Many cannabis consumers have found an occasional seed in their bag of marijuana. But can you actually use them to grow your own weed? Learn more about germinating bag seeds and turning them into flourishing cannabis plants. Germinating cannabis seeds is important because it gives the grower an advantage in cultivation and it speeds up the process There are numerous phases of cannabis cultivation that must be completed before you may be greeted with copious amounts of dank buds. You won't have a plant
How to Germinate a Bag Seed
F inding a seed in your bag of weed used to be regarded as an insult, an indication you scored some inferior product. But it’s a new millennium, and growing cannabis is perfectly legal in some states and territories. While buying seeds online is still recommended for reasons we will detail further, finding a healthy seed can be as valuable as an ounce of gold. Or at least the cost of the bag.
- Can You Tell if a Cannabis Seed is Male or Female?
- How to Store Marijuana Seeds Properly
- Feminized Cannabis Seeds Explained
- How to Start Seeds
In this article we review the steps to germinate cannabis seeds, tips and tricks in the process, and how to keep your seedling healthy.
Germinating a seed is the first step in the growing process, and a cannabis seed will sprout with a voracious hunger, so if you are about to germinate seeds, start thinking ahead about where the seedling will eventually be moved to. This includes lighting, ventilation, and something to feed the lady. Those things don’t need to be decided before you begin, but try to have a plan in place by the time the second set of leaves emerges — as soon as two weeks.
The Germination Process
Begin by soaking the seed overnight. Soaking the seed saturates it with moisture, and moving it shortly after to a warm home tells the seed that it’s someplace comfortable, and it’s time to grow. Tap water is fine for this, but a micronutrient solution like liquid seaweed may be included.
Once your seed has soaked, the most common method for germination is the “paper towel method.” Wet a piece of paper towel and wring dry, then fold in half. Place the seeds between the halves of the damp paper towel, and slide the whole thing into a ziplock bag. Seal with some air inside. Leave this bag someplace comfortably warm for about a week, checking frequently for spots of mold. After about a week, a taproot should emerge.
Then it is time to transfer the seed into a proper growing medium. Be careful plucking your seed from the paper towel!
A grow medium is the “stuff” the seed will sit in. The easiest option is soil, healthy black earthy scooped up from your yard, or potting soil purchased from any garden center. Rock wool cubes are a common option for hydroponic growers, but can later be transplanted into soil as well. Compost and worm castings are great for a seedling, but it will need to be transplanted into a more diverse mixture later.
It is far too early to begin any nutrient cycle, or to introduce any fertilizers to the soil. Now that the seed is confirmed as alive, and placed into a more comfortable medium, simply make sure that the seed is watered and warm.
The first set of leaves to emerge are called “sucker leaves,” and their sole purpose is to drink in as much light as possible to fuel the growth of the more recognizable serrated leaves, which will begin to grow over the next week. After that you’ve got a proper seedling, and in a few weeks it will be ready for a bigger home!
For further guidance and resources about growing cannabis, see our Beginner’s Guide to Growing Marijuana, or our guide to growing for personal use.
Cultivating a Healthy Cannabis Seedling
The seedling that emerges will be as tender as an infant, and susceptible to diseases and cross-contaminations, so keep your germination station as sanitary as possible, and wash your hands before handling them. Avoid rubber or latex gloves at this stage as they have too much grip, and one wrong movement of your finger could accidentally grab and tear the soft plant material.
A seed’s health may be fortified by soaking it with a solution rich in micronutrients, like liquid seaweed. Be advised, however, that these will be very diluted solutions. Carefully read the mixing instructions of any product you purchase.
Seedlings can be protected against certain diseases by including worm castings in the medium. Research out of Cornell University has shown the microbial life in worm castings colonizes the seed’s surface, making it more difficult for pathogenic microbes to establish themselves.
