Cannabis Seed Germination Rate

This definition explains the meaning of Germination and why it matters when planting a seed. How to Improve Germination Rates with a Reptile Heat Mat Some cannabis seeds can’t be replaced. You may have a strain or cross that’s no longer available. In the past, I’ve tried to order In order to produce marijuana buds, the cannabis plant needs to go through 4 growth stages like the germination stage, the seedling stage, the vegetative

Germination

Germination is the budding of a seed after it has been planted in soil and remained dormant for a certain period of time. For plants that reproduce through seeds and pollen, the seeds eventually grow into young plants through the process of seed germination. When seeds are planted, they remain inactive until conditions are suitable for germination.

For germination to occur various conditions must be met such as the proper amounts of water, humidity, oxygen, temperature, and light. When these conditions are met, the seed begins to enlarge as it takes in water and oxygen. The seed’s coat breaks open and a root, or radicle, emerges from the seed, which is followed by a plant shoot. This initial stage of a plant’s development is germination.

Growers tend to want to speed up the germination process by triggering or forcing their seeds out of their dormant state so they begin to grow. This is often done by keeping the seeds moist by soaking them and then housing them in a dampened paper towel.

Germination rates vary between plants, with carrots, celery, peppers, and okra being amongst the most difficult at 50 to 55 percent, meaning only 5 out of 10 seeds will germinate successfully. Cannabis, cucumber, lettuce, peas, turnips, and watermelon having a more successful germination rate of 80 percent.

Seeds can take anywhere from 3 to 14 days to germinate depending on the plant and the method of germination (soil versus hydroponics).

Maximum Yield Explains Germination

In horticulture, germination is a form of propagation that occurs in most plants. The process can be initiated by the absorption of water and oxygen, coupled with the seed’s surrounding temperature, light sensitivity and intensity, and humidity.

Before germination occurs, the seed does not have the required nutrients for plant growth. When the seed receives the nutrients and water required, then enzymes inside the seed are activated and the process of growth begins.

First, a root known as the radicle emerges from the seed which allows the plant access to water. Next, shoots, or plumules, begin to grow above ground, including the stem and leaves that harness the sun’s energy for further development.

There are several factors that can affect the germination process. Water and humidity are vital to germination because the seed must undergo imbibition to stimulate root growth. However, too much water can be a harmful because oxygen may not reach the growing seed.

Additionally, different seeds require different temperatures for optimum growth. Some only grow in cold temperatures while others require high temperatures.

Upon reaching the surface, plants undergo a light-dependent transformation called photomorphogenesis, so light intensity also affects the germination process. For example, cannabis seeds require warm temperatures and lots of cool light, often delivered artificially through the use of grow lights.

How to Improve Germination Rates with a Reptile Heat Mat

Some cannabis seeds can’t be replaced. You may have a strain or cross that’s no longer available. In the past, I’ve tried to order cannabis seeds again, only to find the breeder disappeared. Sometimes germination problems cause irreplaceable losses. On top of that, cannabis seeds can get expensive, especially small-batch seeds or experimental seed crosses, which means if seeds don’t sprout you are down significant cash.

So far I’ve had 100% germination using this method (including several seeds that were 2 years old). Learn how to do this yourself in today’s germination tutorial.

Germination problems are some of the most frustrating problems when growing cannabis. It seems like you should be able to stick a marijuana seed in some soil and let nature take care of germination. Why is it so hard to germinate seeds? What can a beginner or experienced grower do to improve germination rates? Bonus: Why are some seeds harder to germinate than others?

What cannabis seeds want during germination:

  • Moisture – never let seeds dry out after they get wet, but also don’t let seeds sit in liquid water or seedlings may “drown” after they crack open the seed
  • Warm – 80°F (26°C) is perfect, though any temperature between 75-85°F (24-30°C) is good
  • Dark – too much light can hurt germination so it’s recommended to germinate seeds in the dark
  • No touching – try not to touch or move seeds after they start germinating until they sprout
  • Clean – bacteria and microscopic fungi can slow or stop germination so make sure to wash your hands before handling seeds and germinate seeds in a clean place

So what’s the best way to give this perfect germination environment? Today I want to share the cannabis germination method I use. I’ve found most germination methods work, but one of the key things that seem to help germination go faster (and reduce the number of seeds that don’t germinate) is warmth. Seeds want it to be warm but not hot, like they’re just under the surface of the soil on a sunny spring day after a light rain.

Seeds want to “feel” like they’re just under the surface in moist dirt on a warm day. Your job is to give them a better version of nature.

