How to Prime Seeds for a Head Start on the Grow Season
Looking to give your seeds a head start? Seed priming lets you get to the fun part of growing faster while increasing success rates and even yields.
Few things compare to the joy of seeing that first bit of green poking through the soil. Growing is an art, and a beautiful one at that.
Germinating seeds yourself brings a sense of accomplishment as well as pure excitement for what’s to come. For impatient gardeners like me, seed priming offers a true edge in the process of seed germination, increasing success rates, and speeding things up.
What is Seed Priming?
Think of priming as hydrating seeds. Seed priming establishes consistent moisture and temperature for seeds so they begin the germination process. In many cases, seeds are primed and then the germination process is halted before roots and sprouts emerge.
This can occur because controlled priming works within a window of time between priming and pre-germination. As long as priming does not surpass the maximum length of time, seeds can safely dry back to a dormant state and await planting. Amazingly, at the time they’re sown, primed seeds will sprout more quickly and abundantly than non-primed seeds.
Seed Priming at Home
Seed priming is possible for hobby and home gardeners, although it may be more or less a little-known secret or a proud discovery of greater gardening success. Only this year did I learn the amazing experience of improving germination by priming and testing seeds in wet paper towels.
Soak seeds in a small bowl of water for no more than 24 hours.
Soaking Seeds First
When priming seeds at home, you can soak seeds or use the paper towel method of germination. If soaking, place seeds in a small bowl of water and soak for no more than 24 hours. Recommendations on total soak time vary but range commonly between eight to 12 hours and absolutely no more than 24, or else the seeds might begin to rot.
Wet Paper Towel Seed Priming
The plastic baggie and paper towel method of starting seeds is a very useful technique. A kind gentleman in a Facebook gardening group suggested it for planting pea seeds to see if they’d sprout. Here are the steps:
- Fold a paper towel in half.
- Space out pea seeds on the folded paper towel.
- Spray room temperature tap water lightly on the paper towel.
- Fold it to fully cover the seeds and ensure it is evenly moist.
- Place the folded paper towel in a zip-top plastic baggie.
- Label with the date and type of seed.
- Place near a heating vent or on a warm surface such as the top of your fridge or microwave.
I couldn’t believe my luck the next morning! When I checked on the pea seeds in the baggies, I saw the radicles (first roots) had begun to emerge from almost all the seeds. Amazed, I proceeded to use the same wet paper towel and baggie-priming method with beans, Roma tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, cucumbers, and even fruit seeds for fun. Almost everything germinated. Brilliant!
You can gently bury the entire primed seed loosely below the soil.
As Seedlings Emerge
Prior to priming, be sure to check your local weather. Once you start the priming process at home, it’s vital to get the seeds into the ground soon after they begin germinating. In as little as 24 hours, you may see some tiny seedlings starting to push their way through the seed coats. You can gently bury the entire primed seed loosely below the soil and it should continue its journey to the surface in short time.
Why Should I Prime Seeds?
Planting primed seeds results in shorter germination times and better rates of germination. For both commercial farmers and home gardeners, seed priming saves time and optimizes growth. Here are some key advantages of using primed seeds or priming seeds yourself:
Faster Seed Germination – Moisture added when priming seeds speeds up the germination process.
Higher Rates of Germination – Seeds sprout in greater numbers when primed before planting. Proper priming can overcome seed dormancy for stubborn varieties.
More Forgiving to Temperature – Seeds go through many of their temperature-sensitive changes during priming. Therefore, they can germinate more easily in cooler temperatures, which in turn can impact heating bills in larger scale farming operations.
Reduce Fungi – It’s reported that priming seeds can lower the incidence of seedborne fungi in resulting plants.
Increase in Yield – Significantly higher yields are likely to occur with primed seeds. One study revealed a 21 percent greater yield when priming seeds first.
Higher Density and Vigor – Plants grown from primed seeds tend to be more vigorous and may also reach maturity sooner. This also means harvests may begin earlier in the growing season.
Affordable – Priming seeds at home is easy to do and you can use materials you already have around the home. It’s cheap, easy, and quite honestly, much neater than starting everything in soil first.
Environmentally-Friendly – This method of enhanced gardening is friendly to plants and the environment. Your green thumb is now even greener!
Save Valuable Planting Space – Priming seeds first speeds things up and allows you to identify viable seeds as well as potential duds. You can swiftly pot up the promising seeds and discard or bulk plant those that don’t seem viable.
