The life of a cannabis plant begins in the germination stage. It finally starts to sprout after a period of being dormant. Even a seed that is a few years old can become a thriving plant. Growers need to provide special care when trying to germinate weed seeds - as you need to do in general when growing a marijuana plant. This germination guide is applicable to both feminized seeds and autoflower seeds.
The early development stage requires things like warmth and a gentle touch. You can approach germination in multiple ways. Some methods are more effective and especially more suitable for first-time growers. This article will provide you with tips and other helpful information on how to germinate weed seeds. Soon, you will have many healthy cannabis plants growing from your germinated seeds.
Basic Rules for Germinating Weed Seeds
Whether you are growing a garden full of feminized cannabis seeds, or a grow space with a bunch of autoflowering cannabis seeds, there are a few key rules when you are germinating cannabis seeds:
Dampness. Water helps let the seeds know that it is time to start sprouting. Think of the conditions you see in the spring. Many cannabis plants start to grow during this season in the wild. There are two easy methods to kickstart your plant seeds, which focus on keeping your seeds moist. You can choose to germinate cannabis seeds in a glass of water, or using a wet paper towel.
Warmth. Warmth also signals that it is time to sprout when combined with moisture. Cannabis seedlings thrive in warmer temperatures. During the germination process, try to keep the temperature around 24 to 27° C (75 to 80° F). If needed, you can use an incandescent bulb or two to achieve this.
Patience. Weed seedlings are fragile at first. Not only do you have to make sure they have access to water, but they also need to be left alone for the most part. At least, they should be at peace until the taproot emerges.
Careful. While the young marijuana seedlings should mostly be left alone at this stage, it is necessary to check on them occasionally. When you do, you should treat the germinated cannabis seeds extremely gently. The taproot can break off easily, so avoid touching the seed's white root.
Do Cannabis Seeds Need a Light or Dark Environment for germination?
A person should meet several conditions when it comes to trying to germinate cannabis seeds. One condition is the amount of light the seeds need. While germinating, they do not need any light sources. Your cannabis seeds germinate best when you keep them in a dark, warm environment.
Keep things dark but get your grow lights ready at the first sign of sprouting. Once the seeds have sprouted, you will need to provide plenty of light. Preferably, they should receive it 18 hours a day, especially when growing photoperiod feminized seeds.
How Long Does It Take for Cannabis Seeds to Germinate?
Each cannabis seed is different. Some plants will finish their germination stage quickly, and others will take their sweet time to sprout. On average, you can expect germination to take two to four days. In some cases, a seed may take seven days to germinate. You usually do not need to wait longer than ten days.
If it has been more than ten days without any signs of a sprout, it is likely a dud. If you want to germinate marijuana seeds, it's important to practice patience. Keep in mind that the method you use can influence how long it takes.
How to Germinate Weed Seeds?
There is more than one way to germinate seeds. Each one comes with its own benefits and disadvantages for growers. Common methods are:
- In water (recommended)
- Between paper towels (recommended)
- In Jiffy peat pellets and starter cubes
- Directly in the soil
- In Rockwool
While cannabis seeds primarily need to remain moist, you can soak them in water overnight. To do this, germinate your cannabis seeds in a glass of water. Any type of glass will do. Fill it with three-quarters of water, either filtered or pH neutral. Make sure the temperature is neither cold nor warm. The ideal temperature is lukewarm.
At first, the seeds will float, but they will sink to the bottom after a few hours. Carefully push them down if they are still floating. You can leave the cup in a kitchen cabinet or dark area. Keep the glass there for 12 to 24 hours. Try not to leave them soaking for more than 24 hours. If any seeds still have not finished germinating, leave them in a moist place until they sprout.
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 and some distilled water.
A disadvantage of soaking the seeds in a glass is that too much water can be damaging. The excess amount can rot the newly emerged root. Those that have not sprouted yet will drown if left soaking for too long, so make sure to keep an eye on the clock and take out the germinated seed in time.
The water method is especially effective for germinating seeds with a hard seed shell, but is time-sensitive. Not to mention, the steps are simple to do, and the results can be quick.
Another way of germinating cannabis seeds is by using wet paper towels. The best type of paper towel to use is the cheap kind. It may seem strange, but the cheaper ones tend to be non-porous. Non-porous is preferable since the newly sprouted roots will not grow into or get stuck to the towel. And you can also save a bit of money.
Some people use paper towels right after the glass of 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 towel and put it on a plate. Place the seeds on it before folding the towel over.
The paper towel can dry out, so put a bowl or another plate on top to trap the moisture. Alternatively, you can spray the towel every five hours to keep it wet. The process can last one to four days, so check periodically to see if the taproot has appeared. If you have older seeds in the paper towel, you may end up waiting longer. Afterward, you can place the young seedling into a growing medium.
