Germinating Cannabis Seeds

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Handling cannabis seed germination is no difficult task, but it requires a great deal of precision and care. If you can provide that, you’re good to go. Learning how to germinate cannabis seeds is the first step to growing marijuana, but it's not as easy as many aspiring cultivators think. There are many to consider when germinating cannabis seeds — not only the germination method you choose but also the conditions your seeds require to thrive.

How to Germinate Cannabis Seeds

Cannabis, better known as marijuana, is getting more popular across the United States as more medical reports deem it highly useful for better health and more states legalize its sale and use. There’s no question of how potent and beneficial marijuana is for health and recreation, so it is no surprise that more individuals are more getting interested in growing the herb in their homes.

Like any other plant, cannabis goes through the germination process before full growth. Handling cannabis seed germination is no difficult task, but it requires a great deal of precision and care. If you can provide that, you’re good to go.

Below here, we breakdown the main aspects of cannabis seed germination you need to know.

The Ideal Germination Conditions for Cannabis

For maximum cannabis seed germination, you need to provide the following conditions:

Moisture

Marijuana seeds need adequate moisture in the soil to develop properly. You can maintain moisture by using well-watered soil or a naturally-moist medium such as compost. Alternatively, you can use mulch on the ground to lock the moisture in.

Stability

Your seeds need a stable setup during planting to guarantee proper germination. You can achieve this by placing the seeds about 1.3cm to 2.5 cm into the medium, not any further or closer to the medium surface.

Temperature

Marijuana seeds require a proper balance between hot and cold temperatures for proper germination. Keep the temperature around the germinating area adequately warm, because colder temperatures tend to delay the germination process.

Direction

Marijuana seeds need direction when being germinated. When placing the germinated seed into the growing medium, ensure that the white root is looking downwards into the medium and the seed body is looking upwards. Positioning it otherwise means the root will have to reorganize itself, which can slow germination.

Seed Germination Methods

There are more than a few options to choose from when picking a method for your seed germination process. We list and explain the best of them below:

Use Starter Cubes & Seedling Plugs

This is the most recommended cannabis seed germination method on this list because of its ease. Starter cubes and seedling plugs are specially designed for the purpose of seed germination, so they come filled with the right kind of planting mix and a hole drilled adequately in the middle for placing your seed. All you have to do is place your seed carefully into the hole and close it with a simple pinch of the nearby planting mix.

The Pros
  • They have high germination rates thanks to adequately pre-set conditions
  • They are easy to use; you open them up and start planting
  • They give less room for error
  • Some of them are designed to allow hydroponic growing (water-based planting)
  • They aren’t too expensive
The Cons
  • Are usually sold in packages of 50 plugs or more at once, no less.
  • Some plugs dry out too quickly after opening.
  • Some plugs must be soaked for a while first before use.

Plant your marijuana seeds directly in the final growing medium

Another good method for germinating your cannabis seeds is by planting them within your final growing medium from the very beginning, whether it is soil or compost or water.

The Pros
  • The seeds don’t get transplant shock during transplanting
  • The seeds get accustomed to the medium early on, which fosters growth
The Cons
  • Some final mediums are not adequately nutrient-rich to support cannabis seed germination in its earliest stages

Use a germination station

For best seed germination results, you can alternatively employ a germination station before transferring to a final growing medium. Germination stations are pre-designed to offer optimum conditions for germination.

The Pros
  • Germination stations are cheap to purchase
  • You can create your own DIY germination station at home using a plastic dome fitted over a plate that’s placed on a heating pad.
The Cons
  • Germination seeds are only appropriate for the early stages of growth, unlike, say, the final medium.

Soak Your Marijuana Seeds in Water Overnight

Alternatively, you can germinate your cannabis seeds using water alone. Place the seeds in a glassful of mildly warm water overnight and wait for the white root to break through the seed shell. Then you can transfer to a final growing medium.

The Pros
  • It works well for seeds with extra hard seed coats
  • Cuts out all the extra preparation required in soil-based germination
The Cons
  • Some seeds, especially the older ones, cannot germinate in water because they require a longer time
  • There is always the risk of over soaking the seeds and killing them

Try the Paper Towel Method

The most DIY cannabis seed germination method on this list is the paper towel method, which involves wrapping your seeds in thin paper towels, making them wet and leaving the setup a warm place. Soon enough, the white roots start showing and the seeds can then be transplanted.

