Read our detailed guide on how to germinate marijuana seeds using the plate method & other safe ways. Start your pot-growing adventure the right way today. A step-by-step guide describing the best way to germinate your cannabis seeds. This germination method is ideal for the indoor and outdoor grower. Jorge Cervantes, veteran marijuana cultivator and author of “The Cannabis Encyclopedia” shares his process for germinating cannabis seeds into healthy sprouts.
How To Germinate Marijuana Seeds: Quick Guide with Kyle Kushman
Growing weed from seeds is both rewarding and fun. Before you purchase your pack of cannabis seeds, it’s time to do your homework.
Reading this article is a great start!
Knowing how to germinate marijuana seeds is a vital first step towards a successful grow.
The biggest hurdle you’ll experience before germinating your cannabis seeds is contradictory advice. There are as many methods as there are growers!
You can germinate marijuana seeds however you want, obviously, but for the best results, and to take advantage of Homegrown’s germination guarantee, it’s vital you follow the steps laid out in this article.
Join us as we unravel the science behind germination and detail our tried and tested way to germinate weed seeds successfully.
Don’t fall at the first hurdle. Learn how to grow weed from seeds like a pro!
What is germination?
Help! What IS germination? Germination is the first stage of your plant’s growth cycle. It’s when the seed comes out of its hibernation period and starts to sprout.
Typically your bag of pot seeds won’t start germinating, known as ‘popping,’ without the presence of water.
When you’re ready to germinate the marijuana seeds, you need to kick-start their life cycle with a little drink. The seeds will then expand, the shells will break away, and a taproot will form. If all goes well!
Marijuana sprouting isn’t rocket science, but it can be easy to get wrong. Starting marijuana seeds without water is impossible, but even with water, you need to make sure they’re warm, dark and well looked-after.
What to do before germinating marijuana seeds
As you research how to germinate marijuana seeds, you’ll notice there are several things you can do BEFORE you germinate weed seeds.
The most paramount is to purchase high-quality weed seeds like those found at trusted and reputable online retailers, such as Homegrown Cannabis Co.
Another key component of growing marijuana from seed is knowing what to do with the germinated seeds. Planting marijuana seeds is the next step, but one we will cover later.
Avoid starting with marijuana seeds that are very green, pale yellow, or fully black. Your chances of a good grow will be reduced, though it’s still possible you’ll end up with a good plant.
Germinating your cannabis seeds successfully also depends on how you store the cannabis seeds. Like your cured bud, your seeds should be stored in a cool, dry and dark place.
Don’t store them in the fridge, or freezer, or in direct sunlight. Just keep it simple.
Sprouting marijuana is all about:
- Minimal handling
- Adequate moisture
- Warm temperatures (70 –77°F)
Like we said, growing marijuana from seed is simple and easy. There’s no need to complicate it but you will need to monitor your progress and keep records.
Before starting marijuana seeds, start a Homegrown Diary. You can germinate weed seeds with fellow growers and track the progress of your plants from the very start.
Do you need to germinate cannabis seeds before planting?
When learning how to germinate marijuana seeds, you may be asking yourself, why bother? Why not just stick them in the soil? It’s what happens in nature, right?
This is true, but each pollinated plant drops hundreds of seeds in the hope that one will survive. You don’t want odds like that!
There’s a better way to guarantee as high a germination rate as possible. Germinating marijuana seeds ahead of planting gives you the best chance of success.
That takes of care of why you germinate, let’s now look at the BIG question: how to germinate marijuana seeds.
My preferred way to germinate weed seeds: the paper towel method
There are so many methods, which one is the best? Follow the step-by-step guide to ‘The paper towel method’ below.
It’s Homegrown’s best way to germinate cannabis seeds.
The process is simple, and you’ll need only a few household items:
- Two plates
- Paper towels
- Bottled/purified water
- Homegrown Cannabis Co. seeds
Take two paper towels and moisten them. Remember to wring out any excess water.
Take a few paper towels and set them on your plate. Put the others to the side for later.
