The first step to starting a Cannabis garden is germination. Germination is the first process of growing a plant from seed. Seeds can be found from various sources and vary in quality.
How to Tell if a Seed Is Ready to Be Grown
The best seeds are mature which typically means they will be brown in color and quite solid. The green or white seeds are usually easy to crush and are not mature enough to germinate. To test if the seed is ready, look at its color and try squeezing it to feel if it is solid.
Our 2 Best Ways to Germinate Weed Seeds
Germination requires water, heat, and air. Cannabis does not require stratification, making it an easier seed to germinate compared to some other species of seeds. That being said, germination can still require some effort, so below you will find our 2 favorite germination methods for marijuana seeds.
Germination Method One: Paper Towel and a Dark Closet
The first way to germinate is by placing the seeds inside a wet paper towel or napkin and putting inside a plastic bag and leaving in a dark space for 1-3 days. I recommend using lukewarm water when dampening your paper towel. Some seeds will germinate rapidly while others may take a few days. We recommend leaving them in a warm and dark closet for a few days just to give them the chance to sprout.
It is best to keep the temperature around seventy to ninety degrees Fahrenheit and you can check to make sure the towel is still wet and add more lukewarm water if needed. After at least two days, check inside the bag and you will be able to tell that the seed is ready when the taproot or a single sprout is showing. Make sure you don’t wait too long or the sprout can rot.
Germination Method Two: Direct Sow
The next way to germinate seeds is to direct sow. This involves planting the seed straight into the ground or container that it will be growing in. Direct sowing can be made easier by allowing seeds to sit in a cup of water for at least 8 to 24 hours. Make sure the medium is already wet when direct sowing.
When direct sowing, make a hole about an inch deep and drop the seed in with the pointy side down and cover with more medium. Water lightly initially then keep an eye on it and water if it gets too dry. It’s good to use a germination dome or a greenhouse to keep the humidity around the soil and the seed. For example, you can start in plastic cups and cover with a plastic bag or plastic siren wrap to keep humidity in. Air and light are important for the plant when it sprouts so take the cover off when it shows it’s first two leaves.
Which Germinating Method Is Most Effective?
The more efficient of the methods is the paper towel method because the rate of germination is definitely higher. Direct sowing has its disadvantages because it’s harder to keep the soil at the correct temperature and humidity and usually requires more prep and being more hands-on. Also if direct sowing outside, the weather can ruin your seed such as rain washing it away or it drying in the sun.
However, direct sowing does eliminate transplanting fragile sprouts. Sprouts can be tedious to work with and problems can be destroying the roots or introducing new diseases by touching it.
Tips for Germination:
It is advised to keep things sanitized when working with seeds. It is the beginning of the plant's life and they are more easily infected. To get rid of any disease you can soak the seeds in 1% hydrogen peroxide for 12 hours.
Rockwood and Peat Pellets:
When direct sowing, it is recommended to start in peat pellets or Rockwool. This gives your seeds the perfect environment to grow in, and typically improves the germination rate.
Size and Space:
You want to think about how many plants you are starting and how much space it requires when deciding how big the containers should be when you direct sow. It is best to start in small containers when you are growing more but you may find advantages growing in slightly larger containers.
When growing in containers it allows for neat root development and gives them an undisturbed space to grow and thrive. These small containers are efficient however they require a transplant to a bigger container in a shorter amount of time. You can get bigger root systems in a five-inch peat pot. I would not recommend starting a seed in any pot over 12 inches. Up to 12 inches is plenty of room for a plant to begin its roots and remember you can always transplant. It’s best to take them out before they have already become root-bound. Root-bound is when the roots hit the limits of the container it's in and the roots end up tangling themselves, looking for additional space and nutrients.
Use of Nutrients or Fertilizers:
It is important to not feed any nutrients or fertilizers to young plants and sprouts. Young plants are very sensitive to nutrients and they do not require too much.
Using Grow Lights:
If growing in containers, you can manipulate the growing season by using indoor grow lights. We cover this topic more extensively in our grow light guide.
Moving Your Plants Outdoors:
Containers give you the ability to move your plants. When growing outdoors, in the early stages of a plant's life it is beneficial to start them indoors, especially during the winter or early spring to give them plenty of time before to grow and become more mature so they are ready after the last frost is over. Make sure to introduce the plants slowly to their new location if the weather is too hot. If you are growing indoors at 72 degrees and it around 85 degrees Fahrenheit or more outside then make sure you take the plants outside for about a half-hour to an hour every day and bring them back inside so they slowly become used to the climate. This helps to get the plant more acclimated to the temperature and helps to limit the shock-induced when the plant is transplanted outside. You can also keep them outside longer but in a shady spot so they get some heat but not direct sunlight. The heat can kill newly sprouted plants so be careful.
Final Thoughts on Germinating Weed Seeds:
The best thing to do when germinating seeds is to keep it organic and to reduce, reuse and recycle. Use good water when germinating. Use filtered water, do not use tap water. If you want to use tap water, let it sit out so the chlorine evaporates. You can reuse yogurt containers to make hydroponic jars. You can use the same plastic bags and the same cup of water as long as you sanitize and there is no bacteria or mold. You can also reuse the water in the cup. Plant using organic soil. Make and use your own compost.