The Pros
  • It is so cheap; the thinnest (and cheapest) paper towels work best
  • It is so easy to do.
The Cons
  • Thicker paper towels can be hard to separate new seedlings from after they’ve sprouted
  • There is a high possibility for errors during transplanting, such as root breakage when seed roots are found to have grown into the paper towel, not on its surface.
  • Paper towels can dry if unattended, thereby killing the new seedlings.
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Planting Germinated Seeds

Once the cannabis seeds have germinated, they need to be planted in order to grow into proper cannabis plants. The recommended method for planting cannabis seeds includes the steps below:

Step One : Set and prepare your planting medium. You can use either a rooting cube or a planting mix for planting, depending on your preference. Rooting cubes have no major preparation requirements –have one ready from Oasis, Jiffy or another good brand. If you’re using a planting mix, procure sterile soil for the process. Random soil doesn’t cut it here.

Step Two : Next, add water to the sterile soil or rooting cube to saturate it. Then use a needle or chopstick to drill small planting holes within the soil or rooting cube. Please do not use your finger for this task.

Step Three : Get your tweezers and sterilize them with alcohol or spirit first. Then use the tweezers to pick the seeds, paying good attention to the fragile white roots.

Step Four : Place each germinated seed into a hole of its own, ever so tenderly, such that the root faces downward. Don’t place the seeds too deep into the ground either, because it slows growth. Move quickly because the roots are easily damaged by exposure to the atmosphere.

Step Five : Next, cover each of the holes with adequate soil or rooting cube. Make sure the planting mix or root cube is moist and not too cold.

Conclusion

Germinating and growing cannabis seeds requires a bit of work, but when done right, the end results are worth every minute spent. Like any other plant, cannabis seeds have to go through germination and then plant growth. Making sure each of these stages is done right will guarantee you a super bouncy harvest every time.

How To Germinate Cannabis Seeds

Cultivating cannabis from a seed is not as easy as many beginner growers might think. Various factors are involved which will ultimately determine if the cultivator is successful and has a large harvest, or if they fail and have to go back to the drawing board. Learning how to germinate cannabis seeds is the first step to becoming a cultivator.

Some cannabis cultivators prefer to start with cannabis clones versus marijuana seeds. Each route has its own advantages, however, seeds are typically easier to acquire than clones. While clones and seeds will both do the trick, seeds also seem to be a more popular route in many areas.

It’s worth noting that purchasing cannabis seeds online is illegal and often results in less than desirable seeds being acquired by the buyer. Look for legal cannabis seed options in your area. Many reputable licensed cannabis dispensaries sell cannabis seeds, with strain options varying.

How Do You Know If A Cannabis Seed Is Viable?

If you consume cannabis long enough, chances are you will come across a seed in your cannabis flower. Whether you want to try to germinate the seed immediately, or save it for down the road, it is important that you know if the cannabis seed is viable to be germinated or not.

Viable cannabis seeds tend to have a darker color with shades of grey, black, and/or brown. A really good cannabis seed will typically have a ‘tiger stripe’ across it. Another way to tell if a cannabis seed is viable is by touching it (make sure to wear gloves when handling cannabis seeds). A quality seed should withstand a bit of a pinch. If the seed collapses under a little pressure, then it wasn’t viable.

How Do You Germinate Cannabis Seeds?

Germinating marijuana seeds is not difficult, although it does take attention to detail and the right environment. Successful germination takes the right amount of moisture, the right temperature, and a decent amount of light (sunlight or artificial light from low-intensity grow lights).

Arguably the easiest and most cost-effective way to germinate a cannabis seed is to place it between wet paper towels (often referred to as “the paper towel germination method”). Add a bit of water to the paper towels and squeeze out the excess water.

You want the paper towels to be moist but not dripping water. Place the seed(s) between the moist paper towels, place the paper towels in a sandwich bag to lock in the moisture, and put it on a window ledge where it will get some but not too much light. Keep the paper towels moist until the germinated cannabis seeds are ready to transplant.

If the temperature of the room is too cold (below 55 degrees Fahrenheit), consider using a heating mat, which can be found at most department stores in the gardening section. The success rate of the paper towel method is high as long as the cultivator keeps a close eye on the process until the germinated seed is ready to be transplanted into potting soil, peat pellets, or a different growing medium.

