Best Way To Germinate Cannabis Seeds

Posted 7 years ago by Ian Shutts

Germination Basics

Here are some of the techniques used to germinate cannabis seeds. Pop a seed underground, about 3 to 6cm deep, water the surface gently but generously, place under the sun, cross your fingers and just wait for 2 to 4 weeks.

That is how mother nature does things.

Unfortunately, we do not have her resources and need to not only speed things up but guarantee we have a high germination rate. Cannabis seeds are incredibly expensive. You are paying for years – if not decades – of breeding, experimentation, world traveling and conservation. There is nothing more gutting than dropping ten seeds in soil and have them all completely flop on you.

Many people are too quick to point fingers at the bad quality of the seed. They need to understand that sometimes, traveling seed have a very harsh time. They could be locked in an overly hot room with high humidity, then quickly into the back of a freezing cold truck. They go through multiple checkpoints and even suffer radiation poisoning from industrial x-ray machines. The packet gets thrown around until it finally reached your mailbox.

Even if all this were to happen, they are usually very well vacuum packed. But if you store seeds in the freezer, take them out and blast them with 32ºC HID lights, chances are you are going to cook them.

If you follow these guidelines, you will benefit two ways. First, your germination rates will increase massively, reaching very close to 90-100%. When that does not happen, if you make a case with your seed company and explain your procedure versus your low germination rate – if you have been a frictionless loyal customer, they will very likely send you another batch for free.

How to achieve very high germination rates for cannabis seeds.

This is going to be as simple as your 9th-grade bean germination project but taken up to two levels of geekiness.

When you receive your cannabis seeds, unless you are planning to sow in 2 years, do not freeze them. Put this in the fridge. This has the purpose of reducing physiological activity. When you are ready to germinate, take them out and set them in the dark but ambient temperature. Do not attempt to heat them.

Go out to the store and find the bottled water section. Go through the labels and try to find drinking water that has a pH between 5,2 and 5,8. Seeds prefer a slightly acidic environment. Pour this water into a clean cup. Making sure the water temperature is between 18ºC and 28ºC, just drop in the seed, and put the cup away in a dark place.

If you have rooting boosters like Canna Rhizotonic, BioBizz Root Juice, Roots Excelurator or similar, then a light dose of these will speed things up considerably as they provide hormones and growth factors.

The idea here is to have the seed soak as much water as possible and kick-start the germination process. Check back 12 hours later. There is a chance some of the seeds have sunk to the bottom. If not, gently tap them down, some might sink, some might float back up again. Let them be for another 12h.

At the 24h mark, they should have all sunken. If not, it does not mean it did not work. Some shells are just much tougher and less porous than others. It just depends. They will have absorbed enough by this time, so it is time for the next step.

The Paper Towel Method

The Paper Towel Method is by far the most used method to germinate. It is simple and effective.

Place some kitchen paper towels on a plate and moisten the paper with the bottled water you bought earlier. Better still, if it is the water in the cup with the beans and root stimulator added to it. Be sure not to leave runny water in there. From here on, seeds can drown. There needs to be as much air as water, and the paper towel takes care of this balance. Place the seed on the towel, and cover the seed with yet another sheet of paper. This new sheet will soon become moist itself, creating the perfect conditions for germination.

Place another plate, inverted, over the holder plate. This will create a little heat dome as well as be stopping light from entering. Seeds do not like light! Again, place it in a warm dark place and let them be.

You should check in ever so often, just to be sure the paper towels do not dry up too quickly. Depending on where you live, ambient temperature, airflow and relative humidity, the paper towel can completely dry up in a matter of hours. So do take a quick peek every couple of hours. If needed, add some more water. 24 to 48h later, you should see the tap roots come out. They are ready to be planted.

Critical Conditions

You should compare the seedling with the tap root just as you would a new born. Extremely delicate and fragile! Before attempting to pot them, make triple sure you have everything ready. Wash your hand, or if using tweezers, clean them out thoroughly.

With your pot ready with soil, make a little hole about 2 – 4 cm deep. Open the plate dome, and gently remove the top paper towel cover. Beware, some seedlings may want to grab hold to this, so go slow. Pick the seed by the shell, never by the tap root. Place it in the hole, tap root down.

Many time the tap root will come out and curve back to the shell. This is normal and expected. Even if it seems odd, place the seedling with that tap root pointing down to the floor. If the shell is also pointing down, that is no problem whatsoever. Problems may occur if you let the tap root pointing up and cover it all up with soil, and then nothing ever happens.

You do not to be a perfectionist. In fact, the more you end up messing about, the worse. The idea is to quickly transfer the seeds into the soil with a minimum stress as possible. So if you drop in the seed but it is at a slight angle, and with the tap roots facing the ground, that is perfectly fine.

Now you should cover the seed carefully, and water gently, so the soil softly cushions around it, like a warm hug. Do not over pack the soil or water either. Generously water around the center where the seedling was sowed and let capillary action do the rest. It does not hurt to give the seedling a little water, it even helps the soil better settle around it, just be wary not to overdo it.

The final step, give it light and a great environment. Seedlings do not need any special light right now, any light will do as they are not photosynthesizing, only looking for light. But temperature is very important. If you can manage 18ºC at night and 25-28ºC by day, then you are golden, and in 2 or 3 days you will see their little heads pop out the ground.

Germinate Cannabis Seeds. Conclusion

In theory, and with practice, you can reduce germination from 2 – 4 weeks to 4 – 8 days. It is not impossible at all. It just requires the perfect conditions. If, say, you did everything by the book, but you cannot maintain night temperature above 14ºC and don’t want to spend extra on heating just yet for daily temperatures over 20ºC, then that is perfectly fine. It is now just the case that they will slow down a bit.

Every single detail is important for performance. But not required. You do not need to go out and buy bottled water, you can use tap water. Tap water contains chloride and will even disinfect the seed – the problem is the pH if you need to correct it too much. The excess amount of nitric of phosphoric acid may be too much for the seed. Some seeds will not complain at all.

The point is to have a solid method and learn how to use it. Master it, and understand it. Bring it into your routine, and in the long run, you will be on the fast track to becoming a Grand Master Grower.