Using tweezers, place your Homegrown Cannabis Co. seeds on your paper towel. Leave around one inch in between each seed.
Take the second paper towel and lay it over the top, being careful not to nudge your seeds out of their designated space. Add more water if you need to.
Double-check for excess water by lifting the paper towel in one corner. If there’s any freestanding liquid, drain it! Check regularly to make sure the towels haven’t dried.
Take your other plate and use it as a lid to cover your seeds. Place it in a warm, dry spot, like a cabinet, drawer, or the top of the fridge.
Maintain a constant temperature of between 70 – 77°F.
You need to check in on your pot seeds regularly. Within 24 to 120 hours, they should pop a taproot.
Once your seeds have sprouted, they’re ready for planting.
Watch our video on how to germinate cannabis seeds for an amazing visual recap:
How long do cannabis seeds take to germinate?
Germinating marijuana seeds takes anywhere between one and five days.
Lots of things can impact the marijuana sprouting time. Germinating an old seed can take twice as long as a fresher one, for example. Or you may be trying to pop them in an environment that’s too cool or dry. Or the seeds might simply take longer – they’re a natural product and they play by their own rules.
Weed sprouting should occur within five days (120 hours). This is the only real rule you should consider. It’s very rare, but not abnormal, to have a seed pop on day 6 or 7.
Next step: how to plant weed seeds
You’re now the proud parent of seedlings! It’s time to learn how to plant a weed seed without damaging it.
Don’t panic, learning how to plant marijuana seeds is easy, and super-fun if you watch the Planting Your Seeds video I made with Nate Hammer!
What you will need for planting marijuana seeds
What do I need to begin? As with starting marijuana seeds, you’ll need to prepare a few items before you start:
- Red solo cups (or small plant pots)
- Elastic band (one per cup/pot)
- Plastic cup (one seed per cup/pot)
- Plastic wrap
- Neutral soil
- Germ Genie
Note: Germ Genie was still in development when we made the video, so we used a little Vegamatrix Grow instead!
How to plant marijuana seeds step by step
Now that you have everything you need, let’s start planting your marijuana seeds!
First, you need to prepare your cups. You’ll need one per seedling.
Pierce the bottom to add drainage holes and fill with soil.
Don’t pack the cups! The soil should be no more than half an inch from the top, fluffy, and move freely with a few taps from the bottom.
Next, you can add some food into the neutral soil. A ¼ strength grow solution.
Germ Genie: Use 1 to 3 drops.
The additional nutes keep your seedlings super happy as they develop.
Water the soil before you plant your seedling. That way, you’ll prevent them from floating out of position.
Once the water has drained through your soil, you’re ready to place the germinated seed into its new home. Use your fingertip to make a shallow hole around a knuckle deep.
Angle the taproot down into the center to stand straight, then gently move the soil over it.
Make a lid over your cups with cling film, using an elastic band to keep it in place. Pierce the film a few times for air.
By doing this, you’ll create a terrarium that will keep warmth inside and stop the topsoil from drying out.
Wait, you’re not done! Use additional lights to keep the sprouts at a constant temperature and encourage upward growth. You can use a regular house lamp or specialized equipment.
Make sure your marijuana plants have a gap of between 6 and 12 inches from the light source.
You can expect the first set of leaves to appear pretty fast—within 48 hours!
As soon as leaves appear, remove the cling film lid.
Leave the seedlings under the light for up to two weeks more or until they’re sturdy and a few inches tall.
Consider transplanting them to a larger pot when they’re around four inches tall. They’re 100% ready to move when the second and third set of leaves develop.
Key Takeaways about germinating cannabis seeds
What are the most important things to remember?
When learning how to germinate marijuana seeds, always follow the rules below:
- Only use viable, high-quality seeds
- Ensure you store and germinate your seeds in optimal conditions
- Try not to touch them with your bare hands
- Follow our germination guide
- Plant them before the taproot grows longer than an inch
FAQs related to how to germinate cannabis seeds
We hope that our guide to germinating cannabis seeds has given you the confidence and know-how to get started.
