How to revive weed seeds

The Good Germin’: How To Germinate Old Weed Seeds And Bring Them Back To Life

Before there were marijuana clones and mother plants, there were marijuana seeds, the foundation of the cannabis industry. And here’s some big news for you: The price of quality marijuana seeds is going up while availability is going down.

If you were waiting to buy seeds of the famous, scintillating heritage or landrace marijuana strains we’ve been featuring, now’s the time. I’ve been tracking seed prices of quality strains sold by reliable cannabis seed resellers, and I’ve found that in the past year, prices have gone up an average of 30 percent.

Now, let’s talk about the challenge of germinating old, stale, or otherwise defective marijuana seeds.

No matter if you get your marijuana seeds from seeded buds (sometimes called bag seed), from seed resellers, from friends, or from dispensaries, seeds from different strains can show substantial variation in size and minor variation in shape. What you should be concerned about are seeds that don’t look like the seeds in the main photo accompanying this article.

Properly bred, dark-colored and patterned marijuana seeds like the ones in the above photo are seeds that by far possess the highest germination rate and produce plants with the most vitality and performance.

But if your cannabis seeds are pale, green, gray, shrunken, split, dried out, misshapen, poorly marked, or possess a hazy sheen (kind of like old wax that dried on a car before it could be buffed out), then those are defective cannabis seeds. Take a look at the below photo, which shows defective cannabis seeds that are far less likely to germinate.

Green, split seeds and seeds that aren’t properly shaped (mature cannabis seeds should look like miniature footballs) are immature seeds that didn’t fully ripen before the buds they were forming in were harvested. These seeds are a waste of your time.

Seed defects develop if your seeds have been stored improperly, or if the seeds are more than 4–5 years old. Also, if you get cannabis seeds from the less-reputable resellers, you might receive old or otherwise defective seeds. I’ve seen growers who eagerly awaited their seed order, only to be disappointed when they tore into seed packs to discover easily identifiable duds.

In many cases, the disreputable seed seller won’t refund the order or send a replacement order, and the would-be grower is left with a mixture of acceptable-looking seeds and defective ones.

Seeds that are grayish and sheeny are old seeds, and likely desiccated. Old seeds sometimes split or crack. If seeds of any shape are pale, light brown, gray, split, or cracked, they’re defective. But you may be able to salvage some of them so they grow out into plants that yield buds.

Tried And Tested Methods For Getting Old Seeds To Germinate. But Do These Methods Work?

Growers offer many tactics for germinating old seeds, and I’ve tried all their suggestions. I want to emphasize from the outset, if cannabis seeds are grossly immature, they’re unlikely to ever germinate, and it’s not worth trying to. For that reason, the following germination suggestions are for seeds that were allowed to mature and ripen fully before they were harvested.

Method 1: One of the most generic suggestions for germinating old, stale seeds is to soak them in reverse osmosis water pH adjusted to 6.1 for 24–48 hours, before placing the seeds into a rockwool cube, rapid rooter, peat pot or other germination media.

Result: I’ve seen no benefit from this suggestion.

Method 2: This one is rather extreme and time consuming. It involves scraping off the outer layer of the seed, sometimes including the shell itself, exposing the embryo and cotyledon, which are usually white, gray-white or greenish-white.

You then place the unshelled seed material into your regular germination media. Obviously, this is a severe tactic, and you shouldn’t expect it to work. But if the alternative is to not germinate the seeds at all, it’s worth a try anyway. If it doesn’t work, you’ve lost nothing. If it works, you’re a winner.

Result: It worked for me about 15 percent of the time I tried it on old seeds.

Method 3: Another radical tactic is to manually split one side of the seed shell, narrowly exposing the embryo and other internal material that is usually protected by the hard outer shell. The split seed is immediately placed in the usual germination media.

Result: My success rate for this tactic has also been about 15 percent.

Method 4: Over the years, I’ve seen companies offer “old seed soak kits” that allegedly contain special materials that stimulate old seeds to germinate. I contacted those companies and asked for third-party test data and ingredients information so I could ascertain if its products have any validity. Strange that the customer service reps refuse to provide information beyond vague, meaningless verbiage such as, “Our product contains bio-catalysts.”

They also refused to provide product samples. I have to tell you, if a hydroponics manufacturer or seeds producer isn’t confident enough in their products to provide samples for testing, this is an indication that their products are no good.

Result: Grower friends of mine bought several brands of “old seed soak” products and found them to be no more efficacious than soaking old seeds in pH-balanced reverse osmosis water, or just putting unsoaked old seeds into germination media.

