Volumes have been written and wars fought over the best way to germinate cannabis seeds. :-) The paper towel method still seems very popular, but many growers find it too unreliable. After much experimentation, we settled on the Germination Kit. This is the most foolproof system we found to get your precious seeds off to a great start!
Each Germination Kit consists of ten peat moss (sphagnum) tablets and a sachet of Bacto, a highly concentrated mix of beneficial fungi and bacteria. The Bacto is simply dissolved in some water and the resulting liquid is used to moisten the peat moss pots. Now you can gently push one seed into each pot and wait for the magic to happen.
The Germination Kit has been designed especially to provide a rich and nurturing germination basis with a balanced pH of 5.3. Also check the Germination Kit website for more information, or order directly from Harvest Soon or Nirvana Shop.
Pros: Healthy seedlings, easy to use, seed husk will soften, making it easier for tap root to break through.
Cons: We honestly can't think of any! :-)
It's clear why we recommend using the Germination Kit, especially if you're still quite new at growing. However, for the sake of being inclusive, here's a brief overview of other common methods.
Soak some paper towels or cotton wool in water (some use distilled water) and gently squeeze out excess liquid. Put seeds between layers of damp paper or cotton wool and place the whole between two plates. Check back regularly, and when tap roots show, take seeds out and plant the way you normally do. Warning: the taproot develops microscopic little roots that attach themselves to the fibres of the paper. These little filaments are often torn off when the seeds are removed from the paper towel. This is one of the reasons why the Germination Kit often results in bigger plants more quickly.
Pros: Cheap, easy.
Cons: Potentially damaging to roots, hard to regulate humidity, meaning it's prone to drying out or can cause seed rot if too wet.
Planting directly in soil
Planting seeds directly in soil will work for most any type of plant, so this method is quite commonly used by cannabis growers as well. Simply plant the seed in your preferred soil type and water regularly. To prevent the seed from drying out, you can put some cling film (saran wrap) or a humidity dome over the top of the container.
Pros: Reliable, no need to transplant until seedling is strong.
Cons: Waste of soil if seeds don't sprout, can be hard to regulate humidity.
Put the seeds directly in a glass or cup of water, preferably distilled. Place the container in a warm, dark environment. Wait till the seeds split and the taproots show, then plant as normal.
Pros: Easy, good way to check if seeds are viable, seed husk will soften, making it easier for tap root to break through.
Cons: Seeds may be affected by fungi or bacteria, seeds will rot if left in water too long, not recommended for fresh seeds, which don't need soaking.
In addition to these germination techniques, there are several tricks used by growers to germ seeds.
Using a pair of nail clippers or a sharp knife, carve a tiny little nick in the seed husk, as far away from the 'eye' as possible. This may work for harder-shelled seeds especially. Be very careful not to damage the seed itself inside the coat.
Using an emery board, nail file or some fine sandpaper to lightly scour the seed's husk, thinning it enough to facilitate the taproot breaking through. Again, be very careful not to damage the seed itself - use a light hand!
Similar to the water germination above, only shorter. Soak the seeds in lukewarm water for 1-5 hours, then germinate as normally. This will soften harder shells enough for the taproot to break through. This is only really necessary with older, harder seeds. We don't recommend this method for the seeds sold through other websites fresh seeds must never be soaked. They don't need it, and you'll only run the risk of rot.