Cover with another wet paper towel
Fail-Proof Cannabis Germination Method
How to Germinate Marijuana Seeds So They Grow Fast
Plus, how to care for new cannabis seedlings…
We have a cannabis seedling germination page which has everything you need to know about all the different germination methods, but this tutorial is different. In this tutorial I’m going to share exactly how I do my seeds from beginning to end! Just follow these instructions and you’ll end up with healthy, fast-growing plants that germinate in just a few days. It’s basically fail proof!
- Soil or Coco (learn how to germinate seeds in hydro)
- A Container
- Rap >1.) Get Cannabis Seeds
There are a few different ways to get cannabis seeds, with the most common being ordering seeds online and growing seeds you find in weed that you buy. Learn how to research and find the right strain.
Here’s a picture showing several healthy and viable cannabis seeds
When it comes to new growers, it seems like the most fool-proof method (at least for me, and many of the new growers who write in) is the Paper Towel Method! It’s so simple, but there’s something about wet paper towels that a young seedling loves ? Learn About Other Ways to Germinate Seeds!
Paper Towel Method – Place your seeds inside a folded wet paper towel (Important: use cheap brand!)
This method is hard to mess up if you follow the instructions! Place your seeds inside a folded wet paper towel, and place it between two plates so that the seeds don’t dry out. Surprisingly, the really cheap paper towels work the best because the seeds and roots lay on top without getting stuck to anything. This is important! The more expensive “cloth-like” paper towels (like Viva brand) aren’t good for germination because the roots actually grow into them instead of laying on top.
Wet a paper towel (use the cheapest brand you can find). If growing multiple strains, you may want to label the paper towel so you know which is which. Place each seed on the wet paper towel next to their label.
Cover with another wet paper towel
Add another plate on top to keep the paper towels from drying out
- Check on your seeds every 24 hours but try not to disturb them. When they’ve germinated, you’ll see the seeds have cracked and there are little white roots coming out.
- They should germinate in 1-4 days, though some seeds can take a week or longer (especially older and smaller seeds).
- Keep them warm if possible. One thing you can do to get seeds to germinate a little faster is to keep them in a warm place (75-80°F). Some people use a seedling heat mat but in most cases that’s unnecessary. I leave mine near a sunny window. I usually put a thermometer in the same place to make sure it’s not too hot or cold (or just check the plate with your hands)
Here are those seedlings about 2 days later. Be extra careful when removing the paper towels. Don’t let the seeds roll around or you won’t know which is which! This is when you’ll be glad you used cheap paper towels, as they are much easier to peel off without disturbing your seedlings.
You can see some of the seeds sprouted, but some of them haven’t yet. That’s totally normal! Each seed is different. If this happens to you, you have two choices. You could plant the ones that have already sprouted and let the other ones stay in the paper towels until they germinate. Or you could just put all the seeds in Rapid Rooters now, and hope for the best as far as the slow-sprouting ones. It’s up to you. Letting the unsprouted seeds stay in the paper towels longer improves the germination rate in my experience, but it’s simpler (easier) to move them all at once.
3.) Place Germinated Seed in a Rapid Rooter
Now it’s time to get your Rapid Rooters! Alternatively, you could place your sprouted seeds directly in the final growing medium (coco or soil). I think these help them get started, but I’ve grown many successful plants by just putting the germinated seed directly in its final home.
The Rapid Rooter should be cut open lengthwise. I use big scissors but you could also use a knife.
Gently place the germinated seed inside, root down. Place the seed close to the surface so it doesn’t have far to go.
If you have a root that is curved or bent, don’t try to straighten it out. Open the Rapid Rooter and lay the germinated seed down gently. It will naturally lay on its flattest side. When you slowly close the Rapid Rooter, the bent parts of the root will end up in the “crack” of the Rapid Rooter that you cut to split it open from the side.
Most seedling plugs will go back into place easily, and you’ll barely be able to tell it’s been opened. I love Rapid Rooters because the texture of them causes the seeds to stay in place and not “fall down” further into the hole once you’ve got the Rapid Rooter closed.
4.) Prepare Your Soil, Coco or Hydro Tub
While that’s happening, set up your soil, coco or hydroponic tub if you haven’t already. It will still be a few days until your seedlings arrive, but you want to make sure to have everything ready before the seedlings need to be planted.
