Every cannabis grower has to deal with germinating seeds. It is a crucial stage that can make or break a cannabis growing project. If germination is done hurriedly or haphazardly, your plants may not grow to the fullest. It’s important to get to know the different ways to germinate cannabis seeds and choose the best one that’s perfect for your needs.
Before germination takes place, you must first identify if a seed you will use is viable or not. Viability refers to the ability of the seed to sprout or germinate. There are different ways to tell if a seed will sprout.
- The appearance of the cannabis seeds
Viable seeds and seeds that are no good have different outer appearances. Viable seeds are dark-colored, ranging from brown to black. Non-viable seeds are light-colored, ranging from white to yellow to green.
Viable seeds are round, shiny, while non-viable ones have other shapes and may look very dry. Mature seeds are very viable seeds, and sometimes these come with all kinds of designs like stripes, freckles, dots, and other marks. If you see these on your seeds, it means that your seeds will be ready to sprout in a matter of days.
- Feel the surface of the seeds
Another way to assess the viability of seeds is to feel the outer surface of the seeds. It must feel firm, should be smooth with very minimal imperfections. There should be no dents, no chipping, no holes or openings on the surface. If you see these marks and imperfections, the seeds may not germinate, but if it does, the sprouting plant could be weak and may not be able to grow, flower or produce buds.
- The strength of the cannabis seeds
Cannabis seeds are hard to open because of its strong outer shell. Seeds with a weak shell may not be viable or may not grow well after germination. One way to find out if a seed is strong is to press on the seed using your thumb and index finger. If by slightly pressing on the seed and it opens, discard this seed because this is not viable.
- The heaviness of the seeds
Seeds with viable insides are heavy, and those without viable matter are light. One way to test this is to place your seeds in a glass of water. Allow three or four seeds at a time when testing these out.
Leave the seeds in water for a few hours. Seeds that have sunk are heavy seeds and should be kept and grown. Seeds that float are non-viable, empty seeds, and should be discarded.
Now that you know how to tell which seeds are ready to sprout or not, it’s time to germinate viable seeds.
Different Ways to Germinate Cannabis Seeds
Before discussing the common ways cannabis seeds are germinated, remember that some cannabis seed banks online have germination guarantees on their seeds. You must also follow specific instructions on how to germinate seeds that are provided by the seed bank to ensure that the seeds you purchased will sprout. It’s important to follow this to the T; otherwise, you may forfeit your seeds’ guarantee.
So without further ado, here are the common ways to germinate cannabis seeds
Germinating in soil (directly on the ground or in pots)
Whether you want to grow cannabis plants in soil or a pot, it’s very simple to do. Just drop the seeds in the ground or soil inside the pot, and you’re done. Germinating in soil considers several techniques.
First, use the right soil for germinating your seed. The best soil for growing cannabis is sandy-clayey soil, which has good absorption and drainage qualities and has good aerating properties as well. With sandy-clayey soil, the roots of your plants will grow healthy and strong, and your plants will less likely suffer from nutrient problems and mold.
If you’re growing from the ground, test if your soil is safe to grow cannabis by getting a soil test kit. This testing kit will identify important factors of good soil and tests for these factors. Soil testing kits will test nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus levels in the soil. It will also test the pH or the alkalinity and acidity of the soil. Tests will also analyze the presence of some micronutrients and will also identify dangerous toxins.
And of course, if you’re growing cannabis from a pot, you also need to test your soil for any nutrient deficiencies before use. Make sure that the pot you’re using to germinate your seeds have ample holes at the bottom to allow water and excess nutrients to drain away from the roots.
It can take 5 to 7 days for soil-germinated seeds to sprout, and once it does, the taproot will easily find its way down in the ground as the new plant breaks from the ground.
Advantages of Germinating Cannabis Seeds in the Soil
- It’s the easiest to germinate any kind of seed
- It is the most natural way to germinate cannabis seeds
- You don’t need to transfer your plant; it’s already in its final container or space
- Germinating directly in soil lets you save on resources
- Germinating in the soil is flexible; can be used in all kinds of strains
Disadvantages to keep in mind
- Germinating directly in soil exposes your plants to the elements
- Germinating in the soil makes your plants susceptible to pests and molds
- Not all soils can grow cannabis plants
- Not all soils are healthy and have the right pH and nutrient content
The paper towel technique
The paper towel technique is a trusted germination technique recommended by cannabis seedbanks. It’s easy and requires only a few household materials to perform.
First, wet a few pieces of paper towel and place these on a plate. Get the seeds and scatter these on the wet paper towels. Cover the seeds with another layer of moistened paper towels and cover with a plate.
Keep this in the dark area like inside a cabinet or kitchen cupboard. Don’t open the plates; just take a peek once a day to water the paper towels and to check for germination. The paper towel technique will germinate seeds in three or four days.
