Before embarking on the adventure of growing high-yielding, amazing-tasting marijuana it all starts with the seeds. Understanding the germination process and how to perform it is key to ensuring that your plant gets the best start in life.
Germination is the development of a plant from a seed. Therefore this is the first process to undertake before the plant’s life cycle can begin. There are numerous ways to germinate marijuana seeds, which can be used by all growers. In this article, we will provide information on how to give your seeds the best chance to develop into healthy young seedlings.
How to identify healthy seeds?
As always we recommend you purchase your seeds from a reputable seed bank, ensuring that you get the highest quality genetics, that will produce the highest germination rates, as well as the best final results.
Cannabis seeds differ in appearance, shape, color, and size usually depending on the strain. When inspecting your seeds darker-colored seeds, sometimes slightly tiger-striped looking are normally a good sign of a healthy seed. Contrarily, white/ pale/green colored seeds are usually less effective and unlikely to germinate as they are not mature enough to sprout.
Different germination methods have different levels of success. Even with the best genetics, you will occasionally get some seeds that just won’t germinate, with mother nature unfortunately that sometimes just happens. However, on average you should be able to get 80% + germination success when you are using the right techniques and good-quality genetics.
Seeds require the right environmental conditions to increase their chances of success. Below are a few factors that need to be considered when germinating cannabis seeds:
- Temperature: Keep your seeds germinating at temperatures between 22°C-25°C (71–77°F) for optimal germination. Find a warm place to store the germinating seeds, or a small heat lamp can be used to keep the seeds happy.
- Moisture: Seeds require moisture to successfully germinate. However, it is important that although they need to be kept happily moist, too much water can have the opposite effect and cause issues.
- Humidity: Another key factor is humidity. Humidity levels of 60-90% of relative humidity produce the best results for germination.
- Minimal interference: Be cautious when examining the seeds. Avoid touching their white roots as they are extremely brittle and may get damaged.
- Do not plant seeds too deep: If you plan to germinate the seed directly into your growing medium, plant them ¼ to ½ an inch deep: When you plant your seed, don’t plant them too deep. A seed only has so much energy to break the surface of the soil, if planted too deep the seedling will never emerge.
How long do cannabis seeds take to germinate?
The average expected time frame for cannabis seeds to germinate largely depends on the type of seeds, environmental conditions, and germination method. Usually, white root tips are visible within 3-5 days, however, they can take up to a couple of weeks.
Here are the most common and effective ways to germinate cannabis seeds. Each method is discussed below with simple steps to follow.
How to germinate seeds using Starter Plugs
The use of starter plugs is a highly recommended, accurate, simple, and successful method. The starter cubes facilitate the germination process. The plugs are easy to use and contain a carefully crafted formula of ingredients, designed to help seedlings thrive.
What you will need: Rapid rooter plugs, a nursery tray, and a source of white light.
- The plugs have a pre-made hole in them for accommodating the seeds.
- Simply place one seed in each plug and provide water for sufficient moisture.
- Once the seed is in the starter plug place them into a propagation tray.
- Once the seed has sprouted and roots appear the plug can be transplanted directly into your soil or hydroponic medium.
How to germinate seeds using Jiffy Pellets
Jiffy Pellets are a natural, organic, and biodegradable method that aids in developing seeds into seedlings. Jiffy Pellets are made of Peat which is rich in nutrients and has a high water retention capacity. They are small, dried, compressed discs with a net covering, that once soaked will expand. They are generally used when cultivating in soil and coco coir.
What you will need: Jiffy Pellets, pH’d water, humidity dome (or similar) and a gentle grow light.
- First soak the pellets in water for 10-15 minutes.
- Once the pellet has expanded, place it into the humidity dome tray.
- Next make a hole in each pellet, place one seed in each pellet, then cover it gently with the pellet peat.
- After the seeds have been planted into the pellets, place them into the humidity dome, using either a light or heat mat to keep them warm.
- Ensure that the pellets stay moist by checking on them and giving them a spray of water if they look too dried out.
- After a few days you should begin to see a seedling popping through the surface. You can then transplant them into your grow pot.
How to germinate seeds using Rockwool Cubes
Rockwool cubes are an easy and effective way to germinate seeds, especially for hydroponic grows. It is a form of mineral wool, inorganic, and is non-biodegradable. Rockwool helps in successful seed germination through moisture, warmth, and darkness and facilitates good drainage.