One benefit of the paper towel method is that you can leave sprouted seeds in the towel for a while longer. It allows other seeds to catch up, and you can plant them all at once. Otherwise, you can plant the germinated ones as soon as the taproot appears.
Other than drying out over time, one disadvantage of this germination method is that there is a chance of hurting the taproot. Be careful when checking on the seeds, and do not move them too much.
Some growers choose to use peat pellets, starter cubes, and seedling plugs when germinating weed seeds. You can buy starter cubes and seedling plugs if you are starting out. Many of them consist of micronutrients to promote root growth. Each one already has a hole made for a single seed.
Place the seed inside the hole and cover it up. Then, you can add some water. The packaging should have instructions on how much water to add. The seeds can take anywhere from two to five days to finish germinating.
Peat pellets, starter cubes, and seedling plugs are easy to use, which is beneficial for beginners. You do not have to worry about spending time on preparation. Another advantage is that you can transport the cubes with ease, especially if you use a tray.
The seedling plugs and cubes already come moist. However, the setback is they dry out over time. Once you open a package, you have over a week to use them. Many products do not provide less than 50 cubes. If you plan to germinate only a few seeds, you could end up wasting a lot of cubes. Therefore, this method can be less cost-effective than others, especially for growers who are just starting to grow their own cannabis plants.
Another common method of cannabis germination is to put the cannabis seeds in 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.
Make a small hole that is about half an inch deep. If the hole is too deep, then the seedling may have a tough time reaching the surface. Cover it with soil and press down gently. Some people add a covering to keep the growing medium warm and moist. Kitchen foil or plastic wrap can work. However, you will want to poke some holes to allow air to flow through. It can take about three to five days.
One benefit of the soil method is that transferring the seedling to a bigger pot is simple. The cannabis plant is less likely to become stressed and can adapt to the new environment quickly. A disadvantage would be needing to buy clean soil rather than using some from outside. Pathogens in the dirt can damage the young seedling. Soil density can be an issue with air flow, and growers need to be careful about the seed placement.
Some cannabis growers use Rockwool cubes to germinate marijuana seeds. The method requires some setup before you can plant the seeds. Start by filling a bowl with some water. Use some pH-balancing chemicals to bring the water down to around 5.5. You may need a test kit to measure the levels.
Next, place the cubes into the bowl and let them soak for one hour. After an hour, take the Rockwool out. They can maintain the correct water-to-air ratio, so it is important not to squeeze the cubes. Like regular starter cubes, Rockwool usually comes with holes already in them. If not, make one that is a quarter-inch deep. Carefully insert a seed and push them to the bottom. Cover the top of the hole and wait. The young seedlings finish germination in an average of three days.
Rockwool comes with a few advantages. One is that the cubes are cheap and easy to find. They can hold plenty of moisture, and you do not have to worry about mold. Not to mention, they are convenient to use.
However, the Rockwool method also has some drawbacks. The material does not break down since it is not a natural substance. As a result, the cubes are not an eco-friendly option. Rockwool has poor germination rates, and it comes with a high pH level. The material also can affect your health. The Environmental Protection Agency found that the fibers in Rockwool can irritate the skin, eyes, nose, and throat. You may experience a sore throat or cough.
Best way to germinate cannabis seeds
Growers will find that different methods work best for them. When it comes down to it, germinating cannabis seeds in water is the best way to go about it. You can get the taproot to emerge in hard and older seeds. Overall, putting water into a glass is cost-effective compared to buying starter cubes.
You only have to worry about making sure the seeds are not soaking for too long. The method is more effective when you follow it up with the paper towel method. Damp paper towels can help get any remaining marijuana seeds to sprout.
What have we learned?
Growing cannabis starts with germination, as you provide warmth and water. While there are multiple ways to approach this first phase of growth, a great and (cost-)effective way of germinating is soaking the seeds first, followed by the paper towel method. As a beginner, we definitely would advise you to apply a combination of these two tried and true germination methods.
Now that you know how to germinate cannabis seeds, the next step is to plant the sprouted seedlings. You do not need much in terms of planting. For example, you will want a large enough pot and a plant sprayer. If you use incandescent bulbs to keep the seeds warm, switch them out for actual growing lights.
The plant should have a root length of 1.5 to 2.5 cm (0.6 to 1 inch) to avoid dying. Some young cannabis plants are delicate, so growers often plant them indoors first. Of course, you can move them outside at the end. Like with germination, planting requires plenty of patience.
For more guides like this, visit our Learning Center. Want to learn more about growing your first weed plant, don't hesitate to check out our Grow Guide for Beginners, where we explain the growing process from seed to harvest. When you have read enough and want to start growing ASAP, you should browse our seeds for beginners to make sure you get the right seeds for your first grow.