Germination is the process that brings a cannabis seed out of its hibernation period and starts the cannabis growth process. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
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
What is germination?
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.
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.
Germination is the first stage of the cannabis growth cycle : the process that brings a cannabis seed out of its hibernation period and starts the cannabis growth process. After all, seeds in a bag don’t spontaneously start developing roots. Also known as “popping” seeds, seed germination begins when a seed receives environmental cues letting it know the setting is perfect to start growth.
For a seed to be viable, it must be mature enough to have a completely formed genetic blueprint, and it must be strong enough to germinate and pop through its hard casing and sprout its crucial taproot.
With cloning, you don’t have to get new seeds every time you want to grow another plant—you just take a cutting of the old plant—and you don’t have to germinate seeds or sex them out and get rid of the males.
Autoflowers don’t need lots of nutrients because they’re small and don’t spend much time in the vegetative cycle. They won’t need as much veg nutrients—such as nitrogen—but will need more bloom nutrients.
Are you ready to grow?
Plants grown from seed can be more hearty as young plants when compared to clones, mainly because seeds have a strong taproot. You can plant seeds directly into an outdoor garden in early spring, even in cool, wet climates.
Once cannabis seeds are mature, the female plant begins to die, and seeds are either dropped to the ground where they grow into new cannabis plants next spring, or the seeds are harvested for processing into seed oil or food products, or stored so they can be sown in the ground later and become the next generation of plants.
After completing these steps, it’s time to wait. Check the paper towels once a day to make sure they’re still saturated, and if they are losing moisture, apply more water to keep the seeds happy.
Check out Johanna’s full video series on how to grow weed on Leafly’s YouTube .
One benefit of the paper towel method is that you can leave sprouted seeds in the towel for a while longer. It allows other seeds to catch up, and you can plant them all at once. Otherwise, you can plant the germinated ones as soon as the taproot appears.
Other than drying out over time, one disadvantage of the paper towel method is that there is a chance of hurting the taproot. Be careful when checking on the seeds, and do not move them too much.
There is more than one way to germinate weed seeds. Each one comes with its benefits and disadvantages for growers. Common methods are:
The seedling plugs and cubes already come moist. However, the setback is they dry out over time. Once you open a package, you have over a week to use them. Many products do not provide less than 50 cubes. If you plan to germinate only a few seeds, you could end up wasting a lot of cubes. Therefore, this method can be less cost-effective than others.
However, the Rockwool method also has some drawbacks. The material does not break down since it is not a natural substance. As a result, the cubes are not an eco-friendly option. Rockwool has poor germination rates, and it comes with a high pH level. The material also can affect your health. The Environmental Protection Agency found that the fibers in Rockwool can irritate the skin, eyes, nose, and throat. You may experience a sore throat or coughing.
Many people choose to use peat pellets, starter cubes, and seedling plugs when germinating weed seeds. You can buy starter cubes and seedling plugs if you are starting out. Many of them consist of micronutrients to promote root growth. Each one already has a hole made for a single seed.
Another way of germinating cannabis seeds is by using wet paper towels. The best type of paper towel to use is the cheap kind. It may seem strange, but the cheaper ones tend to be non-porous. Non-porous is preferable since the newly sprouted roots will not grow into or get stuck to the paper towel. So, you can save a bit of money.