How to germinate cannabis seeds
Germination is the process in which a new plant begins to grow from a seed. Also referred to as “popping,” germination is the very first step in starting your cannabis garden.
Cannabis seeds can be acquired from an array of sources and can vary in quality. For more info on how to buy marijuana seeds, check out our Guide to buying cannabis seeds.
When acquiring seeds, you want to make sure they are matured and that they appear dark brown with lighter accents and a hard feel. You don’t want a seed that feels fresh and looks green, which indicates that the seed hasn’t reached full maturity.
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Once you have your cannabis seeds, make sure you have the space necessary to allow your plants to grow and be healthy. Don’t pop seeds when you are unsure of your grow space, time availability, or intention with your garden.
Check out these additional resources for more info on cannabis seeds:
What’s the best way to germinate cannabis seeds?
Cannabis seeds require three things to germinate: water, heat, and air. Because of this, there are many methods to germinate your seeds. The most common and simplest method involves the use of paper towels saturated in water.
For this method you will need:
- Two clean plates
- Paper towels
Take four sheets of paper towels and soak them with distilled water. The sheets should be soaked but shouldn’t have excess water running off.
Take two of the paper towels and place them on a plate. Then, place the cannabis seeds at least an inch apart from each other and cover them with the remaining two sheets of water-soaked paper towels.
To create a dark, protected space, take another plate and flip it over to cover the seeds (like a dome).
Make sure the area they’re kept in is warm, somewhere between 70-90°F.
After these steps have been completed, it’s time to wait. You can check the paper towels to make sure they’re still saturated, and if they seem to be losing their moisture, you can apply more water to keep the seeds happy.
Some seeds germinate very rapidly while others can take several days. You know a seed has germinated once the seed splits and a single sprout appears.
This is the taproot, which will become the main stem of the plant, and seeing it is a sign of successful germination. It’s important to keep this area sterile, so don’t touch the seed or taproot as the seed begins to split.
Transplanting germinated cannabis seeds
Once you see the taproot, it’s time to transfer your germinated seed into its growing medium. Small 2-inch pots are a good place to start.
Fill the pots with loose, airy potting soil and poke a hole in the middle about a quarter-inch down using a pen or pencil.
To transfer the seed, use a pair of tweezers to gently pick it up, then drop the seed in the hole with the taproot facing down. Lightly cover it with soil.
Next, you’ll need to water the soil. Initially, use a spray bottle to provide moisture without over-saturating the soil. You want to give the seed water, but over-watering can suffocate and kill the delicate sprout.
Pay attention to the temperature and the moisture level of the soil to keep the seed happy, and within a week or so you should see a seedling begin to grow from the soil.
Germinating seeds doesn’t always go as planned. Some seeds will be duds. Others will be slow and take longer to sprout. But some will pop quickly and grow rapidly.
This is the beauty of seeds—often, you can tell which plants or genetics will thrive right from the get-go. This will help you determine which plants you want to take cuttings from for clones and which to breed with other strong plants to create a seed bank of your own.
Follow these simple steps on the best way to properly germinate your cannabis seeds, and find out how to transplant the seeds to soil after germination.
Get Ready for Spring With DIY Seed Starter Pots
You’ve been perusing your seed catalogues. You’ve been dreaming of warmer weather. The first day of spring is just around the corner. That’s right: it’s time to start garden planning, and soon, time to start your seeds. But why buy plastic seed starting trays? If you’re looking to stop buying plastic (did you take our plastic reduction pledge?), and have concerns about the environmental sustainability of peat harvesting, we have 9 ideas for you using materials you already own to start your seeds for this year’s outdoor or windowsill garden. Many of them are even biodegradable, meaning you can plop them right in the ground (or a larger pot) when the time comes (after acclimating them to outside conditions if they’re going outside).
And if you’re a beginner, before you start your pots you can read this step-by-step guide to soaking and planting your seeds. Also check out our gardening page for a thorough list of gardening resources, including websites, books and seed catalogues.
Our resident DIY and design expert Samarra Khaja takes us through the DIY seed starter pot options.
Toilet Paper Roll and Other Paper-Based DIY Seed Starter Pots
My first and favorite option are toilet paper roll pots because, if your household is anything like mine, you won’t need to wait too long to acquire them. Plus, they’re just so darn cute and compact when constructed. Follow these instructions to fold your roll, cut it in half and snip in a folded, flapped base and you’ll have two adorable seed pots in no time! This is an easy family-friendly project to involve the whole brood — or a classroom full of kids.
There are plenty of tutorials around to make paper seed pots out of lots of good source materials, including sheets of newspaper and even your shredded paper bank statements. That last option is much more labor-intensive than the toilet paper roll option, since it involves creating paper pulp but hey, you might like that extra toil-for-soil experience
Alternatively, you can go the cardboard egg carton route, which is also a well-proven method. It might be a good idea with these and some others to poke some holes in the bottom to help the plant expand its root system once you transplant it.
Paper-Based Pots That Will Require Transplanting
You can use discarded paper drinking cups, but note that they’re lined with plastic so they’re only good until transplant time, at which point you can slice them open with an exacto knife and shake the small plants gently into your hand.
Another non-biodegradable option I’m considering: since my kids’ Lego advent calendar trays recently changed from plastic to paper, I’ve started reusing them as craft supply drawer organizers, but you could also section them off into seed starter pots (after all of the toys have been removed, they’re essentially a tray with small, rectangular compartments).
Egg Shell Pots and Other Food-Based DIY Seed Starter Pot
Next up is one of nature’s finest packaging materials: egg shells! These DIY seed starter pots created by using half of a discarded egg shell have built-in benefits but their most appealing feature is that they are very, very cute. Egg shells can be a particularly nutritious container while acting as protective fencing around your seedling bebes. Before transplanting them into a bigger pot or the ground, you’ll need to poke some holes in the bottom, though, since an eggshell can’t decompose fast enough to get out of the way of your growing roots. If you want to go further into the nature-made arena, you’ll also find fun hacks like avocado skin halves) and this citrus peel pot (I’d definitely poke holes or cuts slits in either of those options to speed up biodegradation, giving a rind a reason as it composts its way back to mama earth.
Regardless of which kind you go with, the bonus for using any of the biodegradable pots is that they’re friendly to a wide variety of seeds and especially kind to early seedlings that don’t otherwise like being transplanted (e.g., various kinds of squash, corn and beans). This way you won’t have to disturb them before transplanting them into a larger pot — to become hardy before moving outdoors or to stay there on a windowsill — or moving them directly outdoors. We recommend checking trusted garden sources for advice on which starts can move directly outdoors and which should spend more time getting strong first.
Once you’ve assembled all your pots to be filled and you’re still up for a non-store-bought option, you can unlock a new level of DIY wizardry with this homemade germinating mix and learn some great soil mix and insider tips along the way.
Get ready for spring with DIY seed starter pots you can create at home. These pots utilize materials you already own to start your garden today!