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Germination Stage

the cannabis seed

The very start of the life cycle of your cannabis plant, starts with a small seed. This seed lives off a small amount of food inside its shell and when it is exposed to enough water, it will start to develop a small white root that will sprout out. This is known as the ‘taproot’ and all other roots will sprout off from this main root. Germination is the process of your seed developing this root.

The roots will then slowly build into the soil (or growing medium), pushing the seed up and out through the soil. The shell will then slowly break apart and the small seedling plant will start to come through. The first leaves to show are also known as cotyledons. These small leaves would already have been formed inside the seed, and are what helps to push apart the shell, after the taproot has initially broken through. The germination stage will generally take around 5 to 10 days, sometimes less, depending on the type of seed (sativa seeds may take longer than indica seeds). 

what is a good quality seed?

Although it can be hard to tell how the quality of the plant will be from looking at the seeds, there are some signs you should look for. The seed should feel quite hard and a light to dark brown colour. Generally, seeds that are white, pale green are very dark may not be great, but this also can be down to the strain.   For example AK47 tend have a greenhish hue whereas Gorilla Glue tend to be darker.    However dark seeds or seeds that feel weaker could still have a chance to produce a healthy plant, so do not just throw them straight away. 


what do cannabis seeds need to germinate? ?

There are several ways you can germinate your seeds, but all of them will require some basics:

  • Moisture– this encourages the seed to expand so it can break open.
  • To be left alone– seeds will do better the less they are moved, as to not break or damage them.
  • Warmth– temperature should be around 20 to 22 degrees Celsius.
  • Place the seed in the right position (taproot down) so it grows upright. Also place the seed around 1.5cm to 2.5cm beneath the growing medium.

Remember, cannabis seeds need moisture and warmth to germinate. The roots should be kept moist at all times throughout the germination stage, the roots not exposed to sunlight and the seed in a warm environment. Springtime temperatures are ideal, but if you live in a cool climate, you can generate heat through external sources, such as a heating pad. 

4 ways to germinate a seed

There are several ways to germinate your cannabis seeds. We explain a few of them below. Try a few different ways and see which one works best for you.

Paper towel germination (Our favourite method)

Simply place a couple seeds on moist/wet paper towel, then place them in a ziplock bag and put in a dark place at room temperature ideally 20-25 celcius for 2 days.

Cheap paper towels work best (the cloth like ones could make your seed roots grow into them). This method works best by soaking two sheets of paper towels (wet but not with water still running off). Place your seeds in between the two wet sheets, around an inch apart. You can store the seeds in between two plates or underneath a bowl, so they are kept dark. The temperature must be kept at around 20 to 22 degrees Celsius.

They should germinate in approx 2 days.   On the 3rd day we plant in a small pot with 70% coco coir / 30% perlite.  Make sure that any green leaf is at the top just under the surface or slightly exposed, while the tap root (white bit) is pointing down inside the growing medium.   Then water with hydroponic nutrien at an EC of 1.0 for the first few days increasing to 2.0 after a week then transplanted into largeer pots. 

Soaking seeds in water

This can be an effective method to germinate seeds, especially those with very hard shells. Simply place the seeds in a glass of water and allow to soak overnight. This can help the shell to expand, allowing the taproot to come through. Some seeds can take a while to sprout but leaving them in the water for too long can also drown the seeds. It is best to leave seeds in the water for 24 to 48 hours, before moving them to soil (or other growing medium) to finish germinating.

A simple water glass will do, start by filling this up with warmish water (around 18 degrees Celsius) and drop in two or three seeds. Remember once your cannabis seeds develop the white taproot, you must be extremely careful when moving it into a pot, as it can be delicate. Causing the seed too much stress can kill it, so handle with care.

Starter cubes and plugs

This is one of the easiest ways to start your cannabis seed. Each starter cube or seedling plug has a small hole, in which you place your seed. Then you simply add the required amount of water and close the hole, covering the seed. This is a simple and helpful way of giving your seeds the best conditions to start the growth cycle.

cannabis germination

Place seeds directly into soil or growing medium

This is the most natural way and one of the most common methods for beginners but does not have a high success rate due to the many variables associated with soil.   

The soil should be in a small pot, moist but not soaking. A mild fertilized potting soil with a pH level of around 6 will work well but be sure not to add further nutrients during this stage as it can be too much for the seed to handle.

To place the seed, push down into the soil and make a small hole with your finger, around 1.5cm to 2.5cm deep. Then place just one seed and cover it back over with loose soil. If the seed has developed a small, white taproot be sure it is facing downward into the soil. Using a sprayer, wet the soil and use a heat lamp if needed to keep the temperate to around 20 to 22 degrees Celsius.

Keep checking regularly, making sure the temperature is correct and that your seed remains moist, and withing 5 to 10 days you will see a little seedling come through. Once this reaches 5-10cm, move the seedling into a larger pot (placing it further down into the soil than before).



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Our deep love of plants and fascination with Cannabis has enabled over 25 years of successful small scale Marijuana cultivation from indoor hydroponics, greenhouses and outdoor growing set-ups.

As Cannabis laws around the world change, *we support the movement toward freedom of choice for responsible, consenting adults who wish to experience the joy and wonder of growing a Cannabis plant.

*All info is for entertainment purposes only.  We do not condone illegal growing of Cannabis.   Consult your state laws accordingly.