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Step Two: Germinating Marijuana Seeds and The Seedling Stage

December 31, 2018

By MACKY and Ayad Maher

Germinating marijuana seeds means “activating” the seed,. which is the first step to start growing your weed  (or technically the second step after building your grow room). The seed contains not just the embryo, but also the food that plant will use during its very early stages of life. When exposed to moisture and warmth, the seed will naturally “activate,” and begin using its stored food to develop a taproot and push up from the grow medium. In order to achieve successful germination and rapid early growth, it is crucial to maintain ideal conditions for your germinating seeds. 

If you are new to growing cannabis, and would like some extra help germinating your cannabis seeds. Then check out this awesome video from Percys Grow Room. It will take you step by step through the germination process. 

Where to get your cannabis seeds from? (Seed Banks That Ship to USA)

Marijuana seed can be obtained from many sources (online and offline), the quality and the and genetic diversity can vary based on where you're getting cannabis seeds from. Online seed banks are your best bet if you’re not located in a region with recreational legalization established. 

There are many reliable outlets sell high quality seeds, here is a list of  The Best Online Seed Bank for Feminized Seeds that ship to the USA, in the industry. These seed banks have strong reputations and are known for providing high quality genetics.

If it’s your first time growing, it also pays to get feminized seeds. Dealing with identification and removal of males is an additional complication that inexperienced growers can avoid simply by purchasing feminized seeds. 

The choice is always up to the grower, but I strongly believe feminized seeds are a justified expensive and recommend them for any new grower.

Mature Cannabis Seeds, This Is What You Need to Do

Once you get your marijuana seeds, you will want to check if they're matured. If you use a good seed bank, like the ones in the list above, then you will most likely receive quality seeds that are ready to be germinated.  

Matured marijuana seeds shell tends to be very hard, darker brown or deep tan, with lighter accents (stripes). If they look fresh and green, it means they didn't reach full maturity, they're pretty much useless

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How to Germinate Marijuana Seeds

Before you plant the seeds, you need to germinate your cannabis seeds, and to do so, you will need three main things; water, heat, and air, like every living being on earth. There are a few common methods for germinating seeds, and some seed banks provide detailed instructions for how to germinate the seeds you purchase from them. Some banks also provide a guarantee on germination rates, and will provide replacements or refunds, but only when their instructions have been followed. 

Although we recognize a number of methods as being successful means to achieve germination, always follow your provider’s instructions when applicable, particularly so that you may take advantage of any guarantees included with your purchase.

Now, how to germinate marijuana seeds; the following method (paper towel germination) is the most common, and one of the most simple. Here is what you need:

  • Clean plate, and another one to be used as a cover (optional)
  • Paper towels
  • Marijuana Seeds

And here is the method:

  1. Soak 6 paper towels sheets in a distilled water.
  2. Take 3 of the soaked sheets and put them on the plate.
  3. Put the marijuana seeds on the soaked sheets, each seed should be an inch or more apart from the one next to it.
  4. Cover the marijuana seeds with the remaining 3 of the soaked sheets.
  5. Now, if you need to create a dark environment for the seeds, you can take another plate (the same size) and flip it over to cover the seeds/paper towel sandwich. This is not necessary if you have a dark place to put the seeds, such as a cabinet, drawer, closet, etc.
  6. Finally, as for how long to germinate marijuana seeds in paper towel: just give it some time. The germination period is different from one seed to another. Some seeds germinate quickly, others can take up to a week.

Check your germinating marijuana seeds at least once a day. You will probably need to add more distilled water as they begin to dry out. You don’t need to completely drenched the paper towel, but it should always be damp to the touch. Once the seeds split, you will see a single taproot coming out (see the picture below). You will know that your beloved cannabis seeds are successfully germinated.

Once the tap root is approximately 0.25-0.75 inches (0.6-2.0 cm) it's time to move them into a starter medium (rockwool cube, peat moss plug, etc.) or soil and straight to your grow room.

