When a seed enters an environment with enough moisture, it will increase in size and slowly break out of its shell. A seedling or germ forms from which roots will emerge, helping the baby plant absorb nutrients from the soil. Seeds naturally develop roots facing down and stems stretching upward, allowing the young cannabis plant to simultaneously feed off light and earth.
Soil is an easy, more natural method with which to germinate your cannabis seeds because the soil protects the fragile roots from any interference. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
The paper towel method is also a common way cultivators pop their seeds. Some even use this method with cotton pads instead of paper towels, but the necessary steps are the same.
While many plants can be germinated in the ground, cannabis seeds are fragile enough that you should germinate them before planting.
You can also germinate your seeds by placing them in water. It’s slightly faster than the soil method, but you need to adjust your environmental factors accordingly. Remember, successfully germinating seeds requires a perfect balance of ideal growing conditions. When germinating in water, seeds need only 24-48 hours to pop their stems, though cultivators can keep them soaking for up to a week as needed. Water germination is faster because the seed gets all the moisture it needs immediately, and the shell softens and cracks more easily after soaking.
Your growing pots will need to be placed in a damp climate that is within the temperature range listed under our golden rules. After 4–10 days, you should see a young seedling sprout, while the roots will have begun to develop underneath the soil. The entire plant and its soil can now be transferred to a larger pot, where normal growing routines should start.
Place one sheet of damp kitchen towel on a flat surface. Space your seeds a few centimetres apart before placing the second piece of kitchen towel over the top. You need to ensure both pieces are damp, not wet. Once again, when the white root tips reach 2–3mm, move the seeds (carefully) to soil pots. Use the same guidance found above for planting techniques.
After 3–5 days, the seeds will start to open, and you should see tiny white tips appear. Once these roots reach 2–3mm in length, use extreme care to transfer them from the water to pre-prepared soil pots.
WET KITCHEN TOWEL METHOD
Probably one of the most common methods of germination. The kitchen towel method comes in several iterations. Some growers use cotton wool pads or absorbent pieces of paper. For this guide, we will be using kitchen towel as it is readily available and holds moisture relatively well.
• The ideal temperature is between 22° and 25°C (71–77°F)
• Your growing environment should be damp/moist, but never wet
• Relative humidity range should be between 70% and 90%
• Seeds favour fluorescent lighting (Cool White code 33)
• Minimise the amount of seed handling you do
• In hydroponic/rockwool plugs, the ideal PH value is 5.8–6.2
Regardless of where you get your seeds from, it is best to give them a slight (and delicate) inspection before planting. Most of the time, all seeds will germinate; however, poor-quality seeds will produce a weaker plant. Unfortunately, that is something you will not find out until well into the vegetative and flowering stages.
Planting directly into your growing medium prevents having to move seeds when they are at their most fragile. That first root tip is covered with microscopic filaments that are easily damaged. Given that both a cup full of water and moist paper towels are more prone to temperature fluctuations from their environment, planting in soil is a much safer option.
Place the seeds 3-5mm under the soil and then carefully covered back up. You only need the soil to be damp, do not over water it. You can place clear kitchen plastic wrap over the tops of the pots to maintain humidity. Place your pots in a warm area and allow nature to do its thing.
Place your seeds in individual pots filled with moist soil. It is best to use seedling/germination soil for this if you can. It has exactly the right balance of nutrients to get your seeds going. Normal soil can contain a mix of too many nutrients and impurities that your seeds don’t require – you may end up over feeding the seed and damaging them.
This is our favourite method.It is as Mother Nature intended, and if you have good, fresh seeds, you should have no problems.
After a couple of days you should start to see shoots with their cotyledons; when you do, remove the plastic wrap and place the pots under a grow lamp.