Have you ever considered the miracle of a germinating seed? Everything the emerging plant needs to get a good start is stored in the seed coat. Seeds are amazing. Although they might appear to be tiny lifeless objects, seeds are powerful living things just waiting for the right conditions to do their thing!
Each seed contains exactly what it needs and is designed specifically for the job it must do. All seeds have the same mission. To germinate and grow into a plant that will produce more seeds. In the case of cannabis plants, please purchase feminized seeds until you feel confident about identifying males and females, (see Blog 3). Male plants can fertilize your females leaving you with some, still good, but seedy weed. When you are ready, I will teach you how to make your own seeds, so you can save money, and address your individual environment.
It is important for mindful medicine growers to understand the science of seed germination so they can maximize yields while efficiently using resources, cannabis seeds can be very pricey, so let’s get it right!
So, what exactly is germination? And how does it work? Let’s explore these questions and others.
What is germination?
In simple terms, it is the process of a seed developing into a plant. Germination occurs below ground, before the stem and leaves appear above the soil.
How does germination work?
To understand the process, you’ll need to know the main parts of a seed and their function.
All fully developed seeds contain three basic parts, the embryo, endosperm and seed coat. The embryo is the part of the seed that develops into a plant. It contains the embryonic root (radical), embryonic stem (epicotyl and hypocotyl), and one or two seed leaves (cotyledons).
The endosperm contains the starch or stored energy for the developing embryo. The endosperm is the largest part of the seed and packed around the embryo. The seed coat is the outer layer that protects the seed’s internal structures.
The first stage of germination, called imbibition, occurs when the seed is exposed to water. The seed absorbs water though its seed coat. As this happens, the seed coat softens.
Next, water triggers the seed to begin converting starch to sugar. This provides energy for the embryo during germination.
More water is then absorbed and the seed’s cells start to elongate and divide. The radicle, or primary root, is usually the first part of embryo to break through the seed coat. It grows downwards to anchor the seed in place and absorb water and nutrients from the soil.
Next, the shoot and seed leaves emerge from the seed coat. Soon the shoot will emerge from the soil. The seed will diminish as the plant’s roots, stems, and leaves develop.
What do seeds need to germinate?
All seeds need water, oxygen, and the proper temperature to germinate. The soil temperature must be warm enough so seeds can germinate, but not so hot as to damage the seed. Cold soil temperatures can cause seeds to remain dormant, increasing their vulnerability to diseases and insect damage.
The temperature for germinating cannabis seeds is best at 78° F (25° C) because both low and high temperature impairs germination and growth, I use a seed mat, which keeps the soil at a stable temperature, under my germinating seeds for optimal soil temp. Find where to buy seed mats under resources on the header of the website.
Water triggers germination to start and is needed throughout the germination process. Soil should be moist, but not saturated with water.
Oxygen is found in the air we breathe, and in soil too! Oxygen is usually on the list of things plants need to grow. However, it’s not always included when discussing germination. When a seed is exposed to the proper conditions, water and oxygen are absorbed through the seed coat and cause the embryo cells to enlarge. If there is not enough oxygen present, germination may not occur. The most common reason for a lack of oxygen is too much water in the soil due to over-watering or flooding.
Why does planting depth matter?
Although it may be tempting to plant seeds shallow so they emerge sooner, it is important to follow the recommended planting depth. Planting too shallow can result in insufficient soil moisture for germination or a weak root system. Planting seeds too deeply causes them to use all of their stored energy before reaching the soil surface. Ideal planting depth for cannabis seeds is 1/2 inch.
Where do I get cannabis seeds?
For first time growers you might want to go to your local dispensary to find seeds and clones or there are many seed companies on the internet.
I’ve had success with seeds from I Love Growing Marijuana (ILGM-great for first time growers), Sensi Seeds, CBD Crew, Medicine Man, etc. Before you buy seeds, first figure out which strains you’d like to grow -identify what issues you are trying to address with your plants and do an internet search to see what strains are recommended for your issue. As we proceed with our meetings we will give you information on what we’ve tried and experimented with.
** Know the laws about buying cannabis seeds and clones in your state. **
Before buying cannabis seeds or cuttings, research the country, state, province, and local laws regarding buying, selling, possessing, and transporting seeds or cuttings across borders. Rules and regulations vary considerably:
In the U.S., in some states in which cannabis is legal, you can purchase seeds from some dispensaries or other locations to grow plants as long as you keep them in the state. Other states may bar selling to non-licensed growers. Shipping or transporting seeds across state or international borders is illegal, although a few reputable online seed stores ship to individuals with success.
