How to germinate cannabis seeds
So, you’ve decided to grow your own cannabis plants. You purchased a pack of seeds, assembled cultivation materials, cleared a space in your garden, and are ready to grow your first cannabis crop . With everything in hand, it’s time to begin the very first step of cannabis cultivation : germinating seeds.
What is germination?
Germination is the first stage of the cannabis growth cycle : the process that brings a cannabis seed out of its hibernation period and starts the cannabis growth process. After all, seeds in a bag don’t spontaneously start developing roots. Also known as “popping” seeds, seed germination begins when a seed receives environmental cues letting it know the setting is perfect to start growth.
Germination is the process that brings a cannabis seed out of its hibernation period and starts the cannabis growth process. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
When a seed enters an environment with enough moisture, it will increase in size and slowly break out of its shell. A seedling or germ forms from which roots will emerge, helping the baby plant absorb nutrients from the soil. Seeds naturally develop roots facing down and stems stretching upward, allowing the young cannabis plant to simultaneously feed off light and earth.
It’s essential to acquire high-quality cannabis seeds for germination, as these will go on to become high-quality cannabis plants. Seeds that are fresh-feeling or too green indicate that they haven’t reached full maturity, while pale-green, white, or very dark cannabis seeds may have trouble sprouting. However, it’s tricky to know the outcome of a popped seed, so trying may be worthwhile. If you’re not ready to pop your seeds yet, store them in a dark, cool place until it’s time for germination.
Preparing to germinate cannabis seeds
Germination itself is a crucial aspect of cannabis cultivation. The seed germination process is the foundation of every marijuana plant, and steps can be taken to boost successful popping. For example, some cultivators improve germination attempts by soaking seeds in 1% hydrogen peroxide or a compost tea for 12 hours beforehand to kill any dangerous pests.
The environment in which seeds germinate also plays a role in the outcome. While there are several different germination methods, each requires proper moisture, minimal handling, and warm springtime temperatures between 68-72 degrees Fahrenheit.
How to germinate cannabis seeds
The best germination method depends on the cultivator’s choice. Here are some of the most common ways to pop your cannabis seeds.
How to germinate seeds in soil
Soil is an easy, more natural method with which to germinate your cannabis seeds. The soil protects the fragile roots from any interference, and soil is, after all, where a cannabis plant would grow in the wild.
Soil is an easy, more natural method with which to germinate your cannabis seeds because the soil protects the fragile roots from any interference. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
First, make sure you use the correct type of soil, either gently fertilized potting soil or a seed starter with a pH level of approximately six (6). The soil contains the right acidity and enough nutrients to strengthen your young cannabis plants for the first two weeks. Be careful not to add more nutrients, or you risk overfeeding and killing your seeds.
Place the soil in a small pot and use your finger or a pencil to push a small hole in the dirt, a bit more than half an inch deep. Insert the seed into the hole and bury it with soil. From this point on, don’t touch your seed. The young plant is fragile and knows how to position itself in the soil bed.
Gently water the soil with a spray bottle and situate your pots under a fluorescent lamp. Keep seeds away from the windowsill, as the temperature is too volatile for germination. In general, you’ll want to keep the temperature in the range of 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Monitor your soil every day and keep it moist. Within four to seven days, you should see tiny stems sprouting from the soil.
When the seedling stems reach two to four inches in height, it’s time to transplant your cannabis into larger pots with more room for roots to spread down and out. After you’ve done this, you’ve successfully germinated your cannabis seeds into proper, young plants.
How to germinate seeds in water
You can also germinate your seeds by placing them in water. It’s slightly faster than the soil method, but you need to adjust your environmental factors accordingly. Remember, successfully germinating seeds requires a perfect balance of ideal growing conditions. When germinating in water, seeds need only 24-48 hours to pop their stems, though cultivators can keep them soaking for up to a week as needed. Water germination is faster because the seed gets all the moisture it needs immediately, and the shell softens and cracks more easily after soaking.
