are a common occurrence, try using a greenhouse or other protective enclosure.

Wind conditions

High winds can break branches and overly stress your plants. If your garden is located in a particularly windy spot or if you’re expecting a particularly heavy blow, set up a windbreak. This can be as simple as attaching plastic sheeting to garden stakes around your plants.

While helpful for watering your garden, rain is generally seen as a nuisance by cannabis growers. It can severely damage your crop and cause mold and mildew. You especially don’t want rain on your cannabis plants when they are flowering.

You can construct a DIY greenhouse or even just use plastic sheeting and stakes to build a temporary shelter over your plants when you know rain is on the way.

Pests

Protecting your cannabis garden from pests can be challenging. Depending on where you live, you might have to keep large animals like deer at bay by building a fence around your crop.

But the more difficult challenge is dealing with the vast array of crawling and flying insects that can attack your plants.

The best protection is to simply keep your plants healthy. Strong, vigorous cannabis plants have a natural resistance to pests that makes minor infestations easy to deal with. It’s also a good idea to keep your cannabis plants separate from other flowers, vegetables, and ornamentals, as pests can easily spread between them.

Examine your cannabis plants a few times a week with an eye out for pests. An infestation is far easier to deal with if caught early.

There are many organic pesticides designed for use specifically on cannabis, and beneficial insects are also a great option.

You should now have enough knowledge to successfully start your own outdoor cannabis garden. Cultivating and growing plants is an enjoyable and rewarding pastime, so remember, spend lots of time with your plants, and have fun!

Check out Leafly’s Growing section for more info on cannabis growing!


This post was originally published on June 21, 2016. It was most recently updated on April 2, 2020.

Growing marijuana outdoors can be less costly and challenging than an indoor grow. Check out our guide to learn more about the best outdoor grow setup.

Cannabis seeds 101: How to grow marijuana from seed

Cannabis is grown from one of two sources: a seed or a clone. Seeds carry genetic information from two parent plants and can express many different combinations of traits: some from the mother, some from the father, and some traits from both.

In commercial cannabis production, generally, growers will plant many seeds of one strain and choose the best plant. They will then take clones from that individual plant, which allows for consistent genetics for mass production.

If cannabis is legal in your state, you can buy seeds or clones from a local dispensary, or online through various seed banks.

Cannabis seeds vs. clones

For the typical homegrower, it may be easier to obtain cannabis seeds rather than clones. Growing from seed can produce a stronger plant with more solid genetics.

Plants grown from seed can be more hearty as young plants when compared to clones, mainly because seeds have a strong taproot. You can plant seeds directly into an outdoor garden in early spring, even in cool, wet climates.

If growing outside, some growers prefer to germinate seeds inside because they are delicate in the beginning stages of growth. Indoors, you can give weed seedlings supplemental light to help them along, and then transplant them outside when big enough.

Most seeds that you will buy are regular seeds as described above, but here are a couple more types.

How weed seeds work

Cannabis can be either male or female—also called “dioecious”—but only females produce the buds we all know and love. For reproduction, males have pollen sacs and pollinate females, causing female flowers to produce seeds.

Once cannabis seeds are mature, the female plant begins to die, and seeds are either dropped to the ground where they grow into new cannabis plants next spring, or the seeds are harvested for processing into seed oil or food products, or stored so they can be sown in the ground later and become the next generation of plants.

To get the buds found in medical and recreational stores, female cannabis plants are grown in an environment without males—or the males are removed from the area before they release pollen—so the females don’t create seeds. Females can then focus their energies on producing buds and not seeds—this high-potency marijuana is traditionally known as “sinsemilla,” meaning “seedless.”

Some varieties of cannabis can produce male parts alongside female flowers on the same plant, especially if exposed to environmental stressors. These plants are known as hermaphrodites, and sometimes they can self-pollinate to create seeds.

Pros and cons of using cannabis seeds

Check out Johanna’s full video series on how to grow weed on Leafly’s YouTube .

If buying from a reputable breeder or seed bank, growing from seed is the best way to ensure your plants will have solid genetics and start clean, meaning they won’t come with diseases or pests.

Also, buying from a reputable breeder or seed bank will give you a sense of what a particular strain will look and smell like, how it will grow, and how much it will yield at harvest.

