The complete guide to germinating cannabis seeds
Before you can be met with bountiful hauls of dank buds, there are several stages of cannabis growing that take precedence. Unless you can successfully germinate cannabis seeds, you won’t have a plant to harvest. Give your seeds the best possible start in life by reading our definitive guide to germination.
THE ART OF GERMINATING CANNABIS SEEDS
Often overlooked, it is all too easy to assume that the vegetative and flowering stages of cannabis growth are the most critical parts of the plant’s life cycle. However, with the chance of failure high unless you know what you’re doing, poor planning when it comes to germination can make or break your next grow. Giving your cannabis seeds the best possible start on their journey to bulging buds is a surefire way to encourage a healthy and robust plant.
Small, fragile, and in desperate need of a helping hand, there are several ways you can germinate your cannabis seeds. All methods have varying degrees of success, with both advantages and disadvantages. It is important to note that even with advanced growing expertise and top-of-the-line equipment, you may still end up with a few failed seeds. This is a natural part of dealing with a living organism. At Royal Queen seeds, we only sell feminized cannabis seeds, so there is no need to worry about removing male plants.
WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR IN CANNABIS SEEDS
Regardless of where you get your seeds from, it is best to give them a slight (and delicate) inspection before planting. Most of the time, all seeds will germinate; however, poor-quality seeds will produce a weaker plant. Unfortunately, that is something you will not find out until well into the vegetative and flowering stages.
To avoid disappointment, seeds that have a darker colouration stand a better chance of germinating, while pale green or white seeds are likely to fail. Even if dark seeds look slightly damaged, they should be planted anyway. There is a good chance they will still germinate, even if the outer shell is somewhat crushed.
GERMINATION TEMPERATURE PLAYS A CRUCIAL ROLE
Before we jump straight into the germination methods, there are a couple of germination golden rules. For the best results, we recommend staying within these guidelines, no matter how you choose to germinate. That being said, of all the factors to consider, temperature is one of the most critical. Seeds will always seek out even the smallest amount of moisture, but they use temperature as a sign that they need to do so.
• The ideal temperature is between 22° and 25°C (71–77°F)
• Your growing environment should be damp/moist, but never wet
• Relative humidity range should be between 70% and 90%
• Seeds favour fluorescent lighting (Cool White code 33)
• Minimise the amount of seed handling you do
• In hydroponic/rockwool plugs, the ideal PH value is 5.8–6.2
WHAT IS AN EXPECTED GERMINATION TIME?
Three fundamental principles will trigger that first small taproot to appear: warmth, moisture, and darkness. With the promise of moisture, a single root will take shape before slowly developing into the cannabis plant we know and love. In the right conditions, seeds will begin to develop within 12–36 hours of moisture being introduced to them.
Timescales can vary, as it all depends on how ideal your germination environment is (see the golden rules above). Even the worst grower could make a seed germinate, but it may take a few weeks and, of course, increases the risk of a weaker plant.
CHOOSING YOUR GERMINATION METHOD
GLASS OF WATER APPROACH
Arguably one of the least effective methods, but it is still viable. Incredibly simple to facilitate, beginner growers may opt to germinate their seeds in a glass of water. Half-fill a glass or bowl with water that is approximately 22°C (71°F).
After 3–5 days, the seeds will start to open, and you should see tiny white tips appear. Once these roots reach 2–3mm in length, use extreme care to transfer them from the water to pre-prepared soil pots.
The soil pots will need small holes (roughly 10–15mm deep) for the newly germinated seeds to be placed into. Once the seeds are secure, you will want to place a fluorescent light 13–15cm (5–6 inches) away to encourage growth. Finally, don’t risk overwatering your seeds at this early stage. Use a plant mister to make sure they stay damp but not soaking wet.
WET KITCHEN TOWEL METHOD
Probably one of the most common methods of germination. The kitchen towel method comes in several iterations. Some growers use cotton wool pads or absorbent pieces of paper. For this guide, we will be using kitchen towel as it is readily available and holds moisture relatively well.
Place one sheet of damp kitchen towel on a flat surface. Space your seeds a few centimetres apart before placing the second piece of kitchen towel over the top. You need to ensure both pieces are damp, not wet. Once again, when the white root tips reach 2–3mm, move the seeds (carefully) to soil pots. Use the same guidance found above for planting techniques.
PLANTING DIRECTLY INTO SOIL
Planting directly into your growing medium prevents having to move seeds when they are at their most fragile. That first root tip is covered with microscopic filaments that are easily damaged. Given that both a cup full of water and moist paper towels are more prone to temperature fluctuations from their environment, planting in soil is a much safer option.
