Lay one paper towel on top of a countertop, place a few seeds, and cover them with a second paper towel. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Germination itself is a crucial aspect of cannabis cultivation. The seed germination process is the foundation of every marijuana plant, and steps can be taken to boost successful popping. For example, some cultivators improve germination attempts by soaking seeds in 1% hydrogen peroxide or a compost tea for 12 hours beforehand to kill any dangerous pests.
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 your hands or tweezers to gently remove each seed from the paper towels and place them in a prepared growing medium.
The paper towel method is also a common way cultivators pop their seeds. Some even use this method with cotton pads instead of paper towels, but the necessary steps are the same.
Place the soil in a small pot and use your finger or a pencil to push a small hole in the dirt, a bit more than half an inch deep. Insert the seed into the hole and bury it with 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.
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.
Soil is an easy, more natural method with which to germinate your cannabis seeds. The soil protects the fragile roots from any interference, and soil is, after all, where a cannabis plant would grow in the wild.
Some growers use the damp paper towel method for the germination process. Sometimes, the newly-formed root of the seed can get stuck to the paper towel. The first instinct is to pull it loose carefully, but the action could potentially damage the plant. Instead, spray it with some water to encourage the root to let go of the paper towel.
The final step of the planting stage is one of the quickest ones to do. All you need to do is cover the cannabis seed with a thin layer of soil. About a couple of millimeters should do the trick. The thin layer is enough to block out the grow lights or sun while giving the seedling room to grow.
Step 4 — Cover the Seed With a Thin Layer of Soil
Try not to cover the pots with plastic or create a humidity dome over them. Air needs to pass through easily, and a buildup of humidity may damage the plant. Besides avoiding the wrong soil, make sure it is not too wet or too dry. Whenever you water the seedling, make sure it does not have the wrong pH level.
After you are done filling the pot with soil, make a small hole for the germinated cannabis seed. Since the seedling is tiny, a clean pen or pencil can make the dimple the appropriate size. Place the writing tool on top of the soil and push it down to create the dimple. The depth of a hole matters for the growth of a weed seed.
Some cannabis growers may fill the cup about halfway before planting the young seedling. Adding more can be beneficial for the root system. Continue putting soil in the pot until you reach about 1 cm below the edge of the container. You can press the growing medium down lightly, but do not compact it. When you have the amount you need, you can move to the next step.
Arguably one of the least effective methods, but it is still viable. Incredibly simple to facilitate, beginner growers may opt to germinate their seeds in a glass of water. Half-fill a glass or bowl with water that is approximately 22°C (71°F).
Probably one of the most common methods of germination. The kitchen towel method comes in several iterations. Some growers use cotton wool pads or absorbent pieces of paper. For this guide, we will be using kitchen towel as it is readily available and holds moisture relatively well.
WHAT IS AN EXPECTED GERMINATION TIME?
Your growing pots will need to be placed in a damp climate that is within the temperature range listed under our golden rules. After 4–10 days, you should see a young seedling sprout, while the roots will have begun to develop underneath the soil. The entire plant and its soil can now be transferred to a larger pot, where normal growing routines should start.
Before we jump straight into the germination methods, there are a couple of germination golden rules. For the best results, we recommend staying within these guidelines, no matter how you choose to germinate. That being said, of all the factors to consider, temperature is one of the most critical. Seeds will always seek out even the smallest amount of moisture, but they use temperature as a sign that they need to do so.
Regardless of where you get your seeds from, it is best to give them a slight (and delicate) inspection before planting. Most of the time, all seeds will germinate; however, poor-quality seeds will produce a weaker plant. Unfortunately, that is something you will not find out until well into the vegetative and flowering stages.