Want to germinate your cannabis seeds? Not sure how to start? This guide will give you a few tips and tricks to get your journey started. Figuring out how to germinate weed seeds isn't that hard, but choosing the right method can determine exactly how high your success rate is. A step-by-step guide describing the best way to germinate your cannabis seeds. This germination method is ideal for the indoor and outdoor grower.
How to Germinate Cannabis Seeds
Just received your cannabis seeds in the mail? Great! Now what?
Now you germinate your seeds. But what does that mean, and how do you do it? Once again, Seedsman has all the information you need. This article will look at the germination process – both what it means and a step-by-step look at how to do it. Bookmark this one for future reference.
Table of contents
What is Seed Germination?
Put simply, germination is the first step when growing marijuana plants. It’s the first step in the cannabis plant life cycle before planting or potting your seeds, where the seed goes from seed to seedling. The shell will crack, and (all being well), you’ll see a white root emerge.
This sprout is known as a taproot, and it’s the first sign of life to burst forth from your seed. There are several different ways to germinate cannabis seeds, most of which are pretty straightforward. We’ll look at these methods in a bit more depth, and you can decide which method is best for you – and your seeds.
Getting the germination stage right is crucial to getting your cannabis cultivation off the ground. There’s a high chance of failure, and how you store your seeds, as well as how you handle them before attempting germination, is vital. If you get it wrong, your seed is useless, and you’ll have to try again with a new seed – but don’t worry! This guide will give you all you need to know to get you germinating seeds like a veteran.
Before you get started, there is a small caveat – even the most seasoned cultivators will often find themselves with a dud seed or a few dud seeds now and again. Taking great care of your seeds and using the proper techniques will serve you well, but sometimes a seed just won’t sprout. Bear in mind a seed is a living organism, and sometimes you’ll get a seed with bad genetics. If this happens to you, toss it aside and start again.
Inspect Your Seeds
Cannabis seeds are just the same as any other seeds in that they’re not all created equal. Upon opening the package, you may notice seeds of different sizes and colours. This is normal, and the shape and size of the seed aren’t indicative of its quality.
There’s a consensus among the experts that the colour of the seed may be a quality marker. Darker seeds may have greater viability, and pale green or whiter-looking seeds are more likely to fail. That doesn’t mean tossing out the pale ones, however. Germinate them all and see how you fare. Even a seed with slight damage to the outer shell can sometimes germinate and grow to produce good plants.
It likely suggests a good seed if a seed has a tough shell and can take a squeeze without sustaining any damage. An immature seed will typically be of a paler colour and more prone to shell damage if pressure is applied.
What’s the Score?
Some cultivators believe in scoring the seed’s outer shell with a sharp object before germination. This process is also known as scarification and is a good way to assist in the germination process. The idea is that weakening the seed’s outer shell makes it easier for moisture to permeate the hard shell. This should speed up the process somewhat and make it easier for the taproot to burst through.
Feel free to try this method, but take great care. Also, note that if you’re a hobbyist, scarification is fine, but if you’re a licensed cultivator with dozens of plants, you might find scarification to be an unnecessary, time-consuming endeavour.
As scarification involves a sharp implement (such as a pen knife or a thin file), there’s a reasonable chance you could nick yourself in the process. Your seed is at risk of damage because if you score too deep into the shell, you can damage the embryo inside the seed. Sure, you can toss the seed aside and start over with a new one, but can you say the same about your finger?
You can nip seeds with nail clippers to scarify them, but remember not to squeeze too hard – the aim is to put a score in the shell and not pierce it.
Another way to scarify seeds is to soak them in hot, but not boiling, water. Let the water cool to room temperature, and leave the seeds in that same water for around 12 hours.
A Word About Water
Home growers take note – many seasoned cultivators recommend using distilled water rather than tap water when germinating seeds. The advantage of distilled water is that it’s free of contaminants and seems to help seeds germinate quicker.
How To Germinate Cannabis Seeds
Once you’ve inspected your marijuana seeds and scarified them if you choose to, it’s time to begin the fun part – germinating your seeds. This is the first step in the life of your cannabis plant when the initial shoot of the plant appears, long before putting the plant under grow lights or into a growing medium. Seeing your first taproots is an exciting experience and is often documented like the imminent arrival of a child with a series of photographs from bump to birth.