If “seed soaker” products contain anything useful at all, it would likely be gibberellic acid, which has been used to treat marijuana seeds to induce germination, vitality and female gender.

Method 5: I’ve done experiments with stale, old seeds using a gibberellic acid pre-soak (i.e., adding gibberellic acid to get the soak solution to 100–150 parts per million), pH adjusted to 6.1, versus reverse osmosis water at pH 6.1.

Result: I had a marginally better germination rate from the gibberellic-treated seeds.

There are other experiments you can conduct if you have old seeds and you want to see if there’s any hope for them. Experiment with using seedling heat mats at a slightly higher temperature than for fresh marijuana seeds. Another tactic is to place the seeds less deep in germination media than you normally would, at about 1/4 inch (normal depth is about 1/2 inch).

You can try placing a T5 high-output fluorescent lamp over them even before they germinate, as if the light can coax them back from the dead like Jesus did with Lazarus.

Of all these methods, one thing’s for sure: Always use proper germination techniques, materials and procedures, regardless of the condition of your marijuana seeds.

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Old Colombian Gold: After Germination, More Challenges

If old, stale seeds germinate at all, it usually happens several days after fresh seeds germinate. Expect fresh seeds to sprout 1–5 days after you start trying to generate them. But I’ve seen old, stale seeds that germinated after 13 days.

Even if you manage to coax defective seeds to germinate, you still have some challenges. Here’s an example of what I mean…

I had rare seeds given to me back in 2011. They were allegedly pure Colombian Gold genetics sourced from a lid of partially seeded buds in the early 1980s. Proper storage for cannabis seeds is in an airtight container in the non-freezer part of a refrigerator, and that’s where these had been since they were sourced.

The person who gave me the seeds said the last time he’d grown them was 2003. He had a 50 percent germination rate, but the strain was too difficult to grow outdoors where he lived due to climate conditions and because his locale’s high latitude is the wrong growing condition for a tropical sativa like Colombian Gold. After that failure, he put the remaining seeds back in the refrigerator and forgot about them.

I didn’t expect much from those old seeds. They were so tiny, about the size of a pinhead, and were pale gray, with that sad, dull sheen that characterizes old or dead cannabis seeds.

Still, Colombian Gold is a valuable strain and I had an indoor grow room I could easily control to give that rare heritage strain the environment it needed in which to thrive. I soaked the seeds for 24 hours in reverse osmosis water to which I’d added a very tiny amount of the vitamin B booster B-52, which is useful whenever you have stressed plants or seeds.

I planted 17 seeds about 1/4-inch deep in rockwool cubes and kept the seedling heat mat at 80°F. After five days, I saw no germination. But at day seven, one seedling popped its head above the cube, and by day 11 I had five Colombian Gold seedlings.

Five seedlings aren’t enough for a grow op, so I started fresh seeds of other sativa strains. Those seeds germinated in three days or fewer.

I measured performance of the Colombian Gold seedlings against the seedlings grown from fresh seeds. Two of the Colombian Gold seedlings were mutants — their early set of true leaves failed to develop properly, and the next sets showed the same mutation, so I terminated them.

One thing to expect from stale, old seeds: They often show mutations. Also, expect weak growth and dullness. The three remaining Colombian Gold seedlings popped their heads above the rockwool, developed 2–4 sets of normal leaves, then stalled.

As the seedlings from other strains gained height every day and their leaves grew larger, the Colombian Gold seedlings went into suspended animation. I tried giving them varying doses of light intensity and wavelength. I kept them on the seedling heat mat. After three weeks, when seedlings from fresh seeds were nearing a foot or more in height, only one Colombian Gold seedling had grown taller, but it was still several inches behind the fresh-seed seedlings.

I ended up keeping only one Colombian Gold female. It never had the vigor, root development, bud development, stalk sturdiness or harvest weight that fresh seeds of the same strain would have yielded.

This poor little female clearly lacked vitality from its earliest days, and generally plants grown from old seeds often have to be babied along. This means giving them extra doses of vitamin B, less light intensity than the other plants in the garden, more staking and other structural supports, more carbohydrates (like Bud Candy and Microbial Munch), and more potassium silicate (like Rhino Skin) to strengthen their weak stalks.

These compromised plants lack vigor, and may take longer to mature and develop in both grow phase and bloom phase. They might have hermaphroditic tendencies, weak stalks, insufficient root development, or be especially prone to spider mites, gray mold, pythium root rot and other attackers.

