All cannabis plants, whether tall and lanky Sativa trees or compact and sturdy Indica bushes, start from a single weed seed. This tiny brown nut contains everything necessary to eventually yield hundreds or even thousands of grams of potent buds! However, to reach that point, it’s important to place the seed in a special environment that will trigger life inside it, crack the shell open, and let the roots and stalk out.
In this article, we’ll be explaining how to germinate cannabis seeds and tell you about the best ways to do it. Before we start though, it’s important to know what environment cannabis seeds are most likely to pop in. Since in nature, they germinate in spring, logically, you want to put them in conditions that mimic fertile ground in spring – think plenty of moisture, little light, and mildly warm temperatures of around 18-22 C (64-71 F). Now, you’re ready to learn about the best ways to germinate cannabis seeds. Let’s dive right in!
Main Methods Of Cannabis Seed Germination
The following three methods have proved to be some of the easiest as well as the most effective. This means each of them is a great way to help your cannabis seed to sprout.
Germinate Directly In Soil
When spread naturally, marijuana seeds germinate directly in soil. So, why not recreate the natural process? This method is great for beginners because of how few steps it requires. All you need to do is make a 1.5-2cm (0.5-1 inch)-deep hole in the soil, place your seed in it, and lightly cover it with more soil. Then, water the spot above the seed and keep an eye on it to make sure the area stays moist most of the time. It’s also a good idea to cover your starting pot loosely with a plastic bag or a wrap to keep the environment humid and warm until the seedling shows up from the soil. This method is preferred by many because it eliminates the stress of transplantation that, at times, can be too tough on fragile seedlings.
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Germinate In A Glass Of Water
If you’re not ready to get your hands dirty just yet, it’s fine! Some growers start their seeds in a glass of water. This method is easy and quite effective. Practice shows that germinating in water normally makes around 90% of weed seeds pop. This method is pretty self-explanatory – all you need to do is place your cannabis seeds in a glass of fresh water away from light. Usually, the nuts crack open on the second day. For older seeds, however, the process may take up to 7 days, which is also fine. After the taproot shows, the seed is ready to be planted. Some growers wait for the seeds to drown (about 24 hours in), then transfer them to a wet paper towel – the method we’ll be explaining next.
Germinate Cannabis Seeds In A Paper Towel
This next method is a true classic that’s been shared grower to grower for generations. It’s also pretty simple and has everything you need to maintain the perfect environment for cannabis seeds to pop. To use this method of germination, place your seeds on a clean paper towel, fold it over them, and spray the towel lightly with water. After that, put the moist towel on one plate and cover it with a second plate to keep the seeds in the dark and not let the moisture evaporate. That’s pretty much it! This method can also be modified and improved upon. For example, instead of a paper towel, you can use two cotton pads for each of the seeds – these will be easier to open when it comes to removing the seed. Instead of plates, you can also place your seeds in an airtight container or ziplock bag to ensure the moisture stays in the towel/cotton pads.
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Alternative Methods Of Cannabis Seeds' Germination
Now let’s move to the more modern methods of cannabis seeds germination. These aren’t necessarily better in terms of germination rate, but still have some pros as well as cons that we find important to explain.
Germinating Marijuana Seeds In Peat Pellets Or Starter Cubes
If you want to give your seeds special treatment and make them feel loved from the very first day in your grow op, you might want to get your hands on peat pellets or starter cubes. So, how do you germinate marijuana seeds in rapid rooters, peat pellets, and starter cubes? These are all individual plugs of peat or a special seed starter mix that are incredibly easy to use and don’t leave much room for error. In the case of peat pellets (you may also know them as jiffy pellets), all you need to do is soak them in warm water, which will make the pellets expand. Then, squeeze the excess moisture out and place your seed (pointy side down) inside the pellet. Starter cubes and rapid rooters don’t require squeezing, but whatever you choose, you need to make sure your medium is slightly moist at all times. One of the greatest advantages of this method is that the seed germinates in complete peace and doesn’t need to be transferred from the pellet/starter cube/rapid rooter. After the seedling is out, just plant it into the soil together with what you were germinating the seed in.
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If you’re wondering how to germinate marijuana seeds for hydroponics, peat pellets, unlike other methods from this article, aren’t suitable for hydroponic setups. However, the rest of the techniques we’ll be discussing can be used for both soil and soilless media.
