Germinate Cannabis Seeds Paper Towel Plastic Bag

Many cannabis consumers have found an occasional seed in their bag of marijuana. But can you actually use them to grow your own weed? Learn more about germinating bag seeds and turning them into flourishing cannabis plants. Growing cannabis from seeds is no more difficult than growing any other plant. It doesn’t take a magic touch or a green thumb, and it doesn’t require special knowledge of horticulture. Germinating cannabis seeds with paper towel is easy and fast. Use this step by step guide so that you don't make any silly mistakes.

How to Germinate a Bag Seed

F inding a seed in your bag of weed used to be regarded as an insult, an indication you scored some inferior product. But it’s a new millennium, and growing cannabis is perfectly legal in some states and territories. While buying seeds online is still recommended for reasons we will detail further, finding a healthy seed can be as valuable as an ounce of gold. Or at least the cost of the bag.

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In this article we review the steps to germinate cannabis seeds, tips and tricks in the process, and how to keep your seedling healthy.

Germinating a seed is the first step in the growing process, and a cannabis seed will sprout with a voracious hunger, so if you are about to germinate seeds, start thinking ahead about where the seedling will eventually be moved to. This includes lighting, ventilation, and something to feed the lady. Those things don’t need to be decided before you begin, but try to have a plan in place by the time the second set of leaves emerges — as soon as two weeks.

The Germination Process

Begin by soaking the seed overnight. Soaking the seed saturates it with moisture, and moving it shortly after to a warm home tells the seed that it’s someplace comfortable, and it’s time to grow. Tap water is fine for this, but a micronutrient solution like liquid seaweed may be included.

Once your seed has soaked, the most common method for germination is the “paper towel method.” Wet a piece of paper towel and wring dry, then fold in half. Place the seeds between the halves of the damp paper towel, and slide the whole thing into a ziplock bag. Seal with some air inside. Leave this bag someplace comfortably warm for about a week, checking frequently for spots of mold. After about a week, a taproot should emerge.

Then it is time to transfer the seed into a proper growing medium. Be careful plucking your seed from the paper towel!

A grow medium is the “stuff” the seed will sit in. The easiest option is soil, healthy black earthy scooped up from your yard, or potting soil purchased from any garden center. Rock wool cubes are a common option for hydroponic growers, but can later be transplanted into soil as well. Compost and worm castings are great for a seedling, but it will need to be transplanted into a more diverse mixture later.

It is far too early to begin any nutrient cycle, or to introduce any fertilizers to the soil. Now that the seed is confirmed as alive, and placed into a more comfortable medium, simply make sure that the seed is watered and warm.

The first set of leaves to emerge are called “sucker leaves,” and their sole purpose is to drink in as much light as possible to fuel the growth of the more recognizable serrated leaves, which will begin to grow over the next week. After that you’ve got a proper seedling, and in a few weeks it will be ready for a bigger home!

For further guidance and resources about growing cannabis, see our Beginner’s Guide to Growing Marijuana, or our guide to growing for personal use.

Cultivating a Healthy Cannabis Seedling

The seedling that emerges will be as tender as an infant, and susceptible to diseases and cross-contaminations, so keep your germination station as sanitary as possible, and wash your hands before handling them. Avoid rubber or latex gloves at this stage as they have too much grip, and one wrong movement of your finger could accidentally grab and tear the soft plant material.

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A seed’s health may be fortified by soaking it with a solution rich in micronutrients, like liquid seaweed. Be advised, however, that these will be very diluted solutions. Carefully read the mixing instructions of any product you purchase.

Seedlings can be protected against certain diseases by including worm castings in the medium. Research out of Cornell University has shown the microbial life in worm castings colonizes the seed’s surface, making it more difficult for pathogenic microbes to establish themselves.

Disclaimers and Downsides Regarding Found Seeds

It’s worth pausing to remember that seeds shouldn’t wind up in your bag of cured, smokable cannabis. So before planting anything, let’s assess what this seed is, and how it got there.

Only female cannabis plants produce flowers, and if they are pollinated by male plants, then they produce seeds instead. So all the cannabis we smoke is from unpollinated female plants — or nearly all of it.

When female plants are stressed — for instance, by drought conditions or nutrient problems — an evolutionary alarm can induce them to produce seeds with only their DNA. The problem with these “hermaphrodite seeds” is that the offspring, having benefited from this process, will be more prone to repeat it. If this is how a seed got in your bag, it can result in seedy weed, even under the closest care.

