So many Growers, so many Preferences. We asked 143 growers: what is the best way germinating weed seeds? Seed priming lets you get to the fun part of growing faster while increasing success rates and even yields. Should you germinate cannabis seeds in moist or soaked conditions? Watch our new test video and find out which method delivers the best germination rates.
The Best Way Germinating Marijuana Seeds?
We asked 8 Experts + 143 MSB Growers!
Do you think there is 1 way to make your ladies sprout? Think again!
We asked 8 Experts & 143 MSB Growers:
What is your Preferred Germination Method?
We were blown away by the number of variations we received!
Perhaps your new best way of Germinating Marijuana Seeds is amongst them!
- Study Best Way Germinating Marijuana Seeds
- Dr. Dina, Queen of cannabis
- Ed rosenthal
- James Loud, Loud Genetics
- Jennifer Martin, Cultivation Sector Consulting
- Jesce Horton, LOWD
- Melanie Carruthers, 7acres
- Ryan Douglas, Ryan Douglas Cultivation
- Rudy Ellenbogen. Whole Grow
- Preferred Germination Method MSB Community
- Conclusion: What is the Best Way to Germinate Marijuana Seeds?
Study on Best Way Germinating Marijuana Seeds
Here at Marijuana Seed Breeders, we get many questions. From Beginner to Expert.
We love helping growers.
In fact, we try to address frequently asked questions into articles so that everyone, even non-MSB Growers can benefit.
One of these questions is about germination: what is the best way for germinating marijuana seeds?
Interesting one, because perhaps is our best way, not your best way. Therefore we created the article How to germinate weed seeds.
In the article we give steps for 5 frequently used cannabis germination methods:
- Glass of water
- Wet towel
- Directly in soil
- Stone wool blocks
- Using a starter kit
We also give pros and cons to every method. So this should give you enough information to determine what is the best fit for your next growth.
Which Germination Method is the most used?
Every spouted seed counts. To more plants the better, right?
That’s why we are interested to understand how marijuana growers around the world germinate their cannabis seeds.
When we ask people this question we get a lot of different answers. Which germination method is the most used one?
We had an idea, but we didn’t know for sure.
It was time for a survey amongst our beloved MSB Community. We also reached out to experts in the field to learn more about their preferred method.
We were blown away by the number of enthusiastic replies! Both from our MSB community as well as the experts.
Yes, sure we received replies, just confirming one of the 5 methods.
But the larger group of people actually took the time to reveal their ‘secret’ to cannabis seed germination!
But first: let look at the statistics from our own research.
Results Preferred Marijuana Seed Germination Study
Without further ado, the most favorite germination method amongst 143 growers is:
#1. Wet Towel (37.3%).
#2. Other. 21.1% of the growers follow another germination routine.
#3. Directly in Soil. A surprisingly high percentage (19%) put their precious seeds directly in soil!
#4. Starter kits. 10% use starter kits (like Spongepot).
#5. Glass of water is the best way for 8.5% of the growers.
#6. Stonewool (3.5%).
Here is the breakdown in a chart:
Preferred Germination Method Experts
Ok, enough of the statistic, it’s germination time.
Let’s start with Expert advice!
First off: even though they were busy, we received kind feedback from the Experts. This shows again how approachable and awesome the people in our growing community are,
We received feedback from these experts from the field (sorted in alphabetical order):
#1. Dr. Dina, The Queen of Cannabis, Co-Owner of AHHS WeHo
#2. Ed Rosenthal, The Guru of Ganja
#3. James Loud, Founder of Loud Genetics Loud Seeds
#4. Jennifer Martin, Founder Cultivation Sector Consulting LLC
#5. Jesce Horton, Founder and CEO LOWD
#6. Melanie Carruthers, Director of Propagation 7ACRES
#7. Ryan Douglas, Cannabis Growth Consultant Ryan Douglas Cultivation
#8. Rudy Ellenbogen, Founder and CEO Whole Grow
Ready? Let’s dive right in!
