Soaking Marijuana Seeds

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One of the most tricky things about growing your own cannabis is how to correctly germinate cannabis seeds. Here's an easy guide on how to go about that. A common germination method for cannabis is to soak the seed overnight in a glass of water that is at room temperature because this triggers hormones that 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.

How To Germinate Cannabis Seeds

Growing your own weed is fairly easy, as explained in our article ‘All You Need For Growing Weed At Home‘. The hardest part for some growers though, is germinating their newly bought cannabis seeds. After all, the vulnerable seedlings are easily damaged. However, making sure your cannabis seeds survive germination is essential for a successful grow. In this blog, we highlight three tested methods that let anyone germinate cannabis seeds with minimal effort.

How To Germinate Cannabis Seeds, Step 1: Get Good Genetics

We cannot stress this enough. If you want good results, you are going to need good materials to start with. In case of growing cannabis, the first thing on that list are good cannabis seeds, of course. Besides high quality cannabis seeds all you need is some water, a warm environment (between 20-25 degrees Celsius) and – lack of – light to start germinating your future cannabis plants.

Even though living weed plants love (and need) a lot of light, germinating cannabis seeds thrive better in a dark environment. And just like there are different methods of growing your own cannabis, there’s also a choice in how to make your seeds sprout.

Want good cannabis? Get good seeds!

Germination is actually a process where you activate a dry seed that is in a ‘sleeping state’. By adding water to the seed, a small root that is inside the seed-shell will want to come out in search for more water. This will make it develop into a big taproot that’ll serve as an anchor for the plant and from which more roots will sprout. Read more about root-development in this article: ‘Clones vs. Seeds: What Grows The Best Cannabis?‘

Germinate Cannabis Seeds In Water

The easiest way to germinate your cannabis seeds is to let them soak in a glass of water. The seed will absorb the water and due this process hormones will make the seed start to grow: expansion and elongation of seed embryo.
You will see them sprout after 24 to max. 48 hours. Note that you need to store the glass of water in a dark place on roomtemperature. After sprouting they are ready to plant in soil, 1cm to max 2cm deep. All they now need is love, light, water and heat!

Ready to sprout!

How To Germinate Cannabis Seeds: Wet (Paper) Towel Germination

The best known way of germinating cannabis seeds is to put them on or between wet paper towels or cotton wool. This method exists in different varieties, as it’s not so much about the paper itself, but more about the absorbency of the material. It’s very easy to make sure the ‘medium’ doesn’t get too soggy and doesn’t dry out easily. If it does dry, you can effortlessly add a few drops of water to immediately re-moisten it.

Wet paper towels are probably the most common way of germinating cannabis seeds

The goal here is to balance out the moisture so it’s not too dry, nor to wet. Go for a piece of paper that is moist all over, but doesn’t drip when you pick it up. If the seeds stay to dry, the root that’s supposed to sprout won’t be able to make it out of its shell in search for water. If the paper is too wet though, the root will come out and quickly stop looking for water; as it’s already soaked in it. This stops the development of the root, delays the growth and might even cause the seeds to rot after a while. So, be careful not to give too much water as this is one of the most common rookie mistakes when it comes to growing weed!

Transplanting In Soil

After the root has sprouted and has gained a few millimetres in length, it’s time to transplant the seedling into its soil and put it under a light-source. As a rule, a small 1cm deep hole made with your fingertip should do. Gently pick up the seeds one by one, taking care not to touch the root. Use a clean pair of tweezers and don’t squeeze. Make sure that the roots don’t cling to the paper or cotton wool. Lovingly cover the seed with a little (loose) soil and add a few drops of water. Now, all you can do is wait whole the story continues below the surface. As soon as the seedling pops her head above the ground and green leaves emerge, she’ll needf light to continue growing.

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This is the part where most growers (especially the hasty ones) sometimes lose a seed. Remember that you are handling a baby plant here. The vulnerable root is easily damaged during the transplant. If you don’t trust your steady hands, it might be better to choose another germinating method.

How To Germinate Cannabis Seeds In Soil

Another common method of germinating cannabis seeds, and probably the most natural one, is to stick the seeds directly in their intended medium: the soil. You can do this with or without soaking it in root stimulator for a few hours first.

