In this post our collaborator Light Addict explains which the three main methods to germinate cannabis seeds are as well as their pros and cons. There are numerous phases of cannabis cultivation that must be completed before you may be greeted with copious amounts of dank buds. You won't have a plant Many cannabis consumers have found an occasional seed in their bag of marijuana. But can you actually use them to grow your own weed? Learn more about germinating bag seeds and turning them into flourishing cannabis plants.
How to germinate marijuana seeds
Seeds. Such a gift to this world. From something so small, may we grow ourselves, our own food, shelter and in our case, medicine! So really, it seems only fitting we give them the best odds at a successful start in life. In this post, our collaborator Light Addict explains how to germinate cannabis seeds in order to be successful.
Having said this, let’s look at how compost inoculant teas can be used to help nullify the risk of unwanted bacteria and pathogens encountered once the cannabis germination/planting process has begun. This is managed through the introduction of beneficial bacteria and mycorrhizal fungi to the process via compost teas used for either pre-soaking your plugs, cubes, potting medium etc. or drenches to the media shortly after germination. These beneficial bacteria and mycorrhizal fungi colonize the rootzone creating a symbiotic relationship with your cannabis plant roots, leading to improved levels of nutrient/water uptake, general plant health and resistance to stresses.
Now a cannabis seed only needs 3 simple requirements to germinate:
So why are there so many different methods bandied about? Simply put, there are lots of different ways to give your cannabis seeds these 3 basic environmental requirements. So, within these simple basic provisions, what are the best ranges to promote a successful germination of your cannabis seeds? With moisture: you’re looking for a medium level of dampness, never soaking, (water method not inclusive). Temperature wise: you’re seeking to provide a range somewhere in the vicinity 23-26C/75-80F. Then lastly, darkness; total light deprivation isn’t truly a requirement. However, as it’s so simple to provide, it’s the option most of us choose. With all 3 of the above requirements, maintaining consistent levels can also aid in success.
Methods to germinate cannabis seeds
One of the oldest, most widely-known methods to germinate cannabis seeds for small-scale growers is the paper towel method. Using some folded up paper towel, we create a bedding layer for the seeds. Place this bedding layer inside an opaque container of suitable size, then dampen it with water via a spray bottle. Place your seeds on top, before covering with more paper and spraying once again with water. Close your container up and then place it somewhere warm to await germination. Once the tap roots have shown, simply plant it in chosen medium.
For simplicity, methods don’t come much easier than this, although again it’s only really suited for the small-scale grower. Drop your seeds into a shot glass, then fill it around 3-quarters with water, before placing your glass in a warm, dark area. You may need to return after a couple of hours, just to tap any remaining seeds that are still floating down to the bottom. Wait once more until the tap root has shown, before planting it to medium. However, please keep this in mind: if germination hasn’t begun within 36 hours, I’d recommend removing the seeds from water and placing them in paper towel to prevent your seeds drowning.
Seed plugs, rockwool cubes and peat pellets
These 3 different starting mediums share the same basic process when it comes to actual seed germination and are all suitable for any size of operation, although some require a little more care and caution when being prepared.
Versatility here is key, as they’re suitable for use with any medium or style of growing utilized further along in the growth process. Root plugs are specifically designed to make the germination process simple and successful, being made of a composition that holds moisture levels within an ideally suited range. Another big plus when it comes to root plugs is that generally they’re made from composted and broken down organic materials. Yet please, check your chosen brand ingredients for yourself. Take your seed and insert into the plug’s hole. Tear a small section of the plug away from a corner or the bottom section and stuff this into the hole to cover the seed. Then place your plugs into your germination space or propagator, using a constant light source and again remembering to keep an eye on moisture levels as you await germination.
CAUTION. Rockwool is a hazardous material. Somewhat like fiberglass, its dust can be breathed in, yet not expelled from the lungs. It also happens to be an irritant. So, both gloves and a face mask should be used when handling it. Rockwool is an inert medium, suitable for all general growing practices. This means, soaking your cubes in pH-adjusted water prior to use is a necessity. Once soaked and let drain, drop your seed into the hole, then tear a corner section off your cube and use it to cover the seed up from the light. Then place your cubes in your propagator under your chosen light source and wait.
