The Ultimate Guide to Cannabis Seed Germination
Starting new cannabis seeds can be one of the most challenging tasks for a new and beginning cannabis grower. Getting your new cannabis seed in the mail and now it is time to get them started so you can grow a great cannabis garden. But first you need to get the seed out of the growing medium and get their first set of leaves on the plant.
There are so many ways to get your seeds started for the first time and we will help you understand what you need to do for your new seeds. We also have a great guide you can read about how to start older seeds if you have older seeds that you would like to germinate for the first time. Starting cannabis seeds for the first time isn’t rocket science but it can be daunting for a first timer. I mean you are starting a new living life that you may have paid good money over the internet to acquire. We have a great article here on how to pick the right cannabis seeds for the beginner grower.
What Types of Mediums (Stuff your will grow your seeds in) are there?
There are many different types of growing mediums that you can use for growing cannabis plants and starting your new seeds. When selecting a good seed starting medium you will want some that is not only good for starting seeds, but also for growing them once they germinate.
Your new seeds will start to need water and good drainage as soon as they come out of the medium. Picking the right medium is a very important step to get started. Here are some great mediums that have worked well for us over the years.
You can start seeds directly in both of these seed starting mediums below.
Rockwool cubes are awesome for starting seeds in. They have great water holding capacity, allow oxygen to get to the seeds, and are completely free of any fungus that would attack and kill your seeds or seedlings. They are a bit more expensive than some other types of seed starters but they are worth it, if you are starting expensive seeds. You will have to add very small amounts of nutrient to rockwool once the seeds have their first sets of leaves. Rockwool contains no nutrients.
Seed Starting Soils
When purchasing these types of soils you will want to make sure that you are buying the right types that are made for starting seeds. This is because they are sterilized to make sure they are free of any fungus or pests that could attack and kill your seedlings. The soils that are made for seed starting have great drainage and have some nutrients to help you get off to a great start.
Using a Heat Mat for Starting Seeds
There are heat mats that you can buy at stores or online, that can be placed under your starting medium either rockwool cubes or seed starting trays with starter soils. The reason these work so well is that the warmth from the bottom of the medium will signal to the seeds that spring has arrived (no matter what time of year it is) and it is time to start growing.
PRO TIP: You can also place the heat mat somewhere that is dark, and place your baggy with the paper towel on it, or that glass of water for the sink or float starting methods. This will also help the seed to get a tap root before planting into the medium.
What to Do with your Cannabis Seeds when they Arrive?
So your cannabis seeds are here, you just opened the package and it is time to start growing, or maybe not. If you are not planting to grow your new seeds right away we have a great article here on how to store your cannabis seeds before you get ready to grow them. If you are ready to start growing your cannabis seeds then these are some great ways to start your new seeds.
Float or Sink Method
With this germination method you will take your seeds and place them in a glass of water for a day or two and wait for them to either sink or float. Depending on if the seeds sink or float they are viable or not viable for growing. Once the seeds sink they are ready to be planted in the growing mediums that we discussed above.
Paper Towel Starting Method
This is a very easy method to get your new seeds started before you plant them in your growing mediums. You take a small sandwich bag, a piece of paper towel. Wet the paper towel just a bit, fold it over in half, then place the seeds in the middle of the folded paper towel.
Place the paper towel with the seeds in the baggy and let them sit in a warm place for 24 hours, after 24 hours the seeds should start to grow a small root from the seed that you will see. Once this happens it’s time to plant the seed, root down into the growing mediums listed above.
Cannabis seeds not germinating in paper towel
If your new cannabis seeds do not germinate in the paper towel after 24 hours just put them back in the baggy and wait another 24 hours. If the seeds have not germinated in 48 hours you can keep this process going until they do germinate.
However if a week passes and the new seeds still have not germinated then the seeds may not be fresh or have rotted inside and are not viable. You will have to get new seeds and try the process again.
What is a Cannabis Seed Tap Root?
The first time you germinate cannabis seeds you will first see that the seeds have broken the outer shell of the seed. Once this happens your seeds will start to push out a main root, this root is called a “tap root” it is the main root that will grow down into the soil. It is also the root that all other roots will grow out from.
This root is very important to your new seeds. It will push the top of the plant out of the growing medium, and will also grow deep into the growing medium to find water and nutrients to help the plant get off to a great start.
