The Pot Seed Germination Process
Awesome, you ordered some cannabis seeds online or bought pot seeds at your local head shop or dispensary. So now you are standing there with this puny package of even beanier seeds calculating how much each one cost you. Were you crazy? What if one or all of them don’t even germinate?
No worries, this is your guide to germination using a method that has brought me 100% germination results (knock on wood!). Like many folks, your goal might be to grow your favorite organic strains, so you want to know the best way to germinate cannabis seeds, including marijuana germination temperature and pointers about planting marijuana seeds in soil. You don’t want to waste a precious seed.
Your Handy Germination Center
The next thing you need besides your seeds is a germination center. Its not necessary to spend a lot on this and you’ll get your money’s worth in the number of seeds you save. This is what you have to source:
- An old piece of glass that is 4 x 6 inches minimum up to 6 x 10 inches. I grabbed one from an old shelf I wasn’t using. You can also score a piece of glass from any reuse or renovation store, take it out of an old door or piece of furniture. Don’t sub in plastic or plexi because it doesn’t conduct and store the heat like glass.
- A reptile warming pad. This is the only part that costs money but it should last you for years. It is a flat plug-in pad that just so happens to keep the perfect marijuana germination temperature. Look for a used one on Kijiji or any online buy and sell site with a pet supplies section.
- Stick on feet or any kind of stick on pad that can act as feet. Rubber is ideal but cork or plastic will also work fine. The material isn’t important. You’ll need 3 – 4 depending on how big your piece of glass is and they should end up minimum 1/4 inch high. I would hit the “dollar store” or any cheapo supply shop for these. Their purpose is just to create room under the glass so you could also sit it on two wood strips. The reptile warming pad link I included above actually includes 4 feet.
That’s it. Peel and stick the reptile warming pad to one side of the glass. This side is going to be the bottom, so put the feet on this same side. Awesome, your Handy Germination Center is complete.
In case you did not purchase seeds but instead got a handful from someone local, you might want to check seed viability.
This is a test that’s been around for a long time and is not 100% accurate, but it’s pretty close. Lets just say that it will punt the least viable seeds out of the group.
Take a clear glass of water and drop your seeds into it. The viable seed will eventually drop to the bottom of the glass. Before writing off a seed, give it a tap to ensure that it isn’t just clinging to an air bubble.
If it’s no good it will bob back to the surface.
The principle at work here is that seeds which are fully formed inside their shell will be heavier and sink. Partly formed or dried out seeds are lighter and will float.
Another way to measure viable seed is to gently press a seed between the pads of your thumb and index finger. The duds will often crush easily. There are people who will argue that seed color will tell you whether the seed is good. However, there are so many different looking marijuana seeds out there from all the various strains that I would not recommend judging by looks alone. Just because a seed looks different, doesn’t mean it’s not going to germinate.
How Many Seeds to Pop
Now that you have your viable seeds and Handy Germination Center, you want to determine how many seeds to pop. My choice is always to germinate exactly as many seeds as I intend to plant. Why pop more and waste valuable seeds?
Cannabis seeds take 12 – 24 hours to sprout, so if you pop a seed today you must be ready to plant it tomorrow. This means that if one fails to germinate, within one day you’ll have a replacement going and you’ll be right at your perfect number of plants again. On this quick timeline, there is no reason to germinate extras “just in case…”.
If you only have room to properly grow 5 plants, pop 5 seeds. Germinating 6 or 7 plants will only lead to crowding which can trap heat and moisture leading to pest problems. And when you have a pest problem in a crowded grow, it can get ugly fast. Crowding also reduces the amount of light each plant can access due to shading.
At the end of your grow, you will get more harvest from optimum conditions than you will from overly crowded plants. In fact there are techniques that help you fan the plants out for maximum budding and this is exactly the opposite from crowding. I’ll discuss these techniques in future articles.
The Pot Seed Germination Process
Find a shallow container. I use the glass lid from a large jar but you can use anything that is flat with raised sides such as a plastic container top.
Make a bed of 3 – 5 layers of paper towel. Fewer layers will dry out too quickly while a thick wad will stay too wet. Saturate this seed-bed with spring or rain water.
Don’t use distilled water because all the minerals are stripped out of it and both you and your plants need those minerals.
Likewise, try to avoid most tap and bottled waters with fluoride in them.
A clean grow starts with living water. Spread your seeds out on the wet towel and cover them with 3 layers of similarly saturated towel.
Place a cover loosely on top of this and once again, a plastic container top works beautifully.
Set your seed-bed atop the glass right over the reptile warming pad of your Germination Center. This will maintain the perfect cannabis germination temperature. Monitor your seedlings’ progress by checking in on them approximately every 6 hours to see if the towel has become too dry. You can plant when the seeds are in any state from just cracked to 3/8ths inch long.
