How to Germinate Cannabis Seeds: Everything You Need to Know 

how to germinate cannabis seeds

If you’re a cannabis grower or general hydroponics gardener, you know how important it is to start your plants off correctly. Germinating your seeds is the first step, and it’s not as difficult as you may think! In this article, we will discuss what seed germination is, how to do it, and its importance. So, whether you’re a beginner or an experienced grower, here is how to germinate cannabis seeds with tips for success! 

What is cannabis seed germination? 

Germination is the process of a seed sprouting and beginning to grow. For a seed to germinate, it needs water, warmth, and air. When these conditions are met, the seed will begin to split open, and a small root (or taproot) will emerge from the seed coat. Once the taproot has emerged, the seedling will start to grow leaves (called cotyledons), and the germination process is complete! 

Germination is an essential step in the growing process because it’s when your plant first starts to grow. However, it’s also a tricky step because if not done correctly, your seeds may not germinate at all! That’s why it’s crucial to ensure you have the proper conditions for germination before you start. 

Read more: How to Grow Cannabis Indoors: A Step-by-Step Guide

What do marijuana seeds need to germinate? 

A marijuana seed is only the beginning of a long journey to becoming a beautiful and healthy plant. For a seed to sprout, it needs three key things: water, warmth, and air. 

  • Water: Water is essential for all plant life, and cannabis is no exception. The best way to provide water for your seeds is to soak them in distilled water, not tap water, overnight or for no longer than 32 hours. This will help them absorb enough water to start the germination process. 
  • Warmth: Cannabis seeds also need warmth to germinate. The ideal temperature for germination is 77-86 degrees Fahrenheit (25-30 degrees Celsius). You can provide this warmth using a heat mat or a simple desk lamp. 
  • Air: Air is also necessary for germination, as it helps the seedling breathe. Ensure your seeds are in a well-ventilated area, such as a grow room with an air circulation system. 

These three components are necessary for any seed to sprout but are especially important when germinating cannabis seeds. This is because cannabis seeds have a hard outer shell that makes it difficult for them to absorb water and air. Without the right conditions, your seeds may not germinate at all! 

Choosing Cannabis Seeds 

Now that you know the importance of germinating your seeds and what they need to do so, it’s time to choose the right cannabis seeds! 

When choosing cannabis seeds, there are a few things you need to consider: 

  • The type of cannabis you want to grow (Indica, Sativa, or hybrid) 
  • The climate you’re growing in (indoor or outdoor) 
  • Your personal preferences (smell, taste, appearance) 

Once you’ve decided on the type of cannabis you want to grow, it’s time to choose the right seeds. There are a few things you need to keep in mind when doing so: 

  • The strain: The first thing you need to consider is the strain of cannabis you want to grow. Hundreds of different strains are out there, and each has its unique set of characteristics. Research the different strains and find one that’s right for you! 
  • The source: The next thing to consider is where you’re getting your seeds. There are many reputable sources, but there are also many scams. Make sure you do your research and only buy from a reputable source. 
  • The type of seed: The last thing to consider is the type of seed you want to buy. There are two main types of cannabis seeds: regular and feminized. Regular seeds will produce male and female plants, while feminized cannabis seeds will only produce female ones. We’ll go over this more in-depth later in the article! 

While these tips will help you choose the right cannabis seeds, one last thing to remember: not all seeds are created equal. Inspecting seeds before buying them ensures you’re getting high-quality seeds that will germinate and produce healthy plants. 

How to Inspect Cannabis Seeds 

Inspecting cannabis seeds is a simple but critical process. There are a few things you need to look for when checking your seeds: 

  • The color: The first thing to look for is the color of the seeds. Cannabis seeds should be dark brown or black. They may not be viable if they’re any other color, such as pale green or white seeds. 
  • The shape: The next thing to look for is the shape of the seeds. Cannabis seeds should be oval-shaped with a point at one end. If they’re any other shape, such as round or flat, they may not grow. 
  • The texture: The last thing to look for is the texture of the seeds. Cannabis seeds should have a smooth, hard surface. If they’re any other texture, such as soft or fuzzy, they may not be suitable. 

Another thing to keep in mind is the age of the seed. Cannabis seeds only have a shelf life of about six months, so make sure you’re not buying old seeds. The best way to tell if a seed is too old is by its color; old seeds will be lighter in color than fresh seeds. 

Though it may seem like a lot of work, inspecting your seeds before buying them is a great way to ensure they will germinate and produce healthy plants. 

What To Look Out for in Cannabis Seeds 

Though we’ve gone over how to choose and inspect cannabis seeds, there are a couple more things to remember when selecting your seeds. There are differences between seed types that you need to be aware of. 

Feminized vs Regular Seeds 

There are two main types of cannabis seeds: regular and feminized. Regular seeds will produce male and female plants, while feminized seeds will only produce female ones. 

Feminized seeds are the preferred choice for most growers because they’re guaranteed to produce female plants. This is important because only female plants produce buds. Male plants are only used for breeding and are typically removed from the grow room as soon as they’re identified. 