Peat pellets are quite similar in appearance and design to the plugs once expanded. One major issue with peat pellets is that peat is not a sustainable source of material, or an eco-friendly one. Peat pellets come dried out, making pre-soaking them necessary. Once ready, they’ll have expanded to over double their original size. Then just make your own little insertion into the top of the pellet, before dropping your seed in and then covering over with another section you’ve torn off your pellet.
Seed, straight to medium
Take your desired pot of media and water an hour beforehand (pH’d, if required, as with soilless). Make a small hole, 0.5-0.75 of an inch is a good depth, then place your seed in and cover over. Finally, place your pot under your light source and wait. As with the other methods, keep an eye on your moisture levels as required. Although we strive to keep moisture levels at a constant, please remember that overwatering the medium can sometimes cause failure of germination. Then take into consideration the feeding requirements for new seedlings: no nutrients are needed in the first week or so of a seedling’s life, even if using an inert medium such as Coco or Rockwool. This is because the seed will be using its own stores of energy up.
How to Germinate Weed Seeds
There are numerous phases of cannabis cultivation that must be completed before you may be greeted with copious amounts of dank buds. You won’t have a plant to harvest unless you can successfully germinate cannabis seeds.
Germination is the process through which a seed sprouts into a new plant. Often known as “popping,” germination is the first step in beginning a cannabis garden.
Picking out good quality seeds
Cannabis seeds may be obtained from a variety of places, although they are most often purchased online. Because there are so many different internet seed sellers, it’s crucial to pick one that you can trust.
Regardless of where you obtain your seeds, it is a good idea to check them carefully before planting. Seeds will germinate in the majority of cases; nevertheless, poor-quality seeds will result in a weaker plant. Unfortunately, you won’t find out until the vegetative and flowering periods are well underway.
When purchasing seeds, make sure they are ripe and have a dark brown color with lighter highlights and a firm feel. You don’t want a seed that feels fresh and seems green, as this suggests that it hasn’t fully matured. Once you’ve got your cannabis seeds, make sure you have enough room for your plants to develop and thrive.
Preparing to germinate cannabis seeds
The act of germination is important in the production of cannabis. Seed germination is the basis of every cannabis plant, and there are actions that can be performed to increase the likelihood of successful popping. Some growers, for example, increase germination attempts by soaking seeds in a compost tea for 12 hours or in a solution of 1 percent hydrogen peroxide prior to planting to eliminate any harmful bugs.
The environment in which seeds germinate has an impact on the final result. There are a variety of germination methods, however, they all require:
- Moisture is required for the seed to swell and break free from its shell.
- Minimal intervention to avoid accidentally breaking the fragile structures.
- Temperatures that are similar to those of spring (between 68-72 degrees Fahrenheit).
A single root will take form in the presence of moisture before gradually growing into the cannabis plant we know and love. Seeds will begin to grow within 12-36 hours of being exposed to moisture under the correct conditions.
The length of time it takes to germinate depends on how great your germination environment is. Even the worst grower can get a seed to germinate, but it will take a few weeks and will, of course, result in a weaker plant.
How to germinate seeds in soil
The most popular and generally effective technique of germinating cannabis seeds is to plant them in the soil where they will be grown. Because the delicate root is shielded by the soil, this approach is ideal for ensuring that immature seeds have minimal disturbance. It is ideal for plants to develop in the most natural way possible.
If you’re going to utilize soil, be sure you have the proper kind. Use seed-starting or potting soil that has been lightly fertilized. It should have a pH level of around 6. This sort of soil contains spores and nutrients that aid the growth of new weed plants. At this point, don’t add any nutrients; potting soil has adequate nutrients for the first 2 weeks of the plant’s existence. If you apply any additional fertilizer, you risk nutritional overdosing and harming your seedlings.
Place the soil in a tiny pot and make a small hole in the dirt with your finger or a pencil, about half an inch deep. Place the seed in the hole and cover it with dirt. Do not handle the seed beyond this stage. Seedlings are delicate, yet they understand how to place themselves in the dirt.
The seed will have a root if it has already germinated. Place the root in a downward position. Spray water onto the soil gently using a spray bottle and place your pots beneath a fluorescent light. Seeds should be kept away from windowsills since the temperature is too fluctuating for germination. The soil temperature should be kept at 72 degrees Fahrenheit.
Every day, keep an eye on your soil and maintain it to stay wet. You should observe small stems growing from the dirt in 4-7 days.