Soak It — Seeds Best Suited for Priming
Starting seeds is so much fun, and it’s even better when you’re able to up the ante for quicker and better results. Consider what you’re planning to grow and whether priming the seeds can enhance your gardening experience. You can prime these seeds for quicker and more abundant germination. Try at-home priming with wet paper towels or seed soaking for the following seeds, to name a few.
Commercial Examples of Seed Priming
In professional environments, seed priming may involve a solute, whereas in-home gardeners will likely use water to prime their seeds. Even water vapor can aid in the seed priming process.
In a study of nanoparticle-mediated seed priming, seeds received a treatment of nanopriming agents, in this case turmeric oil nanoemulsions (TNE) and silver nanoparticles (AgNPs). This seed priming measure improved the germination of notoriously temperamental watermelon seeds and resulted in improved germination, better growth, and increased yield without altering the quality of the fruit.
Another study tested seed priming in developing countries. This study largely found “on-farm” seed priming to be significantly positive in its impacts to seed germination, plant growth, and crop yields.
Professional Seed Priming Methods
Commercial growers and suppliers rely on proven methods to prime seeds for best germination, growth, and yield. Some have their own proprietary means of priming seeds while others adhere to tried and true techniques. Here are the most common commercial priming methods.
Drum Priming – Seeds soak up moisture from controlled humidity within a rotating drum. The monitored water vapor moistens the seeds and primes them for optimal growth.
Hydropriming – While used in commercial operations, this method would also work at home. Hydropriming involves soaking seeds in water, specifically in aerated distilled water if possible.
On-Farm Seed Priming – Farmers can soak seeds overnight and allow them to dry briefly before planting. This method can reduce the overall time needed for the seeds to soak water directly from the soil.
Osmopriming – Soaking seeds in low water content paired with osmotic solution relies on osmosis to jumpstart the seeds without kicking them into true germination. Plant hormones or beneficial microorganisms may also be mixed into the priming solutions.
Solid Matrix Priming – A slower method, seeds begin in an insoluble medium that readily absorbs water, such as vermiculite. This method limits water uptake by the seeds.
Take these tips on priming seeds at face value and give it a whirl with your next planting. This is one case where it’s quick, clean, and easy to make a difference in your gardening endeavors!
Tip: Not all seeds need to be primed. Some, particularly those that are finicky when transplanted, may not be great candidates for seed priming or may sprout just fine on their own. Those that are small may simply not need it. Carrots, lettuce, radishes, and some herbs and flowers may do better without priming. If you do choose to prime these seeds, soak in a small dish of water and watch closely every few hours to avoid overdoing it. Trial and error is one of the best parts of gardening!
How to Germinate Weed Seeds – Tips and Methods
Germinating cannabis seeds isn’t a complicated process, although it does require a few specific parameters in order to happen successfully. If you’re reading up on how to germinate weed seeds, you’re in the right place; it’s a relatively easy process, you just need to have some patience on hand. The first thing to keep in mind is that your seeds are going to need water, heat and air in order to germinate.
How to Germinate Weed Seeds – Basic Parameters
Moisture is one of the three elements required to successfully germinate cannabis seeds; it essentially helps the seeds to expand and therefore break their shell. Over-watering at this stage can be fatal for your seeds, although harder-shelled and older seeds can take longer to soak through, so some patience is required.
This can be the hardest thing to work with, because temperatures that are either too cold or too hot will mess with your seeds and they won’t germinate. Springtime temperatures are generally what you should be aiming for – seeds can still germinate in colder temperatures, although they can take longer.
How to Germinate Weed Seeds – Germination Methods
There are many different germination methods that growers tend to use, all of which involve water and heat, although they’re not all as effective as others. Some people prefer germinating by planting straight in the ground, using starter cubes or by letting them soak overnight, although our preferred and recommended method is the paper towel method using either plates or an opaque kitchen container. We’re going to give you a brief rundown of the other methods, alongside their pros and cons.
This method is more reliable than others, and they make germinating quite easy. All you have to do is place your seed carefully in your seed plug and follow the instructions when watering; different brands and models have different watering instructions.
Some cubes are made out of peat and soil, and you can move them straight into your flowerpot once they’ve popped. However, hydroponic growers can use rockwool cubes which can hold quite a lot of moisture.
One of the downsides to using starter cubes is that they’re not very handy if you only want to germinate one or two seeds, because they’re usually sold in packs of 50 or more, and once they’ve been opened most cubes tend to dry out within a couple of weeks. Another downside to Rockwool specific cubes is that they’re bad for the environment, can be bad for your health when inhaled, and they’re not the best method for new growers.