Various products such as “rapid rooters” can be incorporated into germination strategies, however, they are not as cost-effective as the paper towel method.

When Is The Seed Ready To Be Transplanted?

Watching a cannabis seed germinate can be a lot like waiting for water to boil — it takes time (typically a couple of weeks). The seeds will eventually crack open and a white root will shoot out of the cracked cannabis seed shell. The white root is often referred to as the taproot. Once your sprouting seed has a strong taproot (an inch or so) it is ready to be transplanted.

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Find a two-inch container for your grow space, fill it full of soil (or your preferred growing medium), and poke a hole where the seed will be placed. Using tweezers, place the seed with the taproot facing down in the hole. Then, cover it with soil.

From there, you can grow the cannabis seed into a large cannabis plant. One downfall to cultivating cannabis from seed is that you won’t know if the marijuana plants are male or female for several weeks. If the young plant proves to be male, then it is basically useless. Using feminized cannabis seeds is a good way to ensure that the plants are not males, saving you quite a bit of time and headache.

Continuing Your Education

Cultivating cannabis is a never-ending educational journey. Even the most experienced cannabis cultivators will be quick to tell you that they are always learning and seeking out cultivation information.

A great way to learn more about the cannabis cultivation process from seed to harvest is via Green Flower’s Cannabis Cultivation Certificate Program. The program is led by true cultivation experts and involves insightful course materials. If you are looking to increase your cultivation knowledge this is a great way to do it!

Care and Caution When Germinating Cannabis Seeds

For growers looking to produce top-shelf cannabis, it all starts with the seeds. Rich Hamilton explains there’s far more involved than simply burying a seed in a pot of dirt.

There are many to consider when germinating cannabis seeds — not only the germination method you choose but also the environmental conditions your seeds require to thrive. These conditions include temperature, light exposure, moisture, and oxygen levels. Get any of these wrong and it could spell the end for your grow before it even begins.

Cannabis seeds can be very delicate and temperamental even when germinating in the perfect conditions. You can understand why you should approach this task with best-practice knowledge and caution.

To try and give your seeds the best chance, we are going to look at some tips and methods to help you get better results, first time, from your germination efforts.

Firstly, what is germination? Well, germinate means “to bring to life.” Germination is the first part of a plant’s life, the growth or shooting of a seed into a seedling and then hopefully a plant.

Cannabis seeds germinate via epigeal germination which sees the cotyledons (seed leaves) pushed upward and out of the soil as the plant begins to grow. For germination to occur, several natural elements and conditions must be present in the correct ratios. Let’s have a look at them.

Water — This is needed to start the germination process as the seed is dry, holding only five percent water and needs to absorb a lot more to begin the germination process. Seeds store starch, oils, and proteins and when germination begins, hydrolytic enzymes are activated, releasing the stored supplies and giving the plant just enough of the right chemicals to get it started. Water is also needed to expand the seed’s shell and soften it, allowing it to split for the beginnings of the plant to emerge. The hardness of a cannabis seed shell can vary quite a lot. If your seed is ripe and mature enough for germination, then you shouldn’t have any problems. A more immature cannabis seed, however, will have a more rigid shell and may fail to germinate.

Oxygen — Seeds need to breathe, but without oxygen the seed may drown or suffocate. Overwatering can suffocate your cannabis seeds preventing oxygen from getting to them, so keep them moist but not soaked. Don’t overwater your seeds — use a spray mist rather than pouring water directly onto them.

Temperature — Ideally, your cannabis seeds will germinate best at their “sweet spot” between 70-75°F. If you germinate a cannabis seed outside this range, then it can negatively affect the plant’s growth and health in the future. When temperatures are too cold, it can ultimately stunt germination so keep seeds away from any drafts, open windows, or fans.

Light conditions — Cannabis seeds germinate best in dark conditions. During germination, your cannabis seed is working to develop its first root (the radicle), and roots (unsurprisingly as they exist underground) do not like light! It is therefore vital to keep your cannabis seeds somewhere dark until transplant. But as soon as germination occurs and your new seedling develops leaves, it will need to be exposed to light to start the vital task of photosynthesis. Now that we understand what your cannabis seeds need, let’s explore the most popular methods used to germinate them.

The Glass of Water Germination Method

You can leave your cannabis seeds in a glass of mineral water in a dark environment until the radicle/tip of the root shows.