If in soil or coco, water your container right after putting your sprouted seed in the Rapid Rooter. This will give it some time to dry out before you install your seedling, so your new roots will have the perfect wet-but-not-too-wet environment in a few days! Remember, seedling roots love a good mix of air and water.
You won’t be watering this thoroughly again for a while to avoid overwatering a young seedling, so by watering thoroughly now, you know there will be some amount of water throughout the whole growing medium.
5.) Water the seedling in the Rapid Rooter until you see a root out bottom, 1-2 days.
Make sure to always keep the Rapid Rooter moist but not soaking wet and give plain, pH’ed water.
Since your seed has already sprouted and been in placed into the right growing position, it’ll often pop its head out within just 12-24 hours! Sometimes you see just the leaves, but often you actually see the seedling push the shell above ground.
Don’t touch the shell! Like a butterfly coming out of a cocoon, the seedlings gain strength during the process of pushing off the shell.
If you manually remove the shell for the seedling too early, you may feel like you’re helping, but sometimes the leaves have trouble opening afterwards. This is because there’s a “film” that can get stuck on the leaves, which would typically come off with the shell but may get stuck to the leaves if the shell comes off early.
Plant leaves still usually “break free” from the film eventually but it just goes to show that sometimes the best thing you can do for your seedlings is have patience and leave them alone. Shells usually falls off naturally as the seedling grows.
That being said, if you have a seedling that’s stuck in a shell for multiple days, sometimes you may need to go in and help. But try to let the seedlings break free from the shells themselves, if possible.
Don’t use a dome on seedlings unless it’s very dry where you live. If you do use a dome, consider keeping a vent open and watching the humidity. A young seedling doesn’t require as high humidity as clones (which are what the domes are designed for), and seedlings tend to get “wet feet” and stop growing as fast in constantly wet conditions.
Water your seeding in the Rapid Rooters until you see a root coming out the bottom. Keep Rapid Rooters moist but not wet. During this time, give seedlings bright, but not too bright light. A fluorescent (CFL) bulb kept several inches away works well! I’ve left mine on the kitchen table next to a sunny window, and that’s also worked fine for me as long as it doesn’t get too hot.
You should see a root come out the bottom in just a day or two!
After you see your first root, it’s time to…
6.) Put Seedling in its New Container!
Dig a hole half the size of the Rapid Rooter, and place your seedling directly inside. You can bury the Rapid Rooter all the way, but having it stick up into the air gives the seedling roots a little extra oxygen while they’re small.
Example of cannabis seedlings growing in coco coir, about to get seedling-strength nutrient water! If these seedlings were in soil, I would be giving just plain, pH’ed water for the first few weeks.
Water immediately with 1-2 cups of water. Give 1 cup in a bigger than 3-gallon container, especially if it still feels wet from when you watered before. Give 2 cups water in a smaller container or drier medium. The reason you would give more in a smaller container (which seems sort of a paradox) is because the moist medium will dry much faster in a smaller container, while a big container will hold onto the water for longer. You’re just trying to avoid putting your seedlings in a situation where their roots stay very wet for more than a day or two, but you also want to avoid letting them ever dry out.
- Coco – water with seedling-strength nutrients, and make sure to pH your water to 5.5-6.5 right before giving it to your plants. Coco does not naturally contain any nutrients, so if you don’t give some from the beginning in the water, each plant only has what was contained in the shell and Rapid Rooter! Seedlings in coco coir grow far faster if you start them off with seedling-strength nutrients from the beginning!
- Soil – water with plain, pH’ed water at 6-7 pH, no nutrients, for the first 3 weeks or so – your plants will be able to live off the nutrients in the soil, and adding extra might be overload and nutrient burn them.
- Hydro – install into your system by putting the Rapid Rooter into your net pot. Learn more about growing hydro. Typically you either water your plants every day until the roots reach the reservoir, or you have a drip feed which waters the plants for you.
How to Water Seedlings in the Beginning
- Don’t water plants until soil or coco is dry up to first knuckle. You want to water your plants every 2-3 days if possible.
- If the growing medium feels dry again within 1 day, give double the amount of water the next time. Otherwise give the same amount again.
- Repeat, until you can give enough water to at least a little runoff, and have it dry in a few days.
- Try to maintain a schedule with you watering your plants every 2-3 days.