Let’s talk about germination methods:
The Wet Paper Towel Method
This is a favourite of hobbyist cultivators worldwide, mainly due to its sheer simplicity. To germinate cannabis seeds using the paper towel method, you’ll need the following:
Cannabis seeds (of course)
- Two plates
- Four paper towels
- Distilled water
Begin by laying the paper towels out flat. Dampen them with distilled water, enough to moisten without saturating them – you want them to be moist but not wet. Lay two of your dampened paper towels on top of one of the plates, and using tweezers, place your seeds on top of the paper towels a few centimetres apart from each other. Then, take the other two paper towels and lay them on top of the seeds. Finally, cover the lot with the last plate to seal in the moisture and create a nice, dark environment for your seeds.
Store your plates in an environment where the temperature is between 20°C and 30°C (68 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit) and check on them twice a day. You can buy a heating mat online to help create a stable temperature. Top Tip – if you find the paper towels are drying out, add a little more distilled water to keep them moist.
Resist the temptation to check on them regularly, as you don’t want to keep disturbing the ambience between the plates. Using the paper towel method, you should see taproots emerge within the first three days, although some strains and older seeds may need a little more time. When you have taproots measuring 2-3mm, remove your sprouting seeds and plant them in the soil.
The Glass of Water Method
A less common and perhaps less effective method is the glass of water method of germinating seeds. Here, you’ll need:
- Seeds (of course)
- A cup/glass/bowl – small container of water
First, ensure the water is at room temperature. Don’t heat it, don’t boil it, don’t pull a bottle of Evian straight from the fridge and have at it. Then, simply pop your seeds in and check back the next day. After somewhere between 3 to 5 days, you should find that your seeds have opened and those magical white tips have appeared. Once they’re around 2-3mm long, remove the seeds very carefully, and plant them in soil pots.
This is the simplest germination method, but the internet is awash with contradicting views and sob stories about using the glass of water method to germinate cannabis seeds. Some people found that seeds effectively drowned and were useless due to spending so long in the water, but others reported the process worked fine.
A slightly more hi-tech method of germinating your seeds involves using soil plugs. These contain ingredients such as key nutrients which should benefit seedlings to thrive. By investing in soil plugs, the idea is that you’re strengthening the plant from its earliest stage of life and providing head-start protection. Soil plugs can assist nutrient uptake and protect against pathogens which could attack the root zone.
For this method, you’ll need the following:
- Seeds (of course)
- Soil Plugs
- A propagation tray
- A spray bottle
- A clear plastic lid (Tupperware style)
Begin by placing a single seed into each plug, then place each plug into the propagation tray. Grab your spray bottle and set it to mist to avoid overwatering, then mist each plug with just enough water to moisten them.
Then, pop your lid on the propagation tray to retain the humidity inside the tray. It would be best if you aimed to keep the temperature somewhere between 22°C and 25°C and relative humidity between 70% and 90%. Once roots begin to appear, soil plugs have the benefit of allowing easy transplant into soil, rock wool, coir or hydroponics systems.
The Soil Method
The advantage of planting seeds directly into potting soil is a notable one – you want to minimise handling as much as possible at this stage, and the soil method allows you to skip that altogether. For that reason, planting straight into soil is probably the safest method of germinating cannabis seeds.
- Seeds (of course)
- Small pots
- Premium quality soil
- A spray bottle
Soak the soil you’re going to be using in water, and fill each pot with soil. Make a small hole about 15mm deep in the centre of the soil, then carefully place one seed in the hole in the soil in every pot. You’ll then lightly cover each seed with soil, but take great care not to compress the soil over the seed. Doing this will make it much harder for the root to break through the soil and can slow growth significantly. A light dusting over the seed should do the trick.
After this, lightly spray the top soil with water to keep it moist. Then, place the pots in an environment in that temperature sweet spot between 22C and 25C. It should take between four and ten days for the seedling to sprout in this method, but as it’s already in soil, the plant’s roots will also have started to spread underneath. The result is a plant that’s underway and has enough resilience that you can transfer it – and the soil – to a larger pot for the next stage of young plant growth.