Dr. Dina, The Queen of Cannabis, Co-Owner of AHHS WeHo
When someone gets a nickname from Snoop Dogg, and when that person is referred to as The Queen of Cannabis, the Mona Lisa of Mary Jane as well as The Queen of Weed AND the main character of the 8 season series Weeds is based on their person, then you know that you are dealing with a true expert.
I prefer to germinate My seeds in root gel (clonex) and stick them in cubes. Paper towels work well too, but I think the root gel gives the seeds the extra push to become a strong plant.
– Dr. Dina, The Queen of Cannabis
Ed Rosenthal, Author, Educator, Social Activist, And Legalization Pioneer
I use starter trays and plugs from iHort – EXcel T-50 and 32 Star Excel trays to start seeds. They come pre-moistened, with a little hole to drop a seed.
I use the 50 per tray when I will be transplanting within two weeks and the 32 per tray for growing up to 3 weeks.
When I’m using fresh seed, I just drop them into the hole in the cube.
With stale seeds, first I soak them in a 0.5% hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) solution for 3-4 hours. The recipe is 1 part drugstore 3% H2O2 to 5 parts water. This sterilizes their surfaces. Then they soak in mycos and liquid kelp solution for about 6 hours. Then they are placed in the cubes.
Upon first signs of germination, I water them with mycos and kelp to promote root growth. The next day they are watered with a weak combo of veg and flowering formula about 400 PPM.
– Ed Rosenthal, The Guru of Ganja
James Loud, Founder of Loud Genetics
Well it’s a loaded question because it depends on scale.
I sterilize in an h2o2 Soak then germinate in a jiffy #7 typically. However, large scale I prefer a needle/vacuum seeder to place the seeds evenly in the substrate.
Well and with autoflower I believe direct sow in optimal conditions can yield better results.
– James Loud, Loud Seeds
Jennifer Martin, Owner Cultivation Sector Consulting LLC
I use coco plugs. I gave up the wet paper towel method years ago because managing the moisture was too cumbersome.
I buy coco plugs that come in the 50-cell sheet, make a light nutrient mix, put all of the plugs in a pitcher of the nutrient mix, squeeze them to fully saturate them with the mix, put them back in the cell sheet, push a seed into each hole, and put a dome on the tray under the light.
Then I just keep the plugs moist. The seeds start to pop in about 3 days. Some take up to a week. I leave them in there until they overgrow the tray, then transplant into 3″ pots.
Jesce Horton, Founder and CEO, LOWD
I’m a water glass guy. I like to know before planting which seeds are more vigorous and then assess based on that benchmark throughout the growth process.
I carefully pull the seeds with a spoon and drop them into a coco mixture a day or two after they pop.
– Jesce Horton, LOWD
Melanie Carruthers, Director of Propagation, 7ACRES
Our processes at 7ACRES for seed germination use a combination of a glass of water and wet towel.
How to Prime Seeds for a Head Start on the Grow Season
Looking to give your seeds a head start? Seed priming lets you get to the fun part of growing faster while increasing success rates and even yields.
Few things compare to the joy of seeing that first bit of green poking through the soil. Growing is an art, and a beautiful one at that.
Germinating seeds yourself brings a sense of accomplishment as well as pure excitement for what’s to come. For impatient gardeners like me, seed priming offers a true edge in the process of seed germination, increasing success rates, and speeding things up.
What is Seed Priming?
Think of priming as hydrating seeds. Seed priming establishes consistent moisture and temperature for seeds so they begin the germination process. In many cases, seeds are primed and then the germination process is halted before roots and sprouts emerge.
This can occur because controlled priming works within a window of time between priming and pre-germination. As long as priming does not surpass the maximum length of time, seeds can safely dry back to a dormant state and await planting. Amazingly, at the time they’re sown, primed seeds will sprout more quickly and abundantly than non-primed seeds.