A seed is not guaranteed to sprout at all. Examine the seed for any obvious health issues. Immature seeds are lighter greys-to-green, while mature seeds are darker tan, brown, or even black. A healthy shape is a teardrop or nearly round, while bunk seeds will appear shrivelled or irregular. Finally, healthy seeds have a hard, whole shell, while cracked or brittle shells will likely not sprout, or produce a less healthy seedling.

A found seed is also not a guarantee to produce a replica of the strain you smoked, and may present latent traits from the strains it was bred from. Cultivating a complete copy of a phenotype is called “cloning,” and the cloning process must begin with a living plant, not a seed.

Remember, it could also just result in a male plant, which won’t grow any buds. None of this is guaranteed to happen with a bag seed, it’s just more likely than with a stabilized seed from a producer.

Summary

If you want to germinate a seed you’ve found, begin by soaking it overnight in water to saturate it, and soften the shell. Micronutrient solutions can be mixed in at this stage to fortify the health of the seedling (if you do, be sure to read the mixing instructions on the label).

The “paper towel method” is the most accessible way of germinating almost any seed. Once a taproot has emerged (after about a week) plant the seed into a small container with your chosen grow medium, like soil. Do not fertilize at this stage, as the seed and resulting seedling are very tender, and concentrated fertilizers are abrasive chemicals. Within another week, “sucker leaves” will sprout, synthesizing light to produce further growth.

Remember, found seeds are not always healthy or even viable. A healthy seed has a hard, unbroken shell and a dark color, while brittle or misshapen seeds may not produce a healthy plant, if anything at all. A found seed is also not guaranteed to replicate the precise phenotype of that cannabis you found it in.

That said, it’s almost always worth trying, and experimenting with whatever results. Growing cannabis can be an enriching experience, and perhaps even save you some riches. As long as you know what to look for from a seed, and how to handle them, finding one in your bag could be a golden ticket.

How To Germinate Cannabis Seeds

Growing cannabis from seeds is no more difficult than growing any other plant. It doesn’t take a magic touch or a green thumb, and it doesn’t require special knowledge of horticulture.

Growing cannabis from seeds is no more difficult than growing any other plant. It doesn’t take a magic touch or a green thumb, and it doesn’t require special knowledge of horticulture. For many reasons, growing cannabis plants from seed is a better, more reliable route to success than growing cannabis plants from clones, and the road to healthy plants yielding high-quality buds begins with the germination of the seeds.

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What Is Germination?

If you’ve never grown any kind of plant before, germination is simply a term for the sprouting and initial growth of a seed. Every plant seed, though tiny, hard and dry in appearance, harbors a delicate plant embryo, water, and even stored food. All it needs is a jump start from you to sprout and begin its life, and there are several different methods for doing this. Each method can be successful, and you may decide to try one or two and see which technique brings you the best results. Think of it as a really fun science experiment, with the ultimate grand prize being a healthy, hearty cannabis plant.

Purchasing seeds online is the best way to get a good, reliable cannabis plant that will have the best chance of producing buds. You may find seeds in your regular product, but the chances are good that those seeds are either dead or dried out. Dry, old seeds are extremely difficult to germinate. Those seeds in your bag are probably pretty dark and dull looking, and that’s a sure sign that they are either dead, or old and dry. Healthy seeds bought online will look fresh and waxy, and that’s how you can tell that they are young, healthy and ready for germination.

The Paper Towel Method

Wherever you live, the springtime is when you see incredible plant growth and new, green life sprouting up all around you. The key to successful cannabis seed germination is to replicate a spring-like condition for the seeds, inducing them to vegetate. This means that seeds should be moist but not soaked, and warm but not hot.

An easy way to accomplish this is by placing seeds between layered, moistened paper towels. It’s best to use real rainwater for this method, and if you live in a rainy area you can collect rainwater in any receptacle left outside. If you don’t get much rainfall where you live, you can substitute bottled, distilled water instead. Moisten the paper towels with the clean water, making sure that they are not sopping or dripping, and place the seeds between the layers.

Next, you’ll want to place the towel-covered seeds into a plastic bag. This creates a humid, warm atmosphere, like a greenhouse. You can also place the paper towels on a glass plate or baking dish and cover them with plastic wrap. Find a dark place in your home to put them while they are getting ready to germinate. A drawer in your kitchen or a closet shelf would make an ideal germination environment.

