Germinating Cannabis Seeds

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Learning how to germinate cannabis seeds is essential to all future growing success. Properly popping beans puts you on the road to healthy plants and heavy harvests. But there are a few things to consider in order to master how to germinate cannabis seeds the right way. Jorge Cervantes, veteran marijuana cultivator and author of “The Cannabis Encyclopedia” shares his process for germinating cannabis seeds into healthy sprouts. Learning how to germinate cannabis seeds is the first step to growing marijuana, but it's not as easy as many aspiring cultivators think.

How To Germinate Cannabis Seeds: A Step-by-Step Guide

“It all starts with a seed.” Learning how to germinate cannabis seeds is essential to all future growing success. Properly popping beans puts you on the road to healthy plants and heavy harvests. But there are a few things to consider in order to master how to germinate cannabis seeds the right way.

Step 1: Choosing Seeds

First, you must decide on what seeds to grow and where to get them. Seek out trustworthy seed companies that have been around and have a track record of successful breeding. Take a look at our High Times Seed Bank Hall of Fame for a list of 50 of the most well-known and accomplished strain creators.

Don’t have seeds mailed to the location where you’re growing or planning to grow. Beginners might want to start with an indica-dominant strain that will stay small and stocky with a short flowering time.

Sativa-dominant strains tend to stretch more and have longer flowering times. If your seeds have been sitting around in storage for a while, check out these tips for germinating old seeds.

Step 2: Sprouting Seeds

Some people choose to use the moist paper towel method to germinate their seeds but I recommend just sowing them directly into the medium you plan to grow in. This reduces any stress the seedling will suffer through the transplanting process and secures the young plant firmly into your chosen mix.

Moist Paper Towel: Place seeds on a plate between two moistened paper towels. Put a plate on top to cover and within a couple of days, you should see the seed cracked open and a taproot emerging. Immediately and carefully (using tweezers) place your seed into your growing medium taproot down and water it in.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with using a moist paper towel, as long as you’re gentle with the emerging tap root and as long as you don’t let the taproot grow too long before planting. My belief is simply to start the plant in its own medium to reduce the likelihood of damaging the tender young roots and shoots.

Straight Into Medium: Poke a hole in your pre-moistened grow medium of choice. Drop your seed in about a quarter- to a half-inch deep. Cover the seed with more of your medium and tamp it down gently.

The important thing is to not plant too deeply and to keep the medium moist and warm for the best germination success rate. Clear plastic wrap placed over the top of the container helps maintain humidity. A heating mat underneath your plastic tray will increase your success rate as well.

Step 3: Seedling Care

Within a few days, you should see a minuscule green shoot emerging from the top of your medium. Immediately get your seedling under adequate grow lighting. Ideally, for the strongest growth rate, you want Metal Halide (MH) lighting, but Fluorescent or LED (Light-Emitting Diode) lighting works fine and won’t produce as much heat.

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No matter what lighting you choose, always remember not to keep your grow-light too high above your seedling as this will make it stretch to reach the light and leave your young plant looking long and lanky.Use a timer to make sure the lights are on for at least 18 hours per day. Learning how to germinate cannabis seeds also means treating the emerging seedlings with the proper care.

Temperature and Humidity: You never want your seedlings to dry out. Keep your medium moist but not soaking wet. The air in your grow space should be kept warm, between 70-75 degrees Fahrenheit and with a relative humidity between 50-60 percent.

Use a thermometer/hygrometer to keep track of these factors at all times. As your plant adapts to its new environment, you will see new foliage sprouting forth. Your plants are now well into their vegetative stage of plant growth.

Final Hit: How To Germinate Cannabis Seeds

Now that you know how to germinate cannabis seeds, you’re ready to begin the process of growing your own weed. Just remember, provide light, food and water to your plants when they need it and keep the environment within acceptable levels of temperature and humidity. You’ll avoid so many problems by simply maintaining the proper parameters.

One last tip: Remember to label your seeds, seedlings and clones to avoid confusion and costly mistakes. Now get growing!

How to Grow Weed: Germinating Cannabis Seeds

Jorge Cervantes shares his process for germinating cannabis seeds into healthy sprouts.

The gardening season is booming in North America, and it’s high time to start some tiny seeds that can grow into potent plants, says Jorge Cervantes, veteran marijuana cultivator and author of “The Cannabis Encyclopedia”.

1) Soak seeds overnight in a glass of plain water. They may float on the surface at first but should sink to the bottom in a few minutes. Make sure seeds get good and wet so that water penetrates the outer shell and growth is activated. Do not let seeds soak for more than 24 hours, or they might get too wet, suffer oxygen deprivation and subsequently rot.

2) Remove seeds from the water. Pour water out onto two paper (or cloth) towels on a dinner plate. Fold the towels over the seeds to cover them.

3) Drain the water from the dinner plate by tipping it to the side.

4) Place the seeds in a warm location (70°F–80°F; 21°C–27°C), making sure they are in darkness. Some gardeners go so far as to set the plate in a vertical position (so taproot grows downward). The seeds can also be set on a grate for drainage and air circulation.

5) Check moisture level of towels several times a day, watering once or twice to keep them evenly moist. DO NOT LET THE TOWELS DRY OUT! Let excess water drain away freely. The paper or cloth towels will retain enough moisture to germinate the seeds in a few days. Each seed contains an adequate food supply for germination. Prevent fungal attacks by watering with a mild 2 percent bleach or organic fungicide solution.

6) In a few days, seeds will sprout. Once the germinating cannabis seeds have sprouted and each seed’s white rootlet is visible, use tweezers to carefully pick up the fragile, germinated seeds and plant them. Do not wait for the white rootlets to grow more than 0.25 inches (1 cm) before planting, or growth could slow. Plant each germinated seed with the white root tip pointing downward. Take care not to expose the tender rootlet to prolonged light and air. Cover germinated seeds with 0.25 to 0.5 inches (1-2 cm) of fine, moist planting medium.

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Other Tips for Germinating Cannabis Seeds

Watering Issues

Over and under-watering are the biggest obstacles most gardeners face when germinating seeds and growing seedlings. Keep the soil uniformly moist but not waterlogged. Do not let the growing medium’s surface dry for long. Setting root cubes or planting flats on a grate allows good drainage.

A shallow flat or planter with a heat pad underneath may require daily watering, while a deep, 1-gallon (3.8 liter) pot will need watering every three days or more. A properly watered flat of rockwool cubes needs water every three to five days when sprouting seeds.

When the growing medium’s surface is dry (0.25 inches [1 cm] deep), it is time to water. Remember, there are few roots to absorb the water early in life and they are very delicate.

Hard Cases

Some seeds have a very hard outer shell (testa) and are difficult to germinate. Such testy cases can be softened or scarified to allow water to penetrate. To scarify, line a matchbox with a piece of fine-grain sandpaper or emery board. Put the seeds in the matchbox and shake for 10 to 15 seconds. Remove the seeds and make sure they have been scuffed a bit. Just a little scuffing will allow water to enter and set germination in motion.

1) Set seeds in a matchbox with an emery board or sandpaper on the bottom.

2) Close seeds inside the matchbox.

3) Shake matchbox for 10 to 15 seconds to scarify the seeds.

This is an excerpt from “The Cannabis Encyclopedia” by Jorge Cervantes, world-renowned indoor, outdoor and greenhouse cannabis cultivator. A veteran marijuana grower, Cervantes brings 30 years of experience traveling, studying and writing to bear in his best work to date.

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.

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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.

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!

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