Over the years I’ve struggled to achieve the perfect germination temperature. In my experience, “seedling heat mats” don’t keep a consistent temperature, and they often get too hot after a few days. I’ve germinated seeds on a seedling heat mat and I’m pretty sure they got cooked, which caused them to take much longer to germinate. So how can you achieve the perfect 80°F / 26°C temperature that seeds love? Reptile heat mat!

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Why a reptile heat mat?

When you keep a cold-blooded animal like a reptile as a pet, you need to provide heat to keep them warm. However, you want to make sure their home is always the perfect temperature. If it gets too cold or hot, they can die. It’s up to you as the owner to make sure they get just-the-right temperature so they’re happy and healthy.

Pet snakes and other reptiles can’t control their own temperature so they need you to provide just the right amount of warmth

That’s why reptile heat mats were first created. It’s essentially a seedling heat mat, except it has a probe with a sensor to allow you to choose the exact temperature that you want. For example, you can set the heat mat to keep the temperature a steady 80°F / 26°C and the controller will turn the heat mat on and off so it stays exactly that temperature day and night. I’ve found that using one of these mats causes seeds to germinate much faster than if they weren’t heated, but (unlike with regular seedling heat mats) the sensor prevents the mat from ever getting too hot and cooking the seeds.

This reptile heat mat took my marijuana seed germination rates from 90-95% to almost 100% germination every time.

A reptile heat mat comes with a temperature controller to automatically let you keep your seeds at the perfect temperature so seeds germinate as quickly as possible (with no chance of overheating like with a typical seedling heat mat).

What you need

  • Reptile heat mat – they come in different sizes (bigger ones can produce more heat), but the 6″x8″ size mat (uses 8 watts) should be more than enough to germinate a few seeds
  • Paper towels – the cheaper the better (cheap rough paper towels work better for germinating seeds than the more expensive or cloth-like paper towels)
  • Kitchen plates – you’ll use these to lock in moisture and keep seeds in the dark during germination
  • Seeds – Here’s where to find seeds
  • Seedling plugs (optional) – Seedling plugs like Rapid Rooters are a great place to put your newly sprouted seeds before planting them in their final home. Or just put germinated seeds directly into the soil.

Wet paper towel method – germinate seeds between wet paper towels

Use another plate on top to lock in moisture and then set up the heat mat underneath to maintain the perfect temperature (full germination tutorial below)

100% germination almost every time!

Directions

1.) Choose seeds

When starting with feminized seeds (which means all plants will be female and make buds) I germinate at least one extra seed per strain just in case a seed doesn’t germinate. If I’m sprouting non-feminized (“regular”) seeds, I germinate 4-5 seeds per strain to ensure there’s at least one female plant. Even though about half the plants from regular seeds should be female, sometimes you get unlucky and get a lot of male plants (which don’t make buds). If you don’t want to worry about male or female plants, I recommend sticking to feminized seeds so every plant ends up being female.

2.) Set up paper towels and plates

Cut your paper towels to fit your plates (if any paper towel is sticking out, it will dry everything out) and label them with the names of seeds.

Prepare paper towels, plates, and label with your chosen strains

2.) Set up reptile heating mat

In order to get everything working properly, you need to find a way to get the probe near the seeds, but not in with them or it will let light in. I’ve found the best way to do this is to place down the mat, and use a third plate upside down so you have a great place to put the probe, then set your germinating seeds in their plate on top. So you will have 3 plates in total. One to attach the probe to, and two more to encase your seeds.

Set down heating matt, and attach probe to plate.

Set the plate down. At this point, the probe is just above the heating mat. Perfect!

Add your prepared plate on top. Now it’s got the heating mat underneath, yet still an extra layer of protection to cause all the heat to radiate equally

3.) Place seeds next to their labels

Be careful not to let them roll around or you may lose track of which is which

Add seeds to their proper place. Be extra careful not to let them roll around or you won’t know which one is which after they’ve germinated. Here’s an example.

4.) Add water and cover

Gently add a little clean water, making sure to get the paper towels wet without accidentally moving the seeds around. Then take a single sheet of paper towel and add it on top. It should quickly become wet too. You want everything to seem wet, but there shouldn’t be extra water sloshing around. It shouldn’t appear too shiny. If there is visible water (for example you see water moving if you gently tip the plate), carefully dab it off with another paper towel. You want your environment totally moist but still solid.

Add water (gently without letting seeds roll around) then put a single extra sheet of paper towel on top. If you only use a single sheet of paper on top, you will still be able to see what’s underneath pretty well, as pictured here. This lets you see when seeds are germinated without disturbing them.

