The evolution of cannabis, from seedling to luscious buds, is a captivating journey, pivotal to which is the germination process. Since the 2018 Farm Bill catapulted cannabis to farming stardom, ensuring every step of your cultivation process flourishes has never been more crucial. You can commence your cultivation with either a seed or a clone. Intriguingly, seeds harbor genetic imprints from both parent plants, showcasing a diverse tapestry of traits inherited from each. Embarking on this cultivation voyage hinges on mastering seed germination.
Eager to unfold the art of germination for a generous yield? Dive into our comprehensive guide on germinating cannabis seeds, your roadmap to an abundant harvest.
- Cannabis plants are dioecious, meaning they exist as male or female. In some cases, hermaphrodite plants also occur.
- Experienced growers prefer regular seeds to enable breeding. However, this means they sex out the male plants to prevent the females from being fertilized.
- For inexperienced growers, feminized seeds are ideal for bud production.
- The recommended soak time for cannabis seeds is 12-24 hours. Any longer, and you may deprive them of oxygen.
Cannabis Seeds at a Glance
Cannabis seeds are roughly the size of a BB shot or 0.18 inches (0.46 centimeters) in diameter. They usually have lines on them known as “tiger stripes.” Growers often sow seeds from one strain and select the best plants. They then take clones from those specific plants to produce others. The result is consistent genetics and high-quality plants.
Cannabis seeds may be easier to obtain than clones for growers just getting started. And it has its advantages too. For instance, growing from seeds often produces more robust plants with strong genes.
Furthermore, plants grown from seeds tend to have stronger taproots than clones and are healthier when young. Even in cool, damp climates, seeds can be planted outdoors without much fuss.
For most outdoor growers, germinating seeds inside before transferring them outside is standard practice. That’s because they are fragile in the early stages of growth. The seedlings are given extra light indoors to help them grow. They are then transplanted outside when they are strong enough.
However, the main disadvantage of growing from seeds is that you are unsure what you will get. In a regular bag of cannabis seeds, you get a mix of male and female plants. To prevent the females from producing seeds, you must sex out the male plants. Of course, if the females produce seeds, the buds will be smaller.
To avoid this uncertainty, you could go for feminized seeds. Feminized cannabis seeds grow only into female plants and are ideal for bud production. With these, you do not have to worry about female plants being pollinated. Feminized seeds are created by inducing the monoecious condition in female plants. The resulting seeds are essentially similar to the self-pollinated female parent due to the presence of only one set of genes.
Feminized seeds can be achieved by:
- Spraying the plant with a colloidal silver solution (liquid containing small silver particles)
- Rodelization, i.e., where a female plant pollinates another female
- Spraying seeds with gibberellic acid (a hormone that promotes germination). This method is less commonly used.
Experienced growers do not often use feminized seeds. The reason is that they contain only one set of genes and are not ideal for breeding. However, for beginners, feminized seeds are a good starting point because they eliminate worrying about male plants.
Regarding cannabis seeds, there are two main types: autoflowering and photoperiod seeds. Here is what these mean in detail:
Autoflowering vs. Photoperiod Seeds
Autoflowering seeds are popular among first-time growers. They are simple to grow because there is no need to worry about light cycles or how much light the plant gets.
When the light they receive daily decreases, most cannabis plants begin to flower. This happens when the sun sets earlier in the day as the season changes from Summer to Autumn. Indoor growers can control this flowering stage by limiting the amount of light plants get each day from 18 to 12 hours.
There are also photoperiod cannabis seeds. With these, the flowering period is dictated by the seasons. When the days get shorter, they stop growing and begin to blossom and create buds. Indoor growers replicate this cycle by shortening the light period from 18 to 12 hours. Further, they prolong the darkness hours from 6 to 12 hours.
This shift from 18/6 to 12/12 hours of light and darkness forces the plant to move from the vegetative to the flowering stage. If the plant is kept in the vegetative stage for much longer, it will not flower.
Feminized vs. Regular Seeds
Regular cannabis seeds yield either male or female plants. They can also produce plants with both male and female organs, i.e., hermaphrodite plants. Growing marijuana plants from regular seeds is as common as it is simple. These seeds are easily accessible and are less expensive than the feminized version.
On the other hand, feminized cannabis seeds produce only female plants. Remember, it is the female plants that produce buds. If you are farming cannabis for the buds, use feminized seeds. However, you may have to contend with a steeper price tag. Also, note that feminized photoperiod plants require light and darkness (12 hours each) to flower.
Before planting, it is advisable to give your seeds a quick inspection. Most seeds eventually germinate, but poor-quality seeds produce weaker plants. Unfortunately, you won’t find out until the vegetative and flowering periods.
Here is a tip: Darker-colored seeds have a better chance of germinating. However, the white or pale green seeds are more likely to fail. Still, if a darker seed seems slightly damaged, plant it anyway. There is a high chance it will germinate.
How to Germinate Cannabis Seeds in 3 Easy Steps
Before we get into how to germinate cannabis seeds, there are a few things to note. As a beginner, it is better to focus solely on successful germination. Germination allows your seeds to grow roots to absorb water and nutrients. The process is called sprouting.
The white tendril that grows from a cannabis seed during germination is the plant’s initial root, or “taproot.” Other roots that emerge later during the plant’s lifetime extend from the taproot. As the taproot burrows, it pushes the seed up through the surface. The seed breaks open with time, and the first leaves (cotyledons) pop out.
There are a few rules of thumb for germination. We recommend following these rules for the best results, regardless of your germination method. For starters, temperature is the most vital aspect to consider. It is what seeds use to ‘know what to do.’