I had to baby that Colombian Gold, but she rewarded me with authentic sativa buds that were long, thin, and a beautiful golden color. The high was stellar and very 1970s-ish.

If the plant had been stronger and more vital, I would have kept it as a mother plant or waited until I had suitable male pollen before breeding her. But she was an experiment, the seed she came from had lain dormant for too long, so her adult life was feeble. I was lucky to get any nice buds from her at all.

Mind you, old and stale seeds aren’t always a dead end. I’ve had nine-year-old marijuana seeds that sprouted within seven days and grew out to be lovely, strong, heavyweight marijuana plants. And those seeds had been stored in a plastic bag inside a sock in a drawer in someone’s bedroom!

The message here is that if you have defective seeds that are immature, don’t waste time on them. But if you have old seeds, there’s little harm in trying the tactics I’ve discussed to see if you can grow out any of them. You might be able to get rare genetic treasure from old marijuana seeds, which makes it worth the effort to try to germinate them.

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How to Germinate Weed Seeds
(99,9% Success Rate)

This is the complete guide on how to germinate weed seeds.

In today’s guide you’ll learn:

  • What germination is
  • 5 methods how to germinate your seeds
  • How long the process takes
  • Common mistakes
  • Lots more

In short: if you want to learn successfully germinate your precious marijuana seeds, you’ll love this new guide.

Don’t have time to read the guide right now?

No worries. Let me send you a copy so you can read it when it’s convenient for you. Just let me know where to send it (Takes only 5 seconds).

  • Don’t learn it the hardway
  • What is germination, anyway?
  • Germinating weed seeds
  • Germinate weed seeds: get the basics right
  • Germination methods
  • How long does the germination process take?
  • When can I pot my seedlings?
  • Common germination mistakes
  • Germinate away
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Don’t Learn it the Hardway

A long time ago, as first-time growers, we had no idea what we were doing. It was overwhelming and tempting to skip over this first phase; we were excited for the result, after all.

We had to learn the hard way, but a high-quality seed is only as good as the growing circumstances and the environment you provide.

The germination process is where it all begins.

It turns out that germinating weed seeds isn’t all that difficult.

With a little know-how and preparations, you’ll be well on your way to being a successful parent to a little seedling.

In a hurry today?

Let’s start with a tip:

Shortcut to 99,9% Succes Rate

You are here for a quick answer.

Want to know what Germination Method our Seed Breeders use?

Ps. Read the rest of this guide later: we share our growth hack!

What Is Germination, Anyway?

Once you’ve planted a weed seed, it goes through a period of dormancy. When the seed splits or shows a root, this indicates successful germination. This occurs under specific conditions that involve:

  • Light.
  • Water.
  • Oxygen.
  • Temperature control.

How successful the germination process is depends on the conditions mentioned above. For example, if there’s not enough water, the seed won’t germinate.

Conversely, too much water can virtually drown the seed by restricting its access to oxygen.

When the needs of the seed (see what we did there?) are met, the first thing it does is take in oxygen and water. Its coating will break, or pop, open and a root will emerge.

A single plant shoot then appears to finalize the process.

Such a simple process! Once you have the basics down, you’re ready to tackle that first seed.

Germinating Weed Seeds

From seed to harvest, a marijuana species go through a specific set of steps that ensure a fruitful result.

In brief, they are:

Indoor

  1. Choosing your seed.
  2. Germination: 3-7 days.
  3. Vegetative: 1-2 weeks.
  4. Flowering: 8-11 weeks.
  5. Harvesting/drying: 1-3 weeks.

Outdoor

  1. Choosing your seed.
  2. Germination: 3-7 days.
  3. Seedling: 2-3 weeks.
  4. Vegetative: 3-16 weeks.
  5. Flowering: 8-11 weeks.
  6. Harvesting/drying: 1-3 weeks.

On average, the entire process takes around 3–5 months, sometimes longer, depending on the species and if you’re growing indoors or out. The latter tends to take more time, given the conditions are much less controllable.

Germinate Weed Seeds: Get the Basics Right

Nailing the basics sets you up for a good grow and successful germination from the get-go. One of our primary concerns here is the quality of seed.

What makes a premium weed seed?

  • Color: The best weed seeds will be light to dark brown. Green seeds indicate they were harvested early and/or contain no embryo inside — useless!
  • Texture: Look for seeds that are hard to the touch. Soft, squishy ones indicate they’re not ready for planting.
  • Storage: Any seeds you purchase should be kept at a temperature of around 71-77 ℉ /21-25 ℃

In regards to other conditions, lighting won’t be such an issue just yet, as germinated seeds won’t require it until the root has popped and the first plant shoot has appeared.