Having just one sheet of paper will ensure seeds get air and let you see whether they’ve germinated without having to disturb them. Seal the moisture in with another plate. Make sure no edges of the paper towels are sticking out around the edges or they will slowly wick out all the water and possibly dry out your seeds.

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Seal the moisture in with another plate. Make sure no paper towels stick out the side or they’ll wick away moisture and dry everything out.

5.) Set the reptile heater to 83°F / 28°C

This isn’t an exact number (anything around 80-85° / 26-30°C does awesome), but it’s the temperature I choose. I figure a little heat is lost through the plate and it likely gets the seeds at a nice 80°F.

This is what the controller looks like

I set the reptile heater to 83°F / 28°C, but anything around that range works great. Here’s a quick video showing how to set the controller. Hold the “set” button until it blinks, set the temperature you want, then hit “set” again. You’re good to go!

If you check back in about an hour, the water should feel tepid or just slightly warm (it will never feel hot). If the water feels cold, then turn up the reptile heater a few degrees as you may be losing heat from your specific plate or your air is just a bit colder than mine.

Check on the seeds once after an hour and touch the paper towel in the middle to make sure it feels lukewarm (not hot or cold). If so, you’re good! Close it back up and try not to peak again for at least 24 hours. I know it’s hard not to check on them every hour (at least it is for me), but they will germinate better if they’re undisturbed in the dark.

6.) Seeds usually sprout in 1-3 days

Try not to check on them for 1-2 days except to make sure the temperature is right and no paper towel is sticking out the sides. Seeds like to be left alone during germination.

Before sprouting, this is what the seeds look like under the paper towel (little black dots). If you see this, cover them again and check back tomorrow.

Since you only used a single sheet of paper towel on top, you should be able to see if at least some of the seeds have germinated without having to disturb them. If you don’t see roots yet, just close the plate up and check once a day from now on. Some seeds, especially older ones (or certain strains) can take several days to germinate.

This is how seeds look once they have sprouted (through the single sheet of paper towel on top). You can faintly see their roots, and sometimes you can ever see yellow leaves. Note: the leaves are fully formed (but yellow) in the seed and break free during the germination process.

And here’s what the seedlings look like after gently peeling off the top layer

It’s normal if new seedlings look yellow (the leaves are always yellow inside the shell, but turn green once they get exposed to light)

7.) Put germinated seeds in their next home

At this point, you can put your seeds directly into their next home. I like to put seeds in Rapid Rooters because that gives me a few more days to examine all the seedlings and see which ones are growing the best before picking the winners for their final home.

You can also put germinated seeds directly into soil or coco, just be gentle and try to plant seeds with their roots down.

Put your sprouted seedling inside, with the seed head just under the surface

Gently close the Rapid Rooter around the seedling and put it in a tray or shot glass (or any way to hold it upright while the root is growing). If the seed/seedling seems loose like it might move around, pick a little piece off a Rapid Rooter and gently put it in the hole to make sure the seed head is totally secure (you don’t want it moving around while the root is still growing into the seedling plug).

Put Rapid Rooters under gentle light in a warm place (for example in your regular grow spot with the light 2-3x further than normal, or near a sunny window)

Soon your sprouts will be seedlings

Once seed leaves are about the width of the Rapid Rooter, they’re ready to be planted in their final home

How Long to Germinate Weed Seeds?

In order to produce marijuana buds, the cannabis plant needs to go through 4 growth stages like the germination stage, the seedling stage, the vegetative stage, and the flowering stage. For the purpose of simplifying the process of cannabis cultivation to our readers thinking about becoming marijuana growers, in this article we’re focusing on the germination stage and how long it takes to germinate weed seeds.

Germination, or sprouting, is the first stage of cannabis cultivation during which the cannabis seeds are placed in water in order to develop sprouts. Some marijuana seeds may germinate while others won’t, and the sprouting success rate mostly depends on the quality of the seeds.

In order to increase the germination rate of cannabis seeds and increase the chances of successful germination, check out our guide below.

The 411 on Germinating Marijuana Seeds

Before you start cannabis cultivation and germinating seeds, you will definitely benefit from reading the following tips:

  • Purchase high-quality seeds from a verified seed bank.
  • Purchase growing lights required for the following stages like LED, CFL, or HID grow lights.
  • Use a heating pad underneath the seeds to help aid germination and maintain proper temperatures.
  • Pre-soak seeds in 1% hydrogen peroxide or compost tea for 12 hours in order to improve germination or kill pests.
  • Keep the marijuana seeds under a temperature of about 72 degrees Fahrenheit (22 °C).
  • Keep the seeds away from your windows and direct sunlight.
  • Purchase jiffy pellets or starter plugs for germinating weed seeds.

