How To Germinate Seeds Successfully With Proven Methods

How To Germinate Seeds Successfully With Proven Methods
January 07, 2020

There are five popular ways of germinating cannabis seeds. It includes soaking, planting in soil, and using paper towels, peat briquettes, or rockwool cubes. Of these choices, one is not better than the other. Ultimately, choosing which method comes down to individual needs and preferences. As a matter of fact, many longtime home growers have mastered two or more techniques.

For the process to be successful, though, relying on any of the methods is not enough. Obtaining seeds from Homegrown Cannabis Co. is a good start as these have among the highest germination rate in the industry. More importantly, it is providing a favorable environment for the seedling to sprout.

5 Tried & Tested Seed Germination Techniques

Germination jumpstarts the growth cycle of cannabis plants. It is when the seeds begin to sprout after a period of dormancy, or when the pre-existing life inside it awakens. For this process to occur, the ovules need adequate levels of water, heat, and air.

Marijuana Seeds

As the seeds fill with water, it will enlarge, causing the seed coat to crack open. From the newly-formed gap, the taproot will emerge. This primary root system burrows deep into the medium to absorb more water. Eventually, the taproot pushes the seedling up as the root system continues to develop. The shoots sprout towards the direction of the light source, allowing the young plant to obtain the light energy it needs for healthy growth.

1. Paper Towel Method

Simple, effective, and cheap. Kyle Kushman, an award-winning master grower who specializes in vegan horticulture, recommends the paper towel method. It entails using damp paper towels – an excellent medium since it is pathogen-free and facilitates moisture control.


  • Never let the seeds dry out. Have a water bottle spray on hand and dampen the paper towels as needed.
  • Make sure to remove the seeds from the paper towel bed as soon as the taproots reach the recommended size. Otherwise, the microscopic roots may break off once the ovules are peeled off the sheets. Consequently, the young plant may experience stunted growth or physical stress.

Materials Needed:

  • Cannabis seeds
  • Glass
  • 8 oz (227 g) of dechlorinated water
  • Root stimulant
  • Paper towels
  • Dinner plate
  • Metal or plastic tweezers
  • Hand spray bottle


  1. Fill a glass with dechlorinated water. Make sure that the pH level falls within 6.0-6.8. If not, adjust as needed.
  2. Add some root stimulators or hormones into the pH-balanced water to promote healthy and vigorous root development. Popular options include Thrive Alive, Humboldt Roots, or Olivia’s root tonic.
  3. Stir the solution.
  4. Add the cannabis seeds, then allow it to soak overnight. If the ovules are more than a year old, immerse it for up to 24 hours to soften the tough seed exterior, making it easier for the taproot to surface.
  5. After the given time, check the seeds. Discard the ones that remain afloat, as these are not viable for growing.
  6. Take four pieces of paper towel. Lay it over a dinner plate.
  7. Fold the four corners of the sheets towards the center so that it assumes the rounded shape of the plate. Ensure that no part of the towel lies outside the dish.
  8. Once done, flip the paper towels over so that the folded sections are hidden underneath.
  9. Pour half of the liquid onto the newly-prepared paper towel bed. Distribute it evenly and carefully. Then, drain off the excess water.
  10. Use metal tweezers to position the healthy seeds across the towel. Make sure that there is ample space between each pit. An inch apart would do.
  11. Set two paper towels over the setup. Be careful not to disturb the seeds.
  12. Like before, fold each corner towards the center so that the towels fit inside the plate.
  13. Pour the remaining liquid to drench the new layers of towels.
  14. Place it in a warm place away from direct sunlight. An ideal location would be in a bathroom cabinet.
  15. Every 12-24 hours, check the paper towels to see if it still damp. Otherwise, mist it with distilled water. Take extra care so that the towels never dry out.
  16. Observe the setup for any signs of the taproot. Usually, fresh seeds will begin to sprout in a day or two, whereas older ones may take up to several days.
  17. Plant the seed when the taproot has grown at least 3 mm (1/8 inch).

2. Water Soaking

This technique involves soaking the seeds in warm water for 24-32 hours, or until the taproots appear. Submerging the ovules help weaken the hardened husks, allowing oxygen and moisture to penetrate the seed coat better.


  • Do not keep the seeds immersed in water beyond the allotted time. Otherwise, it may be deprived of oxygen and rot.