How long does it take for cannabis seeds to germinate?
If your seeds are fresh, meaning under a year old, they should germinate and you will see a tap root coming from the seed in anywhere from 24 to 48 hours. However if you are trying to germinate older cannabis seeds that are 1 or more plus years old it may take longer. If you are germinating seeds that you are aware are older then this you should check out our old seeds starting guide here.
Typically fresh cannabis seeds should have a tap root in 48 hours, planted and growing out of the medium in 3 to 4 days.
How Deep to Plant Your Cannabis Seeds?
Your cannabis seeds should be planted no more then one inch deep into your growing medium. If the seed is planted any deeper then this, it may not have enough energy to push itself from the growing medium. The seed uses it’s own energy to push it up and out of the medium.
How long do Germinated Seeds take to Break Surface
This depends entirely on if you start your seeds directly in the growing medium or use a paper towel method. If the grower uses the paper towel method the seed growing cycle is already in motion and the seeds will break the surface very quickly, most time in under 24 hours.
If the seed is planted directly into the germination medium then it can take 2 to 4 days for the seeds to break the surface of the growing medium.
Fastest Seed Germination Cannabis
There is really no way to speed up cannabis seed germination. You can help the seeds get started using the tips above however the seeds will take the time that is needed to push out a tap root and grow out of the growing medium of choice.
To get the fastest seed germination that you can, it is advised to use the freshest seeds that you can. The fresher the cannabis seed stock the quicker you can expect them to germinate.
Humidity for Cannabis Seed Germination
Keeping cannabis humidity up in the first days of starting your seeds is very important, this is one of the major reasons why you place your paper towel into a baggie to keep the seeds wet with good humidity. Growers can use a humidity dome to keep the humidity in the growing medium, once the seeds break out of the growing medium you can remove the humidity dome.
When you are germinating cannabis seeds you can keep the medium about 60 to 70% humidity under the dome. The humidity can be reduced to about 50% once the seeds break the medium.
Temperature for Cannabis Seed Germination
Keeping temperature warm when germinating cannabis seeds is very important. Like with any growing process with cannabis it is important to mimic nature as much as possible. This is no different then with starting cannabis seeds.
The warm temperatures when starting seeds, tell the cannabis seeds that spring is arriving and it is time to start growing. The best temperatures for starting cannabis seeds range from about 73.4F (23C) to 80.6F (27C). Also keeping these warm temperatures consistent is very important, you don’t want colder temperatures, then hotter temperatures cycles.
Do Cannabis Seeds Need Light to Germinate?
No matter what method that you use above to germinate your cannabis seeds, they do not need light to germinate. In nature cannabis seeds land on top of the soil and will germinate in the light from the sun in the spring. However if the seeds land under leaves or some other natural source they will also germinate with no issues.
It is best to keep them in the dark until you plant them into the seed starting medium. Your new seedlings will require lighting once they break out of the growing medium where they were planted.
Once this happens it is time to add lighting to help them to start growing. We have a great guide here to help you pick cannabis grow lighting for your new cannabis seeds.
Cannabis Seed Germination Issues
When starting cannabis seeds either your first time or one hundredth time you will at some point run into issues starting your seeds. Most of the time this is that the seeds will not start a tap root. Most of the time this is due to a few different things. These include, seeds were not stored properly, seeds were not grown properly or dried properly. Normally this will include seeds that were immature, that were white or green in color.
Growers will always have more issues if the seeds were not grown properly, this is 99% why you will run into germination issues with starting new cannabis seeds.
Another reason for the seed germination issue could be from fungus attacking the seeds before they are able to start the germination process. The fungus could be on the outside of the seed shell, once the seed is placed in a dark, damp starting location it will also start the fungus growing on the seed. This fungus will inevitably kill the young seed, before they have time to start their germination process.
Cannabis Seed Germination and Pest, Mold
There are many pests that will love to eat your cannabis seeds before they even get out of the growing medium. Pests like rats and mice can smell the seeds even when they are under the medium and will dig them out of the medium for a nice tasty treat. They can do this in the middle of the night while you are happily asleep. There is nothing worse than waking up to check out your seeds looking for germination only to find little holes where your cannabis seeds used to be.
