Seeds 101: How To Germinate and Sprout Your Seeds
Part 2: Now that you’ve found the right seeds it’s time to start planting. Before you bury your seeds in soil, there are a few things you need to know.
Now that you’ve found and chosen the right seeds it’s time to start planting. Before you bury your seeds in soil, there are a few things you need to know. Keep in mind that different countries have different laws about germinating cannabis seeds, so make sure that you are aware of what you’re getting into before you begin. Without further ado, here’s how to germinate and sprout your seeds.
Germination is the stage in which your seeds begin to sprout and grow roots. Marijuana seeds are triggered to germinate when moisture seeps through the hard outer shell. For your seeds to germinate and sprout properly, they’ll need somewhere warm and damp. Exposure to too much water for too long can drown them out or cause them to get moldy.
Here are a couple of popular ways to start your seeds:
Pre-soaking your seeds
The benefits of pre-soaking your seeds are debated among growers. Some people swear by it, and others suggest that you risk exposing your seed to rot if it gets too far along in the germination process before it’s removed.
Pre-soaking speeds things up a bit by ensuring that the seed is fully moist before being put into the soil. It also helps you test the viability of the seed prior to planting–a seed that will germinate will absorb water and become soft. You may also notice a root beginning to emerge after taking the seed out of the water.
Here’s how you do it:
1) Fill a shot glass or small tumbler halfway with purified or bottled water. Avoid using tap water as it’s often treated with chlorine or other substances which can impact growth. Most of the time tap water is OK, but if you really want to give your seeds the best chance of producing a top-quality product, it’s worth it to be picky.
2) Add in your seeds. Avoid overcrowding. You want the seeds to float at the top of the waterline, so don’t put in so many that they’re completely submerged from the get go.
3) Place the seeds in a warm, dark place with a constant temperature. Germinating seeds do not like light, but they do need a certain amount of heat to get going. On top of the water heater is usually a good spot. Consider covering the shot glass with another plastic cup to help keep things clean and dark. The ideal temperature is around 75-80 degrees F or 22 degrees C.
4) Wait for the seeds to sink. Many growers suggest letting the seeds soak for up to 24 hours. But, the most important thing is to wait until the seeds sink to the bottom of the glass. When they sink, you know that water has permeated the outer shell and the seeds are thoroughly moist. Don’t let them sit submerged for too long, as that may drown them or increase the likelihood of rot.
5) Gingerly remove the seeds from the glass. Because the seeds are soft and possibly already showing root, you want to avoid damaging them. One way to easily get the seeds out of the glass is to carefully pour them out over another glass or a large strainer that has been covered by a paper towel. You can then more easily pick them up from there.
Paper towel method
The paper towel method is another popular way to germinate. This method takes a bit longer than the pre-soak method. Your seeds will be ready to move to soil after about 2 to 3 days. Similar to the pre-soak method, seeds that say in this moist, soil-free environment for too long can become moldy or begin to rot.
Here’s how you do it:
1) Dampen the paper towel with purified water. You’ll want to make sure that the paper towel isn’t dripping wet, as that increases the opportunity for rot. Misting the paper towels with a spray bottle rather than dunking them into water will ensure that they don’t get too wet. Damp cotton rounds can also be used in place of paper towels.
2) Place your seeds in the middle of the damp paper towel and fold. Make sure your seeds are decently spaced from one another, and are completely covered by the paper towel.
3) Keeping the paper towel horizontal, slip the moistened cloth into a plastic baggie. Seal the bag part way, and make sure it stays horizontal.
4) Blow a bit of air into the plastic bag. Once the bag is slightly puffed up, seal the air inside. Seeds need a little air to germinate. Store the baggie in a warm, dark place.
5) Check your seeds daily to see if they’ve begun to sprout. Once a taproot begins to show, they’re ready for soil. As with the pre-soak method, make sure you handle your seeds with care to avoid damaging them.
Planting in soil
Of course, you can always germinate your seed directly in soil. Use a small soil container or use a seed starter like peat pellets. The most important thing is to retain heat and moisture, as well as prevent excess exposure to light during germination. One of the big plusses for germinating directly in soil is that you don’t have to handle the fragile seed once its root begins to show. You can just let your seed keep growing at its natural pace, and transplant it once the sprout reaches a stable size.
Regardless of whether you’ve pre-soaked or used the paper towel method, the directions for sprouting your seed in soil are the same.
Here’s how you do it:
1) Fill a small container filled with prepared soil, a peat pellet, or rockwool. If using soil, use your finger or a pencil eraser to create a divet about 5mm deep. Aim for a well about twice as high as the seed you’ll be putting in.
2) Place your seed inside the well. If you’ve pre-soaked the seed, place the root-end down. If you’re germinating in the soil itself, place the seed pointed end down. Gently flick a little bit of soil over the seed, but don’t compact it down. You just want a light dusting that will help keep the seed moist and dark. You don’t want to make it too difficult for a sprout to push out.
3) Use a spray bottle or mister to moisten the soil. You’ll want to make sure that the soil is damp, not overly wet.
4) If your seed hasn’t germinated prior to planting, cover your container with plastic wrap. The plastic wrap creates a greenhouse effect and retains soil moisture by capturing evaporated water and condensing it back into sweat. If you’re using peat pellets or small soil cups, you can also purchase a greenhouse box with a plastic lid at a local garden store. The ideal humidity is between 70 to 90%.
5) Wait for your plant to grow! After about 4 or 5 days, you’ll notice that your seeds are beginning to sprout. At this point, you’ll want to make sure your plants are well ventilated and have access to light. Remove any plastic wrap or take off the greenhouse lid. Place the seeds in front of a south-facing window where they’ll have access to the sun. Or, place them under a plant light. 18 hours under light and 6 hours in complete darkness typically yield the best results. At this early seedling stage, plants are still fragile. Make sure their environment is still warm. The soil should be damp, but not too wet.
Once your seedlings have well-established roots, you can then transplant them into a bigger container. They’ll typically reach this point after 2 to 6 weeks as seedlings. The tell-tale sign that they’re ready to be moved is when you see a sudden spike in leaf growth, indicating that the plants are now in a vegetative growth phase. The leaves will be recognizable as marijuana leaves.
Giving your seeds a fighting chance from the beginning is a must if you want a top-quality harvest. Like in humans, what happens in the initial stages of development is important for the overall survival and health of the plant. If you happen to have enough seeds, you may want to try each of the methods outlined in this article to see which garners the best results for your particular growing style.
Have you grown from seed? What’s your favorite germination method? Share your tips with us on social media or in the comments below.