How to Germinate Marijuana Seeds | Different Methods Explained

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by Morgan

Last update:

August 29, 2023

How To Choose The Right Lighting For Your Marijuana Grow Room

At least 18 states have now legalized marijuana for recreational use, while 38 states and DC allow marijuana use for medicinal purposes.

Do you reside in one of these states and think of growing marijuana? You definitely will want to get the best returns from your seeds.

This article will guide you on how to germinate marijuana seeds to get the best results out of it.

In this article, you will also learn:

  • Different methods on how to grow marijuana seeds

  • How to plant germinated cannabis seeds

  • How to know viable cannabis seeds

  • What marijuana plants need for growth

  • Tips on how to germinate marijuana seeds

  • Factors to consider when choosing a marijuana strain to germinate

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a plant growing from the ground

Different Methods on How to Germinate Marijuana Seeds

There are five common germination methods. In all methods, necessary germinating seeds conditions must be present: air, moisture, and an appropriate temperature of 70- 90° F.

Germination Station

A germination station uses the idea of heating a soil-filled tray using a heating pad underneath the tray to keep the soil warm.

Germination starters function like greenhouses in that they maintain heat within the space. Place a cover on top of the soil tray to keep the warmth.

Soil trays are available for purchase at nurseries, or you can also prepare a homemade one.

Germination stations are also known as seed starters.

Jiffy Pots

You can germinate cannabis seeds in jiffy pots as the growing medium. Jiffy pots are specifically prepared for germinating cannabis seeds and are available at nurseries for purchase. The pots are round disks.

To plant your seeds in the jiffy pots, add water to the pots before planting the marijuana seed. Allow the water to soak so that the pot expands into little individual soil pots.

Place the cannabis seeds into the pots by dipping one or two cannabis plant seeds in a single pot. After 3-10days, the seeds should have sprouted. Transfer them to your preferred point of germination. It could be a container, garden, or raised bed.

round jiffi pots

Direct Planting

Direct planting involves planting your cannabis seeds directly into the soil without soaking them. Dip your cannabis seeds 0.5 inches into moistened soil. Ensure you continually check and moisten the soil until the sprout comes out.

Direct planting is beneficial because you do not have to transfer the seedling once it sprouts. Your seedlings don't suffer transplanting shock; thus, you are likely to have 100% transition.

Water Soaking

Water is a simple method that involves soaking the cannabis seeds overnight in lukewarm water. After soaking the seeds, you may plant them directly in your preferred place; it could be in a container or on the ground.

Paper Towel Method

The paper towel method is common among cannabis growers. It provides a higher transition from seeds to seedlings. So, when you use the technique, you are likely to have far more returns.

Let's take a look at how to germinate seeds using the paper towel method:

How Do You Germinate Seeds in a Paper Towel?

To germinate marijuana seeds means to initiate the growth of a marijuana plant from a cannabis seed. You need to get the cannabis seed to sprout a taproot to start. The taproot becomes the main root as the cannabis plant grows in the soil.

a person germinates seeds in a paper towel

The germination process is also known as popping.

Germinating cannabis seeds require three things: air, heat, and water. To germinate your cannabis seeds using the paper towel methods, you will need:

  • Four sheets of paper towels

  • Cannabis seeds

  • Distilled water

  • Two clean plates

Follow these five steps:

Step One

Soak the paper towels in clean water. Ensure you soak just enough that the paper towels do not have excess dripping water.

Step Two

Lay two paper towels on a plate.

Step Three

Place the cannabis seeds on the paper towels. Ensure a spacing of about an inch from each of the seeds. 

Step Four

Place the other two soaked paper towels over the seeds to cover, then cover the soaked seeds by placing the second plate over the covered seeds. The covering protects the seeds and also provides a dark space.

Step Five

Ensure there are temperatures of about 70-90°F in the area you place the seeds. It's now time to wait for the seeds to sprout.

Different seeds will take various times to sprout. It will take 3-10 days for most seeds to germinate. If it goes beyond two weeks, the seeds will probably not sprout.

Check the paper towels at least daily to ensure the towels are saturated with water during the period. If they lose their moisture, you may apply more water to ensure the seeds are soaked.