Materials Needed:


  1. Fill the chosen container with warm water. Let it sit for a few hours so that it reaches room thermometer. If possible, use a thermometer to monitor the temperature. Make sure it is around 18°C (64°F).
  2. Add the seeds into the cup. Cover it with a saucer to trap in heat and prevent light access.
  3. Replace the water every day. As always, keep it at room temperature.
  4. Note any growth changes. In particular, watch out for the taproots. Typically, it first emerges within 24 hours. Then, within 48 hours, all the seeds should have the white tendrils peeking out from the radicles.
  5. Once the taproots have come out, remove the beans from the water.
  6. Move the young plant in the preferred growing medium.

3. Planting In Soil

Germinating the seeds directly in the soil is a widely used method. Arguably, it has the highest success rate.

This technique is ideal for soil cultivation. As there is no need to transplant the seedlings later, it is particularly useful when growing auto-flower strains.


  • To make the most out of this method, use only top-quality soil.
  • Make sure the pH of the water is between 6.0-6.8, which is the ideal range for soil-grown cannabis. To check the pH value, use a digital meter. Adjust as needed using pH buffer solutions. Alternatively, dissolve garden lime in the water to raise the pH or add some white vinegar to lower it.

Materials Needed:

  • Cannabis seeds
  • pH-balanced water
  • Watering can
  • Soil or soil mix
  • One-gallon pot
  • Pencil
  • Metal or plastic tweezers
  • Hand spray bottle


  1. Fill the watering can with pH-balanced water.
  2. Add the soil or soil mix to the pot. Make sure it is not too compacted.
  3. Drench the container until the water trickles out of the bottom holes.
  4. Use a pencil to puncture a hole into the moist substrate. It should not be more than 2 cm in depth.
  5. Position the seed inside the newly-created hole using tweezers. Make it a habit not to touch the seed with bare hands.
  6. Cover everything with a layer of soil.
  7. Fill a clean bottle spray with water. Spray the medium with it.
  8. Place the pot in room temperature. For best results, keep the temperature between 20-22°C (68-72°F).
  9. Observe for growth changes. Wait until the seedling sprouts. Typically, it takes 5-7 days for the seeds to germinate.
  10. While waiting, mist the soil with water every so often. Do not flood the seeds with large volumes of water so as not to drown it.

4. Peat Briquette Method

Peat briquette is an organic material made from milled peat. To achieve the briquette shape, the shredded peat is dried and pressurized. When watered, it expands and can serve as a container that safely houses the seed.

While more commonly used as fuel, compressed peat can also serve as a medium for seed germination. That is because it is easy to handle and allows for fuss-free moisture control. More importantly, it poses little to no risk of harming the delicate seeds.

Materials Needed:

  • Cannabis seeds
  • Water
  • Peat briquette
  • Metal or plastic tweezers
  • Box (with lid)
  • Hand spray bottle


  1. Flood the peat briquettes with water. Wait until it enlarges.
  2. Use a tweezer to place a piece of seed in the middle of the hole.
  3. Keep the peat in a covered box to maintain a warm environment. Ideally, the temperature should sit at 20-22°C (68-72°F).
  4. Observe and wait until the taproot emerges.
  5. Open the lid once in a while to aerate the container.
  6. Make sure not to let the briquette dry out. Spritz it with water as needed.
  7. Once the roots pop up, it is time for transplanting. Simply transfer the peat pellet in a pot, then cover it with soil.

5. Rockwool Cube Method

Rockwool – also called stone wool or mineral wool – is made by spinning molten rocks into fine fibers. Then, it is fashioned into different sizes and shapes, with cubes and blocks as among the most common.

Aside from being a popular hydroponic medium, rockwool is also often used for starting seeds. Upon germination, the cubes only need to be transferred to the soil. Since it does away with having to touch the seeds, there is less risk of injuring it.


  • Rockwool has a naturally high pH of around 8.0. Thus, it should be rinsed with pH-adjusted water before use.
  • When handling rockwool, wear a dust mask, gloves, and eye protection. That is because the rock dust exposure may irritate the throat, airways, skin, and eyes. Wetting the material at once, though, helps sidestep any discomfort.