Move your weed sprouts to bigger pots so that roots can spread out comfortably around the time the seedling stems reach 2-4 inches in height.
Germinate seeds in water
Seeds can also be germinated by immersing them in water. It’s a little quicker than the dirt technique, but you’ll have to modify your environment variables accordingly.
The key is to not soak the seeds for too long. The seeds will usually show their tail within 24 to 48 hours, but you may leave them soaking for up to 7 days without fear.
When seeds germinate in water, they sink to the bottom once they’ve been wet. Water germination is beneficial because it ensures that the proper quantity of moisture is present for seedlings to germinate. It can help shatter open the shell, pre-spouting the plant right before your eyes if done for a brief length of time. Water germination speeds up the process by removing the need for the plant to push through the soil.
Fill a glass halfway with tap water and let it sit at room temperature for a few hours to germinate. The temperature should be between 68 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Do not include any nutrition. Watch for any changes after dropping 2 or 3 cannabis seeds into the water. Every other day, refill the glass with fresh water while keeping it at the same temperature.
The seeds should begin to divide after 2 to 4 days. You can plant your seeds at any time, but they must be planted after the roots are 5 millimeters long.
Germinate seeds by using paper towels
You don’t have to use paper towels; there are a few other objects around the house that will do the job just as well. You can use coffee filter papers, newspaper, or cotton wool pads as examples.
First and foremost, wet your paper towel. Make sure the paper towel is thoroughly wet before placing it onto a holding container such as a plate or Tupperware. Spread a few seeds across the paper towel. Make sure there are a few centimeters between each seed so they don’t touch.
With a zip lock bag to seal your container. This essentially creates a greenhouse-like atmosphere, allowing your seeds to grow a bit faster. Place your new mini-greenhouse somewhere that will maintain a constant temperature of approximately 68 degrees Fahrenheit while being out of direct sunshine.
You should notice your seedling growing in about a week. It’s time to move them into a dirt container when you notice this. Take your time and use the tweezers; don’t touch them with your bare hands because this might cause them to be destroyed.
Germinate with starter cubes and seedling plugs
Using specially designed starting cubes and seedling plugs is a more creative approach to grow seedlings. Cannabis germination is simple with these plugs. Simply insert the seed in the cube or plug, add water as indicated, and the seedlings are automatically provided with ideal germination conditions. This is one of the most straightforward germination procedures, with little opportunity for error.
Each cube or plug already has a hole in it where you may plant your seed. Simply place your seed in the precut hole and seal the lid with your fingers. Don’t worry, you won’t be able to screw this up. You should be fine as long as the seed gets in there.
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How to Germinate a Bag Seed
F inding a seed in your bag of weed used to be regarded as an insult, an indication you scored some inferior product. But it’s a new millennium, and growing cannabis is perfectly legal in some states and territories. While buying seeds online is still recommended for reasons we will detail further, finding a healthy seed can be as valuable as an ounce of gold. Or at least the cost of the bag.
- Can You Tell if a Cannabis Seed is Male or Female?
- How to Store Marijuana Seeds Properly
- Feminized Cannabis Seeds Explained
- How to Start Seeds
In this article we review the steps to germinate cannabis seeds, tips and tricks in the process, and how to keep your seedling healthy.
Germinating a seed is the first step in the growing process, and a cannabis seed will sprout with a voracious hunger, so if you are about to germinate seeds, start thinking ahead about where the seedling will eventually be moved to. This includes lighting, ventilation, and something to feed the lady. Those things don’t need to be decided before you begin, but try to have a plan in place by the time the second set of leaves emerges — as soon as two weeks.
The Germination Process
Begin by soaking the seed overnight. Soaking the seed saturates it with moisture, and moving it shortly after to a warm home tells the seed that it’s someplace comfortable, and it’s time to grow. Tap water is fine for this, but a micronutrient solution like liquid seaweed may be included.
Once your seed has soaked, the most common method for germination is the “paper towel method.” Wet a piece of paper towel and wring dry, then fold in half. Place the seeds between the halves of the damp paper towel, and slide the whole thing into a ziplock bag. Seal with some air inside. Leave this bag someplace comfortably warm for about a week, checking frequently for spots of mold. After about a week, a taproot should emerge.
Then it is time to transfer the seed into a proper growing medium. Be careful plucking your seed from the paper towel!