To employ water germination, fill a glass with tap water and let it sit until it reaches room temperature or around 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Add two to three plant seeds per cup and allow them to sit, watching for any changes. Change the water to fresh tap water every two days, making sure it stays at room temperature.
The seeds should start sprouting in about two days, though older seeds can take up to a week to sprout. You can remove them from the water and place them in the soil at any point once they’ve sprouted. Once the roots are about five millimeters long, they need to be planted.
The downside of water germination is that once they’ve popped, you’ll need to maneuver them into their growing medium manually. This is a delicate process, as germinating seeds are extra fragile, and any harm risks the development of your plants. Make sure to place the seed roots down in the soil when you transfer to a pot.
How to germinate seeds using paper towels
The paper towel method is also a common way cultivators pop their seeds. Some even use this method with cotton pads instead of paper towels, but the necessary steps are the same.
To germinate seeds this way, lay one paper towel on top of a countertop, place a few seeds, and cover them with a second paper towel.
Lay one paper towel on top of a countertop, place a few seeds, and cover them with a second paper towel. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Use a spray bottle to moisten the paper towels and then store the cushioned seeds between two plates, under a face-down bowl, or gently place them in a plastic bag. Maintain a temperature of about 72 degrees Fahrenheit, keeping the paper towel wrapped seeds in the dark and away from a windowsill. In two to five days, the seeds will pop inside the paper towel sandwich and emit tiny roots, ready to plant when they reach about five millimeters in length.
Use a spray bottle to moisten the paper towels and then store the cushioned seeds between two plates, under a face-down bowl, or gently place them in a plastic bag. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
The paper towel method also has its risk, as the fragile seedlings can be damaged during the potting process. The tiny roots can also get tangled in the paper towels, so make sure to move the seeds to potting soil before roots grow too long. Use your hands or tweezers to gently remove each seed from the paper towels and place them in a prepared growing medium.
How do you germinate seeds indoors?
Whether you’re planning an indoor cultivation or outdoor grow, it’s best to germinate your seeds indoors. It’s easier to maintain proper temperature, light exposure, and moisture inside, and you can protect your seeds from the elements. Indoor germination, whether using soil or paper towels, will ensure your cannabis seeds have the best chance for survival.
To germinate seeds indoors, use any of the methods described above. Within a few days, you’ll have popped seeds ready to transfer to a growing medium.
Do you need to germinate seeds before planting?
While many plants can be germinated in the ground, cannabis seeds are fragile enough that you should germinate them before planting.
Once your seeds have sprouted roots, they should be planted in soil, a soil-less medium, or in your hydroponic setup. Make sure not touch the root, caring for and navigating the seedling so that the roots face downward. Plant the seed about one inch deep in your growing medium, cover lightly, and allow for about a week for the seed to emerge from the soil. If the seed hasn’t poked through by day ten, it likely didn’t survive.
Bag Seed vs Hype Seed: Is it worth it to buy cannabis seeds?
You found some cannabis seeds! Yay! Should you grow them? Or should you buy cannabis seeds online at an online seed bank like Seedsman or Seed Supreme? What about on social media or even at a dispensary? How important are the marijuana seeds you start with?
Sometimes you get lucky with plants grown from found seeds. This bag seed produce excellent quality buds (though weirdly, the starting weed was not purple at all)
Unpredictability is the biggest downside to seeds you find in your weed. I have seen incredible grow results with “bag seed” or seeds growers find in their weed, like the plant pictured above. The higher the quality of the starting weed, the greater the chance the seeds will produce good buds, too. That being said, bag seed can have problems including bud quality, poor germination rates, the potential for hermies, and unpredictable growth patterns.
Poor Quality Seeds = Confidence Killer!
Using random cannabis seeds (even from dank bud) can produce unpredictable results. Plants may grow wild or produce small airy buds with low potency, even if the original weed was dense and potent.
Pros of Using “Bag Seed” (seeds you find in your weed)
- Seeds are free (buying cannabis seeds can get expensive!)