After you see positive signs of germination, you may now transfer the seeds on individual pots with good soil. The very first structure that comes out of the seed is the taproot. The taproot is the main root that’s large and white, and this is where all other root systems grow.
And as you transfer the newly sprouted seeds, don’t touch the taproot. Doing so can stress the plant and may even cause the root to fall off! Without the taproot, your plant may have poor chances to continue sprouting and will even lead to poor growth.
Remember, never open the plate unless you need to check the seeds if they have sprouted and to spray or sprinkle water on the paper towels. Otherwise, keep the paper towel and plate in a safe and dark place.
Pros of the paper towel technique
- It’s easy to do and costs almost nothing
- You can use this technique to germinate all kinds of seeds
- This technique keeps the seeds moist and dark
- It has a high success rate
Cons of this technique
- It’s not indicated how soaked or moist the paper towels are
- Someone may accidentally open the setup and can ruin germination success
- You can easily forget that you are keeping seeds in a plate to germinate
Still, another way to germinate cannabis seeds is by using the pellet technique. Most growers who recommend this germination technique recommend using peat pellets. This is because peat pellets are readily available and will keep the seeds protected and ready to germinate.
The first thing you must do is to soak the pellets in water. Once the pellets have doubled their size, these are ready to use.
Squeeze the pellet until you have a moist peat pellet. Open it up and place one seed per pellet. Close the pellet by folding the part you opened or use a paper clip to seal the opened part. Place the pellet in a small bowl with water; the pellets should remain moist to prevent the seeds from drying up. Place the bowl in a dark and safe place.
It may take four to five days for the seeds to sprout, but it may take longer to grow out of the peat pellet. And once you see the thick taproot, some small roots or newly-sprouted leaves emerge from the pellet, the new plant is ready to be planted in a separate pot.
Again, use sandy-clayey soil in a moderate to a large pot, which can be its final pot. And just like transferring a newly sprouted seed from a pot, be careful not to touch the taproot and the small complex roots. These are very delicate structures and should be handled with care. After transplanting in soil or a pot with soil, water the pot until water drains from the hole in the pot.
Also, take note that peat pellets contain nutrients your young plants need; therefore, you don’t need to fertilize or add supplements. You can start adding fertilizer at week two or three.
Advantages of using the pellet technique
- No need to add fertilizer because peat pellets contain nutrients for good plant growth
- You can use this technique on almost all kind of cannabis
- Peat pellets are readily available from any garden supplies shop
- Peat pellets won’t require space to use
- Will cover the seed to protect it from light
Disadvantages of this technique
- Some say that it’s too messy
- When dry, peat pellets can crumble and lose its form also these may turn to powder, and fine peat powder can cause respiratory problems
- Peat pellets may be too large or too soft for a seed. You may adjust the size of the pellet by cutting it according to the size of the seed
Water in a glass technique
Finally, the water in a glass technique is a classic way to germinate cannabis seeds. This is also the easiest to do since you just place the seeds in water and wait for 24 hours. What happens is that water softens the seed cover and thus helps open it. Usually, after soaking the seeds in water, it would take a day for the seed to soften, crack open and sprout.
After sprouting, place the seeds in soil or inside a moist peat pellet. It won’t take too long for the taproot to come out and the plant to finally grow out of the seed.
Advantages of using the water in a glass technique
- It is easy to use this technique
- You only need water in a glass
- This gives you a chance to check the viability of seeds
Some disadvantages of this technique
- Seeds kept more than 24 hours in water may drown
- Some seeds may not sprout
How to Germinate Stubborn Cannabis Seeds?
As you cultivate cannabis, you will eventually encounter cannabis seeds that won’t sprout no matter what you do. These seeds are usually mature seeds that have unusually hard seed covers. If you encounter this, don’t throw the seeds away. You can still save these by doing the following techniques.
One, you can file the seed to expose the viable inside. Use a sharp file to remove the outer cover and file until you get the green or white inside. The flat edge of the file must scratch only the outer part of the seed and not injure the sensitive inside. Place the seed in water to complete the germination, or you can use the damp paper towel technique.
You can also use a sharp blade or cutter to cut a small slit on the surface of the seed. Although this may be difficult to do for a hard seed, cutting the seeds may be the only way for successful germination. After cutting and seeing the viable inside, soak this in water or place the seeds in between damp towels.
You may also crack the seeds gently with a nutcracker, but this should be the last resort because this can damage the seeds rendering it useless if you are not careful. Usually, the water in a bottle technique can soften the coat of regular seeds, and this alone may suffice.
Should you discard open cannabis seeds?
Another very common thing are seeds that are half-open or simply open that you can see the insides. This should not be discarded since these can still sprout. If you find this kind of seed, place it in water for a day. Afterward, place it in between damp paper towels so it can germinate properly.