By planting cannabis seeds directly in their soil or coco – or whatever other medium you might be using – growers cause the minimal amount of stress for the plant. Direct planting also allows the taproot to immediately dive as deep into the ground as possible. Furthermore, its leaves can enjoy the light as soon as they emerge from the developing seed. This way the seedling can start its growth with a fair chance, providing you with a steady, high-yielding cannabis plant.

Cannabis seeds and sprouted seedlings require constant temperatures of around 20-25 degrees Celsius

For this method, simply prepare your medium by moisturizing it, again, without soaking the soil completely. Then take your flower pots and use your finger to make a small hole about 10-15mm deep in the top layer to put the seed in. Cover the seed up loosely and top it off with a little water. Be careful not to give too much at once though! A stream of water can cause the seed to travel further down the pot where it’s too moist – and too deep to travel back up again.

The top layer is the perfect place to germinate cannabis seeds, as it dries out faster than the soil further down the pot. This makes it easier to ensure the right level of moisture for the seed to germinate. If it gets too wet, the seeds will rot in the soil. If it stays too dry, the plant will not be triggered to emerge from its shell. Again, it’s all about finding the perfect balance between too wet and too dry.

How To Germinate Cannabis Seeds in Plugs

Last but not least on this list is the germination of cannabis seeds in special plugs. These plugs are available in various materials, especially designed for quick and efficient germination of cannabis seeds.

Plugs are a practical way to germinate cannabis seeds

Most plugs are dry blocks of (usually) coco fibre. Peat plugs are an interesting alternative, as these contain some initial nutrients to help the seedling along. After fully absorbing about 500ml of moisture, or 250ml of a root booster and another 250ml water, they slowly turn into a moist, soil-like plug. Grow plugs usually have a premade hole in which to place the seed. After sticking the seed in the top of the plug, cover it lightly with a little leftover plug fibre. It takes a few days at maximum before you see the first heads pop. As soon as the roots grow out of the bottom or the side of the plug, you can stick the entire plug, complete with its seedling, into your intended medium. These plugs make germination and the initial transplant a piece of cake.

A fantastic view on this seedling with it’s shell sticked to her leaves

After Germination: Growing Your Seedlings

So there you have it: whichever method you chose, germination should now be underway. Remember that even the best seed banks work with organic, natural materials, so 100% germination rates can never be guaranteed. If you get your technique right, though, most or all of your seeds should germinate according to plan. Once your seeds have become seedlings, the next steps of your grow await. There’s a lot of choices to make from here to harvest time: indoor or outdoor, which spot to pick, what nutrients to use, and so on. Keep an eye on our expanding grow blog collection if you want to learn more!

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Pre-Soaking in Water Germination Technique

A common germination method for cannabis is to soak the seed overnight in a glass of water that is at room temperature because this triggers hormones that signal the cells to start germinating.

Be sure not to leave the seeds in the water for more than 24 hours, as this will cause the seeds to become deprived of oxygen, drown and rot.

After you have allowed the seeds to soak, you will then remove the seeds from the glass of water and place them either in a:

  • Moist Paper Towel
  • Rapidrooter®
  • Light Soilless Mix
  • Any Other Growing Medium

You will then need to place the seeds in a location that is warm in temperature, about 70 – 90°F (21 – 32°C) and be sure to keep the towel or growing medium moist, not soggy wet.

If you over-soak the growing medium, be sure to drain off as much as possible to keep the seed from drowning. Within several days you will begin to see the sprout coming out of the seed if you are using the paper towel or cheesecloth.

If you are using another growing medium for germination, you will have to wait and see. When using the other growing mediums for germination, be sure not to dig, or open up the growing medium to ‘see’ if it is sprouting. If you do this, you run the risk of injuring the sprouting seed.

If there is fungus beginning to develop where the seeds are germinating, you may mist the medium with a very mild two-percent bleach or fungicide solution. Any more and you risk damaging or killing your seed.

Once the seed has developed its white sprout, you may now very carefully pick up the sprout and plant it. Be sure to have the growing medium that you plan to use to plant in, is prepared and ready to go, as the small rootlet is very sensitive to prolonged and intense air and light.

If you are planting the seedling into a soil mixture, cover the germinated seed with about 0.25 – 0.50 inches of fine soil or planting mixture with the white root tip pointing down.

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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).

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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.

Related:
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.

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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.

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