Other growers prefer to get rid of the middle man and plant their seed straight into their first flowerpot – it’s essentially how it would be done in nature, so why not follow the natural order? One of the pros when it comes to planting straight in your growing medium is that you don’t have to stress out your little seedling when transplanting, although it can be a bit harder to get the humidity right and you need to bury it just the right amount so that it can sprout.
We highly advise against using this method, as it’s incredibly easy to accidentally drown your seeds. This method involves soaking your seeds in a glass of lukewarm water – it can be any type of cup, although people usually use a normal glass. This method can be effective for much older seeds or for seeds that have abnormally thick shells.
There are a few myths surrounding germinating in water overnight – some people say that if your seeds sink, they won’t germinate, however the truth is that most seeds start off by floating and then as they soak, they sink to the bottom of the glass. This has nothing to do with germination indication.
How to Germinate Weed Seeds – Paper Towel Method
This method is the method we recommend all readers and customers use, as it’s the one that has proven to give us the highest germination rate. We’re going to give an in-depth step by step guide on how to use this method. Keep in mind that you can skip the rooting hormone part if you prefer all natural results, although X-Seed does provide impressive results to start with.
Material Needed to Successfully Germinate seeds
- Kitchen paper
- Opaque plastic Tupperware or two plates
- Viable cannabis seeds
We’re going to go through the X-Seed method – if you want to skip this, you can simply skip the steps involving X-Seed and place your seeds straight into your paper towel as stated in step 4. Before you start, make sure you have everything you need at hand, so that you don’t have to waste any time looking for stuff. Find the best strains at our Cannabis seeds – Buy Marijuana Seeds section.
Step 1: Soak the seeds
Submerge your seeds in your B.A.C. X-Seed liquid for an hour. Give it a stir every now and then so that the seeds are thoroughly soaked.
Step 2: Germination
While your seeds are soaking, you’ll need to prepare your paper towel and plates (or opaque Tupperware). Make a makeshift “bed” on the bottom plate with damp kitchen paper, but make sure it isn’t soaking. We tend to use 3 layers of kitchen paper; wet the paper and let it dry without wrinkling it, hanging it out kind of like a t-shirt so that all of the excess water can easily drain out. No need to worry about drying it, as you want the kitchen paper to be damp.
Step 3: Separation
After your seeds have been in the B.A.C. X-Seed liquid for an hour, by using a spoon you can carefully extract the seeds from the liquid and spread them evenly across the bottom of your plate or container. An even spread is important, so as the roots of each seed do not get tangled – about an inch apart is good.
Step 4: Cover the seeds
Once you have all of your seeds nicely placed on your plate or in your container, cover the seeds with another layer of damp kitchen paper, similar to the first layer that you put on the bottom. At this point, your seeds should be completely covered.
Step 5: Take care
Once you’ve finished covering your seeds with paper towel, cover them with another plate or put the lid on your container; if doing this in a container, the paper shouldn’t dry out as fast. A mistake made by many growers is that they add too much water to their paper towels if they’ve dried up, but by using a spray bottle you can moisten it some more without overdoing it. If your container is transparent, all you have to do is line the inside so that absolutely no light can get in.
Step 6: Temperature adjustments
Once you’ve isolated your seeds from light, you should leave it somewhere with a nice, neutral temperature. During winter it’s often harder to find a good spot, so you should try and find a heat source that isn’t excessive. You can use a computer modem, or even a softly powered electric blanket. Items like play-stations can get too hot and could end up cooking your seeds, so take care where you put them.
Step 7: After care
Once your seeds open up, they’ll shoot out a small, white root. This means you need to be extremely careful when handling them. Don’t leave them for long because once they’re open they should be moved to soil.
Step 8: Moving to soil
Now that your seeds have officially germinated. Now you need to move them to the medium in which they will remain for the rest of the growing process. Germinated seeds usually grown in soil, but rockwool for hydroponics is also a good option growing. Or even a coco jiffy if you want to cultivate in coco coir. In this article we’ll be dealing with the most common method: planting seeds in soil.
How to Germinate Weed Seeds
Start by filling a small pot with soil, no more than half a liter. Water it before even thinking about planting your seed. Once the soil is damp enough to weigh down the plant pot, use the tip of your finger to create a small 0.5-0.1 cm hole in the middle of the soil, and deposit the seed in the hole with the root facing downwards. Then, cover the seed with a little soil so that it’s just under the surface. The last step in this process is to put your plant pot in the sun or under your lamps (wherever you’re planning on growing it). Within a couple of days you should see that first sprout, that will keep on growing right until the end. In some cases, it may even take a matter of hours.