- If your growing medium takes longer than 3 days for the top inch to dry, it means the soil is staying wet too long, and plant roots aren’t getting enough oxygen. It also puts your plants at risk of getting fungus gnats. Try giving less water at a time until plant is drinking more. It’s possible you may have a problem with drainage in your medium (what is good soil?) or for some reason water is having a hard time coming out the bottom of the container, for example if there no drainage holes. You also should always make sure to remove runoff water instead of letting the plant sit in it.
- If the medium is drying in less than 2 days, it means you need to give more water to the plant at a time, or possibly transplant to a bigger container if the plant has outgrown its old one.
- Complete gu >Learn How to Transplant Your Cannabis Seedling into a Bigger Pot
Autopsy: Why Aren’t My Marijuana Seeds Sprouting?
If your seeds still aren’t sprouting and growing properly, consider the following factors.
If there’s no germination at all…
- Temperature may be too hot or cold – aim for 75-80°F
- Too wet – seeds and seedling roots should always be moist, but should not be soaking wet
- Too dry – if a root dries out the seedling can die!
- Bad seeds – It might not be you, it could be the seeds themselves! Even if you purchase from a good breeder, sometimes you still get duds. How can I tell if seeds are viable?
If seeds sprout, but then stop growing…
- Temperature is too hot or cold – aim for 73-78°F
- Too wet – new seedlings don’t like “wet feet” so make sure your Rap >Unfortunately sometimes you will never know why certain seeds just don’t thrive! It’s all part of nature ?
Cannabis Light Schedules: Vegetative Stage vs Flowering Stage
Cannabis plants keep getting bigger and bigger with long days, and start making buds when you give them long nights.
Cannabis is a “photoperiod” plant, which means the amount of light received each day decides when the plant starts flowering or making buds. This article explains how much light a day your photoperiod cannabis plants need to grow and start budding, so you get to a happy harvest day. What about auto-flowering strains?
Vegetative – Seedling or clone leads to Vegetative Stage –
Give 18-24 hours of light a day
Flowering – Flowering (Budding) Stage leads to Harvest –
Give 12 hours light & 12 hours dark each day
Seedling or Clone
While not technically a “stage,” all grows start with cannabis seeds or clones.
Plant your seeds or clones when you’re ready to start growing! What are clones? https://www.growweedeasy.com/cloning
Some outdoor growers start their plants indoors to give them a headstart before putting plants outside.
If you’re growing cannabis outdoors with seeds, you should wait until a few weeks after the spring equinox to put your seeds outside. In the northern hemisphere this means seeds go outside in-or-after April, In the southern hemisphere seeds go outside in-or-after October.
For growers starting with cannabis clones, generally you should wait a few weeks longer than with seeds. Cannabis clones are more prone to flowering early outdoors than seeds, so you might want to put your clones out in late Spring or early Summer. (What are clones?)
If you live in a cold climate, you must also wait until after the last frost before putting your plants outside. Freezing temps will kill cannabis plants. Strain choice is very important. Some strains flower earlier than others. For outdoor growers in cold climates, it’s important to make sure you grow a strain that is matched up with your local weather, so that plants are ready for harvest before temperatures drop.
The vegetative stage is one of the most important parts of the life of your cannabis plant.
The vegetative stage is the growing stage of the plant. When in veg, cannabis plants grow bigger and taller, growing only stems and leaves. As a grower, you are able to control the size and shape of your plants in the vegetative stage using simple training methods.
During the entire vegetative stage the plant does not produce buds at all. It only grows stems and leaves. During the vegetative stage plants tend to grow very fast, especially when conditions are right.
What keeps cannabis in the vegetative stage?
Short nights keep cannabis plants in the vegetative stage. You can keep a cannabis plant in the vegetative stage for basically forever as long as the plant continues to get short nights (shorter than 1s-12 hours, depending on the strain).
Cannabis will stay in the vegetative stage as long as the plant gets short nights (less than 11-12 hours of darkness each day)
Whether you’re growing indoors or outdoors, you must make sure your cannabis plants get at least 13 hours of light each day to stay in the vegetative stage. If your plant gets a few long nights, it may start budding before you want.
The plant can receive as much as 24 hours of light a day while in the vegetative stage. Many indoor growers provide 18-24 hours of light a day (known as 18-6 or 24-0 light schedules) during the vegetative stage to encourage faster vegetative growth.