- Easy (you already have seeds in hand)
- May produce good bud if it came from good buds
Cons of Using Bag Seed
- Bud quality may not be as good as the weed it came in
- Potential for poor germination rates since seeds likely weren’t stored properly
- Unpredictable growth patterns – for example, plants may get tall or take a long time for buds to mature before harvest
- Potential for male plants (male plants don’t produce buds while feminized seeds produce all-female, all bud-producing plants)
- Hermies are common (hermie plants produce seedy buds, which is often how seeds got in your bud in the first place)
Today we’ll investigate those potential issues so you can make an informed decision. Let’s do a quick deep dive!
1.) Bud Quality
Genetics makes an enormous difference to your results. For example, the following two strains were grown in the same space with the same grow medium, nutrients, and grow light, yet the results were completely different.
These strains were grown in identical conditions. The green plant produced almost double the yields. The purple plant produced far less yields but the buds were denser, smoother to smoke, and almost twice as potent (14% THC vs 26% THC). When you buy seeds, you can choose what you like instead of the results being left to luck.
2.) Germination Rates
Germination is the process of getting your cannabis seeds to sprout and turn into seedlings. Typically, seeds are removed from buds and stored in a cool dry place to keep them fresh and viable. However, if the seeds have been sitting in your buds and the buds, it’s possible they weren’t stored in optimal conditions. That can cause you to have low or poor germination rates, even if you’re using a proven germination method.
“Found” seeds may have poor germination rates, for example, they may start germinating and “stall out” like this one did. It seemed healthy but never grew past this point.
3.) Growth Patterns
Using random seeds (even from dank bud) can produce unpredictable results. Plants may grow wild or produce small airy buds with low potency, even if the original weed was dense and potent. This is because the genetics weren’t stabilized to produce consistent results.
Bag seeds may grow in unexpected ways!
4.) Male Plants
Cannabis plants can be male or female, and with regular seeds, about half of plants are male. Female plants produce buds, but male plants only produce non-smokable pollen sacs. That means most growers want to throw away male plants so they don’t take up room in the grow space. On top of that, if the pollen sacs open up and release pollen on any nearby buds, those buds will get pollinated and end up with seeds in them. If you found seeds in your buds, there’s a strong chance that pollen got on the buds while they were forming.
Why am I explaining this in an article about bag seeds? Because when you’re growing from bag seed, there’s a strong chance that about half of your seeds will end up being male plants. This is important because male plants don’t produce buds and male flowers make your buds seedy. You need to be on the lookout for them.
Unless growing with feminized seeds, typically about half of all seeds will grow into male plants like this one. Male flowers are pollen sacs, which look like bunches of grapes.
After a few weeks, male flowers open up and pollen gets everywhere.
If any pollen gets on your buds, it will cause seeds to grow. This is one way that seeds can get in your buds.
Whenever using found seeds, you should determine the sex of young plants as soon as possible. This lets you toss all the male plants before they start making pollen and seeding your buds.
5.) Hermies (Hermaphrodite Plants)
The other main way seeds end up in your buds is from a hermaphrodite plant, or “hermie”. A hermaphrodite is a plant that produces both male and female flowers (both buds and pollen). The pollen from the male flowers pollinate buds and cause seeds to grow just like if a male plant released pollen.
Why is this important? Hermie seeds often produce hermaphrodite plants, which means your buds will likely have seeds in them.
Notice how these plants are producing both female flowers (buds) and male flowers (the pollen sacs are circled). Remove this plant immediately because once the pollen sacs open up they will seed all your buds.
Another type of hermie produces small yellow growths often called bananas (the “banana” would normally be found inside a pollen sac but on some plants it will grow exposed on the bud). Bananas start releasing pollen immediately and also cause seedy buds.
The best way to ensure all your plants end up being female is to start with feminized cannabis seeds from a trustworthy breeder. (Do feminized seeds make hermies?)
If you plan to use bag seed, just remember that there is a chance the resulting plants will be hermies. Keep an eye out for pollen sacs and bananas.
