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old marijuana seeds

6. Last ditch effort – sanding

How to successfully germinate old cannabis seeds

Weed seeds are a hardy bunch, they can last for up to ten years if they are stored properly. Many growers both experienced and otherwise will hold onto seeds that were taken from marijuana strains that they enjoyed in the past. Those genetics will stay safely preserved for many years while encased in a protective shell, but sometimes time passes, they got misplaced, or simply forgotten about, and dug up some time later only for the person to assume they aren’t any good and throw them out. The thing is, that even if you are having difficulty germinating old seeds, there are several things you can do to achieve a higher success rate and breathe new life into cannabis seeds that might just need a little bit of extra love and care to get started.

1. Water – soil free method

If you want to revive your old marijuana strains than you will need to start with a massive dose of hydration. This can happen one of several ways, but the simplest and most common is a soaking in a glass of water to soften the shell and make it easier for the sprout to escape.

  1. Drop the weed seeds into a cup of lukewarm water that is ideally 21 degrees Celsius for 24 hours. Watch out for early openers, and if you see any split before the 24-hour mark, remove them immediately to prevent drowning.
  2. After 24 hours, remove the cannabis seeds, and place them on a moistened paper towel.
  3. Fold the paper towel in half, and place it into a Ziplock baggie in a warm room

2. Fulvic Acid – soil starting method

Not everyone feels comfortable with starting their precious cannabis seeds in water, and for them, there are other options like fulvic acid that can be added after the seed is planted directly into the soil.

  1. Plant the seed approximately 1 inch deep.
  2. Combine 1 liter of water with 10 milliliters of fulvic acid.
  3. Use the mixture to water the soil that the weed seeds are planted in.

3. Carbonated water – soil starting method

Another soil germinating option that works great with aged cannabis seeds is carbonated water.

  1. Plant the seeds spaces at least 1 foot apart and one inch deep.
  2. Combine 1 cup of carbonated water with 1 liter of regular water.
  3. Moisten the soil that surrounds the weed seeds that have been planted.

4. Germination enhancer – soil starting method

There are specially designed germination enhancers that are edible plant safe and can be used for marijuana strains, and each one will require a different amount of preparation and application. For the best success, it is always recommended that you invest in a cannabis specific product to avoid unnecessary toxins or other complications.

5. Storage

The most important part of having weed seeds that still sprout nearly ten years later is mainly in how they are stored. If you are just coming across some old cannabis seeds now, then this advice isn’t overly helpful, but if you store them in a sealed, dry, cool space, they can protect the genetics of your favorite marijuana strains for almost an entire decade. Giving you plenty of time to decide when you’d like to grow them.

6. Last ditch effort – sanding

If all else fails, and you have nothing to lose anyway, then there is the risky option of sanding away at the shell to thin it. This is often enough to provide a small boost for sprouts to escape but is rarely recommended as it can damage the integrity of the entire seed if done wrong. If you do decide to try it, make sure that you don’t remove any more than the surface colors before using one the moisture techniques above.

Old marijuana seeds
The term ‘bad seeds’ usually refers to any type of seed that has a significantly higher likelihood of causing problems in a grow. I’ll cover the most common reasons for bad seeds in this tutorial!

Are These Cannabis Seeds Good?

Bad Seeds = Confidence Killer

Growing with bad marijuana seeds is particularly harsh on growers of all levels.

This is mostly because it’s tough to pinpoint when the seed itself is the actual problem. Most growers will blame themselves for a problem that shows up in their grow long before they assume it’s the seeds.

The term ‘bad seeds’ usually refers to any type of seed that has a significantly higher likelihood of causing problems in a grow. I’ll cover the most common reasons for bad seeds in this tutorial!

These cannabis seeds were germinated between two wet pieces of paper towel!

Beat-up Seeds

These are pot seeds you might get from a friend, or maybe you have them stashed somewhere and forgot how you got them. In either case, if the shell of the seed looks beat-up, it may not germinate as well or quickly as seeds that were stored in good conditions.