Seed Priming at Home
Seed priming is possible for hobby and home gardeners, although it may be more or less a little-known secret or a proud discovery of greater gardening success. Only this year did I learn the amazing experience of improving germination by priming and testing seeds in wet paper towels.
Soak seeds in a small bowl of water for no more than 24 hours.
Soaking Seeds First
When priming seeds at home, you can soak seeds or use the paper towel method of germination. If soaking, place seeds in a small bowl of water and soak for no more than 24 hours. Recommendations on total soak time vary but range commonly between eight to 12 hours and absolutely no more than 24, or else the seeds might begin to rot.
Wet Paper Towel Seed Priming
The plastic baggie and paper towel method of starting seeds is a very useful technique. A kind gentleman in a Facebook gardening group suggested it for planting pea seeds to see if they’d sprout. Here are the steps:
- Fold a paper towel in half.
- Space out pea seeds on the folded paper towel.
- Spray room temperature tap water lightly on the paper towel.
- Fold it to fully cover the seeds and ensure it is evenly moist.
- Place the folded paper towel in a zip-top plastic baggie.
- Label with the date and type of seed.
- Place near a heating vent or on a warm surface such as the top of your fridge or microwave.
I couldn’t believe my luck the next morning! When I checked on the pea seeds in the baggies, I saw the radicles (first roots) had begun to emerge from almost all the seeds. Amazed, I proceeded to use the same wet paper towel and baggie-priming method with beans, Roma tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, cucumbers, and even fruit seeds for fun. Almost everything germinated. Brilliant!
You can gently bury the entire primed seed loosely below the soil.
As Seedlings Emerge
Prior to priming, be sure to check your local weather. Once you start the priming process at home, it’s vital to get the seeds into the ground soon after they begin germinating. In as little as 24 hours, you may see some tiny seedlings starting to push their way through the seed coats. You can gently bury the entire primed seed loosely below the soil and it should continue its journey to the surface in short time.
Why Should I Prime Seeds?
Planting primed seeds results in shorter germination times and better rates of germination. For both commercial farmers and home gardeners, seed priming saves time and optimizes growth. Here are some key advantages of using primed seeds or priming seeds yourself:
Faster Seed Germination – Moisture added when priming seeds speeds up the germination process.
Higher Rates of Germination – Seeds sprout in greater numbers when primed before planting. Proper priming can overcome seed dormancy for stubborn varieties.
More Forgiving to Temperature – Seeds go through many of their temperature-sensitive changes during priming. Therefore, they can germinate more easily in cooler temperatures, which in turn can impact heating bills in larger scale farming operations.
Reduce Fungi – It’s reported that priming seeds can lower the incidence of seedborne fungi in resulting plants.
Increase in Yield – Significantly higher yields are likely to occur with primed seeds. One study revealed a 21 percent greater yield when priming seeds first.
Higher Density and Vigor – Plants grown from primed seeds tend to be more vigorous and may also reach maturity sooner. This also means harvests may begin earlier in the growing season.
Affordable – Priming seeds at home is easy to do and you can use materials you already have around the home. It’s cheap, easy, and quite honestly, much neater than starting everything in soil first.
Environmentally-Friendly – This method of enhanced gardening is friendly to plants and the environment. Your green thumb is now even greener!
Save Valuable Planting Space – Priming seeds first speeds things up and allows you to identify viable seeds as well as potential duds. You can swiftly pot up the promising seeds and discard or bulk plant those that don’t seem viable.
Soak It — Seeds Best Suited for Priming
Starting seeds is so much fun, and it’s even better when you’re able to up the ante for quicker and better results. Consider what you’re planning to grow and whether priming the seeds can enhance your gardening experience. You can prime these seeds for quicker and more abundant germination. Try at-home priming with wet paper towels or seed soaking for the following seeds, to name a few.
