The easiest way to germinate your precious cannabis seeds.

Both the Paper Towel Method and the Soaking Method can be effective for germinating cannabis seeds. Neither is necessarily better than the other. The choice between the two methods often comes down to personal preference, along with the specific conditions you are working with. 

Below you will find guides to both the Soaking Method and the Paper Towel Method. Following the directions, I’ve detailed the advantages I find with each method. However, the ultimate choice is always yours to make.

The Soaking Method Guide

Materials you'll need:

  1. Cannabis seeds
  2. A clean glass or cup
  3. Distilled or purified water 
    • Note, tap water can be used, but should be left to sit for a day to allow chlorine to dissipate.
  4. Room temperature or slightly warmer water

Step 1. Preparation

  • Ensure your workspace is clean and free from contaminants.
  • Fill a clean glass or cup with enough distilled or purified water to completely submerge the seeds. The water should be at room temperature or slightly warmer.
Step 2. Soaking
  • Place the cannabis seeds into the glass or cup filled with water.
  • Allow the seeds to soak for 18 to 24 hours. Leave them in a dark, warm place.
    • This soaking period will encourage the seeds to absorb moisture and initiate the germination process.
Step 3. Check for Germination
  • After 18 to 24 hours, check the seeds. You should see they are swollen, and the outer shell may have cracked or split open. This indicates the germination process has begun.
Step 4. Planting
  • Carefully remove the soaked seeds from the water. Be gentle to avoid damaging them.
  • Plant the seeds directly into your chosen growing medium. Make a small ½- to 1-inch hole in the growing medium and place the seeds in it.
  • Cover the seeds with a thin layer of soil and water lightly to keep the growing medium moist.
Step 5. Germination
  • Maintain a consistently warm and humid environment. Ideally temperatures should be around 70-80°F (21-27°C) and include high humidity.
    • A humidity dome or plastic wrap can help create a suitable microenvironment.
    • Keep the growing medium moist but not waterlogged.
Step 6. Transplanting
    • Once your cannabis seedlings have established themselves with a few sets of true leaves, you can transplant them into larger pots or your chosen growing setup.

KEEP IN MIND: Handle the seeds and seedlings with care to avoid damaging them during the germination and transplanting processes. It's important to be patient and provide the right conditions for your cannabis plants to thrive as they grow. Done with care, The Soaking Method is highly effective.

Compare this first approach with the Paper Towel Method below to see which is right for you.  

The Paper Towel Method Guide

Materials you'll need:

  1. Cannabis seeds
  2. Two clean, white paper towels
  3. A clean, shallow dish or plate
  4. Distilled or purified water (tap water can be used but should be left to sit for a day to allow chlorine to dissipate)
  5. A sealable plastic bag or a plastic container with a lid

Step 1. Preparation

  • Start by ensuring that your workspace is clean and free from contaminants.
  • Moisten one of the paper towels with a small amount of distilled or purified water, making it damp but not soaking wet.

Step 2. Placing Seeds

  • Place your cannabis seeds evenly spaced on the damp paper towel.
Step 3. Covering Seeds
  • Carefully fold the damp paper towel over the seeds to create a "sandwich" with the seeds in the middle.
Step 4. Second Paper Towel
  • Take the second clean, white paper towel and dampen it with a bit of water.
  • Place this second damp paper towel on top of the "seed sandwich."
Step 5. Shallow Dish or Plate
  • Place the "seed sandwich" with the second damp paper towel on a clean, shallow dish or plate.

Step 6. Enclosure

  • Place the entire setup inside a sealable plastic bag or a plastic container with a lid. This creates a controlled and humid environment for germination.
Step 7. Warm, Dark Location
  • Put the sealed plastic bag or container in a warm and dark location. The ideal temperature for germination is around 70-80°F (21-27°C).
Step 8. Check for Germination
  • Check the paper towel regularly, usually every 12-24 hours. You should see the seeds sprouting a small taproot.
Step 9. Transplanting
  • Once the taproot is about 1/2 to 1 inch long, it's time to transplant the germinated seeds into your chosen growing medium. Carefully transfer the seeds using clean, sterilized tweezers or your fingers, taking care not to damage the delicate taproot.
Step 10. Planting
  • Create a small hole (about 1/2 to 1 inch deep) in your growing medium and place the germinated seed in it, taproot down.
  • Cover the seed with a thin layer of soil and water lightly.

Step 11. Germination Phase

  • Maintain a consistently warm and humid environment for your seedlings as they grow. Keep the growing medium moist but not waterlogged.

KEEP IN MIND: Be gentle when handling the germinated seeds and seedlings to avoid causing any damage. The paper towel method allows you to easily check on the germination progress and transplant the seeds once they've sprouted a taproot.

Advantages of the Soaking Method: 

  1. Faster Germination: Soaking seeds can lead to quicker germination because it encourages the seeds to absorb water rapidly and initiate the germination process. This is especially beneficial if you're working with seeds that have a tough outer shell.
  2. Reduced Risk of Damage: With the paper towel method, there's a risk of damaging the delicate sprout when transferring it from the paper towel to the growing medium. In the soaking method, you plant the seed directly after soaking, reducing this risk.
  3. Minimal Handling: Soaking seeds in water reduces the need to handle them. Handling can be a source of stress for the seeds, and excessive touching can damage them.
  4. Consistent Moisture: In the soaking method, the seeds are exposed to a consistent moisture environment. With the paper towel method, maintaining consistent moisture levels can be more challenging.

Soaking cannabis seeds is a simple and effective method for germination.

Re. the Soaking Method from Christine: I have personally had the most success with the Soaking Method. You simply place your seeds in darkness and wait up to 24 hours. I have had success with 5 year-old seeds using this method. The nice thing about the Soaking Method is that you don't have to worry quite as much about damaging the taproot as it is typically not established enough until you plant it. I highly suggest this method, especially if you are a new grower.


Advantages of the Paper Towel Method: 

  1. Controlled Environment: The paper towel method allows you to closely monitor the germination process and intervene if a seed shows signs of trouble. You can also ensure that all seeds are viable before planting them in the growing medium.
  2. Visual Confirmation: It's easier to see when a seed has germinated when using the paper towel method. You can wait until you see the taproot emerge before planting it.

The Paper Towel Method allows visual confirmation of the cannabis’ taproots.

In Conclusion

Ultimately, the choice between these two methods depends on your preferences and the specific circumstances you're working with. Some growers prefer the Soaking Method for its speed and simplicity, while others opt for the Paper Towel Method in order to have more control over the germination process. Both methods can be successful if carried out correctly.


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