How to Germinate Cannabis Seeds: A Beginner’s Guide to Planting Weed Seeds

Germinate Cannabis Seeds

By Samuel Fisher

Germinating cannabis seeds is the first step to growing your own cannabis plants. Whether you want to grow cannabis for medical or recreational purposes, you need to know how to germinate cannabis seeds properly and successfully. 

In this article, we will show you how to germinate cannabis seeds using different methods, such as soil, water, and paper towel. We will also give you some tips and tricks to increase your germination rate and avoid common problems. 

By following this guide, you will be able to start your cannabis growing journey with confidence and ease.

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What Is Seed Germination?

Seed germination is the process by which a seed sprouts into a young plant or a seedling. It involves the activation of the seed’s metabolism, the absorption of water, the breaking of the seed coat, and the emergence of the root and shoot. 

Seed germination depends on various factors, such as water, oxygen, temperature, and light. Different seeds have different requirements for optimal germination. Some seeds need to be exposed to sunlight, while others need to be chilled or soaked in water. 

How to Germinate Cannabis Seeds: Methods of Cannabis Germination

There are many methods of cannabis germination, but here are three of the most common ones:

Soil Germination

This method involves planting the seed directly into the soil or growing medium. The seed should be placed about 0.5–1 cm deep and lightly covered with soil. The soil should be moist but not soggy, and the temperature should be around 22–25°C (71–77°F). 

The seed will usually sprout within a week, depending on the strain and the quality of the seed. The advantage of this method is that it is simple and natural, and the seedling does not need to be transplanted. 

The disadvantage is that it is harder to control the moisture and temperature of the soil, and there is a risk of overwatering or underwatering the seed. Also, some seeds may not germinate at all, or may take longer than expected.

Water Germination

This method involves soaking the seed in a glass of water for 12–24 hours, or until a small taproot emerges from the seed. The water should be at room temperature and changed every few hours to prevent fungal growth. 

The seed should then be carefully transferred to a moist paper towel or a starter cube, and placed in a warm and dark place until the taproot grows longer. 

The advantage of this method is that it can speed up the germination process and increase the germination rate, especially for older or hard seeds. The disadvantage is that it can damage the seed if it is soaked for too long, or if the water is too hot or too cold.

Paper Towel Method

This method involves placing the seed between two moist paper towels, and then putting them in a plastic bag or a container. The paper towels should be damp but not dripping wet, and the container should be kept in a warm and dark place. 

The seed will usually sprout within 2–5 days, depending on the strain and the quality of the seed. The advantage of this method is that it is easy and cheap, and it allows you to monitor the progress of the seed. 

The disadvantage is that it can expose the seed to fungal or bacterial infections if the paper towels are too wet or dirty, or if they are not changed regularly. Also, there is a risk of damaging the taproot when transferring the seedling to the soil or growing medium.

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Choosing the Right Type of Cannabis Seeds for Germination

Choosing the right type of cannabis seeds for germination is an important step for any cannabis grower. Here are some factors to consider when selecting cannabis seeds:

Selecting High-quality Seeds

High-quality seeds are more likely to germinate successfully and produce healthy and vigorous plants. Some signs of high-quality seeds are: dark brown or gray color, hard and smooth surface, no cracks or holes, and no mold or fungus. 

You can also test the viability of a seed by gently squeezing it between your fingers. If it is firm and does not break easily, it is likely to be viable. You can buy high-quality seeds from reputable seed banks like Seed Supreme.

Indica vs. Sativa Seeds

Indica and Sativa are the two main types of cannabis plants, and they have different effects, flavors, aromas, and growth patterns. Indica plants tend to be shorter, bushier, and faster flowering, and they produce relaxing and sedating effects. 

Sativa plants tend to be taller, thinner, and slower flowering, and they produce stimulating and uplifting effects. Courtesy of their high THC levels, sativa strains are a popular choice for making THC gummies.There are also hybrid plants that combine traits from both Indica and Sativa. 

Feminized vs. Regular Seeds

Feminized seeds are seeds that are guaranteed to produce female plants, which are the ones that produce buds. Regular seeds are seeds that can produce either male or female plants, with a 50/50 chance. 

Male plants do not produce buds, and they can pollinate female plants and reduce their yield and quality. Therefore, most growers prefer feminized seeds, as they eliminate the need to identify and remove male plants. 