If you still have questions, don’t despair!
You’ll probably find your question about how to germinate cannabis seeds right here.
Do germinating seeds need sunlight?
No, seeds in the germination phase don’t need sunlight or any type of light source. At this stage of development, sprouting marijuana seeds is all about being dark and wet, as if the seed were slightly under the soil enjoying a little rain.
What temperature do seeds need to germinate?
The optimal temperature to germinate weed seeds is between 70 and 77°F. Taking it closer to 77°F is preferred, but maintaining a consistent temperature is the real key to healthy seedlings.
How about humidity? For best results, you can aim for a relative humidity of around 70–90%.
Why won’t my seeds germinate?
Your seeds could be too old, too immature, dried out, stored incorrectly, low-quality, or you could just be out of luck! Sometimes, nature produces a dud. Attempting to germinate seeds using the wrong method can also ruin your chances.
Note: our germination guarantee applies only to seeds germinated with the above, paper-towel method.
How do you germinate seeds in one day?
Germinating cannabis seeds isn’t about speed. There’s no guarantee that even under the best conditions, your seeds will germinate within 24 hours.
That said, the quality of the seed plays a huge role in your success!
Follow our recommendations on how to buy cannabis seeds, store them appropriately, and provide the best environmental conditions to increase your chances of a super-quick pop.
What do I do after my seeds sprout?
It’s time to transplant them into your chosen potting medium. Be careful not to touch the taproot, and remember to use the above guide on how to plant a marijuana seed.
Will seeds grow if planted too deep?
Planting your seeds too deeply reduces your plant’s survival rate—A LOT! To reach the surface, they’ll have to use up more stored energy.
This energy is reserved for growing those all-important first leaves. Without it, any pot seeds that manage to reach sunlight could be weak.
How long can seedlings stay in trays?
After successfully germinating marijuana seeds, you can leave them in the tray or on the plate until their taproots have grown thick and strong. Seeds should be planted as soon as tap roots are ¼” and before they reach 1” in length.
Don’t let the taproots grow longer than an inch, or they’ll become fragile and be challenging to transplant.
Are there any other germination methods?
There are many methods to germinate weed seeds. Bear in mind the ONLY way Homegrown will replace non-germs is if you use the paper towel method.
Growing marijuana is a hobby anyone can enjoy, no matter their level of gardening experience.
There’s a lot to learn about how to germinate marijuana seeds, never mind all the other parts of successfully growing weed!
Thankfully the germination process is easy, especially if you follow our guidelines.
We hope that you’re confident enough to get started by now, and all your worries surrounding how to grow marijuana seeds have disappeared.
The next step is to GRAB THOSE SEEDS and start your home-growing adventure.
Good luck! Remember to check out Homegrown Cannabis Co. at any point for top tips and advice.
About the Author: Kyle Kushman
Kyle Kushman is a legend in the cannabis community. He is the modern-day polymath of pot: cultivator, breeder, activist, writer, and educator. After winning no less than 13 Cannabis Cups, there’s nothing this guy doesn’t know about indoor growing – he’s been there, done it, and is still doing it to this day!
How to Germinate Cannabis Seeds
Germination is the beginning of your cannabis seeds’ life and is easy to master. At this crucial stage, seeds grow and sprout into young seedlings. The best genetics deserve the best start, and all you need is two plates, some paper towel, and water. Apply the best germination method today and enjoy a great harvest.
1. Germination set-up
Prepare the first plate by lining the inside surface with two to three layers of damp paper towel. Drain excess water from your plate.
Place cannabis seeds on the top surface of the damp paper towel. Approximately three per plate; ensure they are not touching but are evenly spaced apart.
Add only a few layers of damp paper towel on top of the seeds, and let any excess water drain from the plate. Too much water lowers the chance of successful germination.
To complete the set-up, place the remaining plate upside-down and on top of the first plate, resembling pearls inside a clam.
Cannabis seeds need a dark, warm, and humid atmosphere to germinate.
Around 21°C (70°F) is perfect. Check the paper towels every second day and if required, spray with water to keep conditions moist for your seeds.
