If you’re a cannabis enthusiast there is nothing more satisfying than growing your own stash of the magical herb. Worried you don’t have a green thumb? Don’t fret! We, at Marijuana.com, are here to walk alongside you during this journey. If you are starting fresh, check out our guide to Start Your Own Grow to see what equipment you will need. If you have all your equipment and are ready to sprout your seeds, read on to learn the best methods for cannabis seed germination.
So you’re ready to pop some seeds?! Well sit back and get ready to soak up some knowledge because today we’re going to be talking about germination. Merriam-Webster defines germinate as, “to cause a seed to begin to grow.” What we’ll be doing is tricking the seed into believing it’s been planted, which will trigger the opening of the seed casing. A tiny taproot will start to work its way out of the seeds during this process, and that will be our signal to plant them in a more permanent home.
Seeds have always fascinated me — the fact that you can sprout such an incredible and intelligent plant from the tiniest little seed is constantly blowing my mind; it never gets old!
Unlike clones, seeds develop a taproot — making them stronger and more vigorous than clones.
Successful seed germination is reliant on environmental factors such as temperature, water, oxygen, and darkness. The seeds will absorb water until they swell and break open. Oxygen then provides their main source of energy until the seedlings grow leaves. All seeds germinate differently, but cannabis seeds prefer a dark, warm environment around room temperature (60-70 F).
Sounds simple! But there are many different methods to successfully germinate these wonderful little gems so in this Grow Guide, I’m going to walk you through the four most common techniques for sprouting cannabis seeds.
Paper Towel Method
The paper towel method is one of the most common techniques for germinating cannabis seeds. The main benefit being that it doesn’t drown the seed in water, however, this method requires a watchful eye to make sure the paper towels don’t dry out.
First, line a plate with wet paper towels, ring out so they are damp and not dripping wet.
Next, spread your seeds evenly on top of the paper towel, keep them about a centimeter apart as to not crowd the seeds.
Then, cover the seeds with a few more layers of damp paper towels.
Finally, place another plate, upside down (like a clamshell), on top of the seeds to create a dark and humid environment.
Place your germination station in a warm, dark spot away from any possible disturbances (a kitchen cabinet works great). Check the seeds daily to ensure the towels have not dried out — you may need to mist them daily with water to keep the humidity up. Within 36-72 hours, a tiny white taproot will begin to emerge. This little tail is an indicator that the seeds are ready for a more permanent home. By hand or with tweezers, gently pick up each individual seed and place it, root down, into the grow medium of your choice: peat moss, soil, rockwool, or coco. Seedlings will break the surface of your chosen grow medium in 36-72 hours.
Starter Cube Method
Germinating seeds directly into a starter cube is one of the most fool-proof and low-maintenance methods that also ensures high germination rate. The best part about starter cubes is that once the seedling has matured, you can plant the cube directly into your permanent growing medium. You have a myriad of options when it comes to choosing a starter cube — some cubes transition into soil better while others are more commonly used for hydroponic setups. Choosing a type of starter cube will depend on your growing style and environment. Experiment until you find the one that works for you.
Rapid Rooters are a coconut fibre-based starter plug that receives high praise from growers in all kinds of industries (including NASA). They come pre-moistened and ready-to-use right out of the bag. They can be transferred into any growing medium (soil, hydro, coco, etc.) which makes for a seamless transition.
Jiffy Pots are peat moss-based starter cubes. They are inexpensive and produce excellent results but are only recommended for growers who use soil and coco — you can transplant the pots directly into their final destination. Jiffy Pots do not hold up well in hydroponic situations. Out of the box, jiffy “pellets” come as dry, little disks ideal for storage. Before using, soak the disks in warm water for a couple hours — this causes them to expand into mini pods. Sometimes, the pods will not expand to their full potential and require a little massaging to prep them for seeds. Wring out the pods slightly, so they are damp but not dripping with water, then line them up in a tray. Place one seed per pod, barely covering it with peat moss — I’ve found tweezers work best for this delicate process.
Rockwool cubes are made using a unique process that spins rock material so fast it ends up at a cotton-candy consistency. Rockwool cubes are inexpensive and easy to find, but they can be difficult for beginners and have a history of poor germination rates. Rockwool naturally has a high pH which can be harsh on seedlings — it’s recommended to soak the cubes overnight in water with a pH of 6. Rockwool cubes are the go-to for experienced hydroponic growers because they retain water but are still breathable. Rockwool is so common in grow stores that I had to at least mention it, but with so many other options, these cubes are not high on my recommendation list.
Soaking seeds in water is my personal favorite way to germinate cannabis seeds, however, there are some growers who believe this can overwhelm the seed and even drown it. If you have quick-to-root genetics, the soaking method is the way to go as you can have tails popping in 24 hours or less. However, if your seeds have been soaking for longer than 24 hours and still haven’t popped a root, it’s best to remove them from the water and place them in either a moist paper towel or a starter plug to finish germination.
Place the seeds in a glass of warm water — a clear glass works best. For the best germination rates, don’t overfill the glass with seeds — keep it to about 50 seeds per cup. Once you see a little white tail, it’s time to carefully transplant the seeds into starter cubes (jiffy pots, rapid rooters, or rockwool cubes). Drain the water from the glass and place the germinated seeds on a damp paper towel. With tweezers, gently pick up the seeds one at a time and place them, root down, into the starter plug. Cover the tray with a humidity dome and within 24-36 hours your new seedlings will emerge!
If you are tight on space or resources, planting directly into your grow medium is probably the best option. This method is taking a page right out of Mother Nature’s playbook and sprouting seeds just the way they would in the wild. This technique works best if you’re growing in soil or coco — it will work for hydro as well but the germination rates may not be as high. Prep your growing medium with a little bit of water and make a small hole about an inch deep to place your seed into. With this method, you should see the seedling sprouting up through the growing medium within a couple of days to one week. The biggest pro of planting directly into the seedlings final destination is that it reduces any trauma or stunted growth typically caused by transplanting.
There are many various methods to sprouting seeds and I hope these techniques help expand your practice. Remember to have fun and experiment – at the end of the day that’s what growing your own cannabis is all about!
I’d love to hear about your personal experiences and favorite sprouting methods in the comment section!
You may even get lucky and find twins! 🙂