Start by filling pots with a premium-quality soil that has been soaked in water. Many growers also choose to lace the water with a root stimulator. Make a hole roughly 10–15mm deep. This will be your seed’s new home. Remove the seeds from their packet and place them into the pre-dug holes. Loosely cover the seeds, but be careful not to compress the soil above the seed too much. The root will struggle to penetrate solid soil, slowing plant growth. Lightly spray the top of where you placed the seed so that your growing medium stays moist.
If you don’t like the idea of pre-soaking your soil, you can use a spray to moisten the holes before you plant each seed. With enough moisture surrounding your seeds, you can still encourage a root to develop.
Your growing pots will need to be placed in a damp climate that is within the temperature range listed under our golden rules. After 4–10 days, you should see a young seedling sprout, while the roots will have begun to develop underneath the soil. The entire plant and its soil can now be transferred to a larger pot, where normal growing routines should start.
USING STONE WOOL BLOCKS
Maintaining the ideal temperature (between 22–25°C/71–77°F) and moisture for germination is tricky. Leaving seeds out in the open environment or on a windowsill is far from ideal; a DIY climate-controlled cupboard would do a much better service. A warming mat is perfect for maintaining a constant temperature, but it doesn’t tackle the issue of moisture.
You will need to invest in a few pieces of unique equipment, but by using stone wool blocks, you can create a perfect utopia for germinating cannabis seeds. Soak the stone wool blocks in the same way you would a soil medium. The wool will retain the moisture and prevent the need to water during the early stages of germination. After the wool blocks are soaked, stick them in a plastic tray that also has a lid. Large cake tubs are ideal.
The dome of the plastic container will create your seeds’ own mini tropical climate. If you then place all the components in a temperature-controlled cupboard, you will have created a self-perpetuating supply of moisture—no need to touch the seeds again until they are ready to be transferred to your final growing medium as a young seedling. Using the stone wool block method, your seeds should germinate in one to two days.
Two or three weeks after germination, your young seedlings should be ready for their new home. At this point you have two options; transplanting them into soil pots, or taking on the challenge of hydroponics. You’ll know when the seedlings are ready to be moved because the root system should start to poke out of the bottom of the wool blocks. As long as the roots haven’t begun to engulf the bottom half of the wool block, they will seek out water and nutrients in their new surroundings and continue to grow downwards.
ROYAL QUEEN SEEDS FEMINIZED STARTER KIT
There is, of course, a far simpler way to germinate seeds. Ideal for beginners, the feminized starter kit by Royal Queen Seeds has everything you need to kick-start your next cannabis project.
The Royal Queen Seeds Feminized Starter Kit contains:
- 3x RQS Critical feminized seeds
- 20x Easy-Start seedling pots
- 1x Propagator Pro
- 1x pack of Bacto
- 1x perlite
- 1x fluorescent lights
- 1x instruction manual
- 4x AA batteries
- 1x Royal Queen Seeds catalogue
*You will also need a measuring cup and a stirrer (not included in the kit).
1. Gently remove the foil from the back of the seed packet and place them carefully into a dry container.
2. You will need a shallow container that is large enough to accommodate the seed tray. Fill the container with one litre of lukewarm water (22–25°C/71–77°F). Pour in the packet of Bacto enzyme, allowing it to dissolve before setting the seed tray into the container to soak. The seed tray only needs to be immersed for 5–10 seconds. Do not discard the Bacto mixture after the seed tray has been soaked.
3. After removing the seed tray from your shallow container, poke a 10–15mm deep hole into the soil of each pot, and delicately transfer your seeds from their dry container into each hole. Remember, one seed per pot.
4. Using the supplied propagator, sprinkle a 15mm-thick layer of perlite into the bottom of the tray.
5. Place your seed tray into the propagator, adjust the walls, and position the lid. The lid comes with an on/off switch for the already-attached lights.
6. Check the water level in your reservoir once a day. Your aim is to maintain an even level. After 1–7 days, the seeds should have sprouted, with visible leaves appearing. Once the seedling is 3mm tall, transfer it to your final growing medium.
IF IN DOUBT, THINK SPRINGTIME CONDITIONS
No matter which method you choose, always think about what conditions would naturally be like in spring. In their natural environment, cannabis seeds would start to sprout in-line with the seasonal change from winter to spring. Moisture is still high, and temperatures will be naturally rising. Always ask yourself the question, “Does my germination setup replicate spring conditions”. If the answer is yes, there is a good chance germination will be a success.
