How to Germinate Cannabis Seeds: 3 Strategies for Growing Success

Mack Bush
August 12, 2023

Germinating cannabis seeds and cultivating cannabis can be a lucrative and exciting opportunity. The cannabis cultivation market is expected to reach 475.9 billion by the end of 2023, so now is a great time to start your new business.

The first step to growing cannabis is germinating cannabis seeds. When a seed germinates, the cannabis plant sprouts out of its protective shell and begins to grow. An embryo develops, and eventually, the first root (called a radicle) will break out of the seed, followed by the plant’s stem.

Germinating cannabis seeds isn’t hard, but it’s important that you do it right to keep your sprouts healthy and make the most money from your crop. Here’s a guide on how to germinate cannabis seeds in three different ways and set your plants up for success.

Understanding Cannabis Seeds

The first step to growing your own cannabis is to purchase high-quality cannabis seeds. Most commercial cultivators buy their seeds from a reputable online seed bank. It’s important to note that cannabis seeds can be expensive, so you want to ensure that you get the best ones possible.

In general, you can’t use the seed’s size or shape as an indication of quality. They can vary greatly in appearance based on the strain of cannabis and many other factors. Don’t count a seed out just because it looks a little different when you receive it.

Before you germinate cannabis seeds, you want to make sure that they’re mature. Cannabis seeds can vary in color from almost black to very light gray. Some have stripes. You should be able to firmly press each seed between your fingers without damaging it. 

Immature cannabis seeds are usually green. They have a soft outer shell that breaks when pressure is applied. You should avoid buying seeds that are immature, as they’re much less likely to germinate.

Cannabis seeds germinating as water falls on to them.

Types of Cannabis Seeds

Cannabis plants can be sorted into two main groups: male and female. Male plants produce pollen, while female plants produce flowers. Female cannabis plants produce better smokable cannabis in general.

The sex of your plant will be determined largely by the cannabis seed you pick. Here are the three main types to help you decide between them.

Regular Cannabis Seeds

Regular cannabis seeds have a 50/50 chance of growing into a male vs female plant. If you plant many germinated cannabis seeds next to each other, chances are high that at least one of them will be male. This could cause your female plants to become pollinated.

When female cannabis plants are pollinated, they begin producing seeds. They devote most of their energy to making high-quality seeds instead of the dank buds that you’re probably trying to produce. For this reason, many people want to prevent their female plants from being pollinated.

Growers might want to plant regular cannabis seeds and grow male plants if they are breeding new strains or want to grow their own seeds to sell. It’s possible to separate the plants after they start to grow to prevent accidental pollination, but one mistake can greatly reduce the yield of your cannabis plants.

Feminized Cannabis Seeds

Feminized cannabis seeds have a 99.9% chance of producing a female cannabis plant. Many people who grow their own cannabis only plant female seeds, especially if they only have a few plants. 

When you germinate only feminized cannabis seeds, you’ll get the largest crop possible with the most psychoactive plant matter. This is the ideal situation for most amateur or recreational growers.

Auto-Flowering Cannabis Seeds

Auto-flowering cannabis seeds allow the plants to flower based on time and age instead of light exposure. This means that they can grow in less ideal conditions than regular cannabis seeds. Plants grown from these seeds are smaller, making them easier to grow in a compact indoor space or small yard. They also flower more quickly.

Cannabis Seed Storage

If you’re not ready to germinate cannabis seeds right away when you receive them, you need to store them properly. Seeds are living organisms that are in a dormant phase, and if they’re not cared for properly, they can die.

Store your cannabis seeds in a cool, dark, and dry place. A dark cupboard or drawer should work for short-term storage. It’s usually best to keep your seeds in their original packaging. If you can’t, keep them safe in an airtight container.

If you want to store seeds long-term, put them in your refrigerator inside an airtight container. Add silica gel to eliminate moisture. They’ll still be fresh when you’re ready to germinate the cannabis seeds.

Cannabis Germination Methods

There are three main ways to germinate cannabis seeds:

  • Paper Towel Method
  • Direct Planting
  • Pre-Soaking

Let’s dive into the process and materials required for each germination method. 

Paper Towel Method

This is the most well-known method for germinating cannabis seeds. We recommend it to beginners to help you visualize the germination process.


  • Cannabis seeds
  • Tupperware container
  • Two pieces of damp paper towel (not wet)
  • Spray bottle


  1. Place one sheet of damp paper towel inside a tupperware container.
  2. Distribute your seeds on the paper towel a few inches apart.
  3. Put the second piece of damp paper towel over the top.
  4. Keep the container in a dark, warm, and humid place at all times.
  5. Open the container every few hours and spray with warm water until the seeds open.
  6. When the white root tips are about 2-3 mm long, move the seeds to a pot or their final growing spot.

