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How do I germinate marijuana seeds?
Germination is the process of getting your marijuana seeds to sprout.
In order to get your seeds to germinate successfully, you want to put them in a moist, slightly warm environment.
If a seed's root breaks through the shell but doesn't encounter a moist environment, your seed will die so it's important to make sure the seeds stay moist during germinating, whichever method you use.
Seeds germinate better at higher humidities and young marijuana seedlings also like higher humidities.
You can place a warm light over the seeds to help keep them warm, or get a heating pad from a garden store to put under them. Basically you want to make sure any seeds or sprouts are kept warm and moist at all times, that their roots are unexposed to light, and that they get planted right away.
There are several different methods to germinate your cannabis seeds, but I will list some easy techniques that have worked for me.
One way to germinate seeds is to wet a paper towel and then fold your seeds in it, then leave the paper towel in a warm place.
If you germinate your seeds in a paper towel, there is the risk of hurting the tap root (the little white root that grows out of your seeds) when moving the sprouted seeds so make sure you are careful when you're checking to see if the seeds sprouted.
There is also the possibility of having the towel dry out which will kill your new seeds so I recommend putting your paper towel under an upside down bowl or between two paper plates.
The image above is a section of the Marijuana Stealth Grower's Cheat Sheet.
Another method to germinate your seeds is to soak them in room temperature water overnight. This method is especially good for seeds which have extra hard shells. Most viable seeds will sink to the bottom after soaking and you will see when their little white tap root first breaks through the shell. You do not want to leave seeds in water for more than 24 hours. After 24 hours, put any ungerminated seeds in a warm, moist place to finish germinating.
Use something specifically made to provide germination conditions like this germination station with heat mat. You can make something similar at home by putting a plastic dome on a heating pad in a pinch, though I like these professional germination stations since they're pretty cheap and work great. Some growers prefer to start their cannabis seedlings in something like this since the seeds are germinating in rockwool or peat cubes which can easily be transferred directly to their next growing container.
When starting your cannabis seedsmin a germination station, you should skip directly to the section entitled "Your Cannabis Seedlings First Few Weeks" since your cannabis seedlings will already be in a starter cube which takes you to the end of the "Plant Your Germinated Marijuana Seeds" section.
Plant Your Germinated Marijuana Seeds
You want to check on your seeds about once every 12 hours and plant any seeds which have sprouted right away. I recommend using twissors when moving the seeds because you do not want to touch the root with your fingers. Plant the seeds so that the root faces down and the top of the seed is just barely below the surface of the grow medium. In other words, you want the hole you put your seed in to be a tiny bit deeper than the length of the seed. Rockwool cubes are a great environment for new seeds because rockwool holds moisture well and is resistant to mold. If you use rockwool, than you can easily move the whole cube to wherever the seed's final destination is once the seed has established roots.
It can take anywhere from a couple of hours to a couple of days for the seeds to germinate. Any seeds that haven't sprouted within 10 days or so are probably not going to. You will often notice that some seeds germinate right away and some take a little bit longer.
Light is not good for the roots, in fact your seedlings can't even use light until they develop their first set of leaves. Before they get their first leaves, you only want to use your lights as a heating source to maintain a good environment for the seedlings.
If possible, try to avoid transplanting your new seedlings until they are well established and have a couple of sets of leaves. Moving the seedlings around a lot will stress them out and potentially stunt their growth or even kill them. An easy way to avoid this is to put your germinated seeds directly into rockwool cubes, which can then be planted anywhere easily when the seedlings are established.
Your Cannabis Seedling's First Few Weeks
During the first few weeks of their lives, seedlings are a bit delicate and won't be able to withstand full-strength lights or nutrients. They need to have a moist environment, but can easily be drowned. With seedlings, less is more. You want to give them just a bit of plain water at first or feed them with maybe a quarter the amount of nutrients to start.
If you plan on eventually putting them under some high intensity lights, you will want to start them out with either florescent tubes or some compact florescent bulbs (CFLs). These lights are extremely cheap, are easy on your electric bill, and can be found at your local hardware store.
You will want to keep the florescent lights about 4 inches away from your plants until they've developed their first two sets of leaves, then you can move the lights as close as an inch away as long as the lights aren't too hot.
If the light feels too hot to your hand, then it will feel too hot for your marijuana seedling.
Make sure to keep a close eye on your seedlings to ensure they don't grow too close to the lights and burn themselves.
If new seedlings are showing signs of stress, try moving the lights further away and see if that helps.
Once marijuana seedlings are about fourteen days old, they're ready to be start being treated as if they're in the vegetative stage.