Learn How to Germinate Cannabis the Right Way

baby cannabis plant with seed and hand

If you have a bit of a green thumb, you might consider growing your own cannabis plants from seed. Growing your own cannabis is incredibly rewarding, and the fanning leaves of the plants are very beautiful. There are many options and methods for growing cannabis at home, but it all starts with learning how to germinate cannabis seeds. Whether you plan on growing indica or sativa plants does not matter – it all comes down to the quality of the seed and a successful germination process.

Thankfully, the process for germinating cannabis seeds can be pretty fun and easy. All you need is good ventilation, a few small pieces of growing supplies, and patience.

Selecting Cannabis Seeds to Germinate

Cannabis seeds can range in color and size, but many sources will tell you that a healthy cannabis seed is dark with a hard shell. This is usually true, but there are always exceptions to the rule. Many new cannabis strains have been bred to be medically potent and produce high yield ? and sometimes the plant was not bred to have a strong, hard shell. When selecting your cannabis seeds, it is best to choose a reliable source with a long track history of producing healthy plants. As long as you can germinate cannabis, the seed was just fine.

When you are selecting your seeds, keep in mind what kind of strain you want to grow and make sure you actually have the time, space, and budget required to bring your plants to flower. Indica strains grow short and stocky, and usually do not take too long to flower. Sativa strains are taller take longer to flower.

How to Germinate Old Cannabis Seeds

Usually, you want to germinate cannabis seeds that are fresh, but if you get your hands on a vintage strain or seeds that have been sitting in storage for a long time, all hope is not lost. Age makes the outer shell of a cannabis seed get too hard, but in order for it to germinate, it has to let some water in. If you are having trouble sprouting old seeds, you can try cutting along the edge of the seed with an Exacto knife or scuff the exterior of the seed with sandpaper. This will weaken the shell and allow water to get inside and spark that taproot.

The Paper Towel Sprouting Method

When you germinate cannabis, water gets inside the shell of the seed and allows the initial root of the plant to grow. This is called the “taproot,” and it is from which all of the other roots will grow. The most common way amateur growers sprout cannabis seeds is using the paper towel method.

Step 1: Take 4 sheets of thick, high-quality paper towels and soak them in warm, distilled water. The sheets should be like a damp sponge – you don’t want them dripping with water but they should be properly soaked through.

Step 2: Take two paper towels and place them on a plate. Put the cannabis seeds on top on the paper towel and space them about an inch apart. Put the remaining two sheets of paper towels on top of the seeds.

Step 3: Place another plate on top of the seeds and paper towels to create a dark dome over the seeds. Place it in a warm place that stays between 70-90 degrees Fahrenheit. Remember, you want to mimic spring-like conditions.

Step 4: Wait! Be patient and keep your seeds damp, warm, and sterile. Refrain from touching the seeds as they will be susceptible to the bacteria on your hands and you want them to stay sterile. You will know they are done germinating when they sprout a long white root.

Starter Cubes & Seedling Plugs

While the paper towel method is a very effective process to germinate cannabis, some growers prefer using starter cubes and seedling plugs. This is an excellent way to go if you are looking to grow on a larger scale. It is an easy way to germinate cannabis and leaves very little to chance.

The most popular brand of starter cubes is called Rapid Rooters. They look like a little foam block and you just stick the seed right in the premade hole, keep it moist, and let the seed go to work. In a few days, you will notice roots forming and a little sprout of cotyledons (the plant’s first leaves) emerging.

No matter what kind of grow you are planning (aeroponics, hydroponics, etc.) you can use seedling starter cubes to get your seeds going. Rapid Rooter also sells a variety of germination tools ? like mats and trays built in. The only starter cubes you want to avoid are the Rockwool ones. They have a terrible success rate, are awful for the environment, and can be toxic to work with.

Sewing Seeds Directly Into Soil

It’s important to mention that you can always go the super old-school route and just plant your seeds directly into soil– skipping the external germination process altogether. All you have to do is prepare some high-quality loose soil in a 2-gallon pot and then stick the seed right in the center about a -inch deep. You want to keep the seed moist and warm in the beginning stages of growth – but avoid oversaturating the soil with water. Most people recommend spraying the soil with a mister or spray bottle to get the right level of moisture and to avoid pushing the seed too far down in the pot with heavy blasts from the hose.

Transplanting Germinated Cannabis Seeds

When you cannabis seeds are sprouting some healthy little white shoots, it’s time to transplant them! The taproot will be delicate, so you should pick the seed up gently using tweezers and plant it in a prepared 2-gallon pot with the taproot facing down. You might be tempted to plant it with the taproot facing upwards, but remember the seeds first leaves (the codylenes) are inside the seed still! Those will be the first ones to poke up out of the dirt, followed by the plant’s first true leaves, which will look like the cannabis leaves you know and love.

As you plant continues to grow, keep in mind the baby plant will be temperamental. You want to make sure you don’t let the plant dry out, and if you are growing indoors, be sure to get the plant under some LED, Fluorescent, or Metal Halide grow lights as soon as possible.

And, if you want to organize your grow room like a true cannabis expert, be sure to label your seedlings and pots with the strain name. That way, you know exactly what you are growing and can take notes about which cannabis seeds had the most successful germination. Happy growing!