Depending on the seed strain, you should generally see something happening within one to five days. Why mineral water? Well, depending on where you live, your tap water can vary immensely in terms of chemical composition and pH. The ideal pH for water when germinating is pH 7. Anything outside of this can have adverse effects on your seed. Using mineral water is a cheap and effective way of keeping a stable pH environment. If you use tap water, however, leave it to stand for 24 hours first. The tap water needs a chance to settle and dissolve any chemicals that are present and may be harmful to the seeds.

You can use an air stone and pump to oxygenate the water whilst it stands for 24 hours. By doing so, you will reduce the chance of the seeds drowning and helping to dissolve any unwanted chemicals at a faster rate.

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The Paper Towel Germination Method

Using a paper towel to germinate your cannabis seeds is both reliable and straightforward. You should find that 90 percent or more of your cannabis seeds will germinate when following this method correctly.

Take a sheet of premium paper towel and fold it in half, then place the seeds to the left of center. If you are germinating more than one seed, then you can use the same piece of kitchen towel but do not let the cannabis seeds touch each other. Now fold the kitchen towel in half again so all the seeds are covered up and then saturate it with water.

Mineral water is excellent to use, or if you are going to use tap water, then follow the recommended process for the glass of water method as previously discussed. Now leave the kitchen towel on a plate in a dark place as the roots will hopefully begin to develop soon and they do not like the light.

Humidity levels are equally important and keeping the seeds in the paper towel will keep the humidity levels where they should be. Keep the kitchen towel moist at all times and do not let it dry out. If you have been successful, it should take about two to four days for you to see until the radicle begins to emerge.

It is best practice to place the moist kitchen towels between two clean plates. Doing so helps to stabilize temperature and humidity and block out any light. The plates should be face-to-face, with the germination towel in between. Once a cannabis seed starts showing signs of successfully germinating, you can easily remove them whilst leaving the others, which may not yet have germinated, undisturbed.

Direct Germination Method

Germinating “directly” is where you place the cannabis seed directly within a pellet or block of a medium of your choosing. You can germinate your seed within a soil or coco pellet, however, I would recommend choosing a one-inch rooting sponge or stonewool cube.

You can use a soil pellet, but the risk here is that soil already contains a certain level of minerals and elements that could cause an imbalance in your seed, affecting its development later on in life.

For seeds in their natural environment, there can be double, triple, or a hundred times more plants growing in the soil at any one time. From those plants, thousands of seeds are dropped for germination and of those thousands, only half may germinate, even under natural conditions.

We are trying to grow our seeds under controlled conditions and in much smaller numbers. The margin for error, therefore, is much smaller. Using a rooting sponge is an excellent alternative for germination as it eliminates any risk of deficiencies or toxicities you may otherwise experience when using a natural medium such as soil at this early stage.

The direct method of germination can be hard to control as you must wait until the seedling first shows itself out of the chosen medium to know whether it has been successful or not.

As the cannabis seed is buried within its medium, you cannot check on it during the process to see if it has begun the germination process. As a result, this process can take much longer than the methods already discussed.

If you are germinating “directly” then firstly you should moisten your medium by misting it with a spray bottle. The cannabis seed will then need to be carefully inserted into the chosen medium and be surrounded by its encasing environment to keep any light out.

Now that you have chosen your method and you have successfully germinated some seeds. What now? How do you know when you should transplant? If everything goes according to plan with your germination efforts, you will see the radicle/root tip of the cannabis seed breaking through the shell. This new root is the first sign germination has occurred. It is best to transplant each seedling when the radicle is around three times the length of the seed.

A rooting sponge is a perfect choice for transplanting as it is compatible with whatever medium or system you use later. Rooting sponges are also an excellent choice for those who are looking to sell their seedlings.

Rooting sponges and stone wool blocks make for more robust root systems. It can take longer for the roots to break through, but when they do, they will be stronger.

When you are transplanting the seed, it must be placed radicle first into its new home, quickly, gently, and precisely as it only has a minimal amount of energy to survive and develop into a seedling. Once your seeds are transplanted, they should go into a propagator, ready for the start of the growth phase of their lives. Your cannabis seed holds all the potential to give you the vibrant, robust, healthy plants, and bountiful yields you desire.

Taking the time and care to get your seeds off to a good start should be a no-brainer. Knowledge is power if you want to be a better grower, so think of the learning process just like a seed itself. Nurture it, cultivate it, and you will soon harvest success.

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