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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100% Germinating Success.
I have discovered a way to Germinate Seeds with 100 % Success Rate. I Use:
– A small plastic bag / Sandwich bag. or other . and Kitchen Towel. I dampen the Kitchen Towel place the seeds inside and place it all inside the open bag then I leave it on top of the fridge or in the cupboard or generally Anywhere.
What I do different to Most People is:
Instead of planting the seed when I see the White Root Tip emerging from the seed – I leave it alone.
and I leave it. and I leave it. and in fact I don’t touch it at all until I see LEAVES.
This may seem rather Strange! But I wait until the plant has basically shed its seed completely.
Then I Plant it!
I have never lost a seed! Ever!
I discovered this Method by accident – I forgot to check my Germing Seeds in their Kitchen Towel for so long – they had turned into seedlings and their roots were busy trying to bury their way down into the Kitchen Towel!
What I think happens when you plant – as you see the first signs of white root poking out – is that the root is very delicate – messing with it – covering it in dirt – disturbing it in any way can damage the root AKA the plant and also cause PLANT SHOCK. And it never surfaces from the pot. Its just died in there.
When you leave it alone in the Kitchen Towel (assuring of course IT IS ALWAYS DAMP AND NEVER DRYS OUT) and it becomes a seedling – it is then strong enough to be manhandled. and therefore I have 100% SUCCESS RATE.
Pretty Cool HUH?
Hope You Like It. Happy Wierd Seeding!
PS: It doesn’t matter if the leaves go a funny colour – a day in their new pot and in the light the Leaves always return to Normal.
I think you are waiting too long to plant the seed. You can cause damage to it if it starts digging into the towel, then you have to pull it out. that can kill it right there.
I have done the same thing numerous times before! It does work well but its not 100% some plants wont be able to do what some do! I have had a pretty successful rate myself doing it. I have placed a small amount of water in a small cup drop a seed and put in a warm dark area and within like 2-3 days u got a plant with leafs but those leafs need to some light pretty soon cuz thats when it decides how the shade leafs will come up
well. I’ve dragged them kickin an screamin out of the towel. LOL. and have not killed a single one thanxxxxxxxxxx
Germination success depends largely on the seeds. I have germinated 10 of 10 femininized Nothern Lights seeds from Nirvana the last three times. I credit that to the genetic stability of this old strain. I soak them in water for 12 – 18 hours, then put them in damp paper towels between two plates. I’ve done the same with other strains and only got 50%
Well nothing is 100% and it depends on the beans in the end.
I think these successes are more attributed to the quality of your beans. dunno, try it with shwagg bagseed, see what happens.
I know for a fact that a seed has a limited supply of energy it can expand before it stabilizes itself in a certain environment, say a pot. After it has consumed this energy, if it’s not in good growing conditions, it would die. I would say the sooner you can get your seeds into pots (not too early though, like you said, I too have lost a good number of germinated seeds from shock due to transplanting them too early) the better.
How to Germinate Cannabis Seeds
An in-depth guide on how to germinate cannabis seeds. Discover different techniques on how to germinate marijuana seeds to ensure a successful cannabis crop.
Everything has a beginning.
Cannabis seeds, like all seeds, must undergo the germination process before it can grow into a weed-yielding beauty.
Countless cannabis germination guides litter the internet. However, none go as in-depth as our seed germination tutorial. Read along to learn how to germinate marijuana seeds like a pro.
You’ll discover everything you need to know about the art of germinating marijuana seeds. From the necessary equipment to different germination methods and everything in between, we’ve got you covered.
The Chemistry Behind Cannabis Seed Germination
Cannabis seeds require the right conditions to sprout.
Without the proper temperature, moisture level, or oxygen saturation, weed seeds will not germinate. Although you can readily germinate seeds outdoors, nothing beats controlled germination indoors.
Let’s take a look at the three primary elements that influence the germination rates of marijuana seeds.
Water is the key player in the process of germinating marijuana seeds.
The outer-layer of the cannabis seed acts as a protective casing that provides a two-fold defense — prevent damage to the inner embryo and prevent minimal moisture from premature germination.
However, if the marijuana seed is saturated with water, it will eventually absorb the moisture and kick-off the germination process.
Once the embryo activates through water saturation, it requires oxygen to jump-start the respiration process. Oxygen fuels respiration, which unlocks food stored within the embryo.
After the respiration process, the embryo consumes the food stores, which in turn produces energy. Energy is the necessary product that propels the germination stage onwards.
Even if cannabis seeds have access to water, oxygen, and energy, it’s all for nothing unless it has access to warmth.
