How to Spot Bad Cannabis Seeds [Comprehensive Guide]
You may not realize it, but the quality of your cannabis crop is, in part, determined before you have even begun. Seed quality is an enormous part of growing, so it’s vital to source marijuana seeds from a reputable company.
Sometimes, you can end up with ‘bad’ cannabis seeds that will cause problems later down the line. In some cases, these seeds just won’t germinate. Although this won’t ruin your entire crop, it is a waste of time and money, which can be frustrating.
Today, we will help you work out whether your cannabis seeds are good or bad. Hopefully, this guide will help you to determine which seeds are worthy of your time and which ones are duds.
What Makes a Cannabis Seed ‘Bad’?
A ‘bad seed’ is any cannabis seed that will cause problems. In some instances, this means a dud seed that never sprouts, wasting your valuable time and a few resources. While dud seeds aren’t damaging, they are irritating.
Another type of bad seeds is male cannabis plants. There’s a 50/50 chance with regular seeds as to whether any given seed is male or female. The problem is that male plants will pollinate the females once they reach maturity, destroying the valuable THC content of female plants.
Having male cannabis plants in your garden is basically a recipe for disaster, so you want to avoid it at all costs. By the way, here’s how to figure out if your plants are male or female.
One way around this is to purchase feminized marijuana seeds. In theory, all seeds in a feminized bunch will be female – unless you buy from a disreputable grower. Unfortunately, there’s no way to tell whether a plant is male or female simply based on the seeds.
This guide will only cover how to tell the difference between a potent seed and a dud seed.
The complete guide…
How to Test Cannabis Seeds
There are several easy methods for testing cannabis seeds. Most of them can be performed before germination, saving you some time and resources. Let’s find out how to check your seeds.
Method #1: The Sight Test
Cannabis seeds are surprisingly beautiful. They have a mottled brown appearance with patches of light and dark, and sometimes gorgeous tiger stripes. The seeds are also quite shiny if you view them close enough.
Sometimes, you can tell if a seed is good or bad just by looking at it. Here’s how to spot a healthy seed:
- Coloration: A dark coloration with black or gray patches is a sign of a healthy seed. Conversely, white or green seeds are unlikely to germinate because they are not mature. Pale seeds are also more likely to be old and ineffective.
- Waxy coating: Healthy seeds have a waxy, shiny coating. If it doesn’t, then the seed is likely a dud
- Cracks: Cannabis seeds should not be cracked. If your seed has cracks in it, it’s probably best to discard it.
- Shape: The rounder and fatter the seed, the more likely it is to sprout into a healthy plant. Some growers are concerned about large seeds with thick shells but don’t worry. The shell will break down with water.
- Mildew: Grab a magnifying glass and view the seeds close up. A white, dusty powder is a sign of powdered mildew, which means the seeds have a fungus and should not be planted.
In some instances, you can crack the seed open and see inside if you can’t tell anything from the outer shell. An oily inside with a musty smell means that the seed has gone bad. Similarly, black inside the seed means that it’s fermenting. Again, it won’t germinate in this instance.
Method #2: The Touch Test
The feel of cannabis seeds is another good indicator. Hold the seed between your thumb and forefinger and give it a light squeeze. Don’t apply too much pressure – just enough to test its integrity.
If the seed cracks under slight pressure, then it’s unusable. It’s likely to be past its sell-by date.
Strong seeds, however, have a better chance of germinating and growing into a healthy plant.
Method #3: The Water Test
Are you still unsure about your cannabis seeds? You can always do a floating test to see if they’re healthy. By the way, this method works for numerous plant seeds and not just cannabis.
Disclaimer: Don’t perform this test unless you’re ready to germinate the plants right away. The water could damage the seed and ruin a perfectly healthy plant if you dry it out afterward.
For this test, you will need a cup, glass, or bowl of warm water. It should be quite warm, but not hot. It also works best with spring water or distilled water.
Add your seeds to the water, and then wait for 1-2 hours. Those that float on the surface are bad seeds that are unlikely to grow, whereas the seeds that sink are probably healthy.
This method is a great way to check your seeds because it’s low effort. You can also test multiple seeds at once, and it’s really cheap and easy to do.
After you’ve done this test, you need to germinate the healthy seeds. At this point, they will have absorbed water, which can damage the seed if you don’t germinate it at this point. Incidentally, germination is the final test for your seeds.
Method #4: The Germination Test
If all else fails, it’s time to germinate. You might have no idea whether your seeds are healthy but attempting to grow them is an easy final test that will separate good seeds from duds.
There are multiple ways to germinate, including planting the seed directly in soil and seeing if it sprouts. This is a pretty ‘old-school’ method, but sometimes, it works.
More commonly, growers use the paper towel method. Dampen a paper towel, ensuring it isn’t soaking wet. Place this on a kitchen plate and put the seeds on top, then put another plate upside-down on top. A moist, dark, warm environment allows the seeds to sprout. Check on the seeds once a day; after germinating, you should see a white taproot emerge.
At this point, you can transplant the seed into its pot. Use a pair of tweezers and handle each seed carefully, being careful not to touch the taproot. The taproot is fragile and may break if you’re not delicate; furthermore, touching it with your hands may contaminate it.
After germination, you’re good to go. Remember to check back as the plants mature to make sure you haven’t got any male cannabis plants.
Waste not, want not!…
How to Buy Good Cannabis Seeds Every Time
It’s recommended to buy feminized cannabis seeds to eliminate the possibility of males ruining your crop. Even so, some subpar retailers will advertise feminized seeds, only to sell regular cannabis seeds.