Don’t want to worry about light schedules? For growers that don’t want to pay attention to light schedules, there are auto-flowering strains of cannabis, which will automatically go through their whole life in about 3 months no matter what light schedule is provided. For some growers, an auto-flowering strain may be more simple than a traditional (photoperiod) strain.
Most indoor growers provide 18-24 hours of light a day (known as 18-6 or 24-0 light schedules). Giving your cannabis plants more hours of light each day in the flowering stage will encourage faster growth.
Lingo: When a grower provides 18 hours of light a day and 6 hours of darkness, this is commonly known as the 18/6 light schedule. For 24 hours a day, this is referred to as the 24-0 light schedule.
As long as your plant is getting plenty of light a day, your plant will automatically stay in the vegetative stage from late spring until late summer. Every strain is a bit different.
Cannabis starts budding when plants get at least 12 hours of uninterrupted darkness each night. After plants start budding, they must continue to get long dark nights until harvest or they may revert back to the vegetative stage.
Indoors most growers put their plants on a 12-12 schedule to initiate flowering. Outdoors the plant will naturally start budding in late summer when nights are growing longer and longer as winter approaches. Just make sure plants aren’t exposed to light during their dark period!
What is 12-12 Lighting?
The indoor grower will need to artificially induce flowering/budding in plants by changing the light schedule so the plant receives only 12 hours of light a day, and 12 hours of uninterrupted darkness.
Once the plant is changed over to the flowering (12/12) light schedule, there is generally another 6 weeks-5 months (average 2.5 months) before the plant’s buds are ready for harvest.
Outdoor growers wait until their cannabis plants start naturally flowering on their own, usually after mid-summer when days start getting shorter than 12 hours.
It’s important to make sure plants aren’t exposed to light at night during their dark period, even street lights or spotlights, as this can prevent cannabis plants from flowering properly.
Growing Indoors? Not Sure When To Switch To Flowering?
So indoor growers have a choice to flower their plants whenever they want… When is the best t ime to start flowering your cannabis indoors?
The real answer is that it’s a matter of personal preference and also depends on what end result you’re looking for. There are two major considerations when choosing the right time to switch to 12/12, the age of the plant and the height of the plant:
Age: Some growers feel that a marijuana plant which has been grown from seed will not produce as many buds or have enough resin production if the plant is not given at least 60 days in the vegetative stage to mature before it’s changed over to the flowering stage. This is not true. many growers initiate flowering soon after germinating a seed in order to keep plants small and short. This is often called “12-12 from seed.” Just remember, no matter what you do, a young cannabis plant will not start flowering until it is 2-3 weeks old. Even if you put a seed on a 12-12 schedule from the beginning, it will not start properly budding for about 3 weeks. When growing with cannabis clones, age is not an issue and growers can switch directly to flowering once your clone has established roots. This is because even though a clone may be small, it’s still a ‘mature’ plant since it is made of a piece from a mature plant. Rooted clones tend to grow much faster for the first few weeks than plants grown from seed. In any case, age is not much of an issue, and you should switch your light schedule at the time that best fits your needs.
Height: A general rule is that your marijuana plant will double or triple in size during the flowering stage from the point where you first change over the light schedule to 12/12. Some plants will grow more, some will grow less, but a good rule of thumb is to change your light schedule over to flowering when your plants have reached half of their final desired height. Bending, known as “LST” or “low stress training” can be used to control colas that get too tall. Simply bend too-tall colas down and away from the center of the plant. Some growers will even slightly break or “supercrop” branches to get them to bend at a 90 degree angle. For those growing in a small space, height may be the primary concern. However, there are many techniques available to grow a short, bushy weed plant or basically train your cannabis plant to grow into any shape you want.
Here’s an example of LST to keep a plant short:
In optimal conditions if height and space is not an issue, you would probably want to vegetate your cannabis plant for 60 days or more before switching it over to flowering. This gives your plant plenty of time to grow big (so you get bigger yields), and allows new growers to dial in their grow before plants enter the sensitive flowering stage. In the vegetative stage, it is easy to recover from problems, but problems are a lot more serious in the flowering stage, where mistakes can dramatically hurt your final yields.
Giving cannabis plants more time in the vegetative stage, and taking time to train them to fit your space, will give you the best final yields. However, if space is tight, then it’s better to switch when the plant is half the final desired height, or even to just attempt to flower your cannabis plant straight from seed.
After the vegetative and flowering stage are over, it is time to harvest your plants!