Tips & Considerations

  • Some versions of this method tell you to leave the paper towels and seeds out on the counter. However, it’s much easier to control the environment and keep them away from pets, children, and germs when they’re in a container.
  • Cheap paper towels work better. Avoid using cloth-like paper towels.
  • Make sure that the paper towel pieces are damp, not wet, when you put them in the container.
  • Never let the paper towel sheets dry completely. They should always be moist, but not soaking wet.
Cannabis seeds germinating on a paper towel.


Pre-soaking your cannabis seeds may help them grow faster. Here’s how to germinate cannabis seeds with the pre-soaking method.


  • Cannabis seeds
  • Drinking glass
  • Paper towel or cheesecloth
  • High-quality soil 
  • Growing pots


  1. Fill your glass with room temperature water.
  2. Drop your cannabis seed(s) inside and allow them to soak overnight. Do not soak your seeds for more than 24 hours.
  3. Transfer your seed to a moist paper towel, cheesecloth, or pot with high-quality soil.
  4. Keep the seed in moist, warm conditions until you begin to see a root develop.
  5. Transfer the germinated seed to a larger pot and allow it to grow.

Tips & Considerations

  • Some growers allow their cannabis seeds to soak for longer, even up to 7 days. However, this increases the chances of rot and mold. We recommend not soaking your seeds for more than 24 hours.
  • You may notice a root appear on your seed while it’s still in the glass. If you don’t, don’t worry. You can still move it to a pot to grow.

Direct Planting

Most professional cultivators germinate cannabis seeds by direct planting. When you germinate cannabis seeds directly in their growing medium, you don’t have to worry about moving the seeds when they’re extremely fragile.


  • Cannabis seeds
  • High-quality soil
  • Small growing pots (one pot per seed)
  • Larger growing pots (one pot per seed)


  1. Fill your small pots with high-quality soil that’s been soaked in water.
  2. Make a hole about 10-15 mm deep.
  3. Place each seed in a different pot in one of the pre-dug holes. 
  4. Loosely cover the seeds. Do not compress the soil over the seeds.
  5. Spray the top of the soil where you planted the seeds.
  6. Place your pots in a damp climate that’s in the right temperature range (discussed below).
  7. After 4-10 days, you should notice a small seedling sprout.
  8. Transfer the plants to larger pots and start the regular growing process.

Tips & Considerations

  • You might lace the soil with a root stimulator before placing the seed.
  • If you don’t want to pre-soak your soil, you can spray water inside the hole to moisten it before you plant the seed.
  • Sometimes you’ll notice the seeds germinating in as little as 24-48 hours. However, if they haven’t sprouted yet, be patient. It can take 7-10 days for the seeds to begin to grow.
Cannabis seeds germinating by directly being planted in soil.

Providing Optimal Germination Conditions

Finding the best method for how to germinate cannabis seeds is only part of the picture. Your seeds need to have the proper conditions to grow, including temperature, humidity, light, and water. 

Temperature & Humidity Requirements

The best temperature for germinating cannabis seeds is between 70-78°F. Temperatures below 70°F and higher than 90°F make it less likely that your seeds will germinate properly.

It’s best to reduce the temperature for your cannabis seedlings at night. A temperature around 63°F is ideal at night, while 73°F is ideal during the day.

Light Conditions During Cannabis Seed Germination

When germinating, your cannabis seeds should be kept in a dark place. When they’re under the soil, they don’t have access to light.

Once the seeds germinate and the seedlings start to develop, you should immediately get them under your lighting setup so they can begin to grow and thrive. Cannabis seedlings do best under fluorescent light, which can be achieved with CFL lights. After two weeks under these lights, you can switch to high-powered High Pressure Sodium (HPS) or Metal Halide Style (MH) grow lights

Watering Techniques & Moisture Levels

The right amount of moisture is absolutely vital to germinate cannabis seeds. It allows the seed’s embryo to expand and break through the seed’s shell. 

Too little water will prevent your seeds from germinating completely. Too much water will cause your seeds to rot or mold, making them unviable. The growing environment should be damp or moist, but never wet.

In addition, monitor the humidity range while you germinate cannabis seeds. You should keep the growing area at a humidity level between 70-90%.

Choosing the Right Growing Medium

Once you’ve germinated your cannabis seeds, you should place them in high-quality soil. It must be well-draining. Some growers mix native clay and coarse sand. Don’t use fine sand.

You may choose potting soil that’s only lightly fertilized, or choose a seed starter with a pH of 6 or slightly lower. Don’t use soil that’s too rich in nutrients on seedlings; wait until the plants are more mature.

Final Thoughts on How to Germinate Cannabis Seeds

The paper towel method, pre-soaking method, and direct planting method are all great ways to start your journey to germinate cannabis seeds. No matter which method you choose, you now know how to germinate cannabis seeds! As long as you keep them in the right conditions, including temperature, moisture, and light, you’re set up for success!

Need help getting your new cannabis business up and running? KayaPush offers the best software for managing your team. In one platform, you can onboard new employees, manage payroll, track timesheets, create schedules, and generate reports. Get started by booking your free demo today!

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August 2023


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