The main drawback to growing from seed is there is no guarantee as to what you’ll end up with—if you buy a regular pack of cannabis seeds, it will be a mix of males and females. You’ll need to sex them out (more below) to identify the males and get rid of them, because you don’t want your females producing seeds.

Sexing marijuana plants can be a time-consuming process, and if you don’t catch males, there is a risk that even one males can pollinate your entire crop, causing all of your female weed plants to produce seeds.

One way to avoid sexing plants is to buy feminized seeds (more below), which ensures every seed you plant will be a bud-producing female.

You can also minimize headaches and avoid the hassle of seed germination and sexing plants by starting with clones.

How weed clones work

Aside from producing cannabis through seeds, or sexual reproduction, you can also reproduce the plant through cloning, or asexual reproduction. A clone is a cutting that is genetically identical to the plant it was taken from—that plant is known as the “mother.”

Pros and cons of using cannabis clones

Through cloning, you can create a new harvest with exact replicas of your favorite plant. Because genetics are identical, a clone will give you a plant with the same characteristics as the mother, such as flavor, cannabinoid profile, yield, grow time, etc. So if you come across a specific strain or phenotype you really like, you might want to clone it to reproduce more buds that have the same effects and characteristics.

With cloning, you don’t have to get new seeds every time you want to grow another plant—you just take a cutting of the old plant—and you don’t have to germinate seeds or sex them out and get rid of the males.

One drawback of clones is they need to be taken during the vegetative stage of a plant—flower is too late—so if you have a small setup with only one light, it can be hard to keep clones alive while flowering other plants, because the two need different amounts of light.

Another drawback to clones is they can take on negative traits from the mother plant as well. If the mother has a disease, attracts pests, or grows weak branches, its clones will probably have the same issues.

Additionally, every long-time grower will tell you that clones degrade over time.

What are feminized cannabis seeds?

Feminized cannabis seeds will produce only female plants for getting buds, so there is no need to remove males or worry about female plants getting pollinated. Feminized seeds are produced by causing the monoecious condition in a female cannabis plant—the resulting seeds are nearly identical to the self-pollinated female parent, as only one set of genes is present.

This is sometimes referred to as “cloning by seed” and will not produce any male plants. This is achieved through several methods:

  • By spraying the plant with a solution of colloidal silver, a liquid containing tiny particles of silver
  • Through a method known as rodelization, in which a female plant pushed past maturity can pollinate another female
  • Spraying seeds with gibberellic acid, a hormone that triggers germination (this is much less common)

Most experienced or commercial growers will not use feminized seeds because they only contain one set of genes, and these should never be used for breeding purposes. However, a lot of beginning growers start with feminized seeds because they eliminate the worry of having to deal with male plants.

Top feminized cannabis strain families

A lot of classic weed strains that have been around for a while come in feminized form. Some popular fem seeds are:

  • OG Kush
  • Haze
  • Afghan
  • GSC (Cookies)
  • Skunk
  • Cheese
  • Gelato

What are autoflowering cannabis seeds?

Autoflowering seeds are also popular with beginning growers. They are easy to grow because you don’t have to worry about light cycles and how much light a plant receives.

Most cannabis plants begin flowering when the amount of light they receive on a daily basis reduces. Outdoors, this happens when the sun starts setting earlier in the day as the season turns from summer to autumn. Indoor growers can control when a plant flowers by reducing the daily amount of light plants receive from 18 hours to 12 hours.

However, a type of cannabis called Cannabis ruderalis, which developed in extreme northern conditions without much sunlight, will begin flowering once the plant reaches a certain age—they automatically start flowering regardless of the amount of light they receive, hence the name “autoflower.”

Pros and cons of growing autoflower

Because they grow and flower quicker, growers can fit in multiple autoflower cannabis harvests into the span of one regular harvest.

Autoflowers can be started in early spring and will flower during the longest days of summer, taking advantage of high quality light to get bigger yields. Or, if you get a late start in the growing season, you can start autoflowers in May or June and harvest in the fall.

Also, autoflower plants are small—perfect for closet grows or any small grow, or growing outdoors where you don’t want your neighbors to see what you’re up to.

A couple big drawbacks, though: Autoflower strains are known for being less potent. Also, because they are small in stature, they usually don’t produce big yields.

