Knowing how to germinate marijuana seeds successfully is a key first step in growing your own marijuana plants. It is the very first step in starting your cannabis garden right.
The moment you see little white tendrils popping out of the seed is when you know that germination has finally occurred. These tendrils emerging from the seeds are known as “taproots”. A taproot will eventually get longer, pushing the seed up through the surface of the growing medium. Then first leaves will then start to emerge from the inside of the seed.
Before we get to this beautiful part, however, we need to go through the actual process of germinating marijuana seeds. Different growers may suggest a specific method. One method that is recognized as more effective is the combination of water soaked paper towel method of germination. You are guaranteed of at least 80% seed germination success rate with this method.
Reminders for Successful Marijuana Seed Germination
Notes: Make sure that you only use bottled spring water to sprout the marijuana seeds: This will ensure that there aren’t any issues with the water being used which may prevent seeds from sprouting.
- Some of the seeds may not sink. This is a normal scenario.
- There is no need to worry whether the seeds have cracked or not.
- Avoid using PH-ed water, water coming from a well, or reverse osmosis water.
- Avoid placing the folded paper towel in a drawer, cupboard, or any small enclosed area since the seeds will have a hard time opening.
- When the instructions are followed using the cup of water + paper towel method, a minimum of 80% in germination success rate can be expected. While many growers experience 100% success rate, other factors may still come to play, like the germination conditions, and your experience levels.
The first phase in germination is selecting a high-quality cannabis seeds and strains. This will ensure higher rates of germination.
How to Germinate Seeds using Cup of Water + Paper Towel Method
Before starting the germination process, begin by preparing the germinating area you’ll be working with. Make sure that everything has been cleaned accordingly in order to avoid cross contamination and ensure that you have everything that you need.
- Absorbent paper towels only (not tissue paper)
- Bottled spring water/distilled water only. Avoid using boiling water as it only kills germs and does not remove impurities.
- Glass Cup
Optional Step: Use sand paper or an emery board to lightly scuff the seeds. You may also shake the seeds inside a pill bottle. Doing so will allow the outer shell to start loosening up and the water will start to absorb easier, thus starting the germination process.
Step 1: Fill your glass of water, allowing it to sit in an area with temperature of about 20 to 25 degrees Celsius (68-77 Fahrenheit). Usually a little higher than the normal room temperature.
Step 2: Place the seeds in the room temperature water. You can see the seeds starting to float. Allow them to soak for about 12 to 18 hours. This part is very crucial.
Step 3: Check all the seeds after allowing them to soak. You can gently tap them using your fingers. You may see the seeds sinking to the bottom. You may start seeing the shell of the seeds cracking open, with a small white root starting to appear. Allow the tap root of the seed to grow at least ½ cm to ¾ of an inch before trying to transplant it. Every strain may differ, but they usually take between 2 to 7 days to finally crack open. This is the sign that the process of germination has started. If it has not yet cracked at the end of 18 hours, it is fine.
Note: Avoid soaking your seeds for more than 18 hours.
Step 4: After seeing the seeds cracking open, with a small white root starting to form, get two or more paper towels, creating a thick and folded layer on top of the plate. Moisten the towel using distilled water, wetting it just enough to damp, but avoid over saturating it. Remove any excess water.
Step 5: After about 14 to 18 hours of soaking the seeds, place the seeds between the two folded wet paper towels. Allow enough space in between the seeds, thus preventing new taproots from possibly tangling.
Step 6: Leave the plate in a dark, closed space, making sure that the layers are moist. Do so by dripping water once every 5 to 12 hours. There is no need to soak them, but just keep them wet enough.
Important Note: Avoid letting the paper towels to dry out. The paper towel may need to be re-moistened once every 5 hours, depending on humidity and your experience. It is very important to check on the dampness of the towels regularly during the entire process. Every seed may have a different clock which is triggered by achieving the right point of moisture, oxygen and heat levels.
Step 7: Make sure that the plates are placed away from any potential heat source, from a warm appliance, or direct sunlight. This will allow the seeds to absorb more water. The temperature of the room should be between 21 to 29.4 degrees Celsius.
Step 8: Check the paper towels and cannabis seeds at least twice or thrice every 24 hours, but avoid touching the seeds. There should also be enough amount of moisture in the paper towels. Observe as the new taproots start to appear.
Note: Most of the seeds will begin their germination in just within 24 to 48 hours. Others, however, may take as long as 7 days, as the cannabis strains may vary. Make sure to follow the steps presented above, in order to anticipate about 80% germination success. The paper towel method has been designed in a way to replicate the process in nature. This method has also been tested regularly in order to ensure the highest standards of quality. Make sure that you only use plain potting soil for this process, one that does not have nutrients. Avoid using nutrients during the first 3 weeks. Avoid covering the plate using another plate, a zip lock bag or a plastic wrap. This will only stop the flow of oxygen. Marijuana seeds require air flow, warmth and moisture, all at the same time.
Step 9: If there is a need to hold the cannabis seeds, use tweezers gently. Be careful in moving the seeds because they are extremely fragile at this stage, which means that they may be damaged easily when being transplanted or transported. Avoid touching the taproots.
Step 10: When the new taproots have already reached ¼ to ½ inch long, the process of germination is now complete. The cannabis seeds are now ready for transplanting into soil, with the taproot facing down.
- Make sure that you only use plain potting soil for this process, one that does not have nutrients.
- Avoid using nutrients during the first 3 weeks.
- Avoid covering the plate using another plate, a zip lock bag or a plastic wrap. This will only stop the flow of oxygen, since the seeds also require air flow, warmth and moisture, all at the same time.
Germination Guide Quick Summary
- Place your seeds in a cup of water for a period of 14 to 18 hours. The water should be in room temp. you may observe that the seeds may or may not sink towards the bottom of the cup.
- Use a thick paper towel, folding it on a plate.
- Pour the contents of the cup to the plate and the paper towel. Cover the seeds by folding the paper tower over.
- Place the paper towel in a dark and warm space, allowing it to sit until the seeds crack open. Make sure that the paper towel is kept moist by periodically adding water.
- The seeds may take up to 7 days to germinate. It should be noted that every strain may differ.
- Avoid using plastic bags in the process.
- Transplant the germinated marijuana seeds to soil once the taproot is 1/4 to 1/2 inches in length.
Possible Reasons for Germination Failure
- The seeds have not been allowed to sit long enough in the water
- The paper towels are either too dry or too wet
- The temperature is too cold or too hot
- The seeds are suffocated in plastic, with not enough space or air to breathe
- The water used has impurities
If you fail to germinate marijuana seeds successfully, the most likely reason is that they did not receive enough water. As your last effort, place the seeds into a cup of spring water, leaving them right there until you observe a tap root starting to appear. The moment it appears, begin again with the paper towel method, until the tap root reaches ½ inch in length.
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