Soaking Cannabis Seeds

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Best way to germinate cannabis seeds!… Should you germinate cannabis seeds in moist or soaked conditions? Watch our new test video and find out which method delivers the best germination rates. Seed priming lets you get to the fun part of growing faster while increasing success rates and even yields.

How to Germinate Cannabis Seeds

For many growers, purchasing cannabis seeds is no less than children getting candies