A guide to buying cannabis seeds
The first couple months of the year is a great time to start planning your cannabis garden to get a head start on the outdoor growing season, which roughly runs from March to November, depending on where you live.
Navigating the cannabis seed market can be challenging when states have different degrees of legality. This guide will answer your questions on buying seeds so you can be on your way to growing your own cannabis.
Is it legal to buy marijuana seeds?
Marijuana seeds are considered a cannabis product just like flower, edibles, and concentrates. Their legality depends on which state you live in. People living in states with adult-use legalization can buy, produce, and sell seeds within their own state, but seeds can’t cross state lines. People living in states with medical marijuana legalization can only buy seeds if they have a medical card.
Seed banks exist outside of the US and can sell them for “souvenir purposes,” but it is illegal to bring seeds into the US and Customs will seize any cannabis seeds they find in packages or on a person.
Where can I buy cannabis seeds?
Many world-renowned seed banks are overseas in the Netherlands, the UK, Spain, and other countries where cannabis laws are less restricted. Seed banks provide seeds from a variety of different breeders.
In states with adult-use legalization or a medical marijuana program, you can buy seeds within your own state, either at a dispensary or through a specific seed company’s website.
Can you buy cannabis seeds online?
Before you purchase seeds online, you’ll need to figure out what strain you want to grow and what breeder you want to buy from.
Because US federal law still prohibits cannabis, it can be hard to find information on seed banks and breeders. Breeders who have a long history and positive reputation are usually a good place to start.
Check out our explainer and buying guide to cannabis seed banks for more info on buying seeds.
To get an idea of what well-established breeders look like, check out:
- Sensi Seeds
- DNA Genetics
- Green House Seeds
- Southern Humboldt Seed Collective
- Exotic Genetix
You can also do some research and find an online grow journal that details the whole growing process of a specific strain from a particular breeder. Through these, you’ll be able to look over another grower’s specific notes and see pictures of the final results.
If you grow some seeds and like the results, try growing another strain from that same breeder and see how it goes.
Do dispensaries sell cannabis seeds?
Some dispensaries in medical and adult-use states sell seeds, but not all. Be sure to check or call ahead to see if they sell seeds. Buying marijuana seeds at the dispensary is far more straightforward, however, your options will be more limited than shopping online.
Dispensary staff should be able to give you information on the seeds they’re selling, but keep in mind that a lot of dispensaries focus on selling flower and end-products. It’s a good idea to call ahead and talk to staff to see if they are knowledgeable about seeds and can give you specific information on growing.
How to look for quality genetics when buying marijuana seeds
Breeders talk about “unstable genetics,” meaning that a seed’s origin is unknown. Make sure that when you buy a packet of seeds that it or the breeder who produced them can list where the seeds came from and how they were crossed and/or backcrossed to get the seed that you hold in your hand. If you can’t get a seed’s history, it could be anything and the result of poor breeding practices.
An inexperienced breeder might cross a male and a female one time and sell the resulting seeds as a new hybrid strain, but professional breeders usually put their strains through several rounds of backcrossing to stabilize the genetics and ensure consistent plants that reflect those genetics.
Which strain should I grow?
Even one weed plant can produce a lot of buds come harvest time, so make sure you grow a strain you like. Note strains you enjoy when you pick something up at the dispensary or smoke with friends, and look for seeds of it when you want to start growing.
Some strains are easier to grow than others because they are more resistant to mold and pests, so if you’re new to growing, you may want to try an easier strain to start.
Some strains also take longer to grow than others. Depending on whether you’re growing indoors or outdoors, you may want to grow a quicker marijuana strain if you live in a climate that get cold and wet early in the season. For example, indicas are known for having a shorter flowering time than sativas.
All of this information should be available to you when buying quality seeds.
What’s the difference between regular, feminized, and autoflower seeds?
If you buy a packet of regular seeds, they’ll come with a mix of males and females. A lot of cultivators prefer to grow these because they haven’t been backcrossed—essentially inbred—as much as feminized or autoflower seeds. You’ll need to sex out the seeds once their reproductive organs show during the flowering phase and discard the males—because they don’t produce buds and will pollenate females, resulting in seeded flowers.
Seeds can come feminized, meaning you can just put them in soil and start growing for buds. These seeds are guaranteed to be bud-producing females and growing them cuts out the step of having to sex out plants and discard the males.
It also reduces the risk of having a stray male sneak into your crop—just one male can pollinate a huge crop, causing your females to focus their energies on producing seeds instead of buds.