Disclaimers and Downsides Regarding Found Seeds
It’s worth pausing to remember that seeds shouldn’t wind up in your bag of cured, smokable cannabis. So before planting anything, let’s assess what this seed is, and how it got there.
Only female cannabis plants produce flowers, and if they are pollinated by male plants, then they produce seeds instead. So all the cannabis we smoke is from unpollinated female plants — or nearly all of it.
When female plants are stressed — for instance, by drought conditions or nutrient problems — an evolutionary alarm can induce them to produce seeds with only their DNA. The problem with these “hermaphrodite seeds” is that the offspring, having benefited from this process, will be more prone to repeat it. If this is how a seed got in your bag, it can result in seedy weed, even under the closest care.
A seed is not guaranteed to sprout at all. Examine the seed for any obvious health issues. Immature seeds are lighter greys-to-green, while mature seeds are darker tan, brown, or even black. A healthy shape is a teardrop or nearly round, while bunk seeds will appear shrivelled or irregular. Finally, healthy seeds have a hard, whole shell, while cracked or brittle shells will likely not sprout, or produce a less healthy seedling.
A found seed is also not a guarantee to produce a replica of the strain you smoked, and may present latent traits from the strains it was bred from. Cultivating a complete copy of a phenotype is called “cloning,” and the cloning process must begin with a living plant, not a seed.
Remember, it could also just result in a male plant, which won’t grow any buds. None of this is guaranteed to happen with a bag seed, it’s just more likely than with a stabilized seed from a producer.
If you want to germinate a seed you’ve found, begin by soaking it overnight in water to saturate it, and soften the shell. Micronutrient solutions can be mixed in at this stage to fortify the health of the seedling (if you do, be sure to read the mixing instructions on the label).
The “paper towel method” is the most accessible way of germinating almost any seed. Once a taproot has emerged (after about a week) plant the seed into a small container with your chosen grow medium, like soil. Do not fertilize at this stage, as the seed and resulting seedling are very tender, and concentrated fertilizers are abrasive chemicals. Within another week, “sucker leaves” will sprout, synthesizing light to produce further growth.
Remember, found seeds are not always healthy or even viable. A healthy seed has a hard, unbroken shell and a dark color, while brittle or misshapen seeds may not produce a healthy plant, if anything at all. A found seed is also not guaranteed to replicate the precise phenotype of that cannabis you found it in.
That said, it’s almost always worth trying, and experimenting with whatever results. Growing cannabis can be an enriching experience, and perhaps even save you some riches. As long as you know what to look for from a seed, and how to handle them, finding one in your bag could be a golden ticket.
How to germinate all types of cannabis seeds: Three methods
A seed is like an egg in many ways. Inside are very similar components: an embryo, a radicle, a plumule and cotyledons, and outside is a protective shell.
Germination is important because it gives the grower an advantage in cultivation and a faster start. And it makes sure you’re not planting a small rock where nothing will grow out of the ground.
The different types of cannabis seeds
For those who want to cultivate for recreational or medicinal purposes, the female plant is the only one that matters. Only she can produce the flowers we expect at the end of the cycle.
Cannabis is a dioecious plant, that is, it has a female and a male plant. The male flower produces pollen after calyx development, which, when it meets the flowers and pistils of a female plant, will be fertilized, generate a new seed, and guarantee the survival of the species.
Cannabis seeds have undergone several modifications and are currently available in three main categories: normal, feminized, and auto-flowering, also called automatic. Recently, a new category, quick flowering seeds, has gained popularity.
Regular or normal seeds
Regular seeds are mostly chosen by breeders and established growers seeking stable genetics. (Algirdas Gelazius/123rf)
If the cultivator’s desire is to perpetuate a variety or make improvements, he should choose seeds of the normal or regular type. They are created by crossing a male with a female plant.
We call them regular or normal because they develop naturally. This type of seed can produce species of both sexes. Here, the grower has no control over gender. The odds are divided. Regular seeds have a 50% chance of being a female plant and generating flowers, or 50% of being male, which will result in small bags which grow very quickly into clusters of calyxes and flowers with pollen grains, essential for the multiplication of the species.