Different Methods, Same Conditions
Once your seeds have germinated, pot them and transfer them to a windowsill to give young seedlings some light. You won’t have to worry too much about nutrients at this stage, but once you see the first set of leaves emerge (known as cotyledons), slowly introduce nutrients at around a quarter of the recommended dose, increasing in quarter increments per set of leaves.
Remember that no batch of seeds comes with a guarantee that 100% of them will germinate. Any of the above methods will successfully germinate most of your seeds, but no matter which way you choose, there are key conditions that remain consistent with each.
In nature, seeds germinate in springtime, so we want to replicate those conditions – warmth, humidity, and moisture are vital. Keep handling of your seeds to a minimum, and remember that checking a couple of times a day is recommended. Germinating cannabis plant seeds can be an exciting time, but resist the temptation to check in every 90 minutes.
Finally, buying your seeds from a top quality and trusted seed bank like Seedsman ensures high-quality genetics, which increases the likelihood of successful germination.
Got any top tip tips or hacks for germinating your cannabis seeds? Share them in the comments below.
Cultivation information, and media is given for those of our clients who live in countries where cannabis cultivation is decriminalised or legal, or to those that operate within a licensed model. We encourage all readers to be aware of their local laws and to ensure they do not break them.
How to Germinate Weed Seeds – Tips and Methods
Germinating cannabis seeds isn’t a complicated process, although it does require a few specific parameters in order to happen successfully. If you’re reading up on how to germinate weed seeds, you’re in the right place; it’s a relatively easy process, you just need to have some patience on hand. The first thing to keep in mind is that your seeds are going to need water, heat and air in order to germinate.
How to Germinate Weed Seeds – Basic Parameters
Moisture is one of the three elements required to successfully germinate cannabis seeds; it essentially helps the seeds to expand and therefore break their shell. Over-watering at this stage can be fatal for your seeds, although harder-shelled and older seeds can take longer to soak through, so some patience is required.
This can be the hardest thing to work with, because temperatures that are either too cold or too hot will mess with your seeds and they won’t germinate. Springtime temperatures are generally what you should be aiming for – seeds can still germinate in colder temperatures, although they can take longer.
How to Germinate Weed Seeds – Germination Methods
There are many different germination methods that growers tend to use, all of which involve water and heat, although they’re not all as effective as others. Some people prefer germinating by planting straight in the ground, using starter cubes or by letting them soak overnight, although our preferred and recommended method is the paper towel method using either plates or an opaque kitchen container. We’re going to give you a brief rundown of the other methods, alongside their pros and cons.
This method is more reliable than others, and they make germinating quite easy. All you have to do is place your seed carefully in your seed plug and follow the instructions when watering; different brands and models have different watering instructions.
Some cubes are made out of peat and soil, and you can move them straight into your flowerpot once they’ve popped. However, hydroponic growers can use rockwool cubes which can hold quite a lot of moisture.
One of the downsides to using starter cubes is that they’re not very handy if you only want to germinate one or two seeds, because they’re usually sold in packs of 50 or more, and once they’ve been opened most cubes tend to dry out within a couple of weeks. Another downside to Rockwool specific cubes is that they’re bad for the environment, can be bad for your health when inhaled, and they’re not the best method for new growers.
Other growers prefer to get rid of the middle man and plant their seed straight into their first flowerpot – it’s essentially how it would be done in nature, so why not follow the natural order? One of the pros when it comes to planting straight in your growing medium is that you don’t have to stress out your little seedling when transplanting, although it can be a bit harder to get the humidity right and you need to bury it just the right amount so that it can sprout.
We highly advise against using this method, as it’s incredibly easy to accidentally drown your seeds. This method involves soaking your seeds in a glass of lukewarm water – it can be any type of cup, although people usually use a normal glass. This method can be effective for much older seeds or for seeds that have abnormally thick shells.
There are a few myths surrounding germinating in water overnight – some people say that if your seeds sink, they won’t germinate, however the truth is that most seeds start off by floating and then as they soak, they sink to the bottom of the glass. This has nothing to do with germination indication.
How to Germinate Weed Seeds – Paper Towel Method
This method is the method we recommend all readers and customers use, as it’s the one that has proven to give us the highest germination rate. We’re going to give an in-depth step by step guide on how to use this method. Keep in mind that you can skip the rooting hormone part if you prefer all natural results, although X-Seed does provide impressive results to start with.