Autoflower plants change from the vegetative to flowering state with age, not the changing of their light cycle. They have a short grow-to-harvest time and can be ready to harvest in as little as 2 ½ to 3 months from when you put the seeds in the ground. The downside is that, typically, they are less potent, but autoflower seeds are great for people who want to grow cannabis but don’t want to spend a lot of time doing it.
How much do marijuana seeds cost?
Cannabis seeds usually come in a pack of 10 or 12 seeds and start at around $40 a pack and go up from there. Some high-end genetics can run between $200 to $500 a pack.
Feminized and autoflower seeds will cost more because more breeding work was put in to creating them and they take less time for the grower to get buds.
How many seeds should I buy? Are they all going to survive?
When you grow any amount of seeds, a percentage of them won’t germinate, even if you get them from a reputable breeder. Always count on a few not germinating or dying off, or roughly 1/4 of the total you put in the ground.
When growing regular seeds, some won’t germinate and some will have to be discarded because they’ll turn out to be males. With feminized seeds, some won’t germinate, but a higher percentage of them will turn into flowering plants because there won’t be any males.
If you want six total cannabis plants to harvest for buds and are growing from regular seeds, start with about 4 times as many, or 24 seeds. Some won’t germinate and some will turn out to be males, and then you’ll want to discard down to the six best phenotypes. If growing feminized seeds, you can probably start with about twice as many seeds in this case (about 12); a couple won’t germinate, and then discard down to the six best phenotypes.
Make sure to always stay within your state’s legal limit of growing plants.
How do I buy strain-specific cannabis seeds?
Strains like Blue Dream, Gelato, and Original Glue have gained in popularity in recent years. Check out these resources on how to buy these types of cannabis seeds:
Where to Buy Cannabis Seeds Online: 5 Best Seed Banks to Order Marijuana Seeds in the USA
This makes it difficult to find a reliable, high-quality seed bank in the United States, depending on an individual’s residing state.
The purpose of this review is to lay out the details of the top seed banks online.
How the Seed Banks Were Evaluated:
- Discussion with experts – Interviews and conversation with marijuana growers who order their seeds online.
- Website comparison – In-depth compare and contrast of online seed banks, evaluating delivery, strains, customer service, and more.
Top 5 Seed Banks Online
Below is a detailed list of the 5 best seed banks that will ship to the USA.
1. ILGM (I Love Growing Marijuana) – Best overall, most reliable
Robert Bergman is the founder of ILGM, which he started in 2012. He has more than 25 years of experience in the field and has learned many tips and tricks along the way.
Over time, his site has become one of the most trusted locations worldwide for Americans and Europeans buying marijuana seeds. There is an average delivery time of 10 days.
One thing that stands out about this site is the number of options and categories for all types of growers. On the main menu, consumers choose from beginner seeds, auto flowers, feminized seeds, medical seeds, mixed packs, grow kits, special deals, and seed-growing nutrients. All their seeds come with a germination guarantee and are authentic strains.
Also on offer are seeds for warm and cool climates, outdoor and indoor growing, high CBD, high yielding, high THC concentration, and more. Included in the top strains on offer are Blueberry Autoflower, Bergman’s Gold Leaf, Gorilla Glue, Girl Scout Cookies Extreme, and White Widow.
Also available are multiple purchase methods including credit and debit cards, bank deposits and transfers, and Bitcoin. Standard shipping is free, and tracked shipping costs $25.
and promotions every month
- Reputable company with a high rating
- Money-back guarantee, and no dud seeds
- Packaging is discreet
- Free shipping to the US and Europe
- Sells the best-known strains
- Large variety of products
- Growing guidebook and round-the-clock support
- Not available in certain states
- Tracking delivery costs $25
2. Crop King Seeds – Great variety of strains
This seed site is easy to use and offers loads of choices, from different seed types to germination guides. It is the perfect place to shop for beginner growers. Choose from high CBD strains, autoflower options, and more.
On the site, the company has a regulated review system with a structure worked into the database that does not allow for biased or paid reviewers to comment. This five-crown rating offers useful feedback from regular clients.
Use the filters when shopping to help narrow down which products are best. Regular shipping costs $10, express shipping is available at $30, and shipping is free on orders of over $300.
- Free shipping on orders over $300
- Germination rate of 80 percent
- Special ranking and feedback system
- Germination guide
- THC-CBD infographics
- Standard $10 delivery fee
- One to two-week shipping time
- Website is pretty basic, geared towards beginners only
3. Rocket Seeds – Best for discreet packaging and shipping
This Dutch company has been in business for over 20 years and sells a variety of seeds from feminized to outdoor, indoor, autoflowering, and more. They are known for their discreet shipping, where seeds are stored in random objects for confidentiality.