Mold is also another big concern when starting seeds. The mold will also attach healthy seeds in much the same way as fungus will. Growers can even buy mold resistance seeds that have been bred to resist mold that can attach and kill your otherwise healthy cannabis seeds.
Hydrogen Peroxide Cannabis Seeds Germination
A great way to keep fungus, mold from attacking your cannabis is to soak your seeds before starting to germinate them in a hydrogen, water solution before using the starting methods above. Growers only need to soak the seeds in this solution for about 30 minutes before starting them. A simple solution of one part hydrogen peroxide, to 30 parts water will kill the fungus that could be living doromate on the outer shell of the cannabis seeds.
Nutrients for Cannabis Seed Germination
Cannabis seeds contain all the nutrients in the seeds themselves to get the seeds off to a great growing start. Some growers will soak their starting mediums either rockwool, or soil starter mix in a very weak seed starting solution. Any fertilizer should have very diluted nutrients for starting germinating, it is very easy to burn your new seedlings before they even get started growing.
Vitamins for Cannabis Seed Germination
We like to use seed starting vitamin mixes for starting our seeds. One that we recommend is B vitamins that come in the form of “Superthrive”; these B vitamins help the seeds get started by supplying needed enzymes for the seeds.
To use these vitamins you can add them directly to the water that you use for the sink or float seed starting method or paper towel seed starting method. The seeds will absorb the water with these vitamins into the seeds.
Cannabis Seed Germination Boosters
These types of boosters will help your cannabis seeds get off to a great start. They are formulated to help your plants with any extra nutrients the seeds may need to start a healthy and productive tap root. They also contain root boosting enzymes that will help promote root growth off of the tap root as well. There are many of these boosters on the market today that growers use while starting seeds.
Using Gibberellic Acid Cannabis Seed Germination
There is really no reason to use gibberellic acid on fresh seeds. Gibberellic acid has been proven to help germination of older cannabis seeds by once again stimulating growing enzymes in the seeds and getting them started in the germination process.
To use Gibberellic acid for seed starting, add a small pinch of it to the water that you will be using with the water you will be using to start your seeds, in the glass or the paper towel.
Cannabis Seeds Germinated but not Growing
There can be a few different reasons why your germinated seeds are not growing. Sometimes it can be mold or fungus in the growing medium itself that is preventing the seeds from growing once they have germinated. It is very important to have a good cannabis growing medium to help the germinated seeds grow well once they germinate.
It is important that the seedlings are not too wet, and have a good PH in the growing medium to continue the growing success. You can read more here about picking a great growing medium for your newly germinated seeds.
What is damping off
Sometimes you may have seeds that germinated, break the growing medium and look like they are off to a great start. Then before you know it the seeds stems will look like they broke in half and fell over. This is what growers referred to as “damping off”.
This is a plant disease that can occur in a growing medium that is excessively damp. It is a fungal infection that can happen in young cannabis seedlings, causing the stem to get weak and fall over. It will kill the seedling, and they will stop growing and die in a day or two.
Cannabis Seeds Germinated Now What
Now that your seeds are growing it is important to keep the growing environment in check to keep the seeds growing well. It is also important to make sure that the plant has a good lighting source to keep the young seedling from stretching upwards toward the weak lighting.
Let the growing medium dry out before water again, if growing in rockwool be sure to start adding some weak nutrients to prevent deficiencies in the young plants as they start their growing journey to harvest.
Using a Cannabis Seed Germination Kit
One way to help you get started growing cannabis is to consider purchasing a seed germination kit. These kits will come with everything that you will need to get off to a great growing start with your seeds, they will typically come with a heat mat, small light, humidity dome, tray, growing mediums. These kits can help you with a clean healthy start for your cannabis seeds.
Cannabis Seed Germination Time Chart
Below is a cannabis germination time chart to help you know what to expect when it comes time to start germinating your seeds for the first time.
Our Final Thoughts
Like learning how to do anything when growing cannabis it is important to keep good notes when starting out, keep notes on how you did your germination method, times that it took for your seeds to move into the different periods of time as they went through the germination process. Also make note of what you did well and what you think you could improve upon when you start your next cannabis seeds crop. Remember the more experience you acquire over time the better your chances will be, with your next germination attempt. If you fail, just try again and eventually you will be successful.
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