However, regular seeds can also be useful for breeding purposes, as they allow you to create new strains and preserve genetic diversity.

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Types of Cannabis Seeds

Certainly, here are descriptions of the different types of cannabis seeds:

Autoflowering Seeds

Autoflowering seeds are known for their convenience. These seeds produce plants that automatically switch from the vegetative stage to the flowering stage, regardless of the light cycle. 

They are usually smaller and have a faster life cycle, making them great for growers with limited space or those seeking a quicker harvest.

Photoperiod Seeds

Photoperiod seeds produce cannabis plants that rely on the light cycle to switch from the vegetative stage to the flowering stage. They require a specific light schedule to initiate flowering, making them more suitable for experienced growers who can control the light conditions. 

Photoperiod strains are often preferred for their potential to produce higher yields and more diverse cannabinoid profiles.

Feminized Cannabis Seeds

Feminized seeds are specifically bred to produce only female plants, which are the ones that produce the sought-after buds. 

They are highly favored because they eliminate the need to identify and remove male plants, reducing the risk of accidental pollination. This results in a higher yield of flowers that can be used for several Cannabis-infused edibles, oils, and tinctures.

Regular Seeds

Regular seeds produce a mix of male and female cannabis plants. They are ideal for breeders and those looking to create their own strains or preserve genetic diversity. 

However, they require more attention and effort to identify and remove male plants during the growth process to prevent pollination.

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Preparing Seeds for Germination

These preparatory steps help ensure a successful germination process, setting the stage for healthy cannabis seedlings that will grow into robust plants.

Seed Inspection

Before germination, carefully inspect your cannabis seeds. Look for any visible damage or deformities. Healthy seeds should have a firm, intact shell and exhibit a tiger-stripe pattern or a dark spot where the taproot will emerge. Discard any damaged or immature seeds.

Soaking Seeds (if applicable)

Soaking seeds can help jumpstart the germination process. To do this, place your seeds in a glass of distilled water at room temperature. Allow them to soak for 12 to 24 hours. 

After soaking, the seeds should swell and crack, indicating that they are ready for planting. Be gentle when handling soaked seeds to avoid damaging them.

Scarification (if needed)

Some seeds have tough shells that can be difficult for the taproot to penetrate. In such cases, scarification can be beneficial. 

Use a small file or sandpaper to gently abrade the seed’s outer shell. This process allows water to penetrate and aids in the emergence of the taproot.

How to Germinate Cannabis Seeds (Paper Towel Method)

Here are the steps for germinating cannabis seeds using the paper towel method:

Start Your Marijuana Seeds Indoors

  • Gather Your Supplies: You’ll need cannabis seeds, a plate or shallow container, two paper towels, and purified water.
  • Prepare the Paper Towels: Moisten one of the paper towels with water and lay it flat on the plate. Place your cannabis seeds evenly spaced on the moist paper towel.
  • Cover with Second Towel: Gently place the second moist paper towel over the seeds. Ensure they are sandwiched between the damp paper towels.
  • Create a Dark, Warm Environment: To promote germination, cover the plate with an inverted second plate or a lid. This creates a dark, warm, and humid environment that encourages the seeds to sprout. Ideal germination temperature is around 70-80°F (21-27°C).
  • Check and Re-Moisten: Check the paper towels every 12 hours to ensure they remain moist but not soaking. Add a bit more water if needed.
  • Germination: In a few days (usually 2-7 days), you’ll notice the seeds have sprouted, and a taproot has emerged.

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Plant Your Germinated Weed Seeds in Small Jiffy Pellets

  • Prepare the Growing Medium: Get small Jiffy pellets or seedling pots filled with a suitable growing medium (e.g., seed starter mix). Pre-soak the pellets or pots to ensure they are adequately moist.
  • Transplant the Germinated Seeds: Gently transplant the germinated seeds into the prepared pellets or pots. Make a small hole about a half-inch deep, place the seed with the taproot down, and cover it with soil.
  • Provide Light: Place your seedlings under a gentle source of light. T5 or CFL lights work well for young cannabis plants. Ensure the light is on a 18/6 or 24/0 light cycle, simulating the vegetative growth stage.
  • Maintain Humidity: Keep the humidity around your seedlings at a reasonable level, ideally between 60-70% relative humidity, to prevent them from drying out.
  • Water Carefully: Water the seedlings gently to keep the growing medium consistently moist but not waterlogged. Overwatering can lead to issues, so be cautious.