How Long Do You Need to Germinate Cannabis Seeds

The time needed for seeds to sprout is not always the same, but if you’ve provided your cannabis seeds with the right conditions, germination should usually start between 12 to 36 hours after you’ve soaked the seeds. Warmth, moisture, and darkness will accelerate cannabis seed germination, and the whole process can be over within 5 to 10 days (during which the seeds will be completely out of their shell). The more ideal your germination environment is, the faster your cannabis seeds will start to germinate.

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Choosing a Germination Method

There are a few ways that you can germinate your seeds and the most common ones include:

  • The paper towel method;
  • The glass of water method;
  • Planting directly into the soil.

The Paper Towel Method

This germination method is one of the easiest ways to germinate seeds and it only requires paper towels soaked in tap water. The two pieces of paper towels are soaked in water, and the cannabis seeds are placed between the sheets. Additional water should be added so that the seeds are moist, and excess water should be drained away. Furthermore, the temperature in the area where they’re kept should be between 70-90°F (21-32°C).

Once the seed splits and a sprout appears, you’ll know that the seed has started germinating. The sprout is called the taproot, and it’s a sign of successful germination. After the seed starts to split, make sure you’re very careful with the taproot when planting it, and don’t touch the seed as it begins to split.

The Glass of Water Method

This is the most common germination method for beginner growers since all it takes is placing the seeds in a glass of water. The seeds should be placed in a half-filled glass of water at a temperature of about 71°F (22°C), and the seeds will start sprouting between 3-5 days and develop taproots. After the roots reach 2–3 mm they should be transferred to soil pots, and over time the germinated seeds will develop into cannabis plants.

Keep in mind that not all seeds will germinate. Some seeds will sink to the bottom and some will float. The ones that float are probably not viable, and they need to be thrown away. Use tweezers when transplanting the taproot into a growing medium, and start preparing the proper lighting system for your marijuana plant.

Planting Directly Into the Soil

This germinating technique isn’t recommended for beginner cannabis growers since they need to be informed about the proper nutrients, appropriate pH soil, and humidity levels that the growing medium should have.

What you’ll need in order to plant directly into the growing medium are pots filled with premium-quality soil that’s been soaked in water. This method of germinating cannabis seeds prevents moving the seeds when they’re at their most fragile state, and that’s exactly the reason why most experienced growers prefer it.

What to Avoid When Germinating Cannabis Seeds

If you are planning to grow your cannabis plants from seeds and germinate them, you’ll need to avoid some common mistakes that cannabis growers make.

Letting the Germination Medium Dry Out

While germinating, always make sure that the paper towels stay moist. This is especially important if you have a heat source placed above the germinating seeds. It’s better to opt for rock wool cubes germination as opposed to hydro since it helps retain moisture.

Avoid Overwatering

Overwatering your cannabis seed may result in bud rot and ruin the potential for the cannabis seed to grow into a cannabis plant. Make sure you provide your plants with enough water, but not excess water.

Avoid Leaving Seeds to Germinate Longer Than They Should

If you end up germinating using the paper towel method, make sure you leave the seeds to germinate, and transplant them before the cotyledons appear. The best time to transplant is once the taproot is between 1-2 cm in length.

Do Not Germinate Directly in Soil

If you’re a less experienced grower, don’t start by germinating in soil. You could always try germinating using the paper towel method, jiffy pellets, or peat plugs, which will make it easier to maintain proper temperature and humidity.

Maintain the Appropriate Temperature and Humidity for Germination

The right environment is essential for successful germination. Ideally, the germination medium should have a temperature of about 72 degrees Fahrenheit (22 °C) and 70% relative humidity. Lower values may make the germination less successful, while higher values might result in rot or fungus.

Plant the Seeds Correctly

The seed needs to be planted with the root facing down, so when it opens at the tip it lets out the root. The seed shouldn’t be buried too deep because the seedling may never emerge, or, on the other hand, if it’s too close to the surface, the stem can grow weak. Make sure that the top of the seed is just below the surface of the growing medium, and the root faces down.

Final Thoughts and Transplanting Germinated Cannabis Seeds

After the taproot appears, you can transfer your germinated seed into a growing medium and wait for the three stages that follow in the marijuana growth cycle. You can choose to grow in coco coir, hydroponic, or soil, depending on your preferred planting medium. Young plants are pretty vulnerable, which is why you should be extra careful when transferring them in the potting soil. As you grow more cannabis plants, you’ll learn more about the germination process, which will make you more confident each time you germinate new seeds.

Disclaimer

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