Upon successful germination, a seed will split, and a single sprout will appear.

Germinated Cannabis Seeds

How Do I Plant Germinated Cannabis Seeds?

You germinate seeds to plant them, or someone else does. Upon successful germination, it's time to transplant the germinated seeds. So, how do you go about it?

Follow these steps to transfer your seed that is germinated into its growing medium; it could be a garden, raised bed, pot, container, etc.:

  • Fill a four-inch or one-gallon container or pot with loose, airy potting soil.
  • Add water to the soil before you plant the seed. Ensure that the water is just enough-wet but not drenching.
  • Make a hole in the soil using a pencil or pen. Ensure the hole's depth is twice the width of the seed.
  • Place the germinated seed in the hole using a pair of tweezers. The taproot should be facing down.
  • Lightly cover the seed with soil.

Cannabis seeds require a constant watch to ensure everything goes well. Check the temperature and moisture throughout. If the humidity is disappearing, use a spray bottle to water it. A spray bottle is efficient in that it avoids over-watering, which can kill the delicate sprout through suffocation.

The cannabis seeds should germinate into young plants within ten days. If two weeks surpass without a sprout, it could be that germination has failed.

Different seeds grow at different rates; some are fast while others are slow in growth. When buying seeds, you can select your preferred species.

How Do You Know if A Cannabis Seed Is Viable?

There are dozens of cannabis strains to choose from, and different strains have varying growth rates and market demands. You can choose between Cannabis Sativa or Cannabis Indica.

Viable cannabis seeds tend to be dark in color and have black, gray, or brown shades. A cannabis seed with tiger stripes is also a great pick.

You can also tell that a cannabis seed is viable if it can withstand some force when you pinch it; it is unlikely that it is viable.

If you want to get the best cannabis plants, get feminized seeds. Typically, female pot plants yield more potent buds when the plant matures.

Also, feminized cannabis seeds have higher chances of providing more female plants than regular plants.

When checking the viability of cannabis seeds, put on gloves; cannabis seeds are very delicate and sensitive.

Germinated Cannabis Seed

What Does a Marijuana Plant Need for Growth?

Whichever method you use to germinate marijuana seeds, the following conditions are necessary for cannabis plant growth. Keep reading!


Marijuana needs water to survive. Depending on where you grow it, it will require different amounts of water at other times. For example, when germinating, add just enough of it to avoid drenching, which can kill the seedling.


Whether you are germinating marijuana indoors or outdoors, it needs adequate airflow. For outdoor germination, airflow may occur naturally. For indoor growth, you simulate the airflow using fans. 

Temperature and Humidity

Cannabis requires an optimum temperature of 55-90°F to do well. It also needs a relative humidity of 50-70%. 


Marijuana plants need certain nutrients to thrive, such as nitrogen, calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, and Potassium.


Marijuana seeds require grow light to flower when it starts budding. If you germinate marijuana outdoors, the light will automatically reduce as fall turns in. If you are growing indoors, you can control light by regulating artificial light from 18 to 12 hours a day.

a person holding a plant in her hands

Helpful Tips Before You Start Germinating Cannabis Seeds

In addition to fulfilling the above germination conditions, the following tips will help in germinating weed seeds:


To ensure your marijuana seeds are in the right form, put them in the fridge and take them out at the germination time.

Select Viable Seeds

Soaking seeds before germinating them may help you select viable seeds. If you plant seeds that are not viable, they may not sprout, and you will end up wasting time.

The viable seed will sink after 12 hours of soaking. Sinking means that the seed is good for germination.

If, after 12 hours of soaking, a seed does not sink, touch it; if it sinks, the seed is viable, but if it doesn't, it means that the seed is not suitable for germination and is unlikely to sprout.

Get the Right Tools

You need to have appropriate tools to help in nurturing the seeds. For example, when the soil or the paper towel starts losing moisture, you need a water sprayer to add water. Germinating seeds are delicate -so you need to water them to avoid causing damage to them gently.

Keep Track of the Dates

It would be best to track germination dates from the moment you soak your seeds. Dates will help you monitor your seeds' progress at specific points and know if you are on the right track.