Regular seeds are mostly chosen by breeders and established growers seeking stable genetics or new cannabis terpenes or profiles by pheno-hunting through regular seeds which become the mother stock for all feminized seeds. Traditional landrace growers continue a long tradition of growing flowers and pollinating their crops which lose commercial value but guarantee sufficient seeds for the next season. Traditional landrace growers are slowly disappearing from the most remote regions on earth due to feminized seeds and readily available hybrids seeds which fetch a higher commercial value.
- Breed and create new strains
- Equal probability of male and female plants
- Create pollen bank
- Sex of the plant is unpredictable
- Male and female plants can be confused by a novice grower
- Pollinating males will seed female plants, resulting in fewer flowers to be harvested by the grower
- Preparation of different grow tents
Feminized seeds are obtained by crossing two female plants. One of them is exposed to a high level of stress. (Shutterstock)
In the late 1990s, with the need to cultivate seeds that guaranteed the appearance of female plants, feminized seeds emerged. As the name implies, they are those that will result in female plants. Males are unlikely to appear unless cannabis is under stress or someone has offered it a “cat for a hare.”
In the beginning, these plants had quality problems or were genetically unstable. Furthermore, they could transform into hermaphrodite plants. Over the years, with improvements and new technologies, feminized seeds have achieved high levels of quality both in production and in taste and final effects.
Feminized seeds are obtained by crossing two female plants. One of them is exposed to a high level of stress until it becomes a hermaphrodite. After crossing them, feminized seeds are obtained.
Another method to get feminized seeds, and perhaps the most commonly used one, is the application of a solution of colloidal silver, a famous and easily found natural antibiotic. The solution placed on female cannabis plants induces the production of pollen, which fertilizes other female plants that will generate feminized seeds.
Feminized plants are photoperiodic plants and depend on hours of daily light to transition from the vegetative phase to the flowering phase. Photoperiod plants allow the grower greater control over the moment when the cannabis starts to flower by maintaining the light hours. Thus, growers can wait as long as necessary to remedy any problem with the plant still in its vegetative state, such as excess water or nutrients, or take clones or cuttings to ensure the survival of your favorite cannabis plants.
Less experienced growers should start with feminized plants until they get some experience. This is more likely to ensure that they are always healthy and within the correct growth parameters.
- Production of female plants
- Ideal for growers who want flowers
- Simplification of the cultivation process
- Not suitable for breeding
- Must be started from the seed
- Can turn into hermaphrodites
Automatic and autoflowering seeds
A few weeks after germination, autoflowering plants start flowering, regardless of the structure or health it presents at that time.(Shutterstock)
After feminized seeds, in 2008, automatic or autoflowering seeds appeared which were bred from Cannabis Ruderalis plants found in areas such as Eastern Europe, Russia, and Alaska. They flower in a shorter time, where there is no need for different photoperiods between the vegetative state and flowering, but they do require more attention.
Many people think that it is easier to cultivate, as it doesn’t need to change the photoperiod and the whole cycle happens in an “automatic” way. But not quite. A few weeks after germination, the plants start flowering, regardless of the structure or health it presents at that time. With that, the cultivator has no margin to correct eventual unforeseen events, such as excess or lack of nutrients, pests and diseases, and slow growth due to inadequate parameters.
- No need to change photoperiod
- Fast flowering time
- Lower yield
- Difficult and risky to clone
- Little time for care
Photoperiodic plants have the advantages of greater control by the grower during the plant cycle, a richer THC and CBD profile, better terpenes and higher production. There is also the advantage of producing clones from a selection of mother plants.
Autoflowering plants, on the other hand, have a faster cultivation, more than one harvest can be made during the year and the possibility of cultivation with the light always on.
|Type||Male||Female||Possible to clone|
Sativas, indicas, or hybrids?
