No germination method is perfect (some seeds just won't germinate), but I've gotten 100% germination ever since I started using this method. The best Marijuana Seeds selection, from the finest sativas until the most medicinal Indicas, discover them in Delicious Seeds. A step-by-step guide describing the best way to germinate your cannabis seeds. This germination method is ideal for the indoor and outdoor grower.
How to Germinate Seeds via Paper Towel Method
Cannabis seeds are natural things and you can’t expect 100% germination every time. Unfortunately, that’s just not how nature works. Many factors can affect germination including genetics (some strains germinate easier than others), the age of seeds, and how well they were stored. But I’ve been lucky and gotten 100% germination ever since I started using this method.
Paper Towel Method – Germinate seeds between wet paper towels, lock in the moisture with two plates, and place on a seedling heat mat for a few days
- High Germination Rate – Almost every seed with germinate if you follow the instructions
- Fast – Often takes only 1-3 days to see roots
- Keep Track – You can check on seeds without disturbing them
- Less Space – Use less space than planting seeds in pots (helpful if germinating lots of seeds at once)
- Fun – I personally love seeing the whole germination process and it makes me genuinely feel closer to the seedlings
- Multiple Steps – Not as simple as planting seeds directly in soil!
- Requires Supplies – You need cheap paper towels, seedling plugs, and a seedling heat mat
- “Bucket Head” Seedlings – I’ve found that shells are more likely to get stuck on the seedling leaves with this germination method because seedlings aren’t pushing themselves out of the soil. You may want to use tweezers to remove the shell gently, or just leave them be. However, this can happen with any method (instructions at the end of the article explain how to remove stubborn shells safely) and I personally find the increased germination rate makes this worth it.
Seeds typically germinate in 1-3 days!
Create happy little seedlings in less than a week!
How to Germinate via the Paper Towel Method
- Cheap paper towels – Why cheap paper towels? Seed roots grow into expensive cloth-like ones and have to be cut out (learned that one from experience)
- Two Plates – You need to lock the moisture in during the germination process
- Cannabis Seeds – If you need seeds, here’s a list of seed vendors that ship worldwide
- Rapid Rooters with Tray – The perfect environment for newly germinated seeds
- Seedling Heating Mat – Or any warm surface that stays about 70-85°F (20-30°C) to keep seeds warm
Cheap paper towels (don’t use the expensive cloth-like ones!)
Rapid Rooters (note: extra Rapid Rooters can be stored in a cool place for future grows)
Seedling Tray to hold Rapid Rooters
Seedling heat mat to keep seedlings warm (or any surface that’s about 70-85°F or 20-30°C)
1.) Put 3-4 Layers of Paper Towels on Plate
You don’t want to load your plate up with tons of paper towels, but it’s nice to have several sheets so they can hold plenty of water. If necessary, fold or cut the paper towels to size so everything fits completely inside the plate. If a paper towel is sticking outside the plates, everything will dry out quickly.
You may need to cut (or fold) paper towels so they fit completely inside plate
2.) Label the Strains
If growing more than one strain at a time, label the paper towels so you’ll know which seed is which.
3.) Add Water & Seeds
Add some water on top of the paper towels so they’re soaked through, then place seeds down. I add water first to avoid accidentally moving seeds. It’s also a good idea to keep the plate flat so seeds don’t roll around.
4.) Cover with 1 Sheet of Paper Towel
Put a single sheet of paper towel on top. With just one sheet you will be able to see whether the seeds have germinated without having to disturb them. You may need to add a little extra water so that the top sheet is moist all the way through.
With a single sheet on top, you can still mostly see the seeds
5.) Put 2nd Plate on Top
Lock in all the moisture by putting another plate on top.
6.) Place on Seedling Heat Mat
Plug in your seedling heat mat. It should warm up quickly. I’ve put the plates directly on the mat before, which worked well, but sometimes I worry my little weed seedlings may get too hot with the plate directly on the mat. Since I already have a Rapid Rooter tray for later, I place it between the mat and the plate. Feel free to use something else like a book or towel. The basic idea is to put some space between the heating mat and the plate so the plate still gets warm but the extra air space keeps the heat nice and even.
Why a seedling heat mat? Seeds germinate significantly faster when they’re kept 70-85°F (20-30°C). A seedling heat mat keeps seeds warm during the germination process. However, any warm spot works just as well (for example, on top of the refrigerator is the perfect temperature for some people). When you touch the wet paper towels, they should feel warm but not burning hot.
7.) Check on Seeds at Least Once a Day
Ensure paper towels don’t dry out. You may have to add more water occasionally to keep them wet. You can usually tell when the seeds have germinated without looking under the top sheet. This means you can check on your seeds regularly without disturbing them by picking up the top plate.
Seeds typically sprout in 1-3 days. Certain strains and older seeds may take a few extra days.
8.) Put Germinated Seeds in Rapid Rooters
Once seeds have germinated, gently pull off the top paper towel to reveal the seedlings underneath.
Carefully and slowly remove top paper towel sheet
Did you know the first two round seedling leaves were already fully formed inside the shell? The germination process only releases them. New leaves are yellow at first but turn green once they start getting light.