Materials Needed:

  • Cannabis seeds
  • pH-balanced water
  • 2″ rockwool cubes
  • Toothpicks
  • 32-cell seedling starting tray
  • Metal or plastic tweezers
  • Heat pad
  • Humidity dome
  • Hand spray bottle


  1. Prepare the water. Ideally, it should fall between pH 6.0-6.8, the recommended range when cultivating in soil.
  2. Soak the stone wool in pH-balanced water until it is saturated. Let it sit for an hour.
  3. After an hour, gently shake the blocks to remove the excess water. Do not press or squeeze it.
  4. Arrange the cubes on the seedling tray. As an alternative, use a waterproof tray.
  5. Poke a tiny hole at the center of the cubes using a toothpick. The depth should be double the length of the kernel. Also, make sure it is wide enough to hold the seed.
  6. Place the seed in the middle of the hole using tweezers. Cover it with rockwool. Be careful not to agitate the seed.
  7. Repeat step 6 on more blocks.
  8. After readying the cubes, place them on the seedling tray.
  9. Place the heat pad on a flat surface. Then, position the tray over it. This setup helps maintain the optimal temperature of 20-22°C (68-72°F).
  10. Cover everything with a humidity dome to keep the environment warm and moist.
  11. Check the RH two to three times a day using a hygrometer. The moisture level should be around 65-70%. Mist the cubes with purified water as needed. Remember: the cubes should be damp, not waterlogged.
  12. Wait until the seedling starts poking out of the rockwool cube. Then, pry the seed coat off the embryo. Be extra careful when doing this step.

Essential Tips For Effective Seed Germination

Several factors set off the sprouting of the seeds. It can be categorized into two – environmental conditions and cultivation techniques. For best results, make sure to follow these regardless of the germination method used.


Providing the seeds with the right growing conditions is of the essence. Without it, even the highest-quality ovules will not flourish.

Autoflower Marijuana Plant
  • Moisture. Seeds prefer a moist environment. That said, keep the medium damp – not waterlogged. A sopping wet substrate only risks oxygen deficit and the formation of fungi-related issues. To be safe, maintain relative humidity (RH) of 70%. Also, refrain from soaking the seeds for more than 24-32 hours.
  • Oxygen. Like full-grown plants, seeds also need oxygen to survive. As such, avoid anything that limits its intake. That includes too much water, compacted growing medium, or sowing the seeds too deep into the soil.
  • Temperature. Seeds thrive in warm areas. For best results, keep the temperature between 20-22°C (68-72°F). Any higher only causes heat stress or seed aging. These prevent the seeds from germinating, or worse, lead to its death. Meanwhile, going below this range slows down germination and invites soil-borne diseases.

Cultivation Practices

Adequate levels of moisture, heat, and oxygen are not enough. To stimulate the germination process better, complement it with proper cultivation methods.

Germinate Cannabis Seeds
  • Seed Quantity. Germinating several seeds in a single container is ill-advised. That is because when the roots develop, the manifold of root systems may tangle together. As a result, the plants may get stressed out and struggle with water and air uptake.
  • Seed Quality. Make sure to germinate only top-notch seeds in its prime. Keep in mind that seeds deteriorate over time. In other words, it will eventually weaken, causing it to rupture even with the slightest pressure. In contrast, immature seeds have a slow germination rate. Thus, stick only to fresh, viable seeds. These are firm to touch, dark-colored, mottled, and covered with a hint of sheen.
  • Handling. Seeds and young plants are ultra-sensitive and should be handled with care. Otherwise, the plant may experience physical shock, or the fragile taproots may snap off. Both of these do not only impede germination but are also detrimental to plant health. As such, touch the seeds and the young growth only when needed.
  • Depth. The seeds should be planted 1.5-2 cm into the medium. Any deeper may drown the plant and restrict its oxygen access. In contrast, the flora may dry up faster when seeds are placed too shallow.
  • Seedling Orientation. The seed placement plays a role in the germination rate and overall plant health. Notable studies published in 1991, 1995, and 2014 reveal that this is due to gravity. In essence, the roots tend to grow towards the gravitational pull, which is downwards. Hence, orient the seed so that the radicle angles downwards. This allows the roots to focus on growth rather than waste energy on repositioning itself.

Which Germination Method Is Best For You

Is it possible to achieve 100% success? Homegrown Cannabis Co. produce and provide seeds with reliable genetics. However, it also entails a degree of knowledge on the part of the home grower. Among the different ways to germinate seeds, one thing common is that all are easy to perform.

Choosing which method is the best, by and large, comes down to a matter of necessity or preference.

Cannabis Cultivation

Autos, for example, is better germinated directly in the soil. These types of plants cannot withstand the “shock” as a result of transplanting from a small pot to the final container. In this case, it is a matter of necessity.

In most cases, the methodology comes down to a matter of preference. Some people swear by the effectivity of soaking the seeds in water. Leading canna-horticulturist Kyle Kushman, on the other hand, prefers the paper towel method.

In the end, the best way to determine which method works best is to try it yourself. Any of the techniques presented here work well, and when performed to perfection, results in 100% successful germination.

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