You may be wondering if size plays a role as well?

As tempting as it may be to assume the seed’s size is equivalent to how large the plant will be, don’t do it.

For example, a small Sativa seed might turn into a monstrous species once grown.

Germination Methods

Now for the juicy stuff! Today, we focus on five different options to choose from, depending on your needs and available resources:

  • Glass of water.
  • Wet towel.
  • Directly in soil.
  • Stone wool blocks.
  • Using the Spongepot starter kit.

Method 1: Glass of Water

Also referred to as “pre-germination,” this method involves soaking the seeds in water. It’s used particularly for older seeds to try and “wake” them up.

  1. Soak the seeds: Soak your seeds in lukewarm, chlorine-free water overnight.
  2. Float or sink: Seeds that initially float show better chances of surviving.
  3. Check for germination: You’ll see that a white root has “popped” or germinated. This should happen within 1 to 3 days.
  4. Retrieve your seeds: Gently remove the seed and dry it on a kitchen towel.


Pros

  • May be able to revive old seeds

Cons

  • Risky
  • Should only be attempted with seeds that might die otherwise.
  • despite 1 to 3 days being the norm on average, in practice, this can sometimes take up to 7 days.

Method 2: Wet Towel

Similar to the method above, using a wet towel is another pre-germination method.

  1. Wet a paper towel: Do so until it’s completely covered but not dripping.
  2. Fold your seeds inside: Tuck your seeds into the paper towel securely.
  3. Plate it: Place the towel on a paper plate with another plate on top.
  4. Leave in a warm place: Leave for at least a day and up to a week, checking periodically for any popping.

Pros

  • Old seeds might have a chance here.

Cons

  • Seeds may suffer from a lack of oxygen.
  • Mold and mildew might show up.
  • Seeds can become too nimble for a successful transplant.

Method 3: Directly in Soil

This sounds like a more natural method to use. because it is! No fooling around with pre-germination tricks, here:

  1. Use an 8-10 cm/ 3-4 inch pot: Take your pot and fill with seed and cutting soil. Press down.
  2. Make a hole: Use a narrow, pointy object to make a 3-5mm/ 0.20 inch hole in the middle.
  3. Put the seed inside: Place it gently in the hole.
  4. Use chlorine-free water: The soil should be moist but not overly saturated.
  5. Place in a proper location: Find a warm enough area for the seeds to rest.
  6. Find balanced temperature: Too cold and the seeds won’t budge, but too hot and they might dry out. If you’re in a cooler climate, use lighting for warmth. As recommended earlier, 71–77 ℉ /21-25 ℃ is ideal.
  7. Wait three days: It will take, on average, between 3 and 7 days for germination.

Pros

  • Mimics a natural setting.
  • Requires little equipment.

Cons

  • Takes a bit of a green thumb.

Method 4: Stone Wool Blocks

These are the little blocks you’ve probably seen at your local garden shop; nicely organized and packaged for root cuttings and germinating seeds. They’re also perfectly suitable for weed seeds!

  1. Immerse the cubes: Cover them with water with a pH of 5.6–5.8.
  2. Gently squeeze: Do this to wring out any excess water.
  3. Place the seeds: Plant the seeds horizontally within the pre-formed hole.
  4. Cover the hole: Use an extra piece of the soft wool to do this. Make sure it’s not packed too tightly, in order for oxygen to reach the seed.
  5. Choose a warm location: Use the temperature range listed under the soil method above.
  6. Water the cubes: With the same pH as stated in step one, water every 1 to 2 days.
  7. Wait three days: It should take around 3 to 5 for germination to occur.


Pros

  • Similar to a natural process.
  • Easy-to-find supplies.

Cons

  • Cubes may harbor moisture, leading to dead seeds.

Method 5: Using a Starter Kit

A starter kit is a convenient method that gives you everything you need for successful germination. With the Spongepot, you’ll receive a package of 20, 48 or 96 pots to get you started.

The instructions are, more or less, foolproof:

  1. Put supplied bacteria in water: Dissolve the bacteria in a liter of water.
  2. Water the Spongepots: Use the bacteria-water to water the provided Spongepots.
  3. Drain: Drain away any excess water that accumulates in the process.
  4. Plant seeds: Plant one seed per pot, about 3-5 mm/ 0.20 inch deep.
  5. Maintain temperature: Place the Spongepots in a place between 71 and 77 ℉ / 21-25 ℃
  6. Time to wait: Seeds should germinate between 3 and 7 days later.
  7. Transplant the seeds: Once the seeds finish, you can transplant them to their pot to begin their seedling phase.