Old Seeds

Seeds are a little nugget of genetic material than can hopefully grow into a plant. And like all other genetic material, it doesn’t last forever! Although seeds can be viable for quite years and years after they’re first produced, the chances of them successfully germinating goes down over time (and old seeds also tend to take a lot longer to germinate than fresh ones). The resulting seedlings are also more likely to be slow growing. But sometimes they sprout like they were born yesterday!

Check out the picture below. We sprouted all the plants at the same time. The tub on the right has seeds that were planted within a week of receiving them in the mail. The tub on the left has a very popular strain with award-winning genetics… but the seeds were more than 6 years old from when we first bought them. Even though they were all put into the tank at the same time and the new seeds grew like crazy, the seeds on the left got outpaced by algae – only one sprouted and though its roots keep growing and growing the actual never got any bigger than two round leaves even after a month!

Pale or Flimsy Seeds

When I first started growing I was told that good cannabis seeds needed to be very hard with dark tiger striping. If you could crush it between your fingers, it was a bad seed, or so I was told. This has not been my experience at all!

Did you know that the “stripes” on cannabis seeds are actually part of a protective coating? The “pale” seeds in this photo are actually just regular seeds with the coating rubbed off!

Over the years, some of my very best plants came from flimsy, light brown seeds that very likely would have been easy to crush between my fingers.

So I’m a big believer in the fact that if you put the seed in the ground and a fast-growing healthy seedling comes out of it, it was a viable seed! Don’t toss a seed you are really interested in just because it’s a little pale; give it a chance (I’m talking more about tan seeds, it’s very unlikely a yellow seed will sprout)!

Note: Although the hardiness of the seed was likely important in the wild, cannabis growers have been breeding plants for generations to make good buds, not seeds! We growers strive to provide an ideal germination environment that lets almost any seed germinate successfully. As a result, we haven’t been breeding for seed hardness. Just like a teacup poodle hasn’t been bred to be strong, cannabis seeds haven’t been bred to be strong. They have other qualities we love ?

Bag Seeds

Bag seeds you randomly find in your buds aren’t supposed to be there, so that means that the genetics are a toss-up. Even if the seeds started with good parents, there’s no telling how high or low the quality will be. Unfortunately, the only way to find out is to grow it… Some growers win the genetic lottery, but many others lose out.

If you talk to breeders, you’ll learn that when you breed two “star” strains together you don’t always get what you’d expect. It seems like every one of the seedlings (or at least most of them) should be capture the best qualities of both their parents.

However, that’s not how genetics works most of the time. Without intensive breeding and backcrossing, when you mix two random plants you often end up with only a fraction of the seedlings capturing the best of both parents.

Bag seeds are a wildcard! You never know what you’ll end up with!

So depending on how the seed was originally made, bagseed often has a lot of variety. Even if the buds you got were an incredible quality, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the seeds will produce buds like that. If you’ve ever gotten involved with breeding or growing other types of specialized plants like roses, hops or even apples, you’ll know that seeds rarely breed “true” to the parents, and cannabis isn’t any different.

That being said, sometimes bagseed is all you have, and lots of growers get lucky!

Hermaphrodite or Male Plants

If a cannabis seed was produced with a male doing the pollinating, it means that about half of the resulting seeds will end up being male (which you don’t want, because only female flowers turn into bud). In that case, you want to determine the gender of your young plants as soon as you can so you can toss all the male ones before they start making pollen sacs.

If growing with seeds that were produced without a male plant around, the seeds sometimes end up being hermaphrodites, which means they grow both male pollen sacs and female flowers (again, something you don’t want).

One of the best ways to ensure all your plants end up being female is to start with feminized cannabis seeds from a trustworthy breeder.

Sometimes It’s Random!

Even if you’re starting with the best, most fresh seed stock, occasionally you’ll get an individual seed or plant that just doesn’t grow as well or quickly as the others, or maybe you’ll get a super awesome seedlings that just starts kicking butts and taking names from its first moment.

Natural variation is totally normal! It’s always a good idea to sprout at least a few more seeds than you need in case you happen to run into a runt, or some other expected problem! If all your plants are healthy and growing fast except one, you can blame the seed!