As long as cannabis seeds experience 72-78°F during the initial germination process — they’ll burst forth from the ground and spread their primordial leaves under the sun or artificial light.
The three most important elements for successful weed seed germination
Why It’s Important to Germinate Weed Seeds Indoors
At its core, the germination process lays the foundation of cannabis plants.
Overall, marijuana plants will underperform without proper germination techniques compared to those that experienced ideal conditions during the germination process. Therefore, it’s always best to harness an indoor environment when germinating marijuana seeds.
What to Look For Before Germinating Marijuana Seeds
Before you begin the germination process, there are a few things you must look for.
Let’s take a brief look at each.
Damaged Marijuana Seeds
Ordering feminized or autoflowering cannabis seeds online is the best way to acquire top-shelf genetics.
The seeds, however, may experience a few bumps on the road during the shipping process. With this in mind, you must look over each seed to ensure there isn’t any damage.
As long as each weed seed is undamaged, the germination process will be smooth.
The Cannabis Seed’s Age
Next, it’s a good idea to write down the date on each seed pack once received.
By doing so, you’ll have a clear understanding of a seeds’ age. Like all things, cannabis seeds lose their luster as the years go by. Cannabis seeds may remain viable for decades. However, germination rates decrease over time.
Therefore, you should only germinate seeds that are properly stored for a maximum of 6-months.
The Cannabis Seeds Color
Lastly, you must check the cannabis seed’s color.
Cannabis seeds come in different sizes and exhibit various markings across the outer seed coat. However, the seed’s color is an excellent indicator that represents seed maturity.
In other words, light green to pale white seeds are immature and are likely unviable. Therefore, always make sure that your cannabis seeds are light to dark brown color before germination.
Take a close look at the seeds that you receive for damage or discoloration
Should You Use a Seedling Heat Mat?
Many new cannabis cultivators ask if they should incorporate a seedling heat mat into the equation.
Although seedling heat mats are excellent tools to ensure fast germination, they are not always necessary. Seedling heat mats work by producing a gentle warmth that won’t rapidly dry cannabis seeds during the germination process.
However, they may be overkill if you utilize them during hot days, such as those during the summer months. Alternatively, they are essential during colder months during the winter. Therefore, you can choose to harness a seedling heat mat based on the time of year that you choose to germinate marijuana seeds.
Three Easy Methods To Germinate Cannabis Seeds Indoors
Now that you have a broad understanding of germinating marijuana seeds let’s get some weed seeds poppin‘ with a few different step-by-step tutorials.
You’ll have a better idea of which germination technique to choose once you’re done reading this section.
1. How to Germinate Marijuana Seeds in Soil in Five Easy Steps
If you want to germinate weed seeds au natural — there’s no better option than using soil.
Here’s a list of what you’ll need to germinate cannabis seeds in soil:
- Feminized or autoflowering cannabis seeds
- Eco-friendly “starting” container
- Heat mat (optional)
As you can see, the list above isn’t extensive in the least. In other words, germinating marijuana seeds in soil is incredibly affordable.
First, fill an eco-friendly starting container with soil.
The golden rule? Don’t pack down the soil. Remember, the soil you choose must exhibit a loamy consistency. Hardpack soil does not allow proper water drainage and oxygen circulation, which, as you learned previously, are critical components for the seed germination process.
Furthermore, if you choose to use a heat mat, place the eco-friendly containers on top to warm the medium adequately.
Label each container.
The last thing you want to do is forget what seed you placed into each container — especially if you’re germinating multiple cannabis strains at once.
Now, it’s time to sow the cannabis seed.
Create a small hole that’s roughly 0.25-inches (6mm) deep. Gently place the seed inside the hole and cover it. It does not matter which direction you put the seed — believe us when we say that the seed and gravity will sort things out.
It’s important to note that each eco pot should contain a single cannabis seed.
Gently pour a small amount of water into the area where you buried the cannabis seed.
At this point, you must ensure that the cannabis seed never dries out. Once the germination process begins — there’s no turning back. Therefore, allowing cannabis seeds to dry will guarantee inadequate germination or premature death.
Ultimately, you must monitor the soil and continuously apply water until the seed sprouts.
The final step is patience.
The moment the seed is planted, most beginners ask: how long does it take to germinate cannabis seeds, or how can I germinate my seeds fast?
Healthy cannabis seeds typically break the surface within 2-4-days. Older seeds, however, may take upwards of 12-days to sprout.
The germination phase is an incredibly vulnerable moment for cannabis seeds. Therefore, Do not — we repeat — do not dig up the seed to “check on it.”