Don’t let your seedlings get a lot longer than that because they are very fragile and you will risk breaking them when you try to plant these babies in soil. I can’t over-emphasize that weed seed germination is a fast process and the only time during your grow that you will have to watch over your plants hour by hour. Its worth it to clear your schedule so that you do it right.
Alternate Germinating Methods
You will find a lot of alternative cannabis sprouting methods on the internet and most of them work just fine.
I believe that what I have given you here is the best way to germinate cannabis seeds because I am getting 100% success with it, however you might want to try a no cost method to see if you even like growing marijuana. Fair enough.
When considering how to germinate marijuana seeds water is often the first choice. Simply drop your seeds into an opaque container holding about a cup of spring or rain water.
Loosely cover and leave for 12 – 24 hours in a warm spot. Germination failure with this method can occur because the water is too cool or the seed drowns from not enough oxygen.
You need to be extra careful while draining the water not to injure the new fragile seedlings. There are people who will say that you should plant your seed after 24 hours regardless of whether it has actually popped it’s shell because the water has sufficiently softened it for successful sprouting.
You can also germinate cannabis seeds in rock wool, which is a spun volcanic material. The advantage to this is, like the towel method, the seed is not completely submerged. Once sprouted, you plant the entire rock wool plug so you don’t have to worry about damaging the fragile seedling. However, rock wool is too alkaline at 7.0 pH and has to be adjusted down to around 5.5 pH by soaking overnight. It also has no nutrients, which requires adjustment and these two things taken together make it less than ideal for the newbie grower.
Planting marijuana seeds in soil, both indoor and outdoor, is obviously the simplest method of germination.
It is also the least dependable.
If your seedling never sees the light of day you are left wondering whether it successfully germinated or if it did indeed sprout, but a skunk or bug got it.
One reason seeds might not germinate in soil is that the dirt is too compacted which can lead to the seed being starved of air.
Compacted soil drains poorly so the seed could end up drowning in a pool of water. As well, the soil might not be warm enough or be the wrong pH, so too alkaline or acidic.
If you are feeling serious about making outdoor cannabis germination in soil work, here are a few tips to help you take some guessing out of the process. Buy a quality organic soil from a grow center and mix it half-and-half with about a square foot of the dirt in your planting area. Dig in and break up the soil around your planting area as well to ensure good drainage. This will go some way toward correcting any pH problems and will help to aerate the soil.
Outdoor Cannabis Seed Germination
The planting area should be pre-soaked to ensure that you have no standing water. Plant cannabis seeds 1/4 inch deep and 3 feet from each other.
Definitely visit your planting site and water at least once a day before noon.
Remember that you get successful indoor germination in a cup of water, so moisture is going to be your number one concern.
Without enough water to soften the seed case, the beanie greenie won’t be able to pop out. Cover each seed spot with a clear container that has a couple of air holes punched in it as you plant your seeds.
A particularly good cover is a large size plastic soda bottle with the bottom cut off. That end gets pressed a few inches into the soil and the cap is left off for air circulation and to let moisture transfer. A transparent cover will help deter animals foraging for sprouts and early pests as well as trapping daytime warmth to help seeds survive cool overnights.
Unlike indoor germination, you have to time outdoor to give you a full warm season to reach harvest. This can mean that at germination time the soil is still pretty cool, the days haven’t yet lengthened, and the sun is somewhat weak. Make the most of the light you have by placing reflective materials around your seedlings just like you would do in an indoor grow. Go for the clearest protective cover you can get to let as many rays in as possible.
However, my first choice for how to plant marijuana outdoors is to pop pot seeds using the Handy Germination Center. This way I know that all my seeds are viable and I don’t have to fuss with temperature and moisture issues. I will then plant them outdoors in a half-and-half bought and native soil mix and use a cover.
Choosing a Strain to Germinate
For outdoor cannabis planting in my region, I choose a faster seed strain that allows me to plant the seedlings in late spring. By that time the weather is warmer, there are more daylight hours and I still have enough growing days in the season before harvest.
If you can get them, indigenous seed to your area could be more responsive to your growing conditions and more successfully germinated by direct outdoor seeding.
Cannabis used to grow wild right across Turtle Island (aka N. America) and there is no doubt that these genetics will produce the hardiest outdoor plants.
If it’s impossible to track down an indigenous strain, turn to strains that are typically grown outside or have been developed outdoors such as Afghan Express.
Some of these hearken from mountainous regions and have a higher cold tolerance as well as pest and mold resistance.
Whichever strain and germinating method you choose, note down what you are doing so that you can make improvements next time around. You don’t need to keep a daily grow diary, but at least record your bigger decisions and key dates such as your germination date. It all starts from here.