How to Germinate Weed Seeds in Soil

Here’s a guide on how to germinate weed seeds in soil:

Prepare Your Soil for Germination

Start with a high-quality, well-draining potting mix or seed starter mix. Fill small pots or seedling trays with the soil, leaving about an inch of space at the top.

Water The Soil & Place Seeds On To

Thoroughly water the soil until it’s evenly moist but not soaked. Allow excess water to drain. Plant your cannabis seeds about half an inch deep in the soil. You can use your finger or a pencil to create a small hole for each seed.

Cover The Soil With Clear Plastic

Cover the pots or trays with clear plastic wrap or a humidity dome to create a mini greenhouse effect. This helps maintain a high level of humidity, which is crucial for germination.

Place Your Container In a Climate-Controlled Room

Put your covered containers in a room with a stable temperature of around 70-80°F (21-27°C). Keep the seedlings in a warm and dark environment until they emerge from the soil.

Monitor and Water as Needed

Check the containers daily. Once the seedlings break through the soil (typically in a few days), remove the plastic covering and place them under a gentle source of light.

Water the seedlings as the top layer of soil starts to dry out. Be careful not to overwater, as this can lead to damping off.

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How to Germinate Marijuana Seeds in Water

Germinating marijuana seeds in water is a straightforward process. Here are the steps to do it:

Materials You’ll Need

  • Cannabis seeds
  • A clean glass or container
  • Purified or distilled water (room temperature)
  • A dark, warm place
  • A  plate or tray with a paper towel (optional)

Steps to Germinate Marijuana Seeds in Water

  • Choose Your Seeds: Start by selecting the cannabis seeds you want to germinate. Ensure they are high-quality and healthy.
  • Prepare the Water: Fill a glass or container with purified or distilled water at room temperature. It’s essential to use clean water to avoid contaminants.
  • Soak the Seeds: Carefully place the cannabis seeds into the water. Allow them to submerge completely. You can gently agitate the water to help the seeds float if they initially sink.
  • Keep the Container Dark: Cover the glass or container with a lid or a dark cloth to keep out light. Seeds tend to germinate better in a dark environment.
  • Maintain Temperature: Place the container in a dark, warm spot with a stable temperature of around 70-80°F (21-27°C). This temperature range encourages germination.
  • Check for Germination: After 24-72 hours, you should start to see small taproots emerging from the seeds. Some seeds may take longer.
  • Transplant the Germinated Seeds: Once the taproots are about 1/4 to 1/2 inch long, carefully transfer them to your growing medium. You can use small pots or seedling trays filled with soil or a growing medium.
  • Plant the Seeds: Make a small hole in the growing medium, place the germinated seed with the taproot facing down, and cover it lightly with soil. Gently water the soil to ensure the seed makes good contact with it.
  • Provide Light and Care: Place the newly planted seeds under a gentle light source and continue to care for them as you would for seedlings.

Preparing for Germination 

By following these steps, you can effectively prepare containers for transplanting, move germinated seeds to their growing medium, and provide the proper care for your cannabis seedlings as they begin their growth journey.

Preparing Containers for Transplant

  • Select Suitable Containers: Choose the containers you’ll use for transplanting. These can be small pots, seedling trays, or any container with good drainage.
  • Fill with Growing Medium: Fill the containers with a high-quality seed starter mix or a suitable growing medium. Ensure the medium is pre-moistened but not waterlogged.

Transplanting Germinated Seeds

  • Select Germinated Seeds: Choose the cannabis seeds that have developed healthy taproots during the germination process.
  • Create Planting Holes: Make small holes in the growing medium in your containers. These holes should be deep enough to accommodate the germinated seeds with the taproot facing downward.
  • Carefully Transfer: Gently lift the germinated seeds and place them in the prepared holes. Handle the seedlings with care to avoid damaging the taproot.
  • Cover and Firm Soil: Cover the seeds lightly with soil, and gently firm the soil around them to ensure good seed-to-soil contact.

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Transitioning to the Grow Medium

  • Light: Once the seedlings have been transplanted, provide them with a gentle source of light. Seedlings benefit from T5 or CFL lights during the early growth stages.
  • Temperature: Maintain a warm and stable environment with temperatures around 70-80°F (21-27°C).