Keep an eye out on our follow up article on soil preparation for growing cannabis.
How to Germinate Cannabis Seeds
Germination is the beginning of your cannabis seeds’ life and is easy to master. At this crucial stage, seeds grow and sprout into young seedlings. The best genetics deserve the best start, and all you need is two plates, some paper towel, and water. Apply the best germination method today and enjoy a great harvest.
1. Germination set-up
Prepare the first plate by lining the inside surface with two to three layers of damp paper towel. Drain excess water from your plate.
Place cannabis seeds on the top surface of the damp paper towel. Approximately three per plate; ensure they are not touching but are evenly spaced apart.
Add only a few layers of damp paper towel on top of the seeds, and let any excess water drain from the plate. Too much water lowers the chance of successful germination.
To complete the set-up, place the remaining plate upside-down and on top of the first plate, resembling pearls inside a clam.
Cannabis seeds need a dark, warm, and humid atmosphere to germinate.
Around 21°C (70°F) is perfect. Check the paper towels every second day and if required, spray with water to keep conditions moist for your seeds.
After a few days, tiny roots will begin to emerge. Congratulations! Your seeds have survived their first stage of life. Don’t worry if some of your seeds have not yet changed, they may just need a little more time as germination can take up to 14 days.
3. Plant of the seeling
Once the roots are a few millimetres long, they are ready to be delicately transferred to a small container filled with your growing medium of choice (rockwool, coco-fibre, or soil).
Make a hole in the growing medium that is 2 – 5 mm deep. Use tweezers or your fingers to transfer germinated seeds gently into the hole (root pointing down) and lightly cover with a fine layer of your medium. Do not pat it down too hard. The stem and the first tiny set of leaves, called cotyledons or ‘seed leaves’, should begin to emerge 24 to 72 hours after the seeds are planted.
4. Supplying a light source
Seedlings must be exposed to sunlight once they sprout. Ensure this is a gradual process as too much heat causes stress and will stunt growth.
Find a sunny place where you can begin to increase sun exposure, such as a windowsill. Ensure sun exposure is increased by an hour or so a day.
For an indoor plant you can use a fluorescent light (keep normal distance from bulb) or HID lighting (50-80 cm from the bulb).
Take care in the first week or two, as seedlings are still quite delicate and sensitive to the elements. They won’t need a lot of attention until the vegetative stage so avoid overhandling.
Germination is the beginning stage of the growing cycle, and this easy-to-follow guide gives your premium genetic cannabis seeds the best start to life. Whether you are a first-time home grower or a well-seasoned gardener, share your experience or any questions in the comments down below, as well as your tips and tricks!
Sensi Seeds CBD: Seeds, Oils, Capsules — How They’re Made
Laws and regulations regarding cannabis cultivation differ from country to country. Sensi Seeds therefore strongly advises you to check your local laws and regulations. Do not act in conflict with the law.
22 thoughts on “How to Germinate Cannabis Seeds”
Hi, Once seeds have sprouted, how long can or should you leave them to grow under 24 hr lights before moving to your outdoor garden?
Good afternoon Ken,
I hope you’re having a great day.
For the vegetation process, a light schedule of 18 hours of light, and 6 hours of darkness is preferred. Many growers get plants acclimatized to outside by placing them in a window, or under direct sunlight for a few hours a day.
Thanks again, and have a great day!
Hello everyone, all these suggestions are wonderful but I think a lot of you make it sound a little overwhelmingly. I’ve been very successfully cultivating for decades and I’ve always just placed my seeds, be it 1 or 100, in between 2 folded sheets of tissue which I’ve made wet with tap water. I then place them on a tray or plate in a warm dark area , such as an airing cupboard and leave for how ever long they take usually, 12 to 24 hours. The ONLY thing I do which takes effort is PH balance the water I germinate them in and I’ve only lost 5 seeds in nearly 40 years .
Good afternoon Paul,
I hope you’re having a good day,
Thanks for sharing your experiences with germination. pH balancing is a great tip You also might be interested in our new Jamaican Pearl Feminized Grow Report
Thanks again, and I hope you continue to enjoy the blog,
I lightly score my seeds by shaking them inside a rolled up piece of sandpaper – sandpaper side on the inside before leaving them in a cup of water for a few hours to hydrate. I then place them between wet (good quality) paper towel per instructions above. I find using an old plastic takeaway container with a heatmat below keeps the humidity high and with good end results.