What you will need: Rockwool Cubes, pH’d water, humidity dome or similar and a gentle grow light
- Soak the cubes in the pH water solution.
- After some time, remove the cubes and let them drain. Avoid shaking or squeezing out the water from cubes.
- Place the cubes in the tray and then insert seeds in the cubes about 1/4 -1/2 inch deep.
- Cover the tray with a humidity lid to trigger the sprouting process.
- Place it under a gentle grow light to provide some warmth.
- Once you begin to see roots sprouting from the bottom or sides of the cubes, the seeds are then ready to be transplanted.
How to germinate seeds using Paper Towels
The paper towel method is a fast and inexpensive method to germinate seeds with a high success rate. Used by many growers, it is a simple way to germinate seeds without investing too much money.
What you will need: Paper towels, two plates
- Use paper towels, add water to moisten them, then drain the excess water.
- Place the seeds in between the moist paper towels.
- Cover the paper towels and seeds between two plates to lock in the moisture.
- Place in a warm and dark place.
- You could place the plates on top of a heat map to ensure the temperature is warm enough.
- Check regularly to ensure the paper towels have not dried out. If they have, gently add more water to moisten them.
- After a few days you should begin to see the tap roots forming.
- Once the tap root has fully pierced through the seed shell you can then carefully transplant the seed into its growing medium.
How to germinate seeds in a glass of water
This is a very simple method and is commonly used due to its simplicity. Overall it is not one we would fully recommend, but it can have its benefits. If the shell of the seed is tough, then being submerged fully in the water can aid its germination chances.
What you will need: A glass, water
- Fill a glass with lukewarm water.
- Place the seeds in the glass.
- Make sure the water is placed somewhere warm so the temperature of the water does not decrease too much.
- The most viable seeds will sink to the bottom of the glass, while some will stay afloat at the top.
- Leave the seeds in the water for 24-36 hrs, you should then start to see tap roots forming on the seeds. If this does not happen, we recommend you remove the seeds from the glass of water and transport them into the paper towel method to continue the germination process.
How to germinate seeds directly into soil
A popular way amongst many growers to germinate seeds is to plant them directly into the soil. It is a low-risk and successful method to germinate marijuana seeds, used by many old-school and experienced growers.
What you will need: Soil suitable for growing weed, a pot, pH’d water and a gentle grow light.
- Fill the pots with wet soil with a PH level of between 6.5-7.
- Make a small hole in the soil about ¼ to ½ an inch deep.
- Place the seed in the hole and gently cover over with more soil.
- Keep them moist by watering the seeds at regular intervals.
- After a few days you should see the seedling breaking the surface of the soil.
How to plant seeds after germination
Once the white taproot is visible, seeds are ready to plant in the growing medium. Although once the taproot has shown, some growers prefer to wait until it has developed to around 1-2 cm before planting it into their growing medium.
When you are ready to plant the seed into your growing medium, create a hole about ¼ – ½ inch deep, then place the seed, with taproot facing down into the soil (or whichever medium you are using). It is essential to handle the seeds with care when planting them as they are still very fragile and you do not want any issues with broken taproots after all the care taken with germination.
Once the seed is placed in the medium and covered, it is now time to look forward with anticipation to see the first shoots of your plant break through the soil.
Tips for the germination process
- You can help increase the chances of the germination of your seed by performing a process called scarifying. Scarifying means scratching the surface of the seed making it more permeable. This helps water and oxygen enter the seed and reach the embryo.
- Prepare your growing medium before planting your seeds. If growing in soil or coco coir make sure you thoroughly soak the medium, allowing excess water to run off.
- Choose your pots – We would recommend starting your photoperiod seeds in smaller pots and then repotting them into bigger containers as the plant grows in size. However if growing autoflowers it is best to plant the seed directly into its final container as repotting autoflowers can stress the plant and affect its growth.
Nailing the germination process and ensuring you get the highest germination rate possible is essential. Not only will it mean you have healthy viable seedlings but also it means you don’t waste money on seeds that you can’t grow. As mentioned in this article there are a variety of different methods to germinate marijuana seeds, it’s all about choosing the right one for you.