Related article: How to Build the Perfect Indoor Grow Room (For up to 6 Plants)

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Important tips to ensure successful germination for the marijuana seeds:

  • Keep the seeds in a warm environment, between 70-77°F. High humidity is also preferable; germination rates tend to be higher at around 70-80% RH.
  • Make sure to keep the paper towels sheets soaked all the time. If them seem like they're getting dry, simply add some distilled water to keep the sheets saturated.
  • Open the plate's only once a day to check the progress.
  • As the seeds begin to split, do not, I repeat, DO NOT touch the seeds or the tap root. It's very important to keep this area clean and sterile.When you are ready to transplant them to the medium, use sterilized tweezers if possible.

Related article: Top 7 Online Stores for Marijuana Growing Supplies and Equipment

Moving Your Germinated Seed to A Pot

Due to the limited root system the germinated seeds have, best practice is to plant the germinated seeds in small containers. This will increase the plants' accessibility to oxygen and nutrients by avoiding overwatering. 

When plants are initially placed in large pots, they cannot use all of the water and nutrients around them very quickly. This results in damp conditions that facilitate the growth of mold and certain pests. Thus, we prefer to start our seedlings in small containers like solo cups, then transport them to a bigger container when they start developing a larger root system (once they hit the seedling stage).

Here is what you need to do:

  • Acquire a small 2 inch pot (or solo cup) for each germinated seed
  • The soil you will be putting in the pot shouldn't be dense. It has to be rather loose and airy. You generally want a mixture of potting soil and perlite, roughly 70:30 to 50:50.
  • Dig a hole approximately 0.5 inches, or one knuckle deep, in the middle of the pot using a pen, and drop the germinated seed in it (tap root faces down). Make sure to transfer the germinated seed gently and carefully, I usually avoid using my hands to move the seeds; a pair of tweezers would do the job.
  • Lightly cover the hole/seed with soil (enough to block the light without obstructing the seedling when it emerges).
  • Now, add a little bit of water. Make sure the soil still covers the seed after watering it. Not much water is necessary, and you shouldn’t need to water again until after the seedling emerges.

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    Final Steps - Marijuana Plant Seedling Stage

    Place the small pot(s) in your grow room, and turn the lights on. The seeds technically don't need the light at this point, but they immediately do once they pop out of the soil. Having the light on and waiting for the plant will assist the young plant to develop better and faster. You can leave a fluorescent light close to the surface (a couple of inches away) from the plant since fluorescent lights don't emit a lot of heat, but HID or LED should be at least 24 inches away, if not further. Refer to the light manufacturer’s instructions to see if they provide a recommendation for distance from the canopy at various stages of growth.

    Here are a few other things to keep in mind for germinating your seeds:

    • The temperature should be around 73 F at all times. Warmer temps will not cause any problems, at least until closer to 90 F. Cooler temps, however, can stunt growth in early stages.
    • Humidity should be around 60-70% RH.
    • When you water the pots where you planted your seeds, you want to make sure giving them just the right amount of water without over saturating the soil, which may cause suffocating the sprouts and kill it. Using a spray bottle can do the job; they do not need much water early on..
    • Make sure your pots have holes in the bottom to allow water to drain.
    • Do not overwater! It is really easy to overwater and cause severe stunting or even kill the seedlings. If you can feel any moisture at all when you touch the soil, they do not need water yet.
    • In 3 to 7 days, you should start seeing the first signs of your newly born cannabis plant.
    • Once you see the first sprouts; have your fluorescent lamp running 18 hours on, 6 hours off in 24 hour intervals.
    • In 3 to 4 weeks, the cannabis plant should be around 4 inches high, which is big enough to be moved to a bigger pot; this is the true start of The Vegetative Stage! If you are using a solo cup, the plant’s fan leaves should now be stretching over the edges of the cup. This is a good indicator that you are ready to move up to a larger pot.

    If you have any questions, and you would like more help with starting your cannabis grow, then join the cannabis growers forum over at Percys Grow Room. They have over 1 thousand members, waiting to help you with your grow. 

    Percys Grow Room also have competitions, grow diaries, Guides on fixing cannabis plant deficiencies, and much more. If you're a new grower it would really benefit your grow if you signed up. 

    Just click here, it will take less than a minute, its free, and your plants will thank you for it. 

    Here is our complete Step by Step Beginners Guide to grow marijuana Indoors

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    Editor's Note: This post was originally published in Jan 2018 and has been revamped and updated as needed for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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