Germinating Marijuana Seeds
Germinating marijuana seeds is the first step on your journey to growing marijuana. Marijuana germination put simply is the first stages of growth where your seeds crack and sprout and start to grow into seedlings. These seedlings then start their growing life cycle and over the coming weeks grow into mature marijuana plants.
In this category we explain the different methods of germinating marijuana seeds and give a detailed step-by-step on how to germinate weed demonstrating our tried and tested methods.
Why Germinate Marijuana?
The aim of the germination process is to turn a healthy seed into a seedling that in turn will be nurtured into a blossoming plant. Germinating weed seeds is important to bring the seed out of what is known as their ‘dormant’ state. By germinating your seeds you are essentially bringing your seed out of its sleep and resuming its growth towards a seedling.
If you are to germinate 10 marijuana seeds you would expect to have a germination rate of around 80% meaning you have 8 viable seeds that will have sprouted and can be planted in the medium of your choice. Whether they survive will depend on the viability of the seeds and how well nurtured they are.
To help you choose the best marijuana seeds possible see our full guide and review on seeds.
How to Germinate Weed Seeds: Popular Methods
Soaking is one of simplest and most successful ways of germinating your marijuana seeds. Growers simply place seeds in a cup of warm, distilled tap water and leave to soak for between 24 and 48 hrs. During this time the hard seed casing will crack and tap roots will show. Once tap roots are visible, the seeds are ready to be put between paper towels, cotton wool or in a medium like rockwool to begin sprouting.
- Cover the cup of water with a ceramic plate to keep the heat in and prevent light.
- If seeds float when put in water, gently tap so the seeds sink. Generally the best and most viable seeds sink. Your weed seeds should germinate in 2-5 days although occasionally with some strains it can take longer (up to 10-15 days).
- Once tap roots show remove the seeds from the water.
How to Germinate Marijuana in Soil
This method requires little preparation and is perhaps the simplest germination method. The downside of its simplicity is that the success rate can vary dramatically. To germinate using this method, growers need a plant pot of good quality soil. The soil needs to be moist but not flooded, a good rule of thumb is to water the soil until it runs out of the bottom of the plant pot. Place the seed in a half inch deep hole in the soil and cover with dirt. The seeds will germinate and sprout between 5-7 days although it may take longer depending on the strain.
- Keep moist the whole time (do not let dry out too much)
- Ensure the plant pot is kept at room temperature (78F or 26C)
- Spray the soil with water until the sprout appears.
Propagation kits are similar to little greenhouses and are common in all types of seed germination. They are simple and straight forward to use, with growers placing seeds in rock wool cubes, adding the germination hormone and closing the lid to allow the magic to happen. All equipment is provided with each propagation kit and users of this method tend to have very high germination success rate.
Paper Towel Method
The paper towel method is perhaps the best known and most widely used germination technique amongst experienced and novice growers alike. This method yields excellent results with a high percentage success rate and will be the focus of our step by step how to guide on how to germinate marijuana seeds.
Soak seeds in a glass of distilled water for around 24 hours (pictured above). The seeds generally float at first, sinking to the bottom after a few hours. If seeds don’t sink give them a gentle tap. If they still float the seeds may not be viable but you should attempt to try them anyway.
Take a clean dinner plate and lay two sheets of kitchen towels on top of it. Moisten the kitchen towels with distilled water (if possible, otherwise tap water will do), making sure to drain off any excess water.
Place the weed seeds in the middle of the moist kitchen towel and cover with two additional sheets of moist kitchen towel. Place an additional plate on top and place in a warm, dark place. The ideal temperature would be between 70-90F or 21-28C. Ensure the seeds remain evenly moist but do not get swamped with water.
After around 5-6 days (although occasionally longer depending on your strain) your seeds should have developed tap roots (white shoots). At this point they are ready to be moved to your grow medium. If no shoots are present the seeds may never germinate, although you should still plant the seeds in your chosen medium. They may still grow and can be removed from the grow environment if they appear weak or do not grow.
Prepare your medium, we are demonstrating using soil however rockwool cubes or jiffys are equally as good. The soil mix should be 50/50 mix of perlite and peat moss. Fill a seed flat or plastic cup with the soil mix and water until saturated.
Create a hole in the soil around half an inch deep. Carefully place the sprouted seed in the soil with the white tap root facing down. Cover with soil mix and gently pat down. You should only use one marijuana seed per cup or seed flat section. Place planted seedlings under your grow lamp ensuring the lamp is no closer than 6 inches on a 16/8 vegetative light cycle, for more information on light cycles click here.
Within 4-6 days the sprouts will have emerged from the soil or grow medium you have used. After 10-14 days all seedlings should have leaves. It is important during this time to keep the seedlings evenly moist.
After 2-4 weeks of the seedlings growth you can give feed them with a ¼ strength fertilizer solution.
Grow seedlings under LEDs, CFL’s or dim HID lights until they show 2-3 sets of fan leaves. It’s important at this time they are kept moist. Click here to see our lighting guide for more information.
Reasons Why Germinating Marijuana Seeds Can Fail
1) Too cold - Seeds need warmth to germinate if it’s too cold they will likely die. It’s best practice to germinate indoors at room temperature. If growing outdoors allow your seedlings to strengthen before moving them outside.
2) Too hot – Just like too cold, it can be too hot when germinating. It’s important to maintain an even temperature.
3) Too wet – Too much water will flood your seeds oxygen supply causing the seed to die. Seeds need to be damp to allow for a steady supply of oxygen. Ensure your soil is well drained to prevent water logging.
4) Too dry – as with too wet your seeds need to be damp, too dry and the seeds will shrivel and die.
5) Planting too deep – Initial shoots from your germinating seed do not have enough strength in their early stages to move large amounts of soil. Plant half an inch deep and lightly cover with soil for the best results.
6) Soil too firm – this prevents oxygen from getting your seeds.
7) Non viable seeds – seeds that aren’t stored correctly or that are old have less chance of germinating. Look for dark brown seeds that feel firm to the pinch.
Germinating marijuana seeds with the above methods are usually very successful. Just don’t rush things and let nature take its course.