Should I buy seeds on social media like Instagram or Facebook?
Many growers get seeds from other people on social media sites like Instagram or Facebook. Can these seeds be trusted?
You need to be wary of any informal source of seeds, especially from people you don’t know and trust. There are many scammers taking advantage of growers by sending poor quality cannabis seeds or even no seeds. Try to find at least two legitimate people who have ordered successfully from the same source before you send any money. It sounds like a pain but it can save you a lot of time and money.
Additionally, there are many scammers that pretend to be legitimate companies. For example, several people on Instagram have copied our account (profile and posts) then messaged people to sell seeds as if they were us. Then they seed seeds of unknown quality or don’t send anything at all. If you’ve been following our actual Instagram account, you may not notice the seller is @growweedeasy_ instead of @growweedeasy.
Double and triple-check your source before ordering seeds through social media. Don’t throw money down the drain.
Or even better, just order seeds from a proven seed source that offers high-quality seeds and a plethora of excellent strains. If you’re lucky enough to live need a cannabis dispensary, you can sometimes find quality seeds there.
Be on the lookout for scams when buying seeds on social media. Consider a proven source of seeds.
Conclusion: Get Hype Seed if you Can!
Use found cannabis seeds at your own risk. You may get decent or even great results, but you may be disappointed, which can be a real confidence killer especially for new growers. There’s nothing more frustrating than doing everything right only to get bad results after 4 months of growing. I highly recommend buying at least a few seeds from a trustworthy breeder to ensure you are happy with the weed you grow at the end.
Not sure where to get seeds? Learn where to safely buy seeds online. Learn about American genetics.
One awesome strain that won’t break the bank (3 seeds for $30) is Critical Purple Kush. I’ve grown it in different setups and buds produce smooth and relaxing effects. A crowd favorite.
Critical Purple Kush buds are sparkly with great yields, plant growth, and bud quality.
Looking for reaaaally potent buds and don’t mind paying a little extra? Check out Platinum Cookies (4 seeds for $55)
Bag Seeds and What to Expect of Them
Is it a good idea to grow cannabis from bag seeds? Will the final product be potent enough? Are you going to get feminized or regular plants? We give answers to these and other questions.
Novice growers keep asking questions about bag seeds all the time. A girl I know has recently fired at me a series of questions that she thought no one would ever answer. I’m sure at least some of you have been as puzzled by these questions as her. Here it goes:
I’ve been asking everyone about these bag weed seeds, and no one can explain this to me. Because I swear to God I can’t understand it myself. If the buds haven’t been pollinated, then the seeds should be sterile. But they aren’t! I’ve germinated one such seed myself, and it was growing fine.
If the buds HAVE been pollinated, then why the f… they are making me high?!
And if it was a feminized plant, is it normal for feminized plants to produce seeds?
Questions like these made me realize that people don’t grasp the concept of bag seeds. Moreover, there is a fundamental lack of understanding of how and why cannabis plants produce seeds. Can all of them be grown? Are all of them worth growing? How different types of seeds (feminized, autoflowering, regular, hermies, etc.) fit into the picture? In this post, I’ll try to bring clarity to these issues.
Table of Contents
Bag Seeds Meaning
Suppose you buy some buds in a ‘bag’ (a zip lock). You expect the buds to be high quality which means—among other things—that they’ll be without seeds. The buds really do look, smell and taste great, and make you high, too. However, when grinding them, you find a seed or two. And this is what we call ‘bag seeds’.
Will Bag Seeds Grow?
Most seeds you find in a zip lock will definitely grow. For plants, seeds are a means of reproduction. They aren’t just for show. Of course, there are sterile or infertile seeds in other crops that have been artificially modified, but not in cannabis. So these seeds grow like any other: they germinate, they sprout, they get bigger, and then you see your bag seeds flowering as any other type of marijuana would.