Material Needed to Successfully Germinate seeds
- Kitchen paper
- Opaque plastic Tupperware or two plates
- Viable cannabis seeds
We’re going to go through the X-Seed method – if you want to skip this, you can simply skip the steps involving X-Seed and place your seeds straight into your paper towel as stated in step 4. Before you start, make sure you have everything you need at hand, so that you don’t have to waste any time looking for stuff. Find the best strains at our Cannabis seeds – Buy Marijuana Seeds section.
Step 1: Soak the seeds
Submerge your seeds in your B.A.C. X-Seed liquid for an hour. Give it a stir every now and then so that the seeds are thoroughly soaked.
Step 2: Germination
While your seeds are soaking, you’ll need to prepare your paper towel and plates (or opaque Tupperware). Make a makeshift “bed” on the bottom plate with damp kitchen paper, but make sure it isn’t soaking. We tend to use 3 layers of kitchen paper; wet the paper and let it dry without wrinkling it, hanging it out kind of like a t-shirt so that all of the excess water can easily drain out. No need to worry about drying it, as you want the kitchen paper to be damp.
Step 3: Separation
After your seeds have been in the B.A.C. X-Seed liquid for an hour, by using a spoon you can carefully extract the seeds from the liquid and spread them evenly across the bottom of your plate or container. An even spread is important, so as the roots of each seed do not get tangled – about an inch apart is good.
Step 4: Cover the seeds
Once you have all of your seeds nicely placed on your plate or in your container, cover the seeds with another layer of damp kitchen paper, similar to the first layer that you put on the bottom. At this point, your seeds should be completely covered.
Step 5: Take care
Once you’ve finished covering your seeds with paper towel, cover them with another plate or put the lid on your container; if doing this in a container, the paper shouldn’t dry out as fast. A mistake made by many growers is that they add too much water to their paper towels if they’ve dried up, but by using a spray bottle you can moisten it some more without overdoing it. If your container is transparent, all you have to do is line the inside so that absolutely no light can get in.
Step 6: Temperature adjustments
Once you’ve isolated your seeds from light, you should leave it somewhere with a nice, neutral temperature. During winter it’s often harder to find a good spot, so you should try and find a heat source that isn’t excessive. You can use a computer modem, or even a softly powered electric blanket. Items like play-stations can get too hot and could end up cooking your seeds, so take care where you put them.
Step 7: After care
Once your seeds open up, they’ll shoot out a small, white root. This means you need to be extremely careful when handling them. Don’t leave them for long because once they’re open they should be moved to soil.
Step 8: Moving to soil
Now that your seeds have officially germinated. Now you need to move them to the medium in which they will remain for the rest of the growing process. Germinated seeds usually grown in soil, but rockwool for hydroponics is also a good option growing. Or even a coco jiffy if you want to cultivate in coco coir. In this article we’ll be dealing with the most common method: planting seeds in soil.
How to Germinate Weed Seeds
Start by filling a small pot with soil, no more than half a liter. Water it before even thinking about planting your seed. Once the soil is damp enough to weigh down the plant pot, use the tip of your finger to create a small 0.5-0.1 cm hole in the middle of the soil, and deposit the seed in the hole with the root facing downwards. Then, cover the seed with a little soil so that it’s just under the surface. The last step in this process is to put your plant pot in the sun or under your lamps (wherever you’re planning on growing it). Within a couple of days you should see that first sprout, that will keep on growing right until the end. In some cases, it may even take a matter of hours.
Keep an eye out on our follow up article on soil preparation for growing cannabis.
How to Germinate Cannabis Seeds
Germination is the beginning of your cannabis seeds’ life and is easy to master. At this crucial stage, seeds grow and sprout into young seedlings. The best genetics deserve the best start, and all you need is two plates, some paper towel, and water. Apply the best germination method today and enjoy a great harvest.
1. Germination set-up
Prepare the first plate by lining the inside surface with two to three layers of damp paper towel. Drain excess water from your plate.
Place cannabis seeds on the top surface of the damp paper towel. Approximately three per plate; ensure they are not touching but are evenly spaced apart.
Add only a few layers of damp paper towel on top of the seeds, and let any excess water drain from the plate. Too much water lowers the chance of successful germination.