How to germinate cannabis seeds
The best germination method depends on the cultivator’s choice. Here are some of the most common ways to pop your cannabis seeds.
How to germinate seeds in soil
Soil is an easy, more natural method with which to germinate your cannabis seeds, and my preferred method. The soil protects the fragile roots from any interference, and soil is, after all, where a cannabis plant would grow in the wild.
- First, make sure you use the correct type of soil, either gently fertilized potting soil, such as your homemade compost added to bag soil, or a seed starter with a pH level of approximately six (6). The soil contains the right acidity and enough nutrients to strengthen your young cannabis plants for the first two weeks. Be careful not to add more nutrients, or you risk overfeeding and killing your seeds.
- Place the soil in a small pot or grow pack and use a pencil to push a small hole in the dirt, a bit more than half an inch deep. Insert the seed into the hole with a tweezer and bury it with soil by sprinkling the seed with more soil. From this point on, don’t touch your seed. The young plant is fragile and knows how to position itself in the soil bed.
- Gently water the soil with a spray bottle and situate your pots under a fluorescent lamp, or bright indirect light. Keep seeds away from the windowsill, as the temperature is too volatile for germination. In general, you’ll want to keep the temperature in the range of 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. I highly recommend a seed mat as described above.
- Monitor your soil every day and keep it moist. Within four to seven days, you should see tiny stems sprouting from the soil.
- When the seedling stems reach two to four inches in height, it’s time to transplant your cannabis into larger pots with more room for roots to spread down and out. After you’ve done this, you’ve successfully germinated your cannabis seeds into proper, young plants.
How to germinate seeds in water
You can also germinate your seeds by placing them in water. It’s slightly faster than the soil method, but you need to adjust your environmental factors accordingly. Remember, successfully germinating seeds requires a perfect balance of ideal growing conditions. When germinating in water, seeds need only 24-48 hours to pop their stems, though growers can keep them soaking for up to a week as needed. Water germination is faster because the seed gets all the moisture it needs immediately, and the shell softens and cracks more easily after soaking.
To employ water germination, fill a glass with tap water and let it sit out overnight to off-gas any chlorine that may be present, and it reaches room temperature or around 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Add two to three plant seeds per cup and allow them to sit, watching for any changes. Change the water to fresh off-gassed tap water every two days, making sure it stays at room temperature.
The seeds should start sprouting in about two days, though older seeds can take up to a week to sprout. You can remove them from the water and place them in the soil at any point once they’ve sprouted. Once the roots are about five millimeters long, they need to be planted.
The downside of water germination is that once they’ve popped, you’ll need to maneuver them into their growing medium manually. This is a delicate process, as germinating seeds are extra fragile, use a tweezer very gently for maximum success, any harm risks the development of your plants. Make sure to place the seed roots down in the soil when you transfer to a pot.
How to germinate seeds using paper towels
The paper towel method is also a common way growers pop their seeds. Some even use this method with cotton pads instead of paper towels, but the necessary steps are the same. To germinate seeds this way, lay one paper towel on top of a countertop, place a few seeds, and cover them with a second paper towel.
Use a spray bottle to moisten the paper towels and then store the cushioned seeds between two plates, under a face-down bowl, or gently place them in a plastic bag. Maintain a temperature of about 72 degrees Fahrenheit, keeping the paper towel wrapped seeds in the dark and away from a windowsill. In two to five days, the seeds will pop inside the paper towel sandwich and emit tiny roots, ready to plant when they reach about five millimeters in length.
The paper towel method also has its risk, as the fragile seedlings can be damaged during the potting process. The tiny roots can also get tangled in the paper towels, so make sure to move the seeds to potting soil before roots grow too long. Use tweezers to gently remove each seed from the paper towels and place them in a prepared growing medium.
How do you germinate seeds indoors?
Whether you’re planning an indoor cultivation or outdoor grow, it’s best to germinate your seeds indoors. It’s easier to maintain proper temperature, light exposure, and moisture inside, and you can protect your seeds from the elements. Indoor germination, whether using soil or paper towels, will ensure your cannabis seeds have the best chance for survival.
Do you need to germinate seeds before planting?
While many plants can be germinated in the ground, cannabis seeds are fragile and expensive, you should germinate them before planting. Once your seeds have sprouted roots, they should be planted in soil. Make sure not to touch the root, caring for and navigating the seedling so that the roots face downward. Plant the seed about one inch deep in your growing medium, cover lightly, and allow for about a week for the seed to emerge from the soil. If the seed hasn’t poked through by day ten, it likely didn’t survive.
It’s Possible!!! Proper care and Good seeds can go from this-
to this in a matter of months. Wow! Look at all that mindful medicine!