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How To Germinate Cannabis Seeds: A Step-by-Step Guide

Germinating your seeds is the root of success.

Tips & Tricks For Seed Germination

“It all starts with a seed.” Learning how to germinate cannabis seeds is essential to all future growing success. Properly popping beans puts you on the road to healthy plants and heavy harvests. But there are a few things to consider in order to master how to germinate cannabis seeds the right way.

Step 1: Choosing Seeds

How To Germinate Cannabis Seeds: A Step-by-Step Guide

First, you must decide on what seeds to grow and where to get them. Seek out trustworthy seed companies that have been around and have a track record of successful breeding. Take a look at our High Times Seed Bank Hall of Fame for a list of 50 of the most well-known and accomplished strain creators.

Don’t have seeds mailed to the location where you’re growing or planning to grow. Beginners might want to start with an indica-dominant strain that will stay small and stocky with a short flowering time.

Sativa-dominant strains tend to stretch more and have longer flowering times. If your seeds have been sitting around in storage for a while, check out these tips for germinating old seeds.

Step 2: Sprouting Seeds

How To Germinate Cannabis Seeds: A Step-by-Step Guide

Some people choose to use the moist paper towel method to germinate their seeds but I recommend just sowing them directly into the medium you plan to grow in. This reduces any stress the seedling will suffer through the transplanting process and secures the young plant firmly into your chosen mix.

Moist Paper Towel: Place seeds on a plate between two moistened paper towels. Put a plate on top to cover and within a couple of days, you should see the seed cracked open and a taproot emerging. Immediately and carefully (using tweezers) place your seed into your growing medium taproot down and water it in.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with using a moist paper towel, as long as you’re gentle with the emerging tap root and as long as you don’t let the taproot grow too long before planting. My belief is simply to start the plant in its own medium to reduce the likelihood of damaging the tender young roots and shoots.

Straight Into Medium: Poke a hole in your pre-moistened grow medium of choice. Drop your seed in about a quarter- to a half-inch deep. Cover the seed with more of your medium and tamp it down gently.

The important thing is to not plant too deeply and to keep the medium moist and warm for the best germination success rate. Clear plastic wrap placed over the top of the container helps maintain humidity. A heating mat underneath your plastic tray will increase your success rate as well.

Step 3: Seedling Care

How To Germinate Cannabis Seeds: A Step-by-Step Guide

Within a few days, you should see a minuscule green shoot emerging from the top of your medium. Immediately get your seedling under adequate grow lighting. Ideally, for the strongest growth rate, you want Metal Halide (MH) lighting, but Fluorescent or LED (Light-Emitting Diode) lighting works fine and won’t produce as much heat.

No matter what lighting you choose, always remember not to keep your grow-light too high above your seedling as this will make it stretch to reach the light and leave your young plant looking long and lanky.Use a timer to make sure the lights are on for at least 18 hours per day. Learning how to germinate cannabis seeds also means treating the emerging seedlings with the proper care.

Temperature and Humidity: You never want your seedlings to dry out. Keep your medium moist but not soaking wet. The air in your grow space should be kept warm, between 70-75 degrees Fahrenheit and with a relative humidity between 50-60 percent.

Use a thermometer/hygrometer to keep track of these factors at all times. As your plant adapts to its new environment, you will see new foliage sprouting forth. Your plants are now well into their vegetative stage of plant growth.

Final Hit: How To Germinate Cannabis Seeds

Now that you know how to germinate cannabis seeds, you’re ready to begin the process of growing your own weed. Just remember, provide light, food and water to your plants when they need it and keep the environment within acceptable levels of temperature and humidity. You’ll avoid so many problems by simply maintaining the proper parameters.

One last tip: Remember to label your seeds, seedlings and clones to avoid confusion and costly mistakes. Now get growing!

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Written By

Danny Danko is a writer, photographer and the Senior Cultivation Editor of High Times magazine. He has selected High Times’ annual Top 10 Strains of the Year since 2005 and is also the creator and founder of the High Times Seed Bank Hall of Fame, author of The Official High Times Field Guide to Marijuana Strains and the forthcoming book Cannabis: A Beginner's Guide to Growing Marijuana. He hosts the podcast High Times presents "Free Weed from Danny Danko."

4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Avatar

    M. Wolf Segal

    May 24, 2020 at 6:11 pm

    Cannabis seed should always be planted pointy end up. If you use the paper towel method, transplant as soon as you see white through the crack at the pointy end.

  2. Avatar

    Roger E. LaPointe

    July 30, 2020 at 8:30 am

    You mention not having the seeds shipped to where you plan to grow. If I may ask where do you have them shipped. This very curious

  3. Avatar

    Rakim

    August 7, 2020 at 11:52 am

    I have two plants growing “Wedding Cake”. I do not have any fan leaves or any type of pointie leaf. Please help. It’s a marijuana plant, I had germ.the seed the myself in paper towel. The leaves are round and growing

    • Avatar

      DL

      August 9, 2020 at 3:05 pm

      the very first pair of seedling leaves will be rounded. this goes for nearly every type of plant seedling. after that you will see leaves more like the adult plant.

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