After a few days, tiny roots will begin to emerge. Congratulations! Your seeds have survived their first stage of life. Don’t worry if some of your seeds have not yet changed, they may just need a little more time as germination can take up to 14 days.
3. Plant of the seeling
Once the roots are a few millimetres long, they are ready to be delicately transferred to a small container filled with your growing medium of choice (rockwool, coco-fibre, or soil).
Make a hole in the growing medium that is 2 – 5 mm deep. Use tweezers or your fingers to transfer germinated seeds gently into the hole (root pointing down) and lightly cover with a fine layer of your medium. Do not pat it down too hard. The stem and the first tiny set of leaves, called cotyledons or ‘seed leaves’, should begin to emerge 24 to 72 hours after the seeds are planted.
4. Supplying a light source
Seedlings must be exposed to sunlight once they sprout. Ensure this is a gradual process as too much heat causes stress and will stunt growth.
Find a sunny place where you can begin to increase sun exposure, such as a windowsill. Ensure sun exposure is increased by an hour or so a day.
For an indoor plant you can use a fluorescent light (keep normal distance from bulb) or HID lighting (50-80 cm from the bulb).
Take care in the first week or two, as seedlings are still quite delicate and sensitive to the elements. They won’t need a lot of attention until the vegetative stage so avoid overhandling.
Germination is the beginning stage of the growing cycle, and this easy-to-follow guide gives your premium genetic cannabis seeds the best start to life. Whether you are a first-time home grower or a well-seasoned gardener, share your experience or any questions in the comments down below, as well as your tips and tricks!
Sensi Seeds CBD: Seeds, Oils, Capsules — How They’re Made
Laws and regulations regarding cannabis cultivation differ from country to country. Sensi Seeds therefore strongly advises you to check your local laws and regulations. Do not act in conflict with the law.
24 thoughts on “How to Germinate Cannabis Seeds”
Hi, Once seeds have sprouted, how long can or should you leave them to grow under 24 hr lights before moving to your outdoor garden?
Good afternoon Ken,
I hope you’re having a great day.
For the vegetation process, a light schedule of 18 hours of light, and 6 hours of darkness is preferred. Many growers get plants acclimatized to outside by placing them in a window, or under direct sunlight for a few hours a day.
Thanks again, and have a great day!
Hello everyone, all these suggestions are wonderful but I think a lot of you make it sound a little overwhelmingly. I’ve been very successfully cultivating for decades and I’ve always just placed my seeds, be it 1 or 100, in between 2 folded sheets of tissue which I’ve made wet with tap water. I then place them on a tray or plate in a warm dark area , such as an airing cupboard and leave for how ever long they take usually, 12 to 24 hours. The ONLY thing I do which takes effort is PH balance the water I germinate them in and I’ve only lost 5 seeds in nearly 40 years .
Good afternoon Paul,
I hope you’re having a good day,
Thanks for sharing your experiences with germination. pH balancing is a great tip You also might be interested in our new Jamaican Pearl Feminized Grow Report
Thanks again, and I hope you continue to enjoy the blog,
I lightly score my seeds by shaking them inside a rolled up piece of sandpaper – sandpaper side on the inside before leaving them in a cup of water for a few hours to hydrate. I then place them between wet (good quality) paper towel per instructions above. I find using an old plastic takeaway container with a heatmat below keeps the humidity high and with good end results.
Good morning Jonny,
Thanks for sharing your methods for germination with us, the heat mat and low-humidity are great tips!
Thanks again, and I hope you continue to enjoy the blog,
I have found out that the best and fastest way is to take a glass of clean/filtered water and place the seed right on top of the water (floating – NOT immersed in it!). If the seed is viable it will sprout in no more than 48 hours. Right after that you plant it in your pot/soil etc and you’re done.
Good morning Mary Jane,
Thanks for your support, and for sharing your experiences with germination!
You might also be interested in our article on The Life cycle of Cannabis: From seed to harvest.
Have a great day!
