Germination is the process in which a new plant begins to grow from a seed. Also referred to as “popping,” germination is the very first step in starting your cannabis garden.
Cannabis seeds can be acquired from an array of sources and can vary in quality. Online seed banks are generally your best bet for quality and genetic diversity, but it should be noted that overseas transactions exist in legal gray areas in many countries.
When acquiring seeds, you want to make sure they are matured and that they appear dark brown with lighter accents and a hard feel. You don’t want a seed that feels fresh and looks green, which indicates that the seed hasn’t reached full maturity.
Once you have your cannabis seeds, make sure you have the space necessary to allow your plants to grow and be healthy. Don’t pop seeds when you are unsure of your grow space, time availability, or intention with your garden.
What’s the Best Way to Germinate Cannabis Seeds?
Cannabis seeds require three things to germinate: water, heat, and air. Because of this, there are many methods to germinate your seeds. The most common and simplest method involves the use of paper towels saturated in water.
For this method you will need:
- Two clean plates
- Paper towels
Step 1: Take four sheets of paper towels and soak them with distilled water. The sheets should be soaked but shouldn’t have excess water running off.
Step 2: Take two of the paper towels and place them on a plate. Then, place the cannabis seeds at least an inch apart from each other and cover them with the remaining two sheets of water-soaked paper towels.
Step 3: To create a dark protected space, take another plate and flip it over to cover the seeds (like a dome).
Step 4: Make sure the area they’re kept in is warm, somewhere between 70-90°F.
After these steps have been completed, it’s time to wait. You can check the paper towels to make sure they’re still saturated, and if they seem to be losing their moisture, you can apply more water to keep the seeds happy.
Some seeds germinate very rapidly while others can take several days. You know a seed has germinated once the seed splits and a single sprout appears.
This is the tap root, which will become the main stem of the plant, and seeing it is a sign of a successful germination. It’s important to keep this area sterile, so don’t touch the seeds or the tap root as they begin to split.
Transplanting Germinated Cannabis Seeds
Once you see the tap root, it’s time to transfer your germinated seed into its growing medium. Small 2-inch pots are a good place to start. Fill the pots with loose, airy potting soil and poke a hole in the middle about a quarter-inch down using a pen or pencil.
To transfer the seed, use a pair of tweezers to gently pick it up, then drop the seed in the hole with the tap root facing down and lightly cover it with soil.
Next, you’ll need to water the soil. Initially, use a spray bottle to provide moisture without over-saturating the soil. You want to give the seed water, but over-watering can suffocate and kill the delicate sprout.
Pay attention to the temperature and the moisture level of the soil to keep the seed happy, and within a week or so you should see a seedling begin to grow from the soil.
Germinating seeds doesn’t always go as planned. Some seeds will be duds. Others will be slow and take longer to sprout. But some will pop quickly and grow rapidly.
This is the beauty of seeds—often, you can tell which plants or genetics will thrive right from the get-go. This will help you determine which plants you want to take cuttings from for clones and which to breed with other strong plants to create a seed bank of your own.