To complete the set-up, place the remaining plate upside-down and on top of the first plate, resembling pearls inside a clam.
Cannabis seeds need a dark, warm, and humid atmosphere to germinate.
Around 21°C (70°F) is perfect. Check the paper towels every second day and if required, spray with water to keep conditions moist for your seeds.
After a few days, tiny roots will begin to emerge. Congratulations! Your seeds have survived their first stage of life. Don’t worry if some of your seeds have not yet changed, they may just need a little more time as germination can take up to 14 days.
3. Plant of the seeling
Once the roots are a few millimetres long, they are ready to be delicately transferred to a small container filled with your growing medium of choice (rockwool, coco-fibre, or soil).
Make a hole in the growing medium that is 2 – 5 mm deep. Use tweezers or your fingers to transfer germinated seeds gently into the hole (root pointing down) and lightly cover with a fine layer of your medium. Do not pat it down too hard. The stem and the first tiny set of leaves, called cotyledons or ‘seed leaves’, should begin to emerge 24 to 72 hours after the seeds are planted.
4. Supplying a light source
Seedlings must be exposed to sunlight once they sprout. Ensure this is a gradual process as too much heat causes stress and will stunt growth.
Find a sunny place where you can begin to increase sun exposure, such as a windowsill. Ensure sun exposure is increased by an hour or so a day.
For an indoor plant you can use a fluorescent light (keep normal distance from bulb) or HID lighting (50-80 cm from the bulb).
Take care in the first week or two, as seedlings are still quite delicate and sensitive to the elements. They won’t need a lot of attention until the vegetative stage so avoid overhandling.
Germination is the beginning stage of the growing cycle, and this easy-to-follow guide gives your premium genetic cannabis seeds the best start to life. Whether you are a first-time home grower or a well-seasoned gardener, share your experience or any questions in the comments down below, as well as your tips and tricks!
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Laws and regulations regarding cannabis cultivation differ from country to country. Sensi Seeds therefore strongly advises you to check your local laws and regulations. Do not act in conflict with the law.
24 thoughts on “How to Germinate Cannabis Seeds”
Hi, Once seeds have sprouted, how long can or should you leave them to grow under 24 hr lights before moving to your outdoor garden?
Good afternoon Ken,
I hope you’re having a great day.
For the vegetation process, a light schedule of 18 hours of light, and 6 hours of darkness is preferred. Many growers get plants acclimatized to outside by placing them in a window, or under direct sunlight for a few hours a day.
Thanks again, and have a great day!
Hello everyone, all these suggestions are wonderful but I think a lot of you make it sound a little overwhelmingly. I’ve been very successfully cultivating for decades and I’ve always just placed my seeds, be it 1 or 100, in between 2 folded sheets of tissue which I’ve made wet with tap water. I then place them on a tray or plate in a warm dark area , such as an airing cupboard and leave for how ever long they take usually, 12 to 24 hours. The ONLY thing I do which takes effort is PH balance the water I germinate them in and I’ve only lost 5 seeds in nearly 40 years .
Good afternoon Paul,
I hope you’re having a good day,
Thanks for sharing your experiences with germination. pH balancing is a great tip You also might be interested in our new Jamaican Pearl Feminized Grow Report
Thanks again, and I hope you continue to enjoy the blog,
I lightly score my seeds by shaking them inside a rolled up piece of sandpaper – sandpaper side on the inside before leaving them in a cup of water for a few hours to hydrate. I then place them between wet (good quality) paper towel per instructions above. I find using an old plastic takeaway container with a heatmat below keeps the humidity high and with good end results.
Good morning Jonny,
Thanks for sharing your methods for germination with us, the heat mat and low-humidity are great tips!
Thanks again, and I hope you continue to enjoy the blog,
I have found out that the best and fastest way is to take a glass of clean/filtered water and place the seed right on top of the water (floating – NOT immersed in it!). If the seed is viable it will sprout in no more than 48 hours. Right after that you plant it in your pot/soil etc and you’re done.
Good morning Mary Jane,
Thanks for your support, and for sharing your experiences with germination!
You might also be interested in our article on The Life cycle of Cannabis: From seed to harvest.
Have a great day!