What happend if they sink I had em sink they came out fine
Once you put the seeds in water they normally won’t sink straight away, leave it for around 5 hours and then tap your seeds and they all should start sinking if they don’t then they won’t work. But still leave them over night and tap again and take out the ones that didn’t sink and throw them away or plant if you want to try your luck.. take all the other seeds out and follow instructions above you’ll see the open within a day..
Are you saying they sprout in the glass of water and don’t “drown”?
No, don’t leave the seeds in water for longer than 24 hours or they will drown.. after around 12 hours all your seeds should have sunk if they haven’t then just give them a tap and they will sink.. then take them out and follow the paper towel and plates instructions
Take aluminum foil flatten it out and put on top of your dirt it detects planes and grow it just like a tomato plant
Good morning Tammy,
Thanks for getting in touch with Sensi Seeds, and sharing your germination method with us!
Thanks again, and I hope you continue to enjoy the blog.
With best wishes,
Detects planes? Like magnetic? I’ve always has best success 24-48 hours soaked In water, spring water if possible. Usually do this in a shot glass, once they pop I’ll take a paper towel fold so it’s 2 layers then fold once more so you know where center is. Dump the seed in the middle of the edge and the true center (reason we folded a 2nd time)as well as the water just enough to saturate the paper towel. Do not soak! Carefully with the seed in the middle using sterile tweezers turn so the tap is growing down. This will prevent circling and tangling if doing multiple seeds. Now you can fold the other half so your seed will be “sandwiched” between 2 layers. At this time carefully take a corner and the waters attraction should keep your paper towel from unfolding but just in case be gentle. Holding it from 1 corner you can dangle it over a cub or the original shot glass so any extra water runs off. Now take a standard zip or press n seal sandwhich bag and slide your napkin in Carefully . REMEMBER which way was down! Work the air out making jt flat snd seal. Find a temperate dark area around 70°. A cabinet works we’ll as your going to prop it up with taproot facing downwards. Now just close it up and wait in 24-72 hours checking once a day. In rare cases you could have a 1/2″ tap root in the first 24 hrs some may take 4-5 days. Once the tap is about 1/2″-3/4″ long its ready for transplant into its first small pot. With this paper towel method I typically have 100% success.
Can you leave your seed to develop longer roots in the germination phase and can this make them better to grow or is a big no no?
Last year, I had 2 seeds that had really long roots with lots of secondary roots coming out when they were planted, one of which died after a couple of weeks and the other grew into a huge plant.
The other two seeds only had a short germinated growth and both died almost immediately after planting so not sure what I can learn from this…lol
Appreciate any thoughts and advice
Unfortunately, legal restrictions mean we can’t answer grow-related questions or give grow advice on this blog. However, other readers of this blog will often answer questions like yours.
Please check out the following articles on our blog which I think you may find of use, and I hope you continue to enjoy the blog!
With best wishes,
How often do you water and how wet should the plant be? Please.
Also if they are outdoor plants do you need to keep them covered with clingfilm for a wee while or do you just hope for the best. Thanks
This article, about how to water cannabis plants, should answer your questions. I can’t help you with the clingfilm one though, as it depends on the climate. Good luck, and happy gardening!
With best wishes,
Just drop the seeds in water, they will sprout , don’t have to use a towel and check it all the time , drop it in the water , let it float then it will sink and the root will grow out ,let the root get 1/4 inch and plant it where it’s going to grow , 8 hours sunlight starting as soon as it is out of the soil. Always grows great , don’t have to transplant from cup to gallon to bigger and bigger , if it’s growing outside put it where it stays , always does just fine.
Good afternoon Graham,
Thank you so much for sharing your experiences with germination.
Thanks again for your comment, and I hope you continue to enjoy the blog.
Have a great day!
I recommend this article to all breeders and cultivators who plans to germinate seeds and to some who don’t know how to germinate seeds, this article has the best and perfect ways on how to do it.
I have large bay windows at my condo which get about 11-12 hours of light per day. They are tinted but warm. I grow other indoor plants there perfectly. Is an ok place for my pot plants?