Firstly, you need to decide whether you want to use it medicinally or recreationally. Certain cannabinoids are more present in certain genetics.
The differences between indica and sativa plants are quite significant, such as the shape, height and even the effects. Their morphological differences are much greater than those attributed to them in dispensaries and in popular culture, however.
Indica-predominant plants originally obtained from landraces in drier, more arid regions such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India have a shorter and more shrubby stature, a greater number of branches and a shorter space between nodes. This makes it a more compact and ideal herb to be grown indoors. They have a shorter flowering time, are easy to grow and especially under artificial light.
Indicas are more resistant to cold, require less water and do not handle high humidity well.
Sativa plants originally obtained from landraces in tropical and higher altitudes have a greater height, a “pine tree” structure, and the space between their nodes is greater.
Flowering times are longer and are usually a little more difficult to grow. They don’t like the cold, are more heat resistant and better suited for outdoor use.
Nowadays seeds that are predominantly sativa or predominantly indica are landraces which are still available from select breeders and keepers of cannabis history. Hybrids are more common and have some characteristics of each variety.
How to check if my seed is ok?
The best seeds have a rounded shape, are big and fat. The closer your seed is to these characteristics, the greater the chances it will germinate. (Shutterstock)
There are a few ways to find out if your cannabis seed is ready to be germinated or not.
You can start by using your senses of sight, touch, and smell to determine if cannabis seeds are good or bad.
To test using vision, you can resort to using a magnifying glass. The best seeds have a rounded shape, are big and fat. The closer your seed is to these characteristics, the greater the chances it will germinate.
Bigger, harder seeds are best. The surface should have a slight sheen.
They are dark in color (usually brown, black, or gray). The darker the color, the more likely they are to grow and produce a better plant. The dark bark means they came from a better-quality plant.
If they are pale, white, or light green, they were picked too early and are probably immature. This means they are not good and are unlikely to germinate. If they are light-colored and dusty, they are probably old and slower to germinate.
Another tip is to check if the seed has light streaks. Good seeds are usually darker and some look like they have tiger stripes and are also referred to as tiger backs.
You can’t always judge a seed by its color alone. It is necessary to know what is inside the seed. If you break a seed and it is oily and moldy, it is spoiled. If it’s black inside, it means it’s fermented and won’t germinate.
Other tests that can be done to verify that a seed is in good condition is the touch test. Just lightly squeeze a seed. If crushed easily, it probably won’t grow well. There should be no small cracks or holes. If they have these characteristics, they probably won’t germinate. They must not be wrinkled or cracked. If they aren’t cracked, you know they’re intact. If it resists the susceptibility test, the seed has a good chance of germinating.
The other test consists of placing the seeds in a container of warm distilled water for two hours. If they sink, they’re good. If they float, they are premature and probably will not grow and therefore are unusable. Healthy seeds are heavy enough to sink or sink once a little water is absorbed.
How to germinate my seeds?
To germinate seeds, four simple elements are needed: humidity, warm temperature, oxygen, and darkness.
Most seeds germinate between 24 and 72 hours, but some may take longer.
There are several methods to germinate a seed. The first and best known is germination on paper (it can be on napkins, cotton, or paper towels). In a pot, place a sheet of kitchen paper, separate the seeds so that there is a few inches between them and add another layer of paper on top. Both sheets should be damp but not soaked. If the paper loses moisture, add a little more water. Once the white root reaches 2-3 mm, carefully transfer the seeds to the pot. Do not close the pot, as oxygen is essential for successful germination. (You may also consider soaking the seeds for a few hours before placing them in the paper towels.)
Another method to germinate the seeds is with a glass of water, but it is not as effective as using paper. Place your seeds in a glass of water, preferably at a temperature of 22ºC. After 3-5 days, the seeds will start to open, and the small white radicle will appear. Then, just transfer to the soil already prepared to receive it. This is a simple method and suitable for first-time growers.
