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
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.
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.
To create a dark, protected space, take another plate and flip it over to cover the seeds (like a dome).
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.
I Found a Seed in My Bag of Cannabis. Can I Grow It?
You just picked up a new strain that you’ve been waiting to try. The moment you get home, you rip into the package and take in its smell. When you dive in deeper, you spot something buried within the bud. It’s small, round, and has an outer casing.
Congratulations, you’ve found a seed. More specifically a bagseed, as the seeds found in packaged or bagged flower are commonly called.
Maybe congratulations aren’t quite in order. Depending on where it came from, who you ask, and if the seed is viable or not will affect your level of excitement.
While finding a seed in your stash is not ideal for truly exceptional flower and much less common than it once was, it is a pretty ordinary occurrence. Anyone who has been smoking cannabis for some time has undoubtedly come across a bagseed. Sometimes you’ll notice one when grinding down some flower or you’ll see it pop, spark, and crackle as the heat of your lit bowl pops the precious kernel within.
Ok, so you found a bagseed. Now what?
Is a Bagseed Good or Bad?
Seeds found in finished cannabis flower can develop for a number of reasons. A nearby male plant can accidentally pollinate a flowering female. More commonly, though, 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 these conditions are viewed as negatives, and for that reason alone, temper your expectations with any plants you start from a bagseed.
If found before lighting it on fire, the first thought from excited smokers is: “Let’s grow some weed!” But before you jump in headfirst, ask yourself a few questions to help decide if it’s worth the time and energy to grow the seed.
Was the Seed Found in Good Cannabis?
The first and most apparent question you should ask yourself is whether you enjoy the cannabis that the seed turned up in. If you don’t like the flavor, effects, or even the looks of the bud, then it’s probably not worth growing.
Strains like the legendary Chemdog wouldn’t be possible without adventurous smokers planting and proliferating the seeds they found in a bag.
Sometimes you’ll 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 your bud just because there’s a seed or two in it. While not ideal, it could be the origins of the next great cannabis strain.
Are You Ready to Grow?
Growing cannabis takes a certain level of commitment. Plants need nurturing for months in the right environment with a close eye for detail. All this takes investment. Whether it’s time, energy, or financial resources, you’ll have to commit to the whole process if you want to produce something you’re proud of.
Fear not! If you’re simply curious to learn how cannabis grows and less concerned with the overall outcome, you can plant a couple of bagseeds outside and see what the result are.
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. That is, if the seeds you found are viable.
Is the Seed Viable?
If you like the strain and you’re ready to grow, then it comes down to whether or not the seed is viable, or able to successfully germinate. 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 “pop” through its hard casing and sprout its crucial tap root.
Immature seeds tend to be light in color and have a soft outer shell.
Stress on a plant and unstable environments can produce bagseeds, and often, a bagseed’s viability is questionable at best.
There are a few indicators that will give you a sense of whether the seed is worth germinating. Immature seeds tend to be light in color and have a soft outer shell.
Visual signs like tiger stripes—dark stripes that resemble tiny roots or veins on a leaf—are generally good. A seed with a solid shell will withstand a little pressure when pinched between your fingers. If it crumbles or cracks, the seed will be effectively destroyed, but don’t agonize over your loss.
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 in their limited gardens.
However, I’ve watched seeds that I had zero faith in their ability to germinate turn into strong, healthy plants—but that isn’t common.
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 seeds you found look decent or even questionable, you might as well germinate them and see what sprouts.
Time to Germinate
Viable or not, there’s only one sure way to find out. Once you’ve decided you’re going to see what those beans can do, it’s time to germinate. Germination is the incubation period that encourages seeds to sprout and develop into a new plant.
There are a number of different ways you can germinate cannabis seeds, but they all require the same things to be successful: water, heat, and air. For a complete, step-by-step guide, check out our article How to Germinate Cannabis Seeds.
Even if your seed sprouts fast and grows vigorously, it has roughly a 50/50 chance of being female and producing seedless, cannabinoid-rich flowers.
Remember, once a seed germinates, the real work begins. Sexing, selecting, vegetative growth, flowering, and the eventual harvest all lie ahead.
What do you do with that seed you found in your bag of cannabis? Before you try and grow your bagseed, find out if it’s worth it.