How to make Seed Sprout Tea (SST) for cannabis plants
Despite forming part of Chinese cuisine and medicine for centuries or even millennia, it’s only been in the last 30 or 40 years that the western world has really woken up to the health benefits of eating seed sprouts, or germinated seeds. These days it’s widely accepted that adding some sprouted beans or other seeds to our daily diet is highly beneficial for their high content of protein, enzymes, amino acids, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. But did you know we can get some great results by adding seed sprouts to the diet of our cannabis plants too?
Yes, it’s true! Our plants can make the most of the beneficial properties of sprouted seeds and enjoy a natural boost in growth and plant health. Seed sprout tea (SST) is an easy, economical and environmentally-friendly way in which we can irrigate our garden with our own homemade plant growth stimulant, rich in phytohormones, enzymes, minerals and nutrients, and is suitable for use on cannabis plants in vegetative growth as well as during the flowering period, depending on the seeds being used.
Barley grains sprouting in a jar
What seeds can we use to make SST?
Seeds or grains will sprout when we expose them to air, water and warmth. This sets in motion a series of biochemical reactions that alter the composition of the seed, during which process the macronutrients are broken down and the bioavailability of micronutrients is hugely increased. In short, the sprouted seeds are far more nutritious than either the grown plant or the seed itself, and it’s this vitality that we want to capture and apply to our organically-grown cannabis plants, whether we’re cultivating outdoors, in greenhouses or indoors using grow lamps.
There are a few types of seed that are most commonly used for this purpose, these are primarily maize, barley, alfalfa and lentils. These are used at different times, depending on what stage of life our plants are in, and the desired effect.
Barley (Hordeum vulgare)
Sprouted barley grains contain are very high in enzymes and gibberellins, as well as many vitamins, minerals, amino acids and nutrients. As well as the growth-promoting effects of gibberellins, barley SST is principally applied in order to establish and maintain the enzymes in the substrate. These enzymes help to digest dead roots, keeping the substrate and root zone in good health, as well as potentiating the soil food web and improving nutrient uptake. Some of these enzymes, specifically chitinase enzymes, have been shown to have an inhibiting effect against fusarium, a pathogenic fungus that causes great losses in agriculture as well as in cannabis gardens.
If whole barley grains are difficult to find then malted barley is a good substitute. Because the grain has already been sprouted as part of the malting process, this is a much faster method and will only need to be steeped, or “bubbled” in water for a few hours to make a natural enzyme tea, although freshly-sprouted seeds will always be more effective. To use malted barley add 2 tablespoons per gallon of water. Apply this or Barley SST once a week during vegetative growth and then give a top-up application roughly halfway through the flowering period.
Alfalfa (Medicago sativa)
Rich in enzymes, vitamins, proteins and, most importantly, triacontanol, a potent growth-boosting plant hormone which increases photosynthesis by raising chlorophyll levels, increasing root mass, alfalfa seed sprout tea is a powerful plant stimulant that’s perfect for the transition into flowering, when it helps to maintain close internode spacing and increase root mass. It can also be used in combination with Corn SST during vegetative growth and flowering as a general growth booster. More care must be taken with alfalfa as it is very powerful indeed and we recommend to either start the process with half the amount of seeds or to dilute in double the quantity of water before application.
Alfalfa sprouts are rich in triacontanol
Corn (Zea mays)
Corn or maize sprouts are high in enzymes, minerals and nutrients, and also very rich in cytokinins, a plant growth hormone which promotes lateral budding, branching and the development of thicker stems leading to improved nutrient transport and the capacity for heavier crops. It can even be used at twice the strength to control height, resulting in really squat, bushy plants, perfect for growing spaces with reduced headroom. Organic sweetcorn grains are the most common source of corn to use for sprouting, but all maize grains are easy to germinate and some growers even seek out heirloom varieties like Blue Corn to ensure their SST is GMO-free. Corn SST is best applied in late vegetative growth and up to the fourth or fifth week of flowering.
Lentils (Lens culinaris or Lens esculenta) and other legumes
While alfalfa is, in fact, a legume, here we’re talking about other legumes, not only lentils but also larger seeds such as peas, beans or chickpeas. The sprouts of these seeds contain high concentrations of auxins, producing an SST that makes a great rooting stimulant as well as working to boost growth in general. Lentils are a great choice because, due to their relatively small size, they will germinate faster than the larger legumes.
These are the most commonly used seeds for making SSTs, but it doesn’t mean that other types of seed won’t work equally worth experimenting with. For example, an SST using sprouted hemp seeds ought to be an excellent growth booster for cannabis plants, while sunflower seeds are well known to be high in phytohormones, and many others such as rice, fenugreek, pumpkin have been recommended as well.
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It’s important to always use seeds from organic agriculture for our SSTs, to avoid the possibility of introducing any trace of chemical pesticides and other undesirable compounds into our garden. The organic aisle in the local supermarket or health store is often the most convenient place to source seeds for sprouting, usually providing us with all the seeds listed above, alongside a range of other seeds that we could try out for ourselves at home.
What will we need to make SST?
- 28g (1oz) of your chosen seeds, beans or grains
- 1/4 tsp Kelp meal
- Clean water
- Glass jar
- Cheesecloth & elastic band
- Blender/food processor
Everything you’ll need to make a seed sprout tea
How do we make SST?
Thoroughly rinse the seeds in clean water to remove any dirt, dust or contamination. This is best done using a sieve under a running tap. This also helps to remove any abscisic acid, a growth-inhibiting hormone that occurs on the outer shell of many seeds.