The grower can also place their seeds directly in the soil, in which case transplanting is not necessary. It is a safer option due to the fragility of the small root that appears when we germinate in a glass of water or on paper. Put the soil in the pot where your plant will be. Poke a hole to a depth between 10-15mm. Introduce the seed and gently cover it with more soil, but it is not necessary to compress it on top of the seed. Put some water on top to make the soil moist. After 4-10 days the grower will watch the plant sprout as the roots go under the ground.
Remember to always wash your hands and have all materials clean to prevent mold.
How to store my seeds?
Cannabis seeds should be stored in a cool, dry place. They can be stored in drawers and cabinets if there is no great temperature variation in these places. They can also be preserved in the refrigerator or even in the freezer.
Rapid temperature variations are the main problem when storing seeds and can harm genetic integrity.
If storing for just a few days or months, the grower can use a Ziploc-type bag, a glass jar, or an airtight container. If you want to keep the seeds preserved for a longer time, the most recommended method is in a closed vacuum package.
If you are going to keep your seeds in the refrigerator, choose a place further away from the door. That way, they suffer less from changes in temperature when opening the refrigerator.
Remember that by freezing your seeds every time they are thawed and refrozen, they become less viable.
By storing your cannabis seeds correctly and properly, they can last up to 10 years.
Special thanks to Sunshine Coast Genetics for helping fact-check this article.
How to Germinate Weed Seeds
There are numerous phases of cannabis cultivation that must be completed before you may be greeted with copious amounts of dank buds. You won’t have a plant to harvest unless you can successfully germinate cannabis seeds.
Germination is the process through which a seed sprouts into a new plant. Often known as “popping,” germination is the first step in beginning a cannabis garden.
Picking out good quality seeds
Cannabis seeds may be obtained from a variety of places, although they are most often purchased online. Because there are so many different internet seed sellers, it’s crucial to pick one that you can trust.
Regardless of where you obtain your seeds, it is a good idea to check them carefully before planting. Seeds will germinate in the majority of cases; nevertheless, poor-quality seeds will result in a weaker plant. Unfortunately, you won’t find out until the vegetative and flowering periods are well underway.
When purchasing seeds, make sure they are ripe and have a dark brown color with lighter highlights and a firm feel. You don’t want a seed that feels fresh and seems green, as this suggests that it hasn’t fully matured. Once you’ve got your cannabis seeds, make sure you have enough room for your plants to develop and thrive.
Preparing to germinate cannabis seeds
The act of germination is important in the production of cannabis. Seed germination is the basis of every cannabis plant, and there are actions that can be performed to increase the likelihood of successful popping. Some growers, for example, increase germination attempts by soaking seeds in a compost tea for 12 hours or in a solution of 1 percent hydrogen peroxide prior to planting to eliminate any harmful bugs.
The environment in which seeds germinate has an impact on the final result. There are a variety of germination methods, however, they all require:
- Moisture is required for the seed to swell and break free from its shell.
- Minimal intervention to avoid accidentally breaking the fragile structures.
- Temperatures that are similar to those of spring (between 68-72 degrees Fahrenheit).
A single root will take form in the presence of moisture before gradually growing into the cannabis plant we know and love. Seeds will begin to grow within 12-36 hours of being exposed to moisture under the correct conditions.
The length of time it takes to germinate depends on how great your germination environment is. Even the worst grower can get a seed to germinate, but it will take a few weeks and will, of course, result in a weaker plant.
How to germinate seeds in soil
The most popular and generally effective technique of germinating cannabis seeds is to plant them in the soil where they will be grown. Because the delicate root is shielded by the soil, this approach is ideal for ensuring that immature seeds have minimal disturbance. It is ideal for plants to develop in the most natural way possible.