Pros

  • Easy to use.
  • Includes a soil enhancer.
  • Organic soil mixture with useful fungi.
  • Promotes healthy roots.

Cons

  • Only available through online order.

We at Marijuana Seed Breeders not only care about your seeds but the success of their germination. This gemination method is our favorite! It gives us the highest success rate.

You can see how to germinate with Spongepot in the video below or on the Spongepot product page.

How Long Does the Germination Process Take?

From start to finish, the germination process can take anywhere between 1 and 7 days.

Note that this is an average and the actual time frame depends on the individual seed quality and the growing conditions we discussed earlier.

For example, is the seed large or older? Maybe the temperature is a bit cooler? Seeds with these conditions may take up to more than a week to pop.

Seeds in the ideal temperature range should germinate within a week, maximum.

When Can I Pot My Seedlings?

We understand your predicament. You want to take the best care possible but, at the same time, you don’t want to become impatient and risk the entire process.

The good news is that it doesn’t take long! Once the seeds have popped and you see that root coming through, it’s time to pot your seedlings.

This, of course, will depend on the method you’ve used, but also the state of the seed from the beginning.

Generally speaking, you’ll be ready to do this anywhere between 3 and 10 days after the start of the germination process.

Once your newly-germinated seeds are ready to go in their special medium, you will continue looking over the seedling phase from there.

Depending on the size of your plant, you may need to switch to a larger pot at some point during the process. If this isn’t done, you could experience something called “root bound,” which means the rooting system has grown beyond the pot.

How to tell? Here are some signs:

  • The new growth is fragile and weak-looking.
  • There’s discoloration on the stem.
  • May appear to be underwatered.

Another distinguishing trait to look out for that may indicate your plant is ready for a new pot includes how many leaves your plant has. On average, when plants have around four to five sets of leaves, it’s time for a transplant.

Common Germination Mistakes

When it comes to growing cannabis, there’s a slew of common mistakes that could stop you from achieving a successful grow. More specific to germination, pay attention to:

  • Leaving seeds for too long.
  • Incorrect planting methods.

Leaving Seeds for Too Long

Overestimating your seed’s germination needs could leave you with duds in the end. This is usually the case with pre-germination methods mentioned above, such as the cup or paper towel method.

Leaving your seeds for too long could result in overly sensitive roots that are easily damaged in the transplant process.

Avoid this mistake by transplanting your seeds when the root is approximately one to two centimeters in length.

This ensures the roots are stable but not overly saturated and prone to damage.

Incorrect Planting Methods

We see mistakes being made when it comes to the “two D’s” of direction and depth.

Direction

Placing the seed in its planting medium may seem like an overly simple task. However, there’s still a chance you could screw it up.

Avoid planting it in the wrong direction by paying attention to the seed’s crown.

This looks like a small crater shape located at one end of the seed. The other end has a point, so they’re easy to distinguish from one another.

Make sure that the seed’s crown is facing you when you plant it, which leaves the pointy end facing downward.

This way, when the seed germinates, it’ll sprout properly, sending the root down versus the opposite scenario of resulting in a failed seedling.

Depth

The planting depth matters, too. This will differ depending on the type of seed you’re planting and the medium it’s going in.

Generally speaking, we want to avoid planting seeds too deep, which could result in a seedling never showing up.

The opposite of this, planting too shallow, may also pose a problem. Doing so could result in weak plant stems that may not allow the seedling to grow.

Avoid either scenario by aiming for about 3-5 mm/ 0.1- 0.2inch in depth when you plant.

Germinate Away

As you can see, germinating weed seeds is a basic procedure that if done with a little care and forethought, should be a successful one.

Have a designated location ready that’s warm but not too hot. If you live in a cool climate, use lights for warmth, and make sure your germinating seeds stay wet but not saturated.

It might be tempting to use a pre-germination method, such as the cup or paper towel, but we recommend avoiding these as much as possible.

Using a starter kit, instead, will enable you to have high-quality resources at your fingertips that cover you from A to Z

Pay attention to any root growth or “popping” to indicate germination is complete.

By following our guidelines, you’ll be transplanting your baby plants in no time.

Jennifer

I have a passion for nutrition, organic supplements, and (mental) health. After learning about the beneficial properties of marijuana, I dedicated myself to writing articles that will teach you everything there is to learn about this miraculous plant. I’m looking forward to sharing with people how they can incorporate the benefits of marijuana into their healthy lifestyle: you don’t have to smoke to consume marijuana.