This sounds like a great place for all kinds of plants! I recommend you have a look at autoflowering varieties, as otherwise light pollution may negatively affect the flowering cycle. Good luck, and happy gardening!
With best wishes,
Leave a Comment Cancel Reply
The Sensi Seeds Editorial team has been built throughout our more than 30 years of existence. Our writers and editors include botanists, medical and legal experts as well as renown activists the world over including Lester Grinspoon, Micha Knodt, Robert Connell Clarke, Maurice Veldman, Sebastian Maríncolo, James Burton and Seshata.
How to Grow Weed: Germinating Cannabis Seeds
Jorge Cervantes shares his process for germinating cannabis seeds into healthy sprouts.
The gardening season is booming in North America, and it’s high time to start some tiny seeds that can grow into potent plants, says Jorge Cervantes, veteran marijuana cultivator and author of “The Cannabis Encyclopedia”.
1) Soak seeds overnight in a glass of plain water. They may float on the surface at first but should sink to the bottom in a few minutes. Make sure seeds get good and wet so that water penetrates the outer shell and growth is activated. Do not let seeds soak for more than 24 hours, or they might get too wet, suffer oxygen deprivation and subsequently rot.
2) Remove seeds from the water. Pour water out onto two paper (or cloth) towels on a dinner plate. Fold the towels over the seeds to cover them.
3) Drain the water from the dinner plate by tipping it to the side.
4) Place the seeds in a warm location (70°F–80°F; 21°C–27°C), making sure they are in darkness. Some gardeners go so far as to set the plate in a vertical position (so taproot grows downward). The seeds can also be set on a grate for drainage and air circulation.
5) Check moisture level of towels several times a day, watering once or twice to keep them evenly moist. DO NOT LET THE TOWELS DRY OUT! Let excess water drain away freely. The paper or cloth towels will retain enough moisture to germinate the seeds in a few days. Each seed contains an adequate food supply for germination. Prevent fungal attacks by watering with a mild 2 percent bleach or organic fungicide solution.
6) In a few days, seeds will sprout. Once the germinating cannabis seeds have sprouted and each seed’s white rootlet is visible, use tweezers to carefully pick up the fragile, germinated seeds and plant them. Do not wait for the white rootlets to grow more than 0.25 inches (1 cm) before planting, or growth could slow. Plant each germinated seed with the white root tip pointing downward. Take care not to expose the tender rootlet to prolonged light and air. Cover germinated seeds with 0.25 to 0.5 inches (1-2 cm) of fine, moist planting medium.
Other Tips for Germinating Cannabis Seeds
Over and under-watering are the biggest obstacles most gardeners face when germinating seeds and growing seedlings. Keep the soil uniformly moist but not waterlogged. Do not let the growing medium’s surface dry for long. Setting root cubes or planting flats on a grate allows good drainage.
A shallow flat or planter with a heat pad underneath may require daily watering, while a deep, 1-gallon (3.8 liter) pot will need watering every three days or more. A properly watered flat of rockwool cubes needs water every three to five days when sprouting seeds.
When the growing medium’s surface is dry (0.25 inches [1 cm] deep), it is time to water. Remember, there are few roots to absorb the water early in life and they are very delicate.
Some seeds have a very hard outer shell (testa) and are difficult to germinate. Such testy cases can be softened or scarified to allow water to penetrate. To scarify, line a matchbox with a piece of fine-grain sandpaper or emery board. Put the seeds in the matchbox and shake for 10 to 15 seconds. Remove the seeds and make sure they have been scuffed a bit. Just a little scuffing will allow water to enter and set germination in motion.
1) Set seeds in a matchbox with an emery board or sandpaper on the bottom.
2) Close seeds inside the matchbox.
3) Shake matchbox for 10 to 15 seconds to scarify the seeds.
This is an excerpt from “The Cannabis Encyclopedia” by Jorge Cervantes, world-renowned indoor, outdoor and greenhouse cannabis cultivator. A veteran marijuana grower, Cervantes brings 30 years of experience traveling, studying and writing to bear in his best work to date.