If you’re going to utilize soil, be sure you have the proper kind. Use seed-starting or potting soil that has been lightly fertilized. It should have a pH level of around 6. This sort of soil contains spores and nutrients that aid the growth of new weed plants. At this point, don’t add any nutrients; potting soil has adequate nutrients for the first 2 weeks of the plant’s existence. If you apply any additional fertilizer, you risk nutritional overdosing and harming your seedlings.
Place the soil in a tiny pot and make a small hole in the dirt with your finger or a pencil, about half an inch deep. Place the seed in the hole and cover it with dirt. Do not handle the seed beyond this stage. Seedlings are delicate, yet they understand how to place themselves in the dirt.
The seed will have a root if it has already germinated. Place the root in a downward position. Spray water onto the soil gently using a spray bottle and place your pots beneath a fluorescent light. Seeds should be kept away from windowsills since the temperature is too fluctuating for germination. The soil temperature should be kept at 72 degrees Fahrenheit.
Every day, keep an eye on your soil and maintain it to stay wet. You should observe small stems growing from the dirt in 4-7 days.
Move your weed sprouts to bigger pots so that roots can spread out comfortably around the time the seedling stems reach 2-4 inches in height.
Germinate seeds in water
Seeds can also be germinated by immersing them in water. It’s a little quicker than the dirt technique, but you’ll have to modify your environment variables accordingly.
The key is to not soak the seeds for too long. The seeds will usually show their tail within 24 to 48 hours, but you may leave them soaking for up to 7 days without fear.
When seeds germinate in water, they sink to the bottom once they’ve been wet. Water germination is beneficial because it ensures that the proper quantity of moisture is present for seedlings to germinate. It can help shatter open the shell, pre-spouting the plant right before your eyes if done for a brief length of time. Water germination speeds up the process by removing the need for the plant to push through the soil.
Fill a glass halfway with tap water and let it sit at room temperature for a few hours to germinate. The temperature should be between 68 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Do not include any nutrition. Watch for any changes after dropping 2 or 3 cannabis seeds into the water. Every other day, refill the glass with fresh water while keeping it at the same temperature.
The seeds should begin to divide after 2 to 4 days. You can plant your seeds at any time, but they must be planted after the roots are 5 millimeters long.
Germinate seeds by using paper towels
You don’t have to use paper towels; there are a few other objects around the house that will do the job just as well. You can use coffee filter papers, newspaper, or cotton wool pads as examples.
First and foremost, wet your paper towel. Make sure the paper towel is thoroughly wet before placing it onto a holding container such as a plate or Tupperware. Spread a few seeds across the paper towel. Make sure there are a few centimeters between each seed so they don’t touch.
With a zip lock bag to seal your container. This essentially creates a greenhouse-like atmosphere, allowing your seeds to grow a bit faster. Place your new mini-greenhouse somewhere that will maintain a constant temperature of approximately 68 degrees Fahrenheit while being out of direct sunshine.
You should notice your seedling growing in about a week. It’s time to move them into a dirt container when you notice this. Take your time and use the tweezers; don’t touch them with your bare hands because this might cause them to be destroyed.
Germinate with starter cubes and seedling plugs
Using specially designed starting cubes and seedling plugs is a more creative approach to grow seedlings. Cannabis germination is simple with these plugs. Simply insert the seed in the cube or plug, add water as indicated, and the seedlings are automatically provided with ideal germination conditions. This is one of the most straightforward germination procedures, with little opportunity for error.
Each cube or plug already has a hole in it where you may plant your seed. Simply place your seed in the precut hole and seal the lid with your fingers. Don’t worry, you won’t be able to screw this up. You should be fine as long as the seed gets in there.
The Sanctuary Editorial Team
Our writers use a combination of research and personal experiences to eloquently tackle these topics. The research process utilizes multiple levels of information. We reference informal channels for details relating to casual topics such as describing slang or how to create a bong out of fruit. We also examine scientific publishings for up-to-date research. The accuracy of our articles is crucially important to us and they are written with the idea of inclusiveness for readers of all walks of life.