Commercial Examples of Seed Priming
In professional environments, seed priming may involve a solute, whereas in-home gardeners will likely use water to prime their seeds. Even water vapor can aid in the seed priming process.
In a study of nanoparticle-mediated seed priming, seeds received a treatment of nanopriming agents, in this case turmeric oil nanoemulsions (TNE) and silver nanoparticles (AgNPs). This seed priming measure improved the germination of notoriously temperamental watermelon seeds and resulted in improved germination, better growth, and increased yield without altering the quality of the fruit.
Another study tested seed priming in developing countries. This study largely found “on-farm” seed priming to be significantly positive in its impacts to seed germination, plant growth, and crop yields.
Professional Seed Priming Methods
Commercial growers and suppliers rely on proven methods to prime seeds for best germination, growth, and yield. Some have their own proprietary means of priming seeds while others adhere to tried and true techniques. Here are the most common commercial priming methods.
Drum Priming – Seeds soak up moisture from controlled humidity within a rotating drum. The monitored water vapor moistens the seeds and primes them for optimal growth.
Hydropriming – While used in commercial operations, this method would also work at home. Hydropriming involves soaking seeds in water, specifically in aerated distilled water if possible.
On-Farm Seed Priming – Farmers can soak seeds overnight and allow them to dry briefly before planting. This method can reduce the overall time needed for the seeds to soak water directly from the soil.
Osmopriming – Soaking seeds in low water content paired with osmotic solution relies on osmosis to jumpstart the seeds without kicking them into true germination. Plant hormones or beneficial microorganisms may also be mixed into the priming solutions.
Solid Matrix Priming – A slower method, seeds begin in an insoluble medium that readily absorbs water, such as vermiculite. This method limits water uptake by the seeds.
Take these tips on priming seeds at face value and give it a whirl with your next planting. This is one case where it’s quick, clean, and easy to make a difference in your gardening endeavors!
Tip: Not all seeds need to be primed. Some, particularly those that are finicky when transplanted, may not be great candidates for seed priming or may sprout just fine on their own. Those that are small may simply not need it. Carrots, lettuce, radishes, and some herbs and flowers may do better without priming. If you do choose to prime these seeds, soak in a small dish of water and watch closely every few hours to avoid overdoing it. Trial and error is one of the best parts of gardening!
Moist vs Soaked cannabis seed germination test
What’s the best way to germinate cannabis seeds? Let’s pursue our germination test series with another critical matter: should the seeds be placed in moist conditions, or is it better to completely soak the seeds to ensure the highest germination rates and the fastest germination speed? The answer may surprise you!
Moist vs Soaked cannabis seed germination video
To assess moist vs soaked germination conditions, Dutch Passion made a side-by-side germination test. 15 cannabis seeds were attempted to be germinated in soaked conditions and 15 seeds germinated in moist conditions. Does adding too much water to your cannabis seed germination help improve germination rates, or does it have a dramatically negative effect? The video, below, shows exactly what happened.
As shown by the video, perfect germination occurred when the cannabis seeds were germinated between lightly sprayed (i.e. moist) cotton pads. All 15 seeds germinated perfectly. However, of the 15 seeds that were placed between soaked (saturated) cotton pads, only 3 seeds were able to survive. The others showed brown coloration on the embryonic root, this is a sign that the root had started to rot in the waterlogged conditions.
How much water should you use to germinate cannabis seeds?
In the Dutch Passion ‘moist vs soaked’ cannabis seed germination experiment, some simple cotton pads were used. This is usually a reliable way to germinate seeds, whether you are using feminised seeds, regular seeds or autoflower seeds. Note that for the successfully germinated seeds in moist conditions, a minimum amount of water was used and delivered the best results. Just 3 light water mist sprays were given to each cotton pad.
The advantages and logic of germinating cannabis seeds in moist conditions
For the 15 cannabis seeds that successfully germinated in moist conditions, we ensured that the cotton pads were lightly sprayed (3 times for the lower cotton pad, 3 times for the upper pad).