Keeping track of time will ensure you don't forget about your project. If you fail, the seeds may lack the necessary conditions for good growth.

Keeping track of dates may also help you to know when your germination has failed; hence you can take action.

Germinated Marijuana Seeds

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Marijuana Strain to Germinate

There are dozens of marijuana strains to choose from. When you want to germinate Cannabis, you have expectations of quantity and quality from the seeds you grow. A single cannabis plant can produce about a pound or a half-pound of dried buds. The longer you grow the plant, the more it will yield at harvest time. 

So, when germinating weed seeds, there are several things you need to consider so that you get a strain that fits your taste and preference. 

Here are some of the factors:

The Difficulty of Growing

Different strains have varied needs during germination. Some are more susceptible to infections than others. Therefore they require more attention.

Some other strains may need particular nutrients during growth, while others can only flourish in certain environmental conditions.

So when choosing a strain, ensure that you understand and have the necessary tools and experience to handle it.

Length of Growth

How soon do you want your yield? Some seeds germinate slowly, while others have rapid growth. Different strains will also take various times to mature.

Autoflowering cannabis seeds take a short time to mature. So, if you want a strain with a quick turnaround time, choose a strain that will flower in 8-9 weeks instead of 12.

Garden Space

The amount of space you have may determine the strain you grow. Indicas are suitable for limited spaces because they grow short and bushy.

If you plan to grow a lot of marijuana, you will need adequate space to avoid rampant infections due to short spacing.

Germination Environment

Some weed strains thrive outdoors. Other strains will do well in a climate-controlled environment, such as indoors. Before choosing a strain, determine whether it will succeed in your germination method. Strains that grow short and stout may be suitable for indoor germination, unlike strains that grow huge.

An excellent way to determine which strain does well in your locality is by checking what other marijuana growers in your area are germinating.


Some clones or seeds can not cross from one state to another because of legal issues. So you may want a particular strain, but it may be unavailable in your state. Investigate the availability of strains in your state before you move to choose certain strains.

germinated seeds

The Bottom Line

Now you understand how to germinate marijuana seeds using various methods. When you decide to plant marijuana, this information will be helpful. Choose a method that suits you and follow the tips on ensuring your plants thrive. Don't forget to buy powerful seeds that suit your tastes and preferences.

Frequently Asked Questions

How should I plant a germinated seed? Sprout up or down?

Once a seed has germinated, plant it with the taproot pointing down. The taproot will grow upwards towards the light. When you plant the seed pointing downwards, it is easy to grow.

How humid should the soil be after planting the germinated seed?

Keep the soil humid after planting the seed. Avoid drenching the soil because it may suffocate the plant to death because of lack of oxygen. Also, the soil should not be dry because the seed needs water to germinate, or it will die.

Do I need growing lights to germinate a marijuana seed?

You do NOT need growing lights to germinate a marijuana seed because the germination process does not require light. A marijuana plant only requires light after it has sprouted or popped out.

What should I do if a Cannabis seed shell is still stuck on the seedling after germination?

If a seed shell is still stuck on the sprouted seed, gently spray it with water so that the cover softens. Allow the cover some time to soften, and it will fall off. If it still does not fall off, you can remove it gently using sterilized tweezers. 

What is the right time to germinate marijuana outdoors?

The start of Spring is the best time to germinate marijuana seeds in outdoor germination. The plants will grow through Spring and Summer, then flower towards Autumn because they are annual plants.

What is the right time to germinate marijuana outdoors?

In indoor germination, you can germinate marijuana seeds any time of the year because you can control the environment within which you grow the seeds.

How much time does it take a marijuana seed to germinate?

A marijuana seed takes between 12 and 72 hours to about ten days to sprout under favorable conditions. If, after two weeks from the time of planting, the seed has not grown.

🌿  Join my "growing" community 
of 5000+ happy
cannabis farmers! 👩‍🌾

Receive my weekly articles in marijuana growing,
from seeds to smoke! 
— Morgan, 420GreenThumb 🌱

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About the author 


I discovered the benefits of Cannabis at a young age in 2002, with years of trial and error, my knowledge grew just like my plants. As my love for cannabis unfolded I began to teach and learn, trying to gain as much information and practical growing experience.

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