Soak the seeds overnight in clean water. Adding a quarter-teaspoon of kelp meal at this point will infuse the water with growth-promoting phytohormones and help to accelerate the germination process. In this case, we’ve used the soluble kelp powder Alga Plus from Jumus.
Drain and rinse the seeds in clean water after soaking for at least 8 hours and put them back into the jar. They should be wet enough so that the seeds will adhere to the sides of the jar, but not sitting in water. Cover the jar mouth with cheesecloth and fix with a rubber band. This gives ventilation while stopping any insects, or dust falling in. Placing the jar on its side allows for a greater surface area of the seeds to be in contact with the air.
Rinse and drain the seeds at least twice a day until the sprouting tails are as long as the seeds themselves. This usually takes a few days. Then blend the sprouted seeds in a food processor along with a cup or so of water. In our experience, the “Nutri-Bullet” type of blender is best, but pretty much any kind of food processor will do the trick to a satisfactory level.
Separate the liquid from the seed pulp using the sieve, straining the resulting liquid into a container. The pulp can be composted or added directly to the soil surface as an enzyme-rich top-dressing.
Dilute the resulting liquid in 10 litres water before using it to irrigate your plants. In the case of alfalfa SST, which is much more potent, use 20 litres to dilute or, alternatively, start with half the quantity of seeds.
What can we do now?
At this stage, some growers like to “bubble” or aerate the SST for 12-24 hours in a bucket with an air pump, while others will add molasses to the tea and ferment it to preserve it for a longer time. Here at Alchimia, we recommend diluting and using any SST right away for maximum freshness and effectiveness, it’s easy and cheap enough to make a new batch next time you need some more.
If you’d like to boost the SST with more micro and macronutrients, amino acids and other essential elements, you can mix in some more organic, natural ingredients. For example, you could mix in some Nettle Flour, which is ideal for the growth period, or an infusion of dried Comfrey leaves for a nutritional and health boost during the flowering phase.
While SSTs may not be a replacement for the scientifically formulated, high-precision stimulants and boosters used by many cannabis cultivators, there’s no question that, when used correctly, they can be a powerful tool for the self-sufficient organic grower, not only giving great results but also rewarding the grower with the satisfaction of having created their own plant stimulators in a natural way.
We hope this article has been of interest to you, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment with your own experiences, suggestions or any questions you may have.
The articles published by Alchimiaweb, S.L. are reserved for adult clients only. We would like to remind our customers that cannabis seeds are not listed in the European Community catalogue. They are products intended for genetic conservation and collecting, in no case for cultivation. In some countries it is strictly forbidden to germinate cannabis seeds, other than those authorised by the European Union. We recommend our customers not to infringe the law in any way, we are not responsible for their use.
What is the best way to germinate cannabis seeds?
This article explains how to correctly germinate your cannabis seeds, covering everything from optimum temperatures, to potting your seedlings and transferring them outdoors (or inside under lights).
The best way to germinate cannabis seeds requires only two saucers or plates and some moist tissue. Here is a step by step guide.
Unfortunately, regulation and implementation in respect of cannabis seeds often differ from country to country. For this reason we advise you as a matter of urgency to make inquiries about the regulations to which you are subject. Read the complete disclaimer here.
Step 1. The setup – How to germinate cannabis seeds
Line the bottom of the first plate with a few layers of wet tissue and drain any excess water from the plate.
Seeds should be placed on top of the tissue, allowing each seed as much space as possible.
Place another few layers of moist tissue on top of the seeds, again allowing excess water to drain off.
Lastly, cover everything with the second plate, upside down, to form a ‘clam-shell’ shape – this will create the dark, moist environment necessary for germination.
Step 2. Germination – How to germinate cannabis seeds
Place the plates somewhere warm (21ºC) and away from direct light.
Check the seeds every day to ensure that the tissue does not dry out. Spray the tissues with water if necessary.
Within a few days some or all of the seeds should open and put out a root. It is common for cannabis seeds to open within 72 hours of being put in the germination medium. Less commonly, some seeds may need up to 10 days or even two weeks to open and put out a root.
When the first few millimetres of root have emerged from a germinated seed, each one should then be carefully transferred to a small container of growing medium (soil, coco-fibre or rockwool).
Step 3. Potting – How to germinate cannabis seeds
Make a hole in the growing medium that is about twice as deep as the seed is long, so that each germinated cannabis seed sits 2-5mm below the surface.
Place the cannabis seed, root first, into the hole and cover with a small amount of growing medium – just enough to block light, not enough to obstruct the seedling when it emerges.
Cannabis seedlings usually emerge from the growing medium 24 to 72 hours after the germinated seeds are planted.
Step 4. The seedling stage – How to germinate cannabis seeds
New seedlings should be given access to bright light from the time they emerge. Care should be exercised in the first week or two, as seedlings are still quite delicate.
Seedlings intended for outdoors should be acclimatised to direct sunlight by placing them on a windowsill inside the house and increasing their exposure to direct sunlight by an hour or two per day.
Seedlings intended for indoors may emerge into an artificially lit environment with no problems. If using HID lighting, seedlings should be kept a minimum distance of 50 to 80cm from the bulb. If using fluorescent light, seedlings can be kept a normal distance from the tube/bulb.
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.
22 thoughts on “What is the best way 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. It would be best to 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
Are you saying they sprout in the glass of water and don’t “drown”?
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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