At this point, you may see some seedling leaves have already broken free of their shells. That’s awesome. These seedlings often grow the fastest.
If there’s a short root or seedling hasn’t germinated yet, put the paper towel back and gave the seedling one more day. Seedlings grow faster if they have a bit more root before being planted.
This Critical Purple Kush seed took an extra day to germinate compared to the other seeds. I gave it one more day after this so the root could get longer before I put in a Rapid Rooter.
I recommend cutting your Rapid Rooters in half to make it easier to place germinated seeds. Even a seed with a long wiggly root will usually easily fit into the “crack” of the Rapid Rooter. This prevents you from bending the roots.
Cut Rapid Rooters in half to make it easier to insert germinated seeds
Try to place the seed head close to the top so they don’t have far to go. I’ve found that some seedlings don’t make it to the top if you put them too far down.
If the seedling has already lost the shell, place the leaves close to the top. These seedlings often grow the fastest.
Otherwise, add the seedling, root down, with the shell close to the surface
Gently close around the seedling
Put into the Rapid Rooter tray (make sure they’re moist all the way through!) The bottom shell of the tray will hold extra water so plugs don’t dry out.
Add enough water that all the Rapid Rooters appear dark, but not shiny from too much water. Once you’re done, put the trays back on the seedling mat. Young seedlings love warmth!
9.) You Have Seedlings!
The leaves should appear above the Rapid Rooters within a day or two.
Just 12 hours later, several seedlings have already appeared above ground.
At this point, the seedlings are ready to be put under a gentle light. A sunny window works well, though your regular vegetative grow light should be fine as long as you keep it twice the normal distance away. Avoid touching the seedlings if possible. This is when they’re most vulnerable.
Within a day or two under a light (or in a sunny window), you’ll have a bunch of happy seedings!
The seedlings are ready to go in plant containers once they’ve spread out their first set of serrated leaves (to about the width of the Rapid Rooter)
At this point, you can plant the whole Rapid Rooter. Don’t forget to label the strains!
Move the grow light down to the standard distance once the plants have 3 sets of leaves. By now they should be growing fast!
Note: Move grow light down early if seedlings start getting tall with long stems. Tall, stretchy seedlings are telling you they want more light.
What If the Seedling Shell Gets Stuck? (“Bucket Head” Seedlings)
One downside to this method is sometimes a seed shell will get stuck on the seedling. Here’s how to deal with that.
Helpful Tool: Pointy tweezers (though most tweezers will work in a pinch)
Sometimes leaves get stuck in the shell. Here’s what to do.
First, give the seedling 24-48 hours to see if it pushes the shell off on its own. Many seedlings just need a little extra time and don’t need your help.
Ignore stuck shells if the leaves are already free. The shell will fall off on its own.
If you don’t see any progress and leaves still seem trapped after a day or two, you may need to remove the shell to release the leaves contained inside. If leaves can’t break free and see the light, the seedling may die.
Close tweezers so they are as narrow as possible and put inside the crack. Then slowly allow tweezers to open, which will gently pry the shell apart.
I used to use my fingers to remove shells but it can be hard not to disturb the seedling. Then I learned that a pair of pointy tweezers can be inserted into the crack and allowed to gently open to pry the seed apart. Don’t tug or use any force whatsoever. Just gently and slowly release the leaves. The leaves may be stuck to the shell at first and it can take several seconds of gentle tugging for the leaves to slowly loosen and pull away from the shell. If you’re having trouble, add some water to the stuck part and wait a few minutes to help soften it up.
If the seedling leaves aren’t opening up because they’re stuck inside the seed membrane, wet the membrane and give it a few minutes soften up. Then use tweezers to gently remove the membrane. In some cases, it’s easier to stick the tweezers inside and pry the leaves apart just like with a shell.
If leaves are stuck inside the shell membrane for more than a day or two, do this: Wet the membrane, wait a few minutes, then use tweezers to gently pry it away from leaves.
Once you can see the two individual leaves are separated, you’re good to go!
How to germinate with the paper towel method
Daily we reveive the questions like “what is the best way to germinate” or “how do I start germinating”, We know this is for lots of people not an easy thing said…. So we tought to make it as a subject in the next weeks
First of all we want to say there are really a lot of ways to germinate seeds and each one definitely has his/her best way for a 100% succeed …
Germinating with Kitchen paper and tupper
This is a pretty easy way to do it, you only need a vacuum closeable tupper or what you can find in the kitchen to keep things vacuum, then you take the kitchen paper and you fill the bottom of the tupper with a layer of the paper, then you spray the layer with water from around 23 degrees Celcius until it is wet but not soaken wet .Then you take the seeds and put them slowly and careful on the wet layer with each a good distance between the seeds so they can´t get strangled .then you put another layer of kitchen paper above the seeds so they all are covered and then you also spray this layer wet, but again not to wet (this all to avoid rotten or mold) .You close the tupper and you put it in a total dark place with a temperature around 21 to 24 degrees Celcius.In around 36 to 72 hours you will see the seeds are popped and they can go in to soil for further rooting and growth .
Under here we show you a video tutorial how to do it .
Thanks for watching and if you doubt about something or you have questions don´t hazer to contact us
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!
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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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