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.

Stages of marijuana seedling growth
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.

Soaking marijuana germination method

Best practice:

– 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.

Best Practice:

– 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 Kit

Propagation Kits

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.

Paper towel germination method
Step 1:
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.
Germination paper towel method
Step 2:
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.
Germination paper towel method
Step 3:
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.
Tap roots ready for planting
Step 4:
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.

Step 5:
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.

Planting germinated seedsStep 6:
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.

Step 7:
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.

Step 8:
After 2-4 weeks of the seedlings growth you can give feed them with a ¼ strength fertilizer solution.

Step 9:
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.


33 comments on Germinating Marijuana Seeds
  1. hex_witch

    Thanks to this page and it’s information, we have successfully germinated all 5 seeds that have been kept dormant for the last two years, as I was smoking my way through the van life, bit of a lucky dip with what strains we’ll eventually harvest but as new growers, we are super excited with our win and look forward to the result 🙂

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  2. Cookie

    Hi, for the first time i just fell in love with the little baby and i decided to germinate it on watered napkins, 2 days later i have this 2inch seed,looking very healthy. I planted it, but now i really dont know if i can let it get some sunshine from my window and how much shadow time it needs! Its allready very sunny now, and sometimes in my house the temperature is getting high… eheh, getting high

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    Rating: -1 (from 3 votes)
  3. Joey the Beard

    Hasn’t anyone ever done any gardening? They’re just plant seeds — and pretty hardy ones too. Otherwise they’d never stand up to all that man-handling: soak, wrap in towels, yank out and stick in something else? carrots or poppies would never survive that, ever. That this method works at all is a testament the the seed’s robustness. The soak-towel-transplant method works in spite of the process, not because of it. Take a breath, chill out, sow the seeds in soil, keep moist — that’s it.

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    Rating: +4 (from 12 votes)
  4. Green Man

    Try any of our partner sites that advertise with us. They are all legit companies and you will be helping to support our site!

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    Rating: 0 (from 14 votes)
  5. Jordan Rosenberg

    All of your descriptions for all of your strengths and wonderful and great. Where can I find the directions on how to order seeds for delivery to Florida?

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    Rating: -8 (from 12 votes)
  6. frank mendes

    after germination I planted in soil ,growing in droor its been 6 days they are about two inches long and four tiny leaves , first time growing is that normal or is something wrong

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    Rating: +1 (from 19 votes)
  7. Jonathan Rojas

    Cultivating a marijuana plant can be tricky. I love how your post goes about it. Essentially all you need to do is to learn how to plant the seeds and care for them to maturity. Depending on where you live, the type of cannabis plant you choose, and how ready you are to care for the plant, the process might look easy. However we have so many other things involved in marijuana cultivation and germination including weeding, trimming, pruning, and curing! Choose the right tools, talk to the experts, read through ideal resources and get the best out of your weed.

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  8. Glenn Redman

    Got mine in soaked in rapid rooter, closed off the hole, and a heating pad with a thermostat set at 78 degrees

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    Rating: -7 (from 11 votes)
  9. Steve

    (i did the towel method and a 2 milimeter root came out but it wasent very long and i prematurely put it in the soil) doing this is my seedling likely to survive

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    Rating: +13 (from 35 votes)
  10. Trime Lodro Jungney


    I changed my sprouting to vermic and it seem to be slower. Dose anyone know the time-frame of the spout in this medium. The say it is between 7 and 14 days. I hopw someone will shot me a email about this wih pictures if you have them.

    Our website is password protected and you need to request a password, be 18 years or older and live in Oregon.

    Wisdom Gardens

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    Rating: +5 (from 7 votes)
  11. saltydog

    paper towel or water glass soak both excellent ways to start plants. QUESTION-Harvested seeds from last year, kept refrigerated, began forming a cloudy biomass around each seed. Possibly mold or bacteria from harvest. Anybody know how to sterilize seeds safely before storage?? Thanks!

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    Rating: +3 (from 7 votes)
  12. trololo

    Hohoho, evry1 is asking questions but we cant rply to their questions…pls do something abot that 🙂

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    Rating: +1 (from 7 votes)
  13. Chook

    G’day from Oz.

    I do the simple germination by soaking wet towels.
    After 2 days of soaking it has produced half inch taproots.
    This morning Made a makeshift incubation room and
    Within 5 hours 4/5 of my seedlings has sprouted.
    3 of which have spread their leaves.

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    Rating: +3 (from 9 votes)
  14. feminized

    Ken Estes has been waging a decades-lengthy fight for cannabis freedom right after getting paralyzed from the
    neck down in a motorcycle accident as a teen.

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  15. gg

    If I smoke part of my plants will it come back (regrows) ?

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    Rating: -9 (from 57 votes)
  16. oni

    If i put the seed in soil i should swich on the light? I mean before the plant came out. Thk

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    Rating: +15 (from 63 votes)
  17. Haleigh

    I’ve had a few leaves grow but it’s been over a month since I’ve started growing it. How come it won’t grow faster?? What’s the time line of how long it takes it to grow?

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  18. littleob

    hi all, I have been trying for 3 weeks to pop seeds. I started with 3 white widow 3 super silver haze and 3 Himalayan gold. not one of them popped. I repeated the same proses 10 days ago to no avail on. 2 days ago I said F___ it and tried the water in the cup. I just checked them and give or take 1/2 have popped. I will be using rock wool cubes to start the seedling

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    Rating: +6 (from 20 votes)
  19. THCinner

    “Scuffing” or lightly scratching seeds in a rolled up tube of sandpaper is helpfull in
    speeding up sprout time underwater. If they haven’t cracked after three days of soak-
    ing in water, toss ’em and get better beans.

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  20. Violet Green

    I found the soil method most reliable and natural. If you think about it, you don’t germinate any other kind of plant by soaking or paper towel. For example, say a vegetable farmer had to soak all his tomato seeds first then germinate them in paper towels, then carefully plant each one making sure it was in the right direction.. lol. Everyone wants their seeds to germinate, nature has already come up with the best solution, dirt. If you are successful with soaking and paper towels, enjoy your success. But this grower thinks your working too hard.

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  21. Green Man

    Daniel, the key to starting your seedlings is to make a hole no deeper than an inch in your pot of soil (if you’re using soil) and covering with soil. Be careful not to pack the soil down too firm otherwise the seedling will struggle to break the surface.

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  22. Daniel

    My seeds just hatched and I’m about to transfer them to the pot but I’m scared that I’m going to mess it up any help will be excepted

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    Rating: +4 (from 22 votes)
  23. Jordan

    My cotyledon leafs are yellowing and it’s only been a week in a half what to do?

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    Rating: +5 (from 33 votes)
  24. staciekneale

    my first little leaves are yellow what does that mean there in the soil 3 days now and are in the greenhouse

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    Rating: -7 (from 35 votes)

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