While feminized seeds are the preferred choice, they’re not always available. Regular seeds will work fine if you can’t find feminized seeds. Just keep in mind that you’ll need to remove the male plants from your grow room as soon as they’re identified. 

Autoflowering vs Photoperiod Seeds  

Along with feminized and regular seeds, there are autoflowering and photoperiod seeds. Autoflowering seeds will begin flowering independently after a certain time, regardless of the light cycle. Photoperiod seeds only begin flowering when the light cycle is changed to 12 hours of darkness per day. 

Autoflowering seeds are an excellent choice for beginner growers because they’re easy to care for. Photoperiod seeds are more difficult to grow but produce higher yields. If you’re starting out, we recommend sticking with autoflowering seeds. 

Cannabis Seeds vs Clones 

Lastly, you need to know the difference between cannabis seeds and clones. Cannabis seeds are the preferred method of growing for most growers because they’re easy to care for and produce high-quality plants. Clones are more challenging to grow but can be a good option for experienced growers. 

Clones are cuttings taken from a mother plant and are used to produce an identical plant. They’re more difficult to grow because they need to be kept under strict conditions and can be susceptible to diseases and pests. Clones are also more expensive than seeds. 

How to Store Cannabis Seeds 

Now that we’ve gone over the basics of cannabis seeds, it’s time to talk about storage. Cannabis seeds can be stored for up to six months, but they must be kept in a cool, dark place. The best way to store cannabis seeds is in an airtight container in the fridge. 

If you’re planning on storing your seeds for a long time, we recommend using a vacuum sealer. Vacuum sealing your seeds will help to keep them fresh for longer. 

When it comes to storage, there are a few things you need to avoid: 

  1. Never store your seeds in direct sunlight. 
  1. Don’t store your seeds in a place where they’ll be exposed to extreme temperatures. 
  1. Don’t store your seeds in an airtight container for more than six months. 

If you want your seeds to stay potent, it is crucial to store them correctly. If stored properly, your seeds will remain viable for six months. However, after that time has passed, the chances of losing their potency become greater. 

Choosing Your Germination Method 

Finally, it’s time to talk about germination methods. There are three main ways to germinate cannabis seeds: soil method, water method, and the paper towel method. 

Germination in Soil 

This type of germination is the most common and recommended for beginners. It’s also the easiest method because you don’t need to worry about temperature or humidity levels. 

Germination in Water 

Water germination is not the most reliable method, but it’s a good option if you’re in a hurry. This method is also recommended for beginners because it’s easy to do and requires no special equipment. 

Germination and Paper Towels 

This is the most reliable germination method, but it’s also the most difficult. Paper towel germination requires more attention and care than the other two methods. This method is recommended for experienced growers looking for a high success rate. 

How to Germinate Cannabis Seeds Step-by-Step 

In the following sections, we’ll outline each method and how to do it. 

Soil Germination Steps 

Soil germination is one of the safest methods because it keeps the seeds from moving around and damaging the taproot. To germinate your seeds in soil, you’ll need to do the following: 

1. Choose your germination container. 

First, you must prepare the container your seed will be germinating in. 

There are a couple of options from DIY to commercial products: 

  • A small plastic cup or container: These are readily available and cheap. You can also reuse them. Just ensure to create drainage holes in the bottom. 
  • Paper egg carton: You can also use paper egg cartons. Just make sure to poke holes in the bottom for drainage. 
  • A small pot: A small ceramic pot works great. It offers proper drainage and can be reused. 
  • A small seedling tray: These often come with a lid to create a mini-greenhouse effect, which can speed up germination. 
  • Seedling cups: These are small cups usually made of paper and offer breathable, yet contained, germination. 
  • Peat pots: These pots are made of compressed peat and dissolve in water when ready to plant. 

Any of these options will work great. Make sure to poke drainage holes in the bottom using a solid container. 

2. Fill your container of choice with a quality potting mix and wet it down. 

The next step is to choose your potting mix. Again, we recommend using a quality potting or soilless mix like FoxFarm’s Ocean Forest. Your seed gets an excellent start with this powerhouse combination of aged tree materials, sphagnum peat moss, earthworm castings, bat guano, fish emulsion, and crab meal. 

You can also make your own potting mix by combining: 

  • Equal parts perlite, coco coir, and vermiculite 
  • One-part peat moss or coco coir 
  • One-part compost 

Once you’ve chosen your mix, fill your container and wet it until it’s evenly moist but not soggy. The mixture should be the consistency of a damp sponge. 

If using soil from your garden, we recommend mixing it 50/50 with perlite or vermiculite to improve drainage. 

3. Place seed in soil about ¼ inch (0.64 cm) deep. 

Once your mix is ready, it’s time to plant your seed! Place the seed about ¼ inch (0.64 cm) deep in the soil. You can use tweezers or your fingers to do this. Make sure the seed is placed pointy side up. 

If you’re not sure which end is up, don’t worry! Cannabis seeds are very resilient and will usually sprout regardless. 

