The very first step to growing cannabis is seed germination. For any newbie growers out there this leads to the very first set of questions. How to germinate seeds correctly? How to germinate quickly? Is there a right way and a wrong way to grow weed seeds? It’s easy to get flustered, but thankfully, it’s just as easy to get started.

Sourcing High-Quality Seeds

Seed germination starts with finding fresh, high-quality seeds. Like any other perishable good, age matters when it comes to weed seeds. A typical seed will have roughly a year’s lifespan before it becomes much more difficult or impossible to sprout.

Most strains of weed these days come from good stock. Not only should they be easy to grow, but they should also produce big juicy harvests.

In the developed world, sourcing high-quality seeds is merely a matter of a quick google search. Any strain you desire is available through the click of a mouse. In fact, it’s almost more difficult to find seeds in your bud these days than through a reliable seed dealer.

If you do stumble on a seed or two in a cannabis flower, but want to grow potent bud, be wary. As explained in this post, not all seeds were created equal. There can be a significant difference between seeds produced from a mother plant, and one from a hermaphrodite. If you are determined to grow weed with any level of professionalism, do yourself a favor and source them from a professional.

Once you have sourced seeds, double check their quality. Seeds are extremely susceptible to mold and mildew, so check before planting. Many growers recommend focusing on marijuana seeds that are darker beige to brown in color. Yellow and white seeds are typically of poor quality.

4 Common Germination Techniques

Everyone has a preferred way to germinate seeds.  While some methods are better than others, there is no right answer when it comes to sprouting weed seeds at home.

1.Paper Towel Method

Long used by vegetable gardeners, the paper towel method is tried and true. Even for a novice, it is difficult to mess up. Dampen two pieces of paper towel and sandwich the cannabis seeds between the two sheets. Place on a plate and cover with a second plate to retain the added moisture. The paper towels will naturally dry out, so keep adding water over the next few days to maintain moisture.

A healthy seed will typically take between one to four days to sprout, any longer and there might be an issue with the seed itself, so it’s best to throw these out. Check the seeds daily, being careful not to disrupt the tiny roots.  

2.  Starter Plugs

Starter plugs or starter mats are essentially the dummies guide to seed germination. For those wondering how to germinate weed seeds without doing any research? Starter plugs are definitely the way to go. They take all the guesswork out of the entire process and also avoid any extra handling of the germinated seeds.

Starter plugs are easily found in most garden centers, and they work for starting almost any type of seed. Starter plugs are the perfect environment to promote any kind of seed to sprout.

Most come with a small hole pre-poked into the center of the plug. Place a seed into each hole, press gently to cover with soil and water thoroughly.

Some growers rely entirely on products like Jiffy plugs or Rapid Rooters. They swear that the germination time beats any other germination method. The plug method does require a small upfront investment but takes the rest of the work out of the germination process.

3. Soaking

Another method rooted in the vegetable garden (no pun intended) is the soaking method. Cannabis seeds are ideally suited to this technique, plus it’s easy to monitor. Simply place your seeds into a glass of room temperature water. Allow to soak for up to 24 hours. Any longer then you run the risk of drowning your seeds before they germinate.

As the seeds begin to hydrate, they might start to sink. This is natural and actually helps to separate the healthy seeds (sinkers) from the unhealthy ones (floaters). The really eager seeds might even sprout in the glass of water.

After 24 hours, remove any unsprouted seeds, and revert to the paper towel method. This will give any slow starters a break from their bath, but continue to keep them moist. Once sprouted in the water bath or later on the paper towel, seeds are ready to plant.

4. Plant Directly

The lazy grower’s technique is to straight-up plant it directly in the soil or soil substitute. Especially for the amateur, who doesn’t understand the nuances of soil pH balance, nutrient requirement, and humidity, planting directly is a risky move. With that being said, many people have accidentally grown healthy plants by planting a seed as a joke.

Planting directly, under the right conditions, actually avoids additional handling of the seed once germinated. Because it’s planted directly into its final resting place, the seed doesn’t need to be transplanted. There is naturally less stress on the seedling.

It helps to have a warming pad underneath the container or tray. This will help speed up the germination process. Plant your cannabis seeds half an inch deep and water briefly.

How to Plant Germinated Seeds

Now that you’ve gotten a few little seedlings started, the next step is to replant them properly. If you have chosen to plant directly or use a starter plug, these steps are unnecessary

  1. Do not touch the root!

Above all else, the little root is sensitive and extremely susceptible to damage. Although its possible to move with your fingers, it’s safer to use a pair of tweezers to pick up the seed and transfer

2. Plant in new medium directly below the surface

Gently place the seedling root down into the starter plug or a pre-poked hole in the soil. It should sit under the surface, being still visible. Soil should still be moist but not saturated.

3. Be patient

Some seeds will almost instantly sprout above the surface, forming two little starter leaves. Other seeds might take a few days. Be patient. If there has been no activity within ten days, it might be best to try again as the cannabis plant likely won’t grow to be a productive plant.