The website offers an entertaining quiz for consumers to find the best seeds for them. It includes details like weed preference and growing conditions. Not only is it a fun feature, but the quiz also helps beginners choose their seeds wisely.
Germination rate with MSNL is 90 percent, and all seeds are hand-checked by their Amsterdam-based staff. They stock all the major brands including Northern lights, Buddha, and White Widow. Each new order comes with a free surprise such as seeds and other products.
Delivery is free for bulk orders, while standard shipping is around $6.25. It normally takes around one to two weeks. Payment options include check, Bitcoin, bank wire, cash, debit and credit cards. Bitcoin users receive a 15 percent discount.
- Stealth shipping
- 15 percent discount for Bitcoin orders
- High reputation since 1999
- Fun quiz for choosing seeds
- Cannabis Cup and High Times Cup award winners
- Different shipping options available
- Free seeds with new orders
- Wide variety of products
- International shipping is very slow
- Only bulk deliveries get free shipping
- Charts for seed strains are confusing
4. Seedsman – Best for specialized strains
This site is geared to users with experience and is one of the most trusted companies that ships to the US. Each year, growers can submit their crops in photo form to the “Photo Cup” competition.
Seedsman offers an enormous amount of licensed breeders, all listed in alphabetical order. For those on the lookout for a specific big-name breeder, Seedsman probably has it. Popular strains available include Sour Diesel, Skunk, and White Widow, along with a great selection of autoflowering and feminized seeds.
The company stocks specific categories and many award-winning seeds, including products for growing at high-altitude and mold-resistant strains.
Each purchase comes with free seeds and loyalty points. Two discounts are on offer for Bitcoin users, including 15 percent off with every order and 25 percent for the first purchase. On the downside, the delivery charge and insurance fee cost $8.98 and $9.04, respectively.
- Special discounts for Bitcoin payments
- Loyalty points system
- Organized breeders’ list
- Every order includes free seeds
- Always plenty in stock
- Storage jars, hemp bags, and other accessories available
- Website is full of cheesy ads
- Steep delivery charges and insurance
- Reviews on the site seem biased
5. QCS (Quebec Cannabis Seeds) – Best for experienced growers
QCS has been supplying Canada and the rest of the world with great seeds for two decades, and their website has been active for 15 years. Choose from regular or special edition seeds, outdoor, indoor, feminized, autoflower, and much more.
The website allows for special strain requests that are not listed among the available products. QCS cares about their customers’ safety, too, offering discreet shipping.
Even though the company is Canadian, they accept payments in USD, so there is no need to worry about conversions.
- Discreet name used for credit card purchases
- 20 percent discount for Bitcoin customers
- Decades of experience
- Great variety of seeds available
- Credit card fee of 3.8 percent
- Minimum order of $70
- $10 standard shipping option only
- The website is basic with few additional details
Seed Banks FAQ
Q. How do Seed Banks Work in the USA?
A: Each state has their own laws regarding marijuana seeds, so most seed banks use an old souvenir law to get over the legal hurdles and do their business. As long as the seeds aren’t germinated they are free to mail them to you as a souvenir or for bird food/fish bait. Go to any major seed bank’s website such as ILGM and you will see a disclaimer page that announces this.
Q: Is It Safe to Buy Seeds Online?
A: Because of the many unreliable vendors selling low-quality products, it makes sense to wonder whether it’s safe to order seeds online. Fortunately, there’s minimal risk associated with ordering from online seed banks. Even customs laws shouldn’t be an issue. Some people are concerned that if their order is intercepted, they’ll end up on the law’s wrong side.
However, in most cases, the seeds won’t be detected. To guarantee this, most seed bank companies offer stealth shipping for customers worried about interception. It’s a discreet way of shipping orders where seeds are placed inside some ordinary objects like DVD cases before shipping; hence the package doesn’t raise suspicion.
Despite this, experts still advise customers against requesting expedited delivery or a shipping method that requires a signature. This helps avoid drawing attention to the package or being forced to sign for the delivery.
Individuals should also consider the payment method they’re using. Bitcoin is usually recommended as it’s encrypted and untraceable. Though, customers can choose to pay using credit cards since purchases are insured and protected.
ILGM is undoubtedly the best seed bank out there that offers US shipping. However, every site on this list is thoroughly vetted, high-reputed, and has a lot to offer.