We recommend planting two or three seeds per container to ensure even moisture and heat. This way, you can thin out the weaker ones later. Once your seed is in the soil, gently press down on the mix to ensure good contact. 

4. Cover grow pots with a humidity dome or plastic wrap. 

To create a humid and warm environment for your cannabis seeds, you’ll need to cover them with a humidity dome or plastic wrap. This helps trap heat and moisture, which is essential for germination. 

You can purchase commercial humidity domes like the Super Sprouter Standard Humidity Dome or make your own by covering the pot with a clear plastic bag. 

Just make sure to poke a few holes in the top for ventilation. 

5. Heat your germination station. 

Your cannabis seeds need a warm environment to germinate, so the next step is to heat your grow area. It’s best to place your pots on a heat mat to keep the soil warm, which speeds up germination. We recommend the Super Sprouter Seedling Heat Mat, which is affordable and easy to use. Set your heat mat to between 70-80°F (21-27°C) and place your covered pots on top. 

If you don’t have a heat mat, place your pots on top of the fridge or near another warm appliance. Just make sure the temperature doesn’t exceed 80°F (27°C). You can also use a regular household lamp to create warmth. Just place it close enough to the pots to benefit from the heat, but not so close that they get too hot. 

We recommend using a full-spectrum LED grow light, such as the Model H Grow Light from Think Grow, for this purpose. Not only do they provide the perfect wavelength of light for cannabis seedlings, but they also give off very little heat. Be sure to keep the light about 12-14 inches (30-35 cm) away from the top of the pots. 

Now that your pots are warm and humid, it’s time to wait for your seeds to germinate! Once they do, you can remove the humidity dome or plastic wrap and give them a little light. Keep the soil moist but not soggy, and within a few days, your seedlings should emerge. Finally, place them in either your soil grow area or hydroponic setup. 

Water Germination Steps 

The glass of water germination method is the most straightforward approach but not always the most fruitful. 

Here’s how to do it: 

  1. Fill a cup or bowl halfway with distilled water and place your seeds inside. You can put a maximum of four seeds per cup or bowl. The water should be at room temperature or around 71 degrees. 
  1. Let the seeds sit in the water for 3 to 5 days. You will know the seed is germinating when the seed coat cracks open, and a small taproot starts to grow out. Once the taproot is about a half-inch long, it’s time to plant your seed! 
  1. To plant, mix your grow pot with moistened soil and make a slight indentation in the center. Gently place the seed in the hole, ensuring the taproot is pointing down. 
  1. Cover lightly with soil and press down gently. If using a hydroponic system, plant the seed in a pre-made net pot filled with growing medium. 
  1. Place your pots under a humidity dome or cover with plastic wrap. 

This method is best for those who want to avoid using soil altogether or don’t have access to quality soil mix. 

Paper Towel Germination 

The paper towel method is one of the most popular ways to germinate cannabis seeds and is also one of the easiest. You only need a paper towel, distilled water, and a plate. 

Here’s how to do it: 

  1. Start by soaking your paper towel in distilled water. You want it to be saturated but not dripping wet. Once it’s soaked, lay it out on a plate. 
  1. Place your seeds on the paper towel, ensuring they’re not touching each other. 
  1. Fold the paper towel over the seeds, and then cover the plate with another plate or plastic wrap. 
  1. Check on your seeds at least twice daily to ensure the paper towel is still moist. If it’s drying out, lightly mist it with water. 

As we mentioned, once you see the taproot poking out of the seed coat, it’s time to transfer your seedling. 

How to Plant Your Germinated Cannabis Seeds 

Once your little seeds have germinated, it’s time to plant them in either soil or a hydroponic system. If you’re growing in soil, we recommend using a quality potting mix like FoxFarm Ocean Forest. This organic mix is packed with nutrients and is perfect for young seedlings. 

If you’re growing hydroponically, you’ll need to purchase a quality grow medium like coco coir or Vidawool. These materials provide essential nutrients and support for your plants’ roots. 

From here, the process of growing your cannabis plant begins a new phase! 

Cannabis Germination FAQs

How long does it take seeds to germinate? 

It typically takes between three to ten days for a cannabis seed to germinate. However, some seeds may take up to two weeks. 

What is the best temperature and humidity for cannabis germination? 

The ideal temperature for cannabis germination is between 68- and 77-degrees Fahrenheit. The perfect humidity level is between 60 and 70 percent. 

What are the best conditions for germinating cannabis seeds? 

No, you do not need to grow lights for cannabis germination. However, once your plants have sprouted, they will need a minimum of 18 hours of light per day. 

HRG Brands for Better Cannabis Growing 

Germinating your cannabis seeds is an essential first step in growing healthy plants. By following the steps in this article, you can be sure that your seeds will germinate successfully and be ready to plant. With a little care and patience, you’ll be well on your way to harvesting a bountiful crop of delicious buds! 

HRG Distribution offers top-of-the-line hydroponic supplies from industry-leading brands. We have everything you need, from complete, grow tents to powerful lights and ventilation systems to start indoor growing. Check out our website or visit us in store and see how we can help you take your grows to the next level!