Welcome back for another beginner lesson on growing your own Cannabis. If you read the title of the article you already know we’re going to be talking about “germination.” So what is it?
Germination simply refers to the initial stage of plant development where the taproot “pops” from a dormant seed and begins taking in nutrients so the plant can begin developing.
In the wild, seeds germinate naturally, so you may be wondering why we want to worry about it at all. The thing is, not every seed in the wild germinates, and that’s because a few basic needs have to be met before germination can begin. Some of these needs include temperature, moisture level, soil quality, and more.
In Cannabis cultivation, we want to control as much of the growing process as we can, and that starts with germination. It’s not just about getting our seeds to sprout; if we foster the process and observe the results, we can become better growers. We'll talk more about what this information can tell you in a more advanced article.
Before you begin germinating:
- Always be aware of the particular Cannabis cultivation laws in your state or country.
- Be sure to start with healthy, mature seeds. If you need a little more information on what makes a seed viable, check out our article on seed genetics article here.
Now it’s time to get into the methodology. Keep in mind that no single method will be “better” than any other for germination. In the end it will come down to your own experience and personal preference.
Germinate seeds directly in the soil
To germinate directly in the soil, push a finger into your soil about a knuckle deep (aiming for approximately one half inch or 1.27cm). Cover the seed and keep the soil moist but not saturated. You want to make sure the soil is not too cold, so if you’re growing in a pot, you can use a heating pad or lights to keep your seed nice and warm.
This is the simplest method and, if successful, it’s also the safest for your seeds because it limits direct handling after the seed “pops.” The downside is that you won’t know if you have a dud seed until it doesn’t sprout.
The Paper Towel Method
This method most commonly calls for some paper towels and a plate. Simply sandwich your seeds between two layers of moistened paper towel. Turn your plate over and cover the paper towels. This will help keep the paper towels moist and protect the seeds as well. Check daily and remoisten the paper towels as necessary. Check your seeds after a day or two and when it pops and the taproot emerges, you can plant it in your soil. Use tweezers to move your seeds and avoid touching the taproot, as any damage at this stage may be lethal to the seedling. Insert the seed about a half inch into your soil with the taproot down and cover lightly with the soil. Moisten the soil, but do not oversaturate as it can drown your seed.
This method is a bit more complicated, but it’s certainly achievable for the beginner who wants more control of the process. The advantage here is that you know before planting your seeds whether or not they’re duds. This can be especially beneficial if you’re limited in the number of plants you can grow and you don’t want to waste time on duds.
Cup of Water
The last method we’ll talk about is simply placing your seeds in a glass of water and letting them soak. This method is good if your seeds have extra thick coats or are older. It’s been reported that warm water can “wake-up” older seeds and get them germinating faster than the other methods described above. This method will work for any viable seed, but you need to be careful not to soak them too long because even an unopened seed can drowned if left submerged in water too long. It’s recommended that you soak seeds no longer than 24-32 hours.
So there you have it, three fairly simple options for germinating your Cannabis seeds. Again, none of the aforementioned methods is preferable to any of the others, it’s going to be a matter of what works best for you and your situation.
Be on the lookout for additional “How-to” articles including a more advanced lesson on germination techniques, and a lesson on setting up your own “germination station.”
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About the Author
Chris DeWildt is a graduate of Grand Valley State University and Western Kentucky University. He worked in education and publishing for ten years before joining the team at Growers Network. In addition to editing the GN blog, Chris also works on the Canna Cribs series.