Good morning Jonny,
Thanks for sharing your methods for germination with us, the heat mat and low-humidity are great tips!
Thanks again, and I hope you continue to enjoy the blog,
I have found out that the best and fastest way is to take a glass of clean/filtered water and place the seed right on top of the water (floating – NOT immersed in it!). If the seed is viable it will sprout in no more than 48 hours. Right after that you plant it in your pot/soil etc and you’re done.
Good morning Mary Jane,
Thanks for your support, and for sharing your experiences with germination!
You might also be interested in our article on The Life cycle of Cannabis: From seed to harvest.
Have a great day!
What happend if they sink I had em sink they came out fine
Are you saying they sprout in the glass of water and don’t “drown”?
Take aluminum foil flatten it out and put on top of your dirt it detects planes and grow it just like a tomato plant
Good morning Tammy,
Thanks for getting in touch with Sensi Seeds, and sharing your germination method with us!
Thanks again, and I hope you continue to enjoy the blog.
With best wishes,
Detects planes? Like magnetic? I’ve always has best success 24-48 hours soaked In water, spring water if possible. Usually do this in a shot glass, once they pop I’ll take a paper towel fold so it’s 2 layers then fold once more so you know where center is. Dump the seed in the middle of the edge and the true center (reason we folded a 2nd time)as well as the water just enough to saturate the paper towel. Do not soak! Carefully with the seed in the middle using sterile tweezers turn so the tap is growing down. This will prevent circling and tangling if doing multiple seeds. Now you can fold the other half so your seed will be “sandwiched” between 2 layers. At this time carefully take a corner and the waters attraction should keep your paper towel from unfolding but just in case be gentle. Holding it from 1 corner you can dangle it over a cub or the original shot glass so any extra water runs off. Now take a standard zip or press n seal sandwhich bag and slide your napkin in Carefully . REMEMBER which way was down! Work the air out making jt flat snd seal. Find a temperate dark area around 70°. A cabinet works we’ll as your going to prop it up with taproot facing downwards. Now just close it up and wait in 24-72 hours checking once a day. In rare cases you could have a 1/2″ tap root in the first 24 hrs some may take 4-5 days. Once the tap is about 1/2″-3/4″ long its ready for transplant into its first small pot. With this paper towel method I typically have 100% success.
Can you leave your seed to develop longer roots in the germination phase and can this make them better to grow or is a big no no?
Last year, I had 2 seeds that had really long roots with lots of secondary roots coming out when they were planted, one of which died after a couple of weeks and the other grew into a huge plant.
The other two seeds only had a short germinated growth and both died almost immediately after planting so not sure what I can learn from this…lol
Appreciate any thoughts and advice
Unfortunately, legal restrictions mean we can’t answer grow-related questions or give grow advice on this blog. However, other readers of this blog will often answer questions like yours.
Please check out the following articles on our blog which I think you may find of use, and I hope you continue to enjoy the blog!
With best wishes,
How often do you water and how wet should the plant be? Please.
Also if they are outdoor plants do you need to keep them covered with clingfilm for a wee while or do you just hope for the best. Thanks
This article, about how to water cannabis plants, should answer your questions. I can’t help you with the clingfilm one though, as it depends on the climate. Good luck, and happy gardening!
With best wishes,
Just drop the seeds in water, they will sprout , don’t have to use a towel and check it all the time , drop it in the water , let it float then it will sink and the root will grow out ,let the root get 1/4 inch and plant it where it’s going to grow , 8 hours sunlight starting as soon as it is out of the soil. Always grows great , don’t have to transplant from cup to gallon to bigger and bigger , if it’s growing outside put it where it stays , always does just fine.
Good afternoon Graham,
Thank you so much for sharing your experiences with germination.
Thanks again for your comment, and I hope you continue to enjoy the blog.
Have a great day!
I recommend this article to all breeders and cultivators who plans to germinate seeds and to some who don’t know how to germinate seeds, this article has the best and perfect ways on how to do it.
I have large bay windows at my condo which get about 11-12 hours of light per day. They are tinted but warm. I grow other indoor plants there perfectly. Is an ok place for my pot plants?
This sounds like a great place for all kinds of plants! I recommend you have a look at autoflowering varieties, as otherwise light pollution may negatively affect the flowering cycle. Good luck, and happy gardening!
With best wishes,
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