Here are the ideal conditions to germinate cannabis seeds:
- Temperature: Between 22 and 25°C
- Relative Humidity: 70–90%
- Fluorescent Lighting: Cool White code 33
- Growing Environment: Damp and moist (not wet)
- Seed Handling: Minimal
Warmth, moisture, and darkness are three critical requirements for the taproot to form. A single root gradually blossoms into a cannabis plant. Seeds begin germinating within 12-36 hours of exposure to moisture under the appropriate conditions.
So, every grower probably has a preferred method of germinating cannabis seeds. With years of practice, some have mastered the dos and don’ts of successful seed germination. However, if you are just getting into cannabis farming, we have broken down the best practices into three easy steps.
Items to Start Seeding Indoors
- Cannabis seeds
- Plastic container with a lid or two plates
- Paper towels
- Water sprayer with clean water
- Small cup or glass of water
How to Germinate Cannabis Seeds: The Paper Towel Germination Method
Dampen the Seeds
Place a paper towel flat inside a plastic container and spray it with room-temperature water. Put the cannabis seeds on the paper towel at least an inch apart and cover them with another paper towel. Spray the towels with water until they become damp. Move the container to a warm, dark, protected place and cover it with a lid or plate to ensure it stays humid throughout.
Ensure the seeds stay in a warm environment, roughly 70-85°F.
Keep the Seeds Damp
Open the container and spray the paper towel with water every few hours. Do not let the towel dry up, or the seeds won’t sprout. The towel should remain damp, not wet. Meanwhile, you can prepare the growing medium while waiting for the seeds to germinate.
Plant in a Jiffy Cup
Once the seeds break open and the taproot appears, transfer them to the next growing medium. This can be peat, soil, or coco in a small cup, jiffy, or plug.
Cannabis seeds take from 2 to 10 days to germinate under conducive conditions. Seeds that fail to sprout within two weeks are probably duds and won’t germinate at all.
After germination, the next step is to transfer the seeds to the next growing medium. Keep in mind that the taproot is quite delicate and easily gets damaged when handled carelessly. It is also important to keep the germinating seeds sterile, so do not touch them as they sprout.
While there are various mediums you can plant the seeds in after sprouting, soil is the most common. It is abundant and relatively easy to work with. Also, using a soil medium ensures the seeds are not “shocked” when transferred to another medium.
So, here is a quick rundown on how to prepare a soil medium.
- Fill a 1-gallon pot with loose, airy potting soil.
- Make a hole in the soil with a pen/pencil. Ideally, the hole should be half-inch to an inch (1.3cm to 2.5 cm, or ‘knuckle deep’).
- Using a pair of tweezers, gently place the germinating seed into the hole with the taproot facing down. Germinating seeds should not be put too deep into the soil. Ensure the white taproot is completely covered with soil while the seed remains under the surface.
- Spray the soil with water until it gets damp, not drenched.
While germinating cannabis seeds does not seem overly complicated, surprisingly, things can easily go wrong. So, here are a few tips to enhance your likelihood of success:
- Do not over-water the seeds. While seeds need moisture to sprout, too much water actually deprives them of oxygen.
- If you prefer soaking your seeds in water, do not keep them there for more than 24 hours. The viable seeds often sink after 12 hours. If a seed does not sink after 12 hours, try dipping it. If it comes back up, it is probably a dud or may take longer to sprout.
- The best sprouting conditions for seeds are moisture and temperature. Remember, young seedlings absorb moisture through the leaves since the roots are still underdeveloped.
Here’s a full video showing you the process if you need more of a visual explanation.
The first step to getting a good harvest of cannabis buds is successfully germinating the seeds. Like most seeds, cannabis seeds require a conducive environment to germinate and grow. To increase their chances of sprouting, there are several tried-and-tested methods you can try out.
Regardless of the method, seeds require moisture, warmth, and darkness to germinate. The trick lies in balancing these elements so the seeds get just enough of each. For instance, give the seeds too much water, and you risk depriving them of oxygen.
The time it takes from planting to germination depends on various factors. Obviously, healthier seeds sprout faster, but generally, cannabis seeds take 2-10 days to germinate. Any seed that does not germinate after two weeks probably will not germinate at all.
All in all, the best start to growing healthy cannabis plants is obtaining high-quality seeds. You can get these from reputable cannabis brands like LIT Farms, which knows much more about cannabis. The following feminized cannabis seeds are available at LIT Farms:
- Gaslight: This is a cross between E-85 and RS-11. Each pack contains 6-12 feminized seeds.
- Lemon Cherry Sherbet: This hybrid strain was created by crossing Lemon Cherry and RS-11.
- PermZ: The feminized seeds of this strain contain the genes of Zkittlez and Permanent Marker.
- Rainbow Candy: Rainbow Candy is a cross of RS-11 and Grandi Candy.
Cannabis Seeds: Frequently Asked Questions
Should I Soak Cannabis Seeds Before Germination?
You do not need to soak cannabis seeds before germination. However, if you do so correctly, the probability of successful germination increases considerably.
Do Cannabis Seeds Need Light to Germinate?
No, cannabis seeds do not need light to germinate. If anything, a dark environment is better for germination.
Do Cannabis Seeds Germinate Better in the Dark?
Yes, cannabis seeds germinate better in the dark. However, you will need light once they sprout because it plays a vital role in their growth and development.
How Long Does It Take for Cannabis Seeds to Germinate?
The time it takes cannabis seeds to germinate varies depending on the conditions. In an ideal setting, i.e., correct warmth, moisture level, and light intensity (darkness), the sprouting period ranges from 2-10 days.