Germinating Cannabis Seeds 101

Germinating Cannabis Seeds 101

Germinating cannabis seeds correctly will give you years of abundant harvests and healthy plants. High-quality cannabis seeds will provide your desired terpene and cannabinoid profiles. 

How to Find High-quality Cannabis Seeds 

The outer shell of genetically superior and healthier seeds is darker in color. Black or grey seeds with tiger stripes are usually good options. Healthy seeds have a firm feel. Squeeze the seed to test its resilience. Seeds that don’t break or bend are worth planting. Old or poor quality seeds will crumble or crack under the applied pressure. You won’t be able to use them. Good seeds also look like they have a wax coating. Young and immature cannabis seeds look white and green. They have a low chance of germinating. If they do germinate, it will take longer. 

You can buy seeds either from a hobby grower or a reliable seed bank. Buy only from reputable sources. You can also do the float test. Dump the seeds into a glass jar or glass filled with water. Seeds that float are probably of poor quality and not worth germinating. Those that sink to the bottom are most likely healthy and worth planting. Do this test only if you’re planning to use the seeds immediately. Otherwise, you can store them in a cool, dark room. You can freeze the seeds right away or plant them within twelve months. 

What to Consider When Germinating Cannabis Seeds 

You need three things to germinate cannabis seeds – heat, air, and water. Heat is the most complicated part of germination. You need to get the perfect balance between hot and warm. Cannabis seeds germinate longer in colder weather. If you’re worried about low temperatures, you can place incandescent bulbs over the seed areas. Humidity also promotes faster growth. 

You can soak hard seeds in water for 24 to 32 hours. Don’t over soak the seeds. Cannabis seeds start to sprout when they get enough heat and water. If the taproot appears and there’s no water, the shoot will die. Keeping the roots moist is important once the seeds germinate. Always handle the seeds with care, especially when you check for the taproot. Don’t touch the white taproot as it’s very fragile. 

Methods for Germinating Cannabis Seeds

Direct Planting

You can plant the seeds in your desired growing medium. Dig a 0.5 to a 1-inch deep hole in the soil or growing medium of your choice and plant the seeds. The seedlings will adjust to the environment and grow. Keep your garden warm with a grow light or heating pad. 

Paper Towel Method

Prepare two plates, cannabis seeds, and paper towels. Cheap paper towels are ideal since they’re non-porous. The seeds and the roots won’t get stuck when you need to remove them. It’s a simple yet risky method. The taproot could break off while you’re removing the sprouted seeds. The seeds could also die if the paper towels dry out. 

If you prefer this method, you can start by soaking four paper sheets in distilled water. Remove excess water from the paper towels. Put two of the sheets on one plate and place the cannabis seeds at least 1 inch away from each other. Cover the seeds with the remaining sheets. 

Don’t forget to cover everything with the other plate to prevent the paper towels from drying out. Check it often to see if the seeds have germinated. The ideal temperature for storing the seeds is between 70⁰ F and 90⁰ F. Cannabis seeds usually sprout within one to four days. Older seeds can take up to one week. The paper towels should be saturated at all times. Add more water if the sheets are dry.

Overnight Soaking

Soak the seeds in lukewarm water overnight or for 32 hours. This method is ideal for growing hard and old seeds. The seeds will float in water for a couple of hours before sinking. You can use a glass or other transparent containers so that you can see the taproot once it comes out. Don’t exceed the 32-hour mark. If the seeds have not sprouted after 32 hours, you can put them in a moist and warm area to complete the germinating process. Switch to the paper towel method. 

Seedling Plugs and Starter Cubes

Put the seeds in starter cubes or seedling plugs and add water. The seeds should sprout within a few days, provided that you store them in a place with the right temperatures. Cubes and plugs have pre-made holes for the seeds, so you can start planting right away. Rockwool cubes are cheap but bad for your health and the environment. Since it has a high pH level, you have to wash the cube first. Rockwool also offers low germination and cloning success rate. Seedling plugs are not ideal for those who are planting a few seeds because the plugs are usually offered in packs of fifty and dry out within one week. 

Germination Station

You can find ready-made germination stations online. These germination stations are cheap and have a plastic top that offers better humidity control. You only need to pick a plug and growing media to start germinating cannabis seeds. Another option is to make your own germination station. Place a plastic dome over a clean plate and add a heating pad. 

How to Transplant Germinated Seeds

Once the seeds have germinated, you should transplant them immediately. Most growers use small pots. Fill the pots with loose soil and dig a 0.25-inch deep hole. Use tweezers to transplant the seeds. The taproot should be facing down. Cover the root with soil. 

Water the seeds with a spray bottle to avoid drowning them. You can also test the soil using a pH meter. Make sure that the soil has enough moisture. If everything goes well, the seeds should grow within one week. If the seeds have not germinated within ten days, they will most likely die. Place a grow light over the seeds to speed up the germination process. The leaves will be yellow until exposed to the right amount of light. 


Germinating cannabis seeds is an important skill, especially when you want to grow your own cannabis garden. Don’t be upset if you lose some seeds because that’s part of the growing process. 

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