Germinating Cannabis Seeds In Rockwool Cubes
If you’re growing your seeds in a hydroponic setup, you might want to look into rockwool cubes for germination. As a material, rockwool is inert, cheap, and easy to find. Fans of hydroponic grows often choose rockwool for its mold-resistant qualities. The process of germination in rockwool cubes is the same as described in the previous method: simply place a seed inside a cube, water it, and keep it moist until the seedling is out.
Even though many growers prefer using rockwool for germination of their cannabis seeds, this method has quite a few drawbacks. First of all, the pH of new rockwool is not suited for cannabis seeds. It’s far too high and needs to be lowered before use. That’s why rockwool requires soaking overnight in pH-ed water and properly rinsed afterward. The second drawback of using rockwool for germination is that it’s a synthetic material that’s bad for both your health and the environment. When working with rockwool, it’s advised to use gloves and protective masks, because little pieces of the material can easily get into your mouth, eyes, and even end up in your lungs. Lastly, germination rates for seeds placed in rockwool cubes aren’t that great either – you can wait for your seeds to pop for weeks without any result.
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Cannabis Seed Germination Method Comparison Chart
In this article, we’ve covered five main germination methods. To sum everything up, here’s a comparison chart that can help you decide on how to germinate your marijuana seeds.
How Long Does It Take For Marijuana Seeds To Germinate?
Your preferred method won’t make much difference in how long it takes for marijuana seeds to germinate. What actually matters when it comes to germinating cannabis seeds quickly is the quality of the seeds, their genetics, and how old they are. Normally, fresh seeds of good quality will never take more than 5 days to show taproot. However, if your seeds have been waiting for their hour for a little too long, it may take them around 10 days to germinate. Luckily, this won’t affect any characteristics of the future plant.
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Tips For Caring After Germinating Seeds And Seedlings
As we’ve already pointed out, cannabis seedlings are very gentle, and you need to be careful not to put them in any danger or stress. Use the following tips, and your seedlings will make it safely to the next stage of their lifecycle.
In order to germinate and survive the first days of life, cannabis seeds and seedlings need to be kept under certain conditions like warm temperature, high levels of humidity, darkness for seeds/lots of light for seedlings, and, of course, peace and quiet. Outdoor environments can therefore be too unpredictable – if the weather changes and brings heavy rain or wind, or if a bird or cat decides to try and snack on the seedling, the young plant most likely won’t survive and you’ll have to start all over. That’s why we recommend germinating your seeds and growing seedlings indoors, where you have full control over their environment.
Choose Soil For Seedlings Wisely
There’s a common term among growers used to describe soil extremely rich in nutrients, and that’s “hot”. While hot soil is beneficial for cannabis in general, especially when made and used correctly, hot nutrient-rich soils, or super soils, are not the best option for young marijuana seedlings. In the early stages of cannabis development, the plant’s nutrient needs are quite low, and too much of them can actually hurt the young plant’s health. So, make sure to use more neutral soil for seedlings. A good trick that you can implement in your practice is to cover nutrient-rich soils with a layer of a more neutral medium and plant the seedling in this upper layer. The plant will develop, and once it’s ready for bigger nutrient intake, its roots will reach the underlying “hotter” soil. Remember that the vegetative stage requires nitrogen-rich media.
Give Seedlings Enough Light
After spending so much time inside its dark shell, seedlings are hungry for light, and plenty of it! As we suggest starting your plants indoors, this means you’ll need to install a light to satisfy the seedlings’ needs. The vegetative stage of cannabis requires mostly blue light spectrum, so anything from fluorescent lamps to full-spectrum LEDs, 100W and up, will work fine for seedlings. Just make sure the light is placed close enough to the plants. The optimal distance for fluorescent lights is 5-6 inches (13-16cm) and 8-12 inches (20-30cm) for LEDs. In case the seedlings need more light, they will let you know by getting tall and leggy. This condition is dangerous for them, so make sure your baby plants are receiving enough light.
Keep Them In A Mini-Greenhouse
Finally, another nice touch to keep your sprouts safe and sound would be to provide them with a small improvised greenhouse of their own. Loosely covering the starting pots or pellets with a plastic bag will do the trick. However, in garden stores, you can also find specialized containers with tall transparent lids. Whatever you choose, this will help the seedlings stay warm, hydrated, and safe from any dangers of the outside world.
Starting Off Right
Now you can see that growing marijuana from seed isn’t at all that hard. Just remember to give your seeds enough TLC and dial in some environmental conditions to fit their needs. We’ve shown you some of the easiest and most effective methods of germinating pot seeds. Which one is your personal favorite? Let us and fellow growers know in the comments below.