Check the seeds daily to make sure that the paper towels have not dried. When they begin to dry, simply pour more water on them and squeeze it out gently. Do not let standing water accumulate in the bag or plate you have placed them in. This process should take between five to twelve days. Sometime in that period, you will see the seed casing burst, and a small but strong root will emerge.

The Straight-To-Soil Method

Many growers believe that it is easiest and most natural to simply plant cannabis seeds directly into the soil in which they will grow and thrive. If you choose to use the soil germination method, remember that you should always keep the potted seeds indoors. Seeds planted outdoors will have very little chance of germinating, as the environment is too uncontrolled. The benefit to planting seedlings directly into the soil is that you will not have to transplant them after germination. The transplant process can be a shock to a young plant’s root system, and some people have difficulty nursing a cannabis seedling through this process.

For the soil method, you will need to purchase sturdy containers with drainage holes, potting soil, and a secondary plant fertilizer. Mix the fertilizer and potting soil together and fill the containers, tamping it down slightly. It’s best to start out with very small containers, no more than three inches wide. Moisten the soil with distilled water or rainwater, taking care not to drench it. Make a small hole with your finger approximately one and half inches deep, and place a seed into the hole. Try to position the seed with the pointed edge facing downward.

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The containers with the newly planted seeds should be kept in a warm area indoors. A plant heating pad can be placed underneath the soil containers to help warm them, or you can create warmth and humidity by cutting plastic soda bottles in half and placing them gently over the containers, creating a greenhouse effect. It’s important that the seedlings remain undisturbed, so resist the temptation to uncover them to check if they’re sprouting. You should see plant growth sprouting out of the soil somewhere between seven and fourteen days, depending on the strain and age of the seeds.

An another great way to germinate cannabis seeds is to use a seedkit. For an excellent explanation of how to use the seedkit, go to Zambeza Seeds.

Alternative Germination Mediums

There are a few other substances that can be successful mediums for germinating cannabis seeds, and the technique used with any of these substances is the same as the soil method. Rockwool is a matted fiber material that is favored for its porous nature, and seedlings can be planted directly into it for germination. It can be purchased inready-made cubes for easy planting, and is readily available in home improvement stores.

Lava rock is another medium that has proven successful in germination and is notable for providing a large surface area for healthy root systems to grow. However, it does not hold water as well as regular soil or rockwool, and it may not be the best alternative for an inexperienced grower.

Germinating Cannabis Seeds with Paper Towel

One of the best ways to germinate your precious new cannabis seeds is to use the paper towel method. Use this step by step tutorial for germinating cannabis seeds with paper towel as a reference when sprouting your seeds.

Step 1 (Optional)

Soak your seeds in water for 12 to 24 hours and store in a dark location. It is very important that your seeds do not sit in the water for more than 24 hours because you run the risk of drowning them. Set a timer and don’t forget! I generally skip this step and go right to the wet paper towel.

Step 2 (Germinating Cannabis Seeds with Paper Towel)

Whether or not you soak your seeds in water (see step 1), will have no impact on how you will approach this step. The key to being successful begins with your set up. For this step, you will need a plate, a paper towel, a zip lock bag and some clean water.

Begin by wetting your paper towel on your plate. The paper towel should be completely wet, but not drenched. Drain the excess water.

You are now ready to place your seeds. Fold the wet paper towel in a way so that your seeds are sandwiched between.

Finally its time for the zip lock bag. Place your plate inside the zip lock bag and seal it. The zip lock bag will seal in the moisture and eliminate the risk of your paper towel drying out.

Step 3

Place your seeds in a dark spot and don’t touch them for at least 2 days. Room temperature will play a big role in how fast they germinate. Ultimately, you want your room temperature around 70 to 75 degrees. This will create a environment where your seeds should flourish. Check on your seeds after 2 to 3 days and see how they are doing. As soon as they sprout, you should plant them right into your favorite organic soil.

Hopefully this quick rundown gives you a better understanding for germinating cannabis seeds. Its pretty easy and straightforward. You shouldn’t have any trouble, the biggest mistake is forgetting about them! Just be sure to check on them regularly. If you need seeds, there are plenty of reputable seeds retailers around. Seeds can be bought all over the world and some of the best seed growers are located in Europe and Canada.