The key principle is that cannabis seeds need only a small amount of moisture to soften the shell casing and allow a root to emerge into a moist, oxygenated environment. Once the root has emerged, access to oxygen is just as important as access to moisture. The root needs very little moisture at this stage.
|Cannabis roots, healthy cannabis roots ensure a healthy cannabis plant|
The disadvantages and problems caused by trying to germinate cannabis seeds in soaked conditions
Of the 15 cannabis seeds that attempted to germinate in soaked cotton pads, only 3 survived. That’s because the waterlogged conditions simply didn’t provide enough oxygen for the root to grow.
Both the upper and lower cotton pads were soaked in water and the seeds were placed in-between. The soaked conditions allowed the shell casing to soften and open. However, as soon as the roots started to emerge, most of them simply started to rot and die. The easiest way to spot this is via the brown discolouration the root tip.
This is usually a sign of root damage, and for freshly germinated seeds this is often fatal. Even if the seedling survives, with root damage the plant may be permanently stunted only allowing a small, poor yielding plant to grow.
Soaking cannabis seeds during germination causes them to stagnate.
Dutch Passion advice on cannabis seed germination
There are many different ways to germinate cannabis seeds. We should also remember that cannabis seeds have found ways to germinate for thousands of years without human intervention.
But since cannabis home growing became so widely adopted, many growers want to aim for the very highest germination rates that they can achieve. If you are buying the best cannabis seeds at premium prices, you may want to get your seed germination rates as high as you can possibly get them.
For that reason, the Dutch Passion team recommend the cotton pad seed germination method. Remember to lightly spray the upper and lower cotton pads only 3 times each to create moist conditions. Adding more water, and soaking the cotton pads will only decrease your germination rates.
|How to germinate cannabis seeds in cotton pads?
How to germinate cannabis seeds in soil?
How to germinate cannabis seeds in RootIt Cubes?
If you are serious about giving your cannabis seeds and seedlings the best possible start in life then the following blog is essential reading. It explains how to avoid the top-10 mistakes made by growers with seeds and seedlings.
Germinating cannabis seeds in moist cotton pads results
In the Dutch Passion cotton pad seed germination video 5 cannabis seeds were placed in-between 2 cotton pads. Each cotton pad had been lightly sprayed with 3 squirts from a simple water mist spray bottle. To evaluate the seed germination test properly, a total of 15 seeds were germinated with 100% germination rates.
Note that the moist cotton pads were placed on a dinner plate and the plate was sealed with transparent kitchen film. This ensured that the moist cotton pads didn’t dry out. If this happened, the germinated seeds would eventually die. The experiment took 4 days, though many home growers would perhaps inspect after the germination after a couple of days and re-plant the germinated seedlings into a grow container.
Germinating cannabis seeds in soaked cotton pads results
Experienced cannabis growers know the dangers presented by soaked/saturated seed germination conditions. That’s why many of them avoid using e.g. toilet tissue, which can hold a lot of water and not drain well. In the Dutch Passion moist vs soaked seed germination video, only 3 of the seeds just about survived the waterlogged conditions. All the rest were ruined by the soaked/saturated germination conditions.
Once the root emerges from the seed, it needs a certain level of aeration in order to survive. Leaving cannabis roots in waterlogged conditions inevitably results in root rot. That’s why so many growers find that they achieve superior results when using grow containers (e.g. air pots or felt sacks) that offer superior root aeration levels. Experienced growers know that overwatering plants or seedlings can stunt growth, and in worst cases kill the plant.
The main message for growers is that it is very easy to get low germination rates even from perfectly viable cannabis seed simply by using germination conditions that are too wet/soaked. To get the best germination rates, use moist conditions. Never use soaking wet conditions for cannabis seed germination. If the root emerges and spends too long in these saturated conditions the seed/seedling will die.