However, potency in autoflowering varieties has increased significantly since their initial introduction, with some breeders crossbreeding the low-THC ruderalis with other more potent varieties.

Tips for growing autoflower marijuana seeds

Autoflowering strains require some preparation, as they will grow quickly and start to flower whether or not you’re ready for them.

Climate considerations

Many marijuana growers start autoflowers early in the season, and at a different time than a regular crop, so keep the season and climate in mind when growing and harvesting—your plants still need warmth to grow, and rain can give them bud rot. Consider growing in a greenhouse to protect them.

Training plants

Because training happens during vegetative growth, for autoflowering plants, this period could be as short as a few weeks, which means time is limited. Try topping your autoflowers after they have three nodes, and stop once they begin to flower. You will want to prune them lightly.

Go easy on nutrients

Autoflowers don’t need lots of nutrients because they’re small and don’t spend much time in the vegetative cycle. They won’t need as much veg nutrients—such as nitrogen—but will need more bloom nutrients.

What are high-CBD cannabis seeds?

CBD, or cannabidiol, is one of the chemical components—known collectively as cannabinoids—found in the cannabis plant. Over the years, humans have selected plants for high-THC content, making cannabis with high levels of CBD rare. The genetic pathways through which THC is synthesized by the plant are different than those for CBD production.

Cannabis used for hemp production has been selected for other traits, including a low THC content, so as to comply with the 2018 Farm Bill. Consequently, many varieties of hemp produce significant quantities of CBD.

As interest in CBD as a medicine has grown, many breeders have crossed high-CBD hemp with cannabis. These strains have little or no THC, 1:1 ratios of THC and CBD, or some have a high-THC content along with significant amounts of CBD (3% or more).

Seeds for these varieties are now widely available online and through dispensaries. It should be noted, however, that any plant grown from these seeds is not guaranteed to produce high levels of CBD, as it takes many years to create a seed line that produces consistent results. A grower looking to produce cannabis with a certain THC to CBD ratio will need to grow from a tested and proven clone or seed.

How to germinate marijuana seeds

Germination is the process in which a seed sprouts and begins to grow into a new plant. Also referred to as “popping,” germination is the very first step in starting your weed grow.

Marijuana 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.

Cannabis seeds require three things to germinate: water, heat, and air. There are many methods to germinate seeds, but for the most common and simplest method, you will need:

  • Two clean plates
  • Four paper towels
  • Seeds
  • Distilled water

Step 1

Take four sheets of paper towels and soak them with distilled water. The towels 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 marijuana seeds at least an inch apart from each other and cover them with the remaining two 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 the seeds are in is warm, somewhere between 70-85°F.

After completing these steps, it’s time to wait. Check the paper towels once a day to make sure they’re still saturated, and if they are losing moisture, apply more water to keep the seeds happy.

Some seeds germinate very rapidly while others can take a while, but generally, seeds should germinate in 3-10 days. If it’s been two weeks and a seed hasn’t sprouted, it’s probably a dud and won’t sprout.

A seed has germinated once the seed splits and a single sprout appears. The sprout 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 the delicate seed sterile, so don’t touch the seed or taproot as it begins to split.

Transplanting germinated cannabis seeds

Once you see the taproot, it’s time to transfer your germinated seed into its growing medium, such as soil.

  • Fill a 4-inch or one-gallon pot with loose, airy potting soil
  • Water the soil before you put the seed in; it should be wet but not drenched
  • Poke a hole in the soil with a pen or pencil—the rule of thumb is: make the hole twice as deep as the seed is wide
  • Using a pair of tweezers, gently place the seed in the hole with the taproot facing down
  • Lightly cover it with soil

Keep a close eye on the temperature and moisture level of the soil to keep the seed happy. It’s very delicate at this stage. Use a spray bottle to water it—over-watering can suffocate and kill the delicate sprout.

Within a week or so you should see a seedling begin to grow from the soil.

Germinating cannabis 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 or for breeding if you want to create a seed bank of your own.

How to sex a pot plant

Check out Johanna’s full video series on how to grow weed on Leafly’s YouTube .

As we’ve mentioned, cannabis is a dioecious plant, meaning male and female reproductive organs appear on different plants.

Because only female cannabis plants produce buds and you want them to focus all their energy on producing buds and not seeds, it’s important to identify and get rid of male weed plants so they don’t pollinate females. If females are pollinated, it will give you buds filled with seeds, making your weed harsh and unpleasant.