Caring for Germinated Cannabis Seedlings

  • Watering: Water your seedlings carefully to keep the growing medium consistently moist but not waterlogged. Overwatering can lead to issues like damping off, so be cautious.
  • Humidity: Maintain a moderate level of humidity around your seedlings, ideally between 60-70% relative humidity.
  • Light Cycle: Continue providing your seedlings with a light cycle. A typical cycle is 18 hours of light and 6 hours of darkness, simulating the vegetative growth stage.
  • Nutrients: At this early stage, seedlings don’t require strong nutrients. If you use a high-quality seed starter mix, it should contain the necessary nutrients for the first few weeks.

Germinating Cannabis Seeds: FAQs

Here are some answers FAQs on how to germinate cannabis seeds:

Do You Soak Cannabis Seeds to Germinate?

Yes, soaking cannabis seeds in water is a common method to kickstart germination. It can help soften the seed coat and encourage the seed to sprout. However, not all seeds require soaking, and it’s essential to use clean, room-temperature water.

How Long Does a Cannabis Seed Take To Germinate?

Cannabis seeds typically take anywhere from 2 to 7 days to germinate, but the exact timing can vary based on factors like temperature, seed quality, and the method used.

Is It Better to Germinate Cannabis Seeds in the Dark or Light?

It’s generally better to germinate cannabis seeds in the dark. Darkness encourages the seeds to send out the taproot. Once the taproot has emerged, you can move the seedlings into a light source.

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Can You Germinate Cannabis Seeds Directly in Soil?

Yes, you can germinate cannabis seeds directly in soil. This is a simple and effective method. Ensure the soil is pre-moistened and that the seeds are planted at the right depth.

How Long Does it Take Pot Seeds To Sprout?

Pot seeds can typically sprout in 2 to 7 days, depending on various factors, as mentioned earlier.

Should I Remove the Seed Shell from the Seedling?

If the seed shell doesn’t fall off naturally during germination, you can carefully remove it. Be gentle to avoid damaging the emerging seedling.

How Do I Stop Seedlings From Shooting up Too Long and Thin?

To prevent seedlings from growing too tall and spindly, ensure they receive adequate light. Use gentle light sources and keep them close to the plants. Adjust the light cycle if necessary to maintain healthy growth.

After My Seed Has Sprouted, When Do I Start the Light Cycle?

Once your cannabis seed has sprouted and the seedling is visible, you can begin the light cycle. A common cycle is 18 hours of light and 6 hours of darkness during the vegetative stage.

When Is the Best Time To Germinate Cannabis Seeds?

The best time to germinate cannabis seeds depends on your local climate and the intended growing season. Many growers start germination indoors a few weeks before the outdoor growing season begins.

Do I Need Growing Lights To Germinate Cannabis Seeds?

You don’t necessarily need strong grow lights for germination, but a gentle light source like T5 or CFL can help seedlings grow strong. Natural sunlight from a windowsill can also be used.

What is the Best Temperature to Germinate Cannabis Seeds?

The ideal temperature for germinating cannabis seeds is around 70-80°F (21-27°C). Maintaining a stable and warm environment is key to successful germination.

How Much Light Do the Seeds Need After Being Planted, and for How Long?

After being planted, cannabis seedlings need only a gentle light source. An 18/6 light cycle (18 hours of light, 6 hours of darkness) is often suitable for the initial vegetative stage.

Can You Grow Cannabis Indoors Without Lights?

Growing cannabis indoors without proper lights is challenging. Light is essential for photosynthesis, and without adequate lighting, your plants will not thrive. Indoor growers typically use grow lights to provide the necessary light spectrum for plant growth.

Our Verdict on How to Germinate Cannabis Seeds

Germinating cannabis seeds is a simple and rewarding process that can yield healthy and vigorous plants. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can ensure that your seeds have the best chance of sprouting and developing into strong seedlings. 

Remember to handle your seeds gently and avoid touching the root as much as possible. With patience and care, you can successfully germinate cannabis seeds and start your own homegrown crop.

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About the Author

Samuel Fisher is a seasoned kratom industry expert with 15 years of experience. He has authored hundreds of articles on Cannabis topics ranging from cultivation to strain selection.

Disclaimer: This article contains sponsored marketing content. It is intended for promotional purposes and should not be considered as an endorsement or recommendation by our website. Readers are encouraged to conduct their own research and exercise their own judgment before making any decisions based on the information provided in this article.


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