A grow medium is the “stuff” the seed will sit in. The easiest option is soil, healthy black earthy scooped up from your yard, or potting soil purchased from any garden center. Rock wool cubes are a common option for hydroponic growers, but can later be transplanted into soil as well. Compost and worm castings are great for a seedling, but it will need to be transplanted into a more diverse mixture later.
It is far too early to begin any nutrient cycle, or to introduce any fertilizers to the soil. Now that the seed is confirmed as alive, and placed into a more comfortable medium, simply make sure that the seed is watered and warm.
The first set of leaves to emerge are called “sucker leaves,” and their sole purpose is to drink in as much light as possible to fuel the growth of the more recognizable serrated leaves, which will begin to grow over the next week. After that you’ve got a proper seedling, and in a few weeks it will be ready for a bigger home!
For further guidance and resources about growing cannabis, see our Beginner’s Guide to Growing Marijuana, or our guide to growing for personal use.
Cultivating a Healthy Cannabis Seedling
The seedling that emerges will be as tender as an infant, and susceptible to diseases and cross-contaminations, so keep your germination station as sanitary as possible, and wash your hands before handling them. Avoid rubber or latex gloves at this stage as they have too much grip, and one wrong movement of your finger could accidentally grab and tear the soft plant material.
A seed’s health may be fortified by soaking it with a solution rich in micronutrients, like liquid seaweed. Be advised, however, that these will be very diluted solutions. Carefully read the mixing instructions of any product you purchase.
Seedlings can be protected against certain diseases by including worm castings in the medium. Research out of Cornell University has shown the microbial life in worm castings colonizes the seed’s surface, making it more difficult for pathogenic microbes to establish themselves.
Disclaimers and Downsides Regarding Found Seeds
It’s worth pausing to remember that seeds shouldn’t wind up in your bag of cured, smokable cannabis. So before planting anything, let’s assess what this seed is, and how it got there.
Only female cannabis plants produce flowers, and if they are pollinated by male plants, then they produce seeds instead. So all the cannabis we smoke is from unpollinated female plants — or nearly all of it.
When female plants are stressed — for instance, by drought conditions or nutrient problems — an evolutionary alarm can induce them to produce seeds with only their DNA. The problem with these “hermaphrodite seeds” is that the offspring, having benefited from this process, will be more prone to repeat it. If this is how a seed got in your bag, it can result in seedy weed, even under the closest care.
A seed is not guaranteed to sprout at all. Examine the seed for any obvious health issues. Immature seeds are lighter greys-to-green, while mature seeds are darker tan, brown, or even black. A healthy shape is a teardrop or nearly round, while bunk seeds will appear shrivelled or irregular. Finally, healthy seeds have a hard, whole shell, while cracked or brittle shells will likely not sprout, or produce a less healthy seedling.
A found seed is also not a guarantee to produce a replica of the strain you smoked, and may present latent traits from the strains it was bred from. Cultivating a complete copy of a phenotype is called “cloning,” and the cloning process must begin with a living plant, not a seed.
Remember, it could also just result in a male plant, which won’t grow any buds. None of this is guaranteed to happen with a bag seed, it’s just more likely than with a stabilized seed from a producer.
If you want to germinate a seed you’ve found, begin by soaking it overnight in water to saturate it, and soften the shell. Micronutrient solutions can be mixed in at this stage to fortify the health of the seedling (if you do, be sure to read the mixing instructions on the label).
The “paper towel method” is the most accessible way of germinating almost any seed. Once a taproot has emerged (after about a week) plant the seed into a small container with your chosen grow medium, like soil. Do not fertilize at this stage, as the seed and resulting seedling are very tender, and concentrated fertilizers are abrasive chemicals. Within another week, “sucker leaves” will sprout, synthesizing light to produce further growth.
Remember, found seeds are not always healthy or even viable. A healthy seed has a hard, unbroken shell and a dark color, while brittle or misshapen seeds may not produce a healthy plant, if anything at all. A found seed is also not guaranteed to replicate the precise phenotype of that cannabis you found it in.
That said, it’s almost always worth trying, and experimenting with whatever results. Growing cannabis can be an enriching experience, and perhaps even save you some riches. As long as you know what to look for from a seed, and how to handle them, finding one in your bag could be a golden ticket.