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.
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.
Go easy on nutrients
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.
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.”
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.
Some people use paper towels right after the water soaking method to get the remaining seeds to germinate. You can use paper towels from the start as well. The first step is to dampen the paper towel and put it on a plate. Place the seeds on it before folding the paper towel over.
Some general tips for germinating cannabis seeds include:
Another common method is to put the cannabis seeds in some soil. In nature, they sprout their taproots in soil, so growers may choose to germinate them directly in the medium. Prepare fresh soil by putting them in a pot or a container. You may want to use a small pot and transfer the seed to a larger one later. Next, add enough water to make it damp but not soaked.
Soaking cannabis seeds in water is more advantageous for the ones with a harder shell. Older seeds can benefit from the method as well. The water helps wake them up, in a sense. Another benefit is that it is not as costly. All you need is a clean glass cup and some distilled water.
If it has been well over a week without any signs of a sprout, it is likely a dud. Germinating cannabis seeds requires patience. Keep in mind that the method you use can influence how long it takes.
The seeds should start sprouting in about two days, though older seeds can take up to a week to sprout. You can remove them from the water and place them in the soil at any point once they’ve sprouted. Once the roots are about five millimeters long, they need to be planted.
The paper towel method is also a common way cultivators pop their seeds. Some even use this method with cotton pads instead of paper towels, but the necessary steps are the same.
Germination itself is a crucial aspect of cannabis cultivation. The seed germination process is the foundation of every marijuana plant, and steps can be taken to boost successful popping. For example, some cultivators improve germination attempts by soaking seeds in 1% hydrogen peroxide or a compost tea for 12 hours beforehand to kill any dangerous pests.
How to germinate seeds in water
When a seed enters an environment with enough moisture, it will increase in size and slowly break out of its shell. A seedling or germ forms from which roots will emerge, helping the baby plant absorb nutrients from the soil. Seeds naturally develop roots facing down and stems stretching upward, allowing the young cannabis plant to simultaneously feed off light and earth.
Place the soil in a small pot and use your finger or a pencil to push a small hole in the dirt, a bit more than half an inch deep. Insert the seed into the hole and bury it with soil. From this point on, don’t touch your seed. The young plant is fragile and knows how to position itself in the soil bed.
Monitor your soil every day and keep it moist. Within four to seven days, you should see tiny stems sprouting from the soil.
Soil is an easy, more natural method with which to germinate your cannabis seeds because the soil protects the fragile roots from any interference. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps