There are many different ways to germinate cannabis seeds. Essentially all you have to do is keep the seed damp, and warm for a few days, and it will germinate and grow.
Some methods are more reliable than others. As cannabis seeds can be expensive, you want to use the best germination methods, to make sure your seed pops. This saves time, and money!
The first step, and it is very important, is to make sure you have good quality cannabis seeds! If you start with good seeds, and you follow this guide step by step, then you will have a cannabis plant growing within a few days after germination.
Using “bag seed” or unknown genetics is not a good idea. The seed may not pop at all, and if it does, the genetics could be bad and you will waste months of time and work. Make sure you start off with the best cannabis genetics, and you will have much higher chance of success!
If you need cannabis seeds you can rely on, then check out well respected cannabis seeds banks like Seedstockers. They have world class genetics that you can be sure are going to be great to grow.
Of course we have to remind you, we do not encourage people to break the law! You should only be considering germinating cannabis seeds, if it is legal to do so!
There are many ways to germinate cannabis seeds, but there is only one way that is tried and tested to give a 95-100% germination rate. That is the cotton pad method.
You will read guides all over the internet explaining many different germination techniques, but the cotton pad technique has been used by professionals and seed banks all over the world.
This is the method we use, and this is the method we recommend you use too!
Cotton Pads will hold the perfect amount of moisture a cannabis seed needs to germinate. Paper towels, and tissues, can not only dry out quickly, but may contain chemicals to add smell.
Some may even be antibacterial. We recommend getting cotton pads, that are unscented, from your local pharmacy.
Begin by placing a single cotton pad onto your plate. You will place the seeds onto this. Do this gently, and make sure your hands or any equipment you use to handle the seeds are clean.
Take the seeds, and place them onto the cotton pad, spaced out evenly. Only have 5 seeds maximum per pad.
After your seeds are placed evenly on the pad, you should spray the seeds lightly with some water. Not too much, just a few light sprays is fine. If necessary, check the pH of the water too. It should be between 6.5 and 7.5 for best results.
Once the seeds and cotton pad are covered nicely with the spray, you need to use 1 more cotton pad to cover them. Place the cotton pad gently on top of the seeds, to sandwich them between the 2 cotton pads. Now spray the top cotton pad with another fine layer of water.
This is plenty of water for the seeds to germinate, now you have to lock that moisture in, by wrapping the plate and seeds, with your microwave foil. Using microwave foil is better than cling film, as it has tiny holes in it. This will keep the air inside the wrap fresh, so your seeds get plenty of air too.
So wrap the plate and seeds, and store them in a dark warm place. Rather do not use heated propagators, they are too hot. Around 20c is perfect, and storing them in a living room cupboard for a few days will be fine.
Check your seeds after 3 days, and you should see a white root protruding from them. This is called the tap root. When the tap root is over 2 cm long, you should plant your seeds into your medium.
Inside of a cannabis seed, there is a small amount of food. This is used to give the seed the energy needed to push out and grow a small tap root. After a few days, this food would have been used up, and your seed will need a source of nutrients to continue to grow.
When a tap root has reached over 2.5cm in length, it is starting to run out of food, and should be planted straight away. Bear in mind though, these are very young and delicate cannabis plants. It is not only very easy to break the tap root, but some soils can be too strong for a seedling.
If you’re going to use a strong soil for your grow, then consider using a potting mix first. Too much nutrients can shock a tap root and it will stop growing and die.
A cannabis seedling needs very little food, and it can be easy to over feed it and kill it. When you grow cannabis in soil, your medium (the soil) is packed full of nutrients. Sometimes, this can overwhelm a seedling and kill it.
Some growers will start cannabis seeds off in either a potting mix (soil will have a low amount of nutrients) or mix their soil with some coco first. Use a potting mix, or mix your soil with coco if the soil is too strong. Then after a week or two, when the plant is bigger, you can transplant it into the stronger soil.
Also, don’t bury the seed too deep into the soil, just a few centimetres is fine. Make a small hole in the centre of the soil, about 2-3cm deep and place your seed into it. Simply cover it lightly, and press down very gently!
Water the seed a little but not too much. If the soil gets too wet, you risk the seed rotting. If it is too dry, the seed could dehydrate and die. So just a little water to dampen the soil around the seed is fine.
To lock in the moisture, you should cover the tops of the pots with cling film, or a plastic cup. Then you just have to wait until you see a shoot pop above the soil.
Coco is a hydroponic medium, and it has no nutrients in it. You have to add the nutrients yourself. At Seedstockers we recommend nutrients BioTabs, an organic fertilizer, using the force of soil organisms.
BioTabs stimulates soil organisms by converting organic material into ideal plant food. In this way, plants develop strong root systems and are disease-resistant.
BioTabs are an excellent option for coco growers. These can be added to the medium and give nutrients throughout the grow in small, incremental amounts. It can make the whole process so much easier, and is much like growing in soil.
Whatever nutrients line you have chosen, use it lightly, the seedling will not need a lot and you do not want to sock the roots. ¼ of the recommended dose is usually plenty.
Water the coco, with some feed, at the correct pH (5.8 – 6.2), and it is ready for the seed to be planted into. You can plant the seed into the coco after it has already been germinated with the cotton pad method, or, plant the seed directly into the coco. You just have to make sure the coco is ready first.
Rockwool, is very much like coco. It is a hydroponics medium, and it has no nutrients in it at all. For a germinated cannabis seed to grow in rockwool, you need to add nutrients to it first. Mix up some water and nutrients like you would for coco and pH it to 5.8. Water the rockwool cube and make sure it stays damp.
Now you can plant your seed into it. Again you can do this with a cannabis seed that has already been germinated, or you can plant the seed directly into the rock wool, and leave it to germinate in there.
You must keep the seed warm, no matter how you germinate it. If you live in a cold environment, or do not have a constant warm place to keep your seeds, then maybe you should use a propagator.
A propagator is a great way to germinate cannabis seeds if you do not have a warm place to keep them. By placing your seeds, either in cotton pads, small pots of soil, coco, or rock wool into a propagator, you have a better chance of germination.
Not only will a propagator keep the temperatures more stable, but it will also lock in moisture, keeping the humidity high. This will also reduce the risk of the cotton pad or medium drying out.
Heated propagators are an option too. But you have to be very careful not to overheat the seed. Do not exceed 23c. This can be too warm and it will stress the seed and possibly kill it.
Room temperature is fine, just keep the temperature consistent.
Cannabis seeds are very easy to germinate, all they need is air, water, and warmth.
The best method to germinate a cannabis seed is the cotton pad method, but sometimes, this might not work. Some seeds will have a thick shell. This can be softened by soaking the seed for a few hours in water. But you shouldn’t do this for long.
If a cannabis seed sinks below the water, it will not be able to get the air it needs, and it can drown. To prevent this from happening, it is recommended that you avoid soaking seed in water unless it is necessary. If a seed doesn’t germinate using the cotton pad method after 4 days, try soaking it for just a few hours in water. But then add it to the cotton pads and try again. Don’t germinate them solely in water.
You can plant cannabis seeds straight into the ground, as long as it is the right time of year. If it is too cold outside, your seedling will not survive. You should wait until the last frost has passed, and early spring arrives.
Most growers do prefer to germinate their seeds indoors, in smaller pots before planting them outdoors. This gives the plant some time to grow, and develop a good root base.
Giving your cannabis seedling a couple of weeks indoors will massively increase its chances of survival when it goes outside.
It will only take a few days, at the most a week, for a cannabis seed to germinate in the right conditions.
If you follow the steps above, and use the cotton pad method, there is a 95% chance you will see tap root from your seeds within 3 days.
Once the seeds are planted, they will shoot above ground within a couple more days. It doesn’t take long, you just have to be patient and leave them alone for a couple of days.
Try not to disturb them. They will be fine in the cotton pads for 3 days, it is better to just leave them alone until then. The less you disturb them the better.
The most important factors to a successful germination are reliable cannabis seeds from a good seed bank, a good germination method, and some patience. This guide gives you all the info you need, but the patience is down to you.
Sometimes cannabis seeds will take a week to show tap root, sometimes, it’ll be there in 24 hours. You just have to wait it out and be patient.
If you have used the cotton pad method, and stored the seeds and the right temperature, they will pop. Just give them a few days.
Be patient, have fun, and enjoy the grow. It all starts here.