This is because the presence of seeds always means that there has been some natural pollination. Either there was some undetected male somewhere near the grow, or there were some stray male pollen sacks in female buds. The latter occurs much more often because female plants often grow a few male flowers due to stress (so called hermies, or hermaphrodites). But, no matter where the pollen has come from, the pollination leads to the production of seeds, and these seeds are fertile.
So, if you ask yourself: “Can I grow bag seeds?”, the answer is always ‘yes’. Can bag seeds grow good weed? Well, it’s another question. Read on.
Are Bag Seeds Worth Growing?
Growing unknown bag seeds is always a toss of a coin. Even if you like the buds in which you have found these seeds, it doesn’t mean you’ll get the same quality. Let’s put it this way: you’ve now met the mother (the buds you’ve just smoked), but you don’t know anything about the father (the source of pollen). It may have been outstanding, it may have been mediocre, or it may have been the most worthless ditch weed that grows in your area.
And don’t forget that the father could also have been another mother (a hermaphrodite plant). So do bag seeds work? Yes, they do. Are bag seeds any good? Well, this depends on the quality of both parents, and you simply don’t have enough information.
Having said that, a bag seed can be a real gem. You probably have heard stories of first rate strains that have been bred from seeds found in a bag of buds. One example is the famous Cinderella. It would be an irreparable loss for the marijuana growing community if the breeders of this masterpiece simply sneered at those seeds and threw them away.
Bag Seeds vs Seeds Bought in a Seed Shop
If you simply want to grow yourself some good bud and expect reliable results, by all means buy your beans online from a reputable seed shop.
The reasons to grow weed from bag seeds are very few:
- if you suspect that your bag seeds could be amazing and feel lucky (because you’ll need PLENTY of luck),
- when your budget is strained to spend any money on seeds,
- if you want to grow a lot plants outdoors in the cheapest way possible.
What we don’t recommend is growing bag seeds indoors. With the cost of the setup and electricity bills and what not, the money you spend on seeds is arguably the least significant expense item.
Some Questions about the Genetics
If you have read carefully what we have said above, you’ve already guessed that bag seeds, like any other type of weed seeds, can be really anything (in terms of their genetics). But, for clarity’s sake, let’s answer any specific questions that you might have.
Are Bag Seeds Feminized?
Whether the seeds found in buds are feminized or not depends on the source of the pollination. If the pollen was from a male plant, the seeds will be regular, meaning that the ratio of male to female plants will be around 50/50. But if the source of the pollen were male flowers (hermies) from the same plant or another female/hermie plant in the garden, the resulting bag seeds are feminized. Please note that such seeds are also very prone to become hermies if you subject them to stress.
Obviously, the only way to tell if your bags seeds are feminized or regular is to grow and flower them.
Are All Bag Seeds Hermies?
Most female plants can become hermies if you subject them to stress. It all depends on the amount of stress needed before you see male flowers in your female buds. If the buds have been pollinated by a male (see above), they will show more stability. If they have been pollinated by a hermie, watch out because even the least amount of stress can make such plants ‘turn to the dark side’.
On average, bag seeds are way less stable than store-bought seeds.
Can Bag Seeds be Autoflower?
If both parents were autos, the seeds are 100% autoflowering, too. The same if an autoflower self-pollinated itself (see our experiment where we produced our own feminized seeds by self-pollination using colloidal silver).
Is it Normal for Fem Plants to Produce Seeds?
Fem plants produce seeds just like any other type of plant (if you pollinate them). It doesn’t matter whether you have grown a plant from fem seeds or regular. Neither type is infertile. Of course, bud growers do everything they can to produce buds without seeds, but shit happens, doesn’t it?
Can Buds With Seeds Make You High?
The potency of buds is a matter of genetics, and not of whether the buds have been pollinated or not. Of course, buds with seeds have inferior quality because a pollinated plant directs all its energy to seed production and not resin production. Seeded buds are smaller, have less resin glands and lower levels of THC, but they DO make you high nevertheless. With many seeds, the quality is significantly worse. With a few, you’ll probably see no difference.
This is it. We hope we have answered all your questions. If not, don’t be shy to ask in comments.