Time then to whip out our packages of seeds and get to work. But how do you best set to work, to get these tiny, fragile seeds to grow without problems into small plants?
How to properly plant weed seeds after germination?
In our previous blog “Germinating marijuana seeds” you could read how to germinate marijuana seeds. Germinating is the preparation process to successfully grow a cannabis plant.
As soon as the seed has a root you can plant the seed. Planting cannabis seeds is not difficult at all. Yet, it does require some basic knowledge and skills. This article will help you to plant your cannabis seeds so you start your grow in the best way possible.
Why germinate before planting?
Of course you can place a cannabis seed directly in the soil, but this has three disadvantages:
- The seed can become too moist, causing it to rot.
- The seed stays too dry so it can’t grow. And because the seed is under the ground you can’t control it.
- You can’t determine the direction of growth of the root. In short, our advice is to germinate before you start planting cannabis seeds.
When you should plant your cannabis seeds
When you have followed our advice your seeds have sprouted and you can start planting your seeds. Make sure the seeds have a root of at least 1.5 to a maximum of 2.5 centimeters. Are you planting the germinated cannabis seeds too early or too late? Then there is a chance that the plant dies at a young age. It is therefore important that you plant the germinated seeds as soon as the root is long enough.
Always plant indoors first
Good to know is that you first plant and your cannabis seeds indoors, even if you will eventually grow them indoors or outdoors. The reason to let young female plants grow indoors first is because they are fragile in the beginning. A gust of wind can blow the plant over or be damaged by animals. Indoors you have a safe environment where the young seedling can become strong enough before it is moved outside.
What do you need to plant germinated cannabis seeds?
Fortunately, you don’t need much to plant your germinated cannabis seeds. A lot of things are already standard available in your home and otherwise you can buy them at any garden center.
What you need:
- Lightproof pot or mug of 1 to 2 liters
- Potting soil (light mix for cuttings and seedlings)
- Pen or pencil
- Germinated cannabis seeds
- Plant sprayer
Are all items present? Then the real work starts: planting your cannabis seeds. Use the step-by-step plan below.
How to plant marijuana seeds in 4 simple steps?
In four simple steps you will learn how to successfully plant cannabis seeds. Whether you’re an advanced or beginner, want to grow indoor or outdoor seeds, the process is always the same. Follow the steps below carefully and you’ll grow your own beautiful cannabis plant.
- Fill the pot or cup with potting soil
- Make a dimple in the earth
- Place the weed seed in the dimple
- Cover the seed with a thin layer of earth
Step 1 – fill the pot or cup with potting soil
Fill the cup or pot up to 1 cm below the edge with potting soil (light mix for cuttings or seedlings). Do not add extra nutrients. Seedlings get more than enough nutrients from the soil. Too much nutrient can have a negative effect.
Step 2 – make a small dimple
To plant your cannabis seeds you make a dimple in the growing medium. You can easily do this by inserting your pen or pencil into the soil. The tiny hole should be about 2 to 2.5 cm deep. If you mark this on the side of your pencil, you can be sure that the depth is good.
Step 3 – place the cannabis seed in the dimple
Use your fingers or tweezers to place the weed seed in the hole. Do this carefully, because if you squeeze too hard you can damage the germinated seed. The root of the seed should point downwards (!).
Tip: did you use damp kitchen paper towels when germinating and is the root of the seed attached to it? Do not pull it loose, but first spray the seed again with water. You will see that the seed now easily lets go.
How should you plant the weed seed?
Make sure that when you plant your cannabis seed, the root disappears as deep as possible into the hole. The skin of the seed should be at least 0.5 cm below the surface.
Step 4 – cover the seed with a thin layer of soil
Did you put the seed in the tiny hole? Great! Cover the seed carefully with a thin layer of soil. Do not press the soil! A few millimeters of soil over the seed is more than enough to block the grow lights or sun. Spray the surface moist with the plant sprayer and place the cup or pot in the window sill or under light. After a few days the seeds will grow out the surface.
Your cannabis seeds have been planted! How to proceed?
You’re already on your way to grow your cannabis plant. But maybe you want to continue growing marijuana plants outdoors in the end.
As said before, you do the beginning of the growing process indoors and that takes about two weeks. After two weeks the plant is strong enough to repot to another place or larger pot to continue growing. How to do this, we tell you in the blogs:
Would you like to know how to properly plant weed seeds after germination? Read the information about this subject on Weedseedsexpress