This is what you can expect after you successfully germinate your cannabis seeds in soil
2. How to Germinate Marijuana Seeds Using Paper Towels In Five Easy Steps
One of the most popular germination techniques is the paper towel method.
Here’s a list of what you’ll need for this low-budget method:
- Feminized or autoflowering seeds
- Dinner plate
- Paper towels
- Spray bottle
- Heat mat (optional)
Now that you’ve gathered the necessary supplies let’s get crackin‘.
Place two to three sheets of paper towels on top of a clean dinner plate. If you decide to use a heat mat to increase the temperature, place it under the dinner plate.
Label the dinner plate with the name of the cannabis strain of choice.
Place up to 10-seeds per plate.
You must make sure that a minimum of 1-inch adequately separates the seeds.
Spray water on the seeds until the paper towels are completely saturated. Once done, place a new layer of 2-3 paper towel sheets on top of the seeds. Use the spray bottle to soak the new paper towel addition.
Remember: the paper towels must always remain saturated with water. If allowed to dry, the cannabis seeds will fail to germinate.
The germination process should occur within 24-48-hours. After 48-hours, gently peel back the upper paper towel section. If the seeds germinate, you will see cracked-open seeds with an emerging radicle.
At this point, it’s time to move the germinated seed to its new home with a pair of tweezers. This final step requires extreme care because the radicle is fragile, and if broken, the embryo within will die.
Be careful when you use the paper towel method and make sure to label each plate
3. How to Germinate Marijuana Seeds Using Rooting Cubes in Five Easy Steps
Germinating weed seeds with rooting cubes is the ideal method for beginners and professionals alike.
Overall, rooting cubes provide the ease of the paper towel method and the soil technique’s efficiency. Let’s take a look at everything you need to when germinating marijuana seeds with rooting cubes.
- Feminized or autoflowering seeds
- Rooting cubes
- pH 6.0 water
- Rooting tray
- pH meter and pH up or down
- Heat mat (optional)
First and foremost, place the rooting cubes in the rooting tray. If you decide to use a heat mat, place the tray on top.
Next, label each rooting cube or tray with the appropriate name of each cannabis strain.
Use a pH meter and pH solution to achieve a pH of 6.0.
The amount of water you pH depends on the number of rooting cubes. Start with one cup of water if you are germinating less than ten seeds.
Germination cubes require a pH of 6.0 because they are typically made from peat moss, rockwool, or other soilless-based mediums. Therefore, a pH of 6.0 will ensure the best possible results once the seed germinates.
Each rooting cube is equipped with a pre-made hole.
Place one cannabis seed per hole. You may tear off a small piece of the substrate to cover the opening. Once done, saturate the rooting cube with pH 6.0 water.
You must make sure that the rooting cube never dries out. Remember, cannabis seeds must remain moist until they sprout to the surface.
Once again, patience is the final step when you learn how to germinate cannabis seeds with rooting cubes. Overall, cannabis seeds may emerge from the rooting cube within 2-4-days. However, germination may take as long as 7-days.
There are a lot of rooting cubes to choose from, but the germination process remains the same
How to Germinate Old Cannabis Seeds
Now that you understand how to germinate healthy cannabis seeds let’s quickly discover how to germinate old marijuana seeds.
As you become infatuated with the world of cannabis, you’ll soon begin to stack an extensive seed collection. Don’t worry; we’re all seed hoarders at heart because there are so many incredible cannabis genetics out there.
Eventually, however, you’ll notice that you have more than a few old cannabis seeds. Luckily for you — all is not lost.
Here’s our tried and true technique to give your old seeds a boost during the germination process.
Cannabis Seed Scarification
Scarring cannabis seeds is incredibly simple.
All you need is a nail file or a piece of sandpaper. Use the file or sandpaper across the surface of the seed in question. You do not need to use an immense amount of force, but instead, a few good scrapes to scar the seed’s outer shell will do.
The point of seed scarification is to allow water to penetrate the seed coating easily. By doing so, the embryo receives a jump start that initiates the germination process.
Once the seeds are scarred, you may choose one of the three above mentioned techniques to complete the germination process.
A few readily available tools to get your cannabis seed scarification done
The Best Way To Germinate Marijuana Seeds
Now that you’re done reading this guide on seed germination — which method will you choose?
The soil, paper towel, and rooting cube methods are all tried-and-true and provide excellent germination rates. Remember, cannabis seeds are an investment, and you must use the best germination method possible to ensure a healthy cannabis crop.
You have one chance to germinate each seed the right way, and by using this guide, you’ll make each seed count.