Best Way to Germinate Cannabis Seeds for Soil Growing

Best Way to Germinate Cannabis Seeds for Soil Growing

When I first started growing cannabis, I was always nervous about germinating seeds and starting my grow.  Probably just like you, I have read a lot of information about this process.  I now know what works with a very high success rate.

The germination process is simple:  Keep your seeds moist and slightly warm and in 1-3 days your seed(s) will germinate.  The process is straight forward and offers a highly effective success rate.  Lets get started!

The following process works for all strains and types of cannabis seeds.  We will be reviewing the steps and materials required for process:


Material #1 = Seed

Material #2 = Small sandwich bag (preferably a Ziplock bag)

Material #3 = Paper towel

Material #4 (optional) = Spray bottle

Before we get started here is an overview of what we will cover:

  • How to germinate cannabis seeds
  • Best temperature to germinate cannabis seeds
  • How long does it take to germinate cannabis seeds in paper towel
  • What does a germinated cannabis seed look like
  • How to handle germinated seeds
  • How to plant germinated cannabis seeds
  • How much water is required to germinate cannabis seeds
  • How much light is required to germinate cannabis seeds
  • How much nutrients is required to germinate cannabis seeds
  • Can you put cannabis seeds straight into soil
  • When to put light on germinated cannabis seeds
  • How long after planting germinated cannabis seeds do they sprout

How to Germinate Seeds

This is the big question and the answer is:

  1. Tear a paper towel into a 2X5 inch strip if you are sprouting a single seed
  2. Use tap water from your faucet to fully moisten the towel.  Gently squeeze the paper strip to remove excess water.  Remove just enough water so the paper strip does not drip.
  3. Place the seed in the center of the paper strip and fold the paper strip a few times.  It does not matter how you fold it, our goal is to wrap the seed a few times to cover the seed with a few layers of moist paper
  4. Place the folded moist paper with seed into a small Ziplock sandwich bag.  Press most of the air out of the bag so it is mostly flat.  The goal is not to squeeze all the air out like you are trying to vacuum seal the bag.  Remove enough air so the bag is somewhat flat and can be folded.
  5. Zip lock the bag and store somewhere that is slightly warm (between 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit)
    1. On top of your refrigerator
    2. On top of a WIFI router
  6. Your seeds should germinate between 24 and 72 hours.  Check your seeds every 24 hours for signs of germination.

Best Temperature to Germinate Seeds

The best temperature to germinate seeds is between 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit.  No need to over analyze this, just a some-what-warm location. 

  • On top of a refrigerator
  • On top of a WIFI router
  • In a sock drawer

You are not trying to cook your seeds so do not place them on a windowsill in direct sunlight

What Does a Germinated Cannabis Seed Look Like

Ungerminated cannabis seeds looks like:

Germinated cannabis seed looks like:

The white tail is called the Tap Root.  Once you see the Tap Root the seed has germinated.

How to Plant Germinated Cannabis Seeds

Once you see the Tap Root, the seed has germinated and can be placed in to soil.  Using a pencil other small utensil prepare a ¼ inch hole in the center of your soil.  The hole you created will be small, just large enough to cover the seed. 

  • Place the seed into the hole with the Tap Root facing down
  • Gently cover the seed with soil.  Just enough to cover it
  • The seed will sprout through the soil in 2-3 days

Can You Put Cannabis Seed Straight Into Soil

Yes, of course you can.  This is a very common practice too.  I usually germinate my seeds using a moist paper towel and plastic bag because it is a very reliable technique and allows me to sprout many seeds consistently giving me the ability to easily monitor the germination process.

There is nothing wrong with starting your cannabis seeds directly in soil.  To do so:

  • Prepare a small ¼ inch hole in the center of your soil
  • Place the seed in the hole
  • Gently cover the seed with soil.  Just enough to cover it
  • Use a spray bottle to slightly moisten the area where you planted
  • The seed will germinate and sprout through the soil in 2-5 days

The benefit of germinating directly in soil is that there are less steps and materials involved.  No paper towels or plastic bags required and once the seed germinates there are no extra transplanting steps.  This is the easiest way to germinate and start your seeds, you just need to make sure your seeded area is moist and does not dry out.

How to Handle Germinated Seeds

Germinated seeds are delicate but can be handled with your fingers or a tweezer.  Wash your hand or clean the tweezers in rubbing alcohol.  Simply handle the seeds by grabbing the seed husk and not the Tap Root. 

  • If you are germinating seeds in a plastic bag, then you will need to handle the seed when moving into soil
  • If you germinated seed direct in soil then there is not need to handle the seed

How Much Water is Required to Germinate Cannabis Seeds

The short answer is not much at all.  A moist paper towel or slightly moist soil is best.  Overwatering is a common problem in general!  Keep you seed moist NOT wet! 

Too much water can kill your seed, do not over do the watering.  A moist paper towel in a plastic bag will stay moist for the amount of time required to germinate the seed.  After you initially moisten the paper towel, do not add any more water.

When germinating in soil keep you soil moist, not wet!  Unlike a paper towel in a sealed plastic bag, water will evaporate from your soil potentially drying it out too quickly.  Seeds will not germinate in dry soil so check the soil at least 2 times daily.  Once in the morning and again at night. 

A couple spray pumps (a couple is 2) should be enough to keep the soil moist for 1 to 2 days but depending on your environment you many need to adjust the schedule.

How Much Light is Required to Germinate Cannabis Seeds

Light is not required to germinate cannabis seeds, but light is required right after seeds germinate and for the duration of the plant’s life.

It is worth mentioning light at this point if you are germinating in soil because light \ heat \ air movement will dry out your soil more quickly.  Well established plants have an extensive root system throughout the entire growing container within the soil.  However, your seed once it germinates has only a single Tap Root between ¼ and 1 inch long.  Soil will dry out starting on the top few inches of soil because this area is exposed to the light \ heat \ air.  Since soil moisture is required for roots to grow, you must keep your soil moist!  Especially the top few inches where the seed is growing.     

How Much Nutrients is Required to Germinate Cannabis Seeds

Cannabis seeds will germinate with water only.  Do NOT add nutrients to germinate cannabis seeds.  All the required nutrition for germination is contained in the seed itself for the first few days of life.  Once the seed germinates and the Tap Root begins to grow down in to the soil, the rooting system will develop and the plant will start to consume nutrients from the soil. 

Most quality soil will have enough nutrition for a seedling to grow adequately for the first few weeks of life.

There are many techniques for germinating seeds.  We have reviewed a technique that works for beginners and experts and will provide extremely consistent results.

Option 1 – Germinate in a paper towel and plastic sandwich bag

Option 2 – Germinate direct in soil

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