It’s vital to buy from a reputable seller that you trust. If this is your first time, read reviews on the seed banks to find out what other customers thought. If lots of buyers were disappointed by low-quality seeds, avoid that company!
Unfortunately, you might still get some bad seeds sometimes. Plants are living beings and can be a bit unpredictable – even the seller might not be aware that some of their seeds are duds. With any luck, the majority of seeds you buy will be healthy and good to go.
The sign of a bad seller is that their seeds are consistently old, dead, and covered in powdery mildew. That said, don’t be too harsh on a seed bank if a couple of their seeds don’t work from time to time when they’re generally reliable.
Final Thoughts on Good and Bad Cannabis Seeds
Telling good and bad cannabis seeds apart is not an exact science. Sadly, you don’t know what’s inside the seed beyond its appearance, so you won’t know what the plant is truly like until you start growing it.
Cultivating marijuana is a bit of a learning curve, so don’t worry if you mess up your crop from time to time. It will only get easier with time.
Hopefully, you can now tell apart some seeds, at least, giving you more opportunities to create a successful grow.
What To Do If You Find Seeds In Your Weed
When I lived in the Midwest, I would drive 70 miles each way to buy weed. I would buy whatever strain my dealer had. And I knew I’d end up with a lot of marijuana seeds.
Like most smokers, I wanted as much smokeable bud as possible, and seeds always felt like a net loss. I couldn’t smoke them. I couldn’t use them to grow my own plant (not in Indiana, anyway). So I threw them away.
After moving to Boulder, I almost forgot about seedy cannabis.
I would stop by Karing Kind dispensary every week or two, buying anywhere from an eighth to an ounce, and over the years I have found fewer than five seeds in my weed.
Pounds and pounds of clean-grown, top-shelf bud… five total seeds. That’s an incredible track record!
But as I’ve come to appreciate, finding seeds in your weed doesn’t have to be a bad thing. The occasional seed hardly affects how much flower you have to smoke, and with a little effort it has the potential to turn into your very own pot plant. Hooray! Free weed!
I still love seedless marijuana. It’s just so easy to grind and smoke. But now, instead of grumbling on those rare occasions when I find a seed, I get excited.
Seed Be Gone: Top-Shelf Cannabis Grown With the Best Available Methods
The plants grown in Karing Kind’s garden are carefully monitored and cared for. Male plants are removed prior to pollination, and female plants are nurtured to reduce stress, which limits the occurrence of self-pollinating hermaphroditic plants.
This all goes to ensure the bud you buy is as potent and dense as possible, with limited stems and almost no seeds. And that means more smokeable marijuana.
Of course, after more than a year without finding even a single seed in my cannabis, I began to rethink my resistance to seedy weed.
After all, Colorado residents are allowed to grow their own cannabis plants for personal use… shouldn’t I be actively hoping for seeds that I could try to turn into my own source of top-shelf marijuana?
Are Cannabis Seeds from Recreational Dispensary Bud Worth Growing?
Who wouldn’t want a chance at growing their own marijuana, especially when you know you’re getting a favorite strain and what potency and effects you can expect?
But seeds you find in store-bought weed are not the same as seeds that have been stabilized over time. In some cases, seeds won’t maintain the potency, yield or fragrance of the original plant. This potential change in quality is why many growers prefer to use clones.
That doesn’t mean you should just throw out seeds you find!
It’s still a free cannabis seed with the potential to produce a high-yielding plant you couldn’t grow otherwise. No, it might not end up being an exact clone of the strain you found it in. But when you’re starting with top-shelf bud, even a slight shift in the next generation’s quality will yield potent, flavorful flower.
Try to get your seed to sprout, and give it time to flower before deciding whether to maintain that plant or move on to greener pastures.
What Do Viable Marijuana Seeds Look Like?
The only sure way to know if a seed is viable is to try to germinate and see if it sprouts.
Generally speaking, viable seeds are darker and relatively hard. Even if a seed is pale and easy to crush between your fingers, however, it’s worth trying to get a sprout before giving up on the seed as nonviable.
What’s the Difference Between Seeds You Find and Seeds You Buy?
When you buy seeds from a trusted breeder, like those sold at Karing Kind recreational marijuana dispensary in Boulder, you can expect they will carry the same properties of the “mother” plant. That’s because these seeds have been carefully stabilized over generations.
The seeds you find in store-bought marijuana flower aren’t even supposed to be there. That doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with the seeds you find… there’s just a little more room for variations in the quality and yield of the plant the seed grows.
Even when buying seeds from trusted breeders, there isn’t any guarantee your plant will exactly mirror the mother plant. Your growing method, soil, temperature, lights and dozens of other factors can all impact the yield, smell and potency of the plant.
Learn more about how to set up your home grow , and let us know in the comments if you have turned any “unwanted” seeds into your very own cannabis plant.
To Seed or Not to Seed…
The only time I have a green thumb is after eating lime jello. I once managed to kill a cactus. If I’m going to try my hand at growing something again, it may as well be with free cannabis seeds.
Because of their attention to detail and careful growing methods, you aren’t likely to find seeds in the flower you buy at Karing Kind. Just pure, top-shelf marijuana. But i f you do find a seed, why not see how it grows? You could end up with your very own cannabis plant and a free, ongoing supply of top-shelf flower.
Or – if you want to ensure the most bud for your effort – you can buy stabilized seeds from Freeworld Genetics for pickup at Karing Kind in North Boulder.
While we carry a variety of strains, concentrates, edibles, salves and tinctures, inventory and stock levels fluctuate from week to week and month to month. Check our menu and follow us on Twitter for an up-to-date list of edibles, concentrates and buds available.