What happend if they sink I had em sink they came out fine
Once you put the seeds in water they normally won’t sink straight away, leave it for around 5 hours and then tap your seeds and they all should start sinking if they don’t then they won’t work. But still leave them over night and tap again and take out the ones that didn’t sink and throw them away or plant if you want to try your luck.. take all the other seeds out and follow instructions above you’ll see the open within a day..
Are you saying they sprout in the glass of water and don’t “drown”?
No, don’t leave the seeds in water for longer than 24 hours or they will drown.. after around 12 hours all your seeds should have sunk if they haven’t then just give them a tap and they will sink.. then take them out and follow the paper towel and plates instructions
Take aluminum foil flatten it out and put on top of your dirt it detects planes and grow it just like a tomato plant
Good morning Tammy,
Thanks for getting in touch with Sensi Seeds, and sharing your germination method with us!
Thanks again, and I hope you continue to enjoy the blog.
With best wishes,
Detects planes? Like magnetic? I’ve always has best success 24-48 hours soaked In water, spring water if possible. Usually do this in a shot glass, once they pop I’ll take a paper towel fold so it’s 2 layers then fold once more so you know where center is. Dump the seed in the middle of the edge and the true center (reason we folded a 2nd time)as well as the water just enough to saturate the paper towel. Do not soak! Carefully with the seed in the middle using sterile tweezers turn so the tap is growing down. This will prevent circling and tangling if doing multiple seeds. Now you can fold the other half so your seed will be “sandwiched” between 2 layers. At this time carefully take a corner and the waters attraction should keep your paper towel from unfolding but just in case be gentle. Holding it from 1 corner you can dangle it over a cub or the original shot glass so any extra water runs off. Now take a standard zip or press n seal sandwhich bag and slide your napkin in Carefully . REMEMBER which way was down! Work the air out making jt flat snd seal. Find a temperate dark area around 70°. A cabinet works we’ll as your going to prop it up with taproot facing downwards. Now just close it up and wait in 24-72 hours checking once a day. In rare cases you could have a 1/2″ tap root in the first 24 hrs some may take 4-5 days. Once the tap is about 1/2″-3/4″ long its ready for transplant into its first small pot. With this paper towel method I typically have 100% success.
Can you leave your seed to develop longer roots in the germination phase and can this make them better to grow or is a big no no?
Last year, I had 2 seeds that had really long roots with lots of secondary roots coming out when they were planted, one of which died after a couple of weeks and the other grew into a huge plant.
The other two seeds only had a short germinated growth and both died almost immediately after planting so not sure what I can learn from this…lol
Appreciate any thoughts and advice
Unfortunately, legal restrictions mean we can’t answer grow-related questions or give grow advice on this blog. However, other readers of this blog will often answer questions like yours.
Please check out the following articles on our blog which I think you may find of use, and I hope you continue to enjoy the blog!
With best wishes,
How often do you water and how wet should the plant be? Please.
Also if they are outdoor plants do you need to keep them covered with clingfilm for a wee while or do you just hope for the best. Thanks
This article, about how to water cannabis plants, should answer your questions. I can’t help you with the clingfilm one though, as it depends on the climate. Good luck, and happy gardening!
With best wishes,
Just drop the seeds in water, they will sprout , don’t have to use a towel and check it all the time , drop it in the water , let it float then it will sink and the root will grow out ,let the root get 1/4 inch and plant it where it’s going to grow , 8 hours sunlight starting as soon as it is out of the soil. Always grows great , don’t have to transplant from cup to gallon to bigger and bigger , if it’s growing outside put it where it stays , always does just fine.
Good afternoon Graham,
Thank you so much for sharing your experiences with germination.
Thanks again for your comment, and I hope you continue to enjoy the blog.
Have a great day!
I recommend this article to all breeders and cultivators who plans to germinate seeds and to some who don’t know how to germinate seeds, this article has the best and perfect ways on how to do it.
I have large bay windows at my condo which get about 11-12 hours of light per day. They are tinted but warm. I grow other indoor plants there perfectly. Is an ok place for my pot plants?
This sounds like a great place for all kinds of plants! I recommend you have a look at autoflowering varieties, as otherwise light pollution may negatively affect the flowering cycle. Good luck, and happy gardening!
With best wishes,
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