Cultivating males is important for breeders trying to cross new strains and genetics, but most people growing for buds will want to remove the males.

As mentioned above, you can skip the processing of sexing weed plants by growing with feminized seeds or clones.

If growing male and female cannabis seeds, they’ll start to show their sex organs, or “pre-flowers,” after 8-10 weeks from germination.

Cannabis plant sex organs appear on nodes, the points where branches grow off from the main stalk.

Males will have round balls—these will develop into pollen sacs, which will release pollen into the air when mature.

Females will have a round structure with long hairs—these hairs will develop into pistils, which will catch pollen in the air.

Pre-flowers can initially be extremely small and hard to identify with the naked eye, but you can use a magnifying glass to get a better look.

Can I grow a seed I found in a bag of weed?

Finding a cannabis seed in your stash is not ideal, but we’ve all been there before. Although much less common than it once was, it still happens. Sometimes you’ll notice one when grinding down some flower, or you’ll see one pop, spark, and crackle from the heat of a lit bowl.

These are referred to as “bagseeds” and whether or not you can grow one will depend on where it came from.

Is a bagseed good or bad?

Seeds found in finished cannabis buds can develop for a number of reasons. For example, a male plant may have accidentally pollinated a flowering female during the growing process. But more commonly, they’re a sign of stress and can be attributed to high temperatures during the final stages of flowering or an exaggerated spike in climate or environment.

Seeds can also form in plants with genetic disorders or instability, like hermaphrodites—plants that develop both male and female reproductive parts. Generally, stress and genetic disorders are viewed as bad, so temper expectations with any plant you start from a bagseed.

But sometimes you get lucky and find a mature seed in some really nice herb. Strains like the legendary Chemdog wouldn’t be possible without adventurous smokers planting and proliferating the seeds they found in a bag of kind bud.

So don’t discount bud because it has a seed or two in it. While not ideal, it could be the origins of the next great weed strain.

Ask yourself a few questions to decide if it’s worth the time and energy to grow the seed.

Was the seed found in good weed?

If you don’t like the flavor, effects, or even the look of the bud, then it’s probably not worth growing.

Are you ready to grow?

Growing marijuana takes a certain level of commitment: time, energy, and financial resources, so be sure you can commit to the whole process.

Is the seed viable?

For a seed to be viable, it must be mature enough to have a completely formed genetic blueprint, and it must be strong enough to germinate and pop through its hard casing and sprout its crucial taproot.

There are a few indicators that will give you a sense of whether the seed is worth germinating.

  • Tiger stripes—dark stripes on the seed which resemble veins on a leaf are generally good
  • Solid shell—a seed should be able to withstand a little pressure when pinched between your fingers; if it crumbles or cracks, it’s no good

Immature seeds tend to be light in color and have a soft outer shell.

In some cases, even if a seed isn’t completely mature, there’s still a chance it could be viable. But often these are extremely weak, take long to develop, and express other unfavorable characteristics. Growers usually discard weak plants to free up space.

You might also find a mature seed that has been physically damaged through poor handling, like rough trimming. In those cases, it probably isn’t worth the effort to try and germinate the seed.

But if the seed you found looks decent, you might as well germinate it and see what sprouts.

Time to germinate

Viable or not, there’s only one sure way to find out if a bagseed will grow. If you’re simply curious to learn and not as concerned with the overall outcome, you can plant a couple of bagseeds outside and see what happens.

If you’re ready for a more serious approach, make sure you have the space for a proper garden and pop the seeds to see what fruit they bear.

Even if your seed sprouts fast and grows vigorously, it still has roughly a 50/50 chance of being female and producing buds, instead of turning out to be a male.

Remember, once a seed germinates, the real work begins. Sexing, selecting, vegetative growth, flowering, and the eventual harvest all lie ahead.

How to buy cannabis seeds

Cannabis seeds can be found on numerous online seed banks, but note that it is illegal to bring seeds into the US and Customs will seize any cannabis seeds that they find in packages or on a person. In legal and medical states, you may purchase seeds at a dispensary.

Will Hyde and Trevor Hennings contributed to this article.

Want to grow weed from seeds? Learn how weed seeds work, how to sex marijuana plants, and how to properly germinate your cannabis seeds.