How to germinate weed seeds

A guide to successfully germinating cannabis seeds

Weed seed germinating in soil, tap root and shell are visible

Wondering how to plant weed seeds? Well first you need to germinate them! Germinating marijuana seeds is one the first step into a long journey through many different stages. There aren’t many steps involved in germination but you do have to be careful and keep a regular eye on the seeds or else you might just end the journey here.

This is one of the reasons why we made this guide explaining how to germinate marijuana seeds easily.
If it can help you maximise you germination rate then we’re happy!

How to germinate weed seed – Table of content

What equipment do you need to germinate marijuana seeds

  • 2 plates or saucers. The more seeds you have the bigger they need to be
  • 4 sheets of paper towel. You’ll want to put 2 underneath the seeds and 2 above them
  • Cannabis seeds (obviously ^^)

For the “paper towel” technique that’s it!

We haven’t had the time to create a guide to starting seeds in soil, but here’s some good tips from on that subject, but promise we’ll cover that soon!

Let’s look at what do marijuana seeds need to get their germination going

What do Marijuana seeds need to germinate

Here’s what seeds need to germinate, so follow these steps in order to maximise your seed germination rate

  • Moisture: Moisture will wake the seed up and get it to start its taproot going. You want the paper towel moist, not soaked! It has to be moist enough for the taproot to wake up, but not enough for it to stay in the shell. It needs to stretch towards the humidity in order to break the seed shell.
  • Darkness: This is why you have a second plate, you’ll want to cover the seeds up so that they stay in the dark. You can (and should) still check out how they’re doing regularly but but don’t keep them out apart from that.
  • Tranquility: The seeds need peace while the taproot is pushing through. Don’t move them around or touch them, you have to be patient while waiting for the taproot!
    If you do have to move them around, be very gentle with them.
  • Warmth: Keep the environment warm but not to hot, between 20°C and 25°C (68-77°F) is the best temperature for the best germination rate.
    Remember you’re trying to reproduce nature, so think spring time, when seeds are naturally germinating in order to take full advantage of the summer heat and sunlight.
    They can still germinate in colder weather but it will take them longer to do so.

Never let your seeds dry up from that moment on! Dryness will kill the taproot, ending any chance of it being planted. So it’s very important for you to be checking the humidity level of the paper towel at least twice a day.


How to germinate Marijuana seeds

There are many different ways to germinate a seed, here we’ll cover the 2 main techniques, Direct Seed and Pre-soaking the seed.
The outcome is the same, so pick the technique you’re most comfortable with and/or the one you get the best success rate.

Germination steps :

Technique 1 : Step by step Pre-soaking in water

The idea behind this technique is to get the seed wet before setting it into a paper towel in order to speed up the germination process. You’ll want to be careful and not soak it too much or else the seed will suffer oxygen deprivation and rot, which will kill it. Here’s a step by step process

  1. Place your seeds in a glass of water overnight.
  2. Place the seeds in a wet paper tower.
  3. Store in a warm environment, between 21-32°C (70-90°F) and in the dark.
    Check on it at least once a day, if it’s not humid anymore add some water too it.
  4. Once the seed has germinated and you see th  tap root break the shell, carefully pick it up (with tweezers) and plant it into the soil (or rockwool). You want the white root time to be pointing downwards.
    Remember not to plant them too deep, you really want it within the first half-inch (2cm) of the soil.

The seeds should germinate in the clothe within a few days tops.

Technique 2 : Direct Seeds

The Direct Seed technique consists in germinating the seed in a paper tower than placing it in rockwool right away. You could place them right away in the rockwool, without germinating them but the seeds may heave out before germinating, which is why it’s best to germinate them before putting them into the substrate.
Here’s the step by step

  1. Place the seeds in a paper tower and soak it
  2. Store the seeds in a warm (21-32°C) & dark area. Keep an eye on the paper daily to make sure it stays humid.
  3. Once the seed has germinated, carefully (with tweezers) place it in the whole at the center of the rockwool, place it about 1/2 inch (1.5cm) deep into it.
    Make sure not to expose the tap root too long to light or air.
  4. Humidify the rockwool. Keep an eye on it on a daily basis and add water in order to keep it evenly moist (but not soggy!).
  5. Once the tap root has grown out of the rockwool plant it into the soil and watch yor barbie grow.

Technique 3 : Germinating seed paper towel

There is no best way to germinate a marijuana seeds but at Free The Tree we find that the “paper towel” technique the easiest and best way to geminate seeds. Here’s how to do so step by step

  1. Get the equipment you’ve prepared (paper and plates).
  2. Get the 2 bottom sheets of paper moist.
    It is important to get this part right, if the tissue is too wet, the root won’t need to crack the seed shell to access that humidity.
    To dry though and the taproot will dry up and die within the shell.
  3. Place the seeds between the sheets of tissue and on a plate.
  4. Place the 2nd plate over the first in order to keep the seeds in the dark and store them between 20°C and 25°C
  5. During the next couple days, keep an eye on the humidity of the paper. When it’s needed (and it will be) drop a couple drops of water onto the paper.
  6. Once you see the taproot has exited the shell it’s ready to be planted into soil

 And that’s it! It’ll take a couple days for the seeds to germinate, once that’s done you need to place them into the soil

Seed germination using tissue and 2 plates
Humidity and temperature at 21 degrees to get seeds to germinate followed by careful extraction

image credits to Sensiseeds

Technique 4 : Wet Bag

Growing weed from seed is tough and Cannabisgr0wer’s wet bag technique has gotten him a 100% germ rate every time, here are the steps :

  1. Get a cup and fill it up a little with distilled water. 
  2. Place the seed in the water and place in a dark space for 48 hours. 
  3. After 6 hours from placing seeds in cup of water go in and tap the seeds to the bottom of the cup. This prevents germs from getting into the seed.

    *After 24 hours tap root will appear. Some seeds won’t show a tap root after 24 hours that’s why you want to leave the seeds in for 48 hours. 

  4. After 48 hours get a ziplock bag and place a folded paper towel in the bag. Water the ziplock and place the seeds on top of the paper towel. Only one side of the seed will touch the paper towel.
  5. Make sure the side of the seed that is not touching the paper towel is side facing down and place back into a dark area. You do not need a heating pad and you place the seed part not touching the paper towel side down so that the tap root does not grow into the paper towel. 
  6. Wait a couple of days and boom : 100% germ rate. 
  7. Now this is the part that gets everyone because they’re so impatient! Wait until the tap root has about an inch in size or more. If the seed casing comes off while in the plastic bag that’s fine. 
  8. Plant the seed into soil about a couple centimeters below the soil not covered by a humidity dome. Make sure you do not pack the soil above the seed because when you water the soil on top of the seed the soil will naturally pack down a little. 
    *In a day the seed should surface the soil

Thanks Cannabisgr0wer for sharing your knowledge!

How to Plant Marijuana Seeds

  1. Make a small whole in the middle of your soil. It should be between 5mm and 10mm deep, and a little wider that your seed.
  2. Carefully pick up the germinated seeds. I suggest using tweezers or something that will allow you to do this as gently as possible
  3. Place the seed into the soil, root facing downward
  4. Cover up the whole and the seed with soil
  5. Place a light about 15/20cm (7.8 inch) over the soil
  6. Wait a couple days
Plant the seed between 5 and 10 millimeters within your soil

image credit to Sensiseeds

Day 0 : Cannabis sprout just breaking the soil

Now that you know how to germinate your seeds and plant the germinated seeds into soil you’re probably wondering how long this whole process takes right? Let’s get into that

How long to germinate seeds in a paper towel

The short answer is between 1 and 7 days depending on the seed, strain and environment.
But really it can strongly change depending on the room temperature and how well you keep the paper towel at the optimum humidity level.

Once you’ve planted the germinated seeds in the soil it can take between couple days and up to a week for them to break ground. This will mainly depend on how developed the root was, the humidity level in the soil and the quality of the medium.

How long after germination should you plant the seed

So here there’s no actual timeline, you have to look at the taproot. Once it have broken the shell of the seed, and it’s at least 2/3mm long then you should plant it in the soil. Waiting longer isn’t an issue, although you have to make sure to keep the humidity levels up in order for it not to dry up and die.

As we’ve seen earlier in this article you’ll want to plant the root facing downward and between 5mm and 10mm in the soil

How long does it take for the germinated seeds to break ground

The short answer is between 3 and 10 days.
But again this is going to depend very much on how deep you planted the seed, how developed the taproot was when you planted it, how you have been watering the seed in the soil, the temperature of the room, the humidity levels and quality of the medium you’ve planted the seeds in.

If you’ve planted the seeds within the soil over 10 days ago then chances are it died within the medium.. Don’t give up just yet because they can take longer but it’s really not a good sign.

You can try and move the top of the medium to see if you can see the top of the first leaf making its way through the medium, but be careful not to disturb it if it’s there!

The other way is to wait and see, keep your light on and watering it for another couple days

Make sure that you’re watering the seed with pH’d water (around 6.5) and when doing so you’re not disturbing the medium too much. We’ll cover that more in depth further down the page

You can barely see the first soil be broken by the sprout
Day 0 : Cannabis sprout just breaking the soil
Day 0 the sprout is shedding its seed shell and standing up

How to water your germinated seeds while it’s in the soil

Believe it or not this is one of the most important steps. If you’re thinking that since its still a seed you don’t have to be as careful during the watering you’re way off!

Follow these couple steps to maximise the chances to see your germinated seeds break ground:

  1. Make sure you’re using pH’ed water. We’ve done a whole guide on watering your plants and measuring pH levels in your water if you want to know more, but keep in mind that you’re aiming for a pH around 6.5
  2. Don’t disturb the soil. You don’t want to just dumb the water onto the soil, this will raise the medium layers and disturb the root while it’s trying to take ground.
  3. Use a spray to water the area over and around the seed.
    You want to cover a circular surface around the seed in order for the first lateral roots to start spreading horizontally within the soil.
  4. Keep the top layers of the medium humid. You’ll most likely need to be watering every 2 days.
  5. Keep a light about 20cm (8inch) above the soil
pH meter showing a level of 6.6
using water sprayer to hydrate the soil

How to store your Marijuana seeds

Storing Marijuana seeds is pretty straight forward, here’s how to do so:

  1. Keep your seeds in a dark space
  2. Keep you seeds in a dry environment. Humidity will wake them up
  3. Keep your seeds at room temperature. Some say it’s best to keep them in the colder temperatures, like in you refrigerator.
    It’s true that this reduces risks of germinating the seed, especially if you live in a humid environment. If you’re not in that type of weather room temp is fine

And voilà! You can keep your seeds until you’re ready to get them started!

What to do after germinating your seeds?

We’ve done an article per step of the life cycle of cannabis so you could get the info needed along the way 🙂  Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us if you have a question we didn’t cover, it’ll be a pleasure to help you out

Couple words about the grower

This article was written by Plant Lover, Free the Tree's founder and a passionate grower of Cannabis, as well as all other plants.
Mostly from the city, I work on my computer all day so about 4 years ago, on my off time, I started growing to have some more green in my life.

I never imagined I would fall in love with botany and discover so much about this plant. Since then I keep learning everyday, meeting new awesome people of our community and grow constantly

You can always get in touch with me on our Instagram!

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