Germinating cannabis seed

Seedling true leaves

Germinating cannabis seed

Germinating seed

* This article is for informational and research purposes only *

There are many methods germinating cannabis seeds. Cannabis seeds need basically three factors to germinate properly: water, oxygen and the right temperature. Seed is dormant (state of suspended animation) until the conditions are right for growth and survival. Getting the right mixture of the three factors is important and not too difficult, but as the saying goes practice makes perfect. As a beginner you might make a few mistakes but in time you’ll perfect your method.

Germination rates (the percentage of seeds that become successful seedlings) vary based on many factors, but the main factors include: the quality of the cannabis seeds, conditions under which the cannabis seeds have been stored and the method the grower uses to germinate their seeds (perhaps most important and often overlooked factor!). Something else people often overlook is not working in a sterile environment and avoiding touching the seed unnecessarily with unclean fingers.

The basic three factors for germination:

Water: Seeds need moisture throughout the germination process. When the seed with taproot becomes dry the seedling will die, thus make sure there is enough moisture at all times. Make sure the seed with taproot does also not sit in too much moisture after germinating otherwise there could be oxygen issues and you might also get some fungal problems. Thus, not too wet, not too dry, just enough moisture. Be mindful of what water you are using. Municipal tap water might have too many chemicals thus it’s best to consider bottled water or rain water. Water PH close to a 6 is ideal.

Heat: Typical spring temperatures is almost ideal in general (depending on the strain and location). When it’s too cold seed might take a longer time to germinate but risk the possibility of failure. The optimal temperature for seed germination is a moderate 20 to 25°C. Also try to keep the temperature reasonably steady without excessive fluctuation.

Oxygen: If the seed is drowning for too long in water, too deep into soil, or too compacted soil, a lack of oxygen might terminate the germination and plant development process.

Some common germination methods include:

– Jiffy: germinating in hydrated peat discs
– Rockwool: germinating in hydrated rockwool
– Cotton wool or paper towel: germinating in moist cotton wool or paper towel
– Soil substrate: germinating in the ground or pots, with natural soil or a mixed substrate
– Water: soaking in water until taproot appears
There are many other methods and even possible to mix some of the various methods during the process.

A method that works well:

Paper towel germination

1. Soaking:
Seeds should be soaked in bottled or rain water for 24 hours, ideal is until the seed starts to crack open for the taproot to emerge. Hard seeds should be soaked for a maximum of 48 hours. Be careful not to soak them too long then the seed might be damaged. Soaking seeds improve their chance of germination and is recommended. Adding a little bit of hydrogen peroxide is something extra you could do if you wish enhancing your chances of success. Once the soaking process is completed you need to carefully move the seed with a sterile tweezer to a paper towel.

2. Paper towel:
Paper towel should be plain white, with no ink etc.
Take the paper towel and fold it in half. Dampen the paper towel and place in a sterile plate, it should just be moist not soaked with excess water. Place the seed carefully on the paper towel. Fold and dampen another piece of paper towel, and place over the first paper towel and seed.
Cover the plate with a bowl to keep humidity inside and light out.
Place the plate with bowl somewhere where you have a constant heat between 20 – 25°C. Temperature should also allow for humidity forming inside the bowl. You can try places like on top of the refrigerator, or on some other electronic device that gives off some heat but not hot.
Check the paper towel twice a day that there is still enough moisture and to allow fresh air. Never let it go dry.
The process can take anything from 48 hours to 14 days to complete germination.

3. Growing medium:
Once the taproot is +- 8 to 10mm it’s ready to move to your next medium. Be very careful when transplanting to your choice of growing medium, not damaging the taproot (they are damaged easily) and remember the root must be facing downward, not to deep! Again, like always, work in a sterile environment avoiding pathogens and use a sterile tweezers to move to your next growing medium. Now is when the real challenge starts raising your seedling to get to vegetative stage. Again, you need the ideal conditions and light as soon as the plant leaves emerge.
When your plant has developed its first set of true leaves it has finished the seedling stage and has entered the vegetative stage. No grow, grow, grow!

NB: always remember to keep a journal, take photographs and tag each plant.

Seed germination
Soak seed in bottled or rainwater. Add some (very little depends on what percentage you have) hydrogen peroxide if you want to.


Seed germination
Seed will crack open for tap root to emerge. You can now move them to the paper towel or wait a bit longer until you see taproot emerge.


Seed germination
Tap roots emerging, you can move them to paper towel or wait a bit longer and directly to your next growing medium.


Seed germination
Seed in moist paper towel, covered to keep humidity high.


Seed germination
Tap root reaching 8-10mm , ready for your next growing medium. Be extremely careful handling the seed, the taproot can easily break off.


Seed germination
Planted carefully in next growing medium, in this case rockwool that has been prepared to have a PH of 6. It’s critical that the medium should have the correct PH for the next stage. Small pieces of rockwool has been used to cover the hole so that the seed will have slight pressure as the plant emerges.


Here is another highly recommended guide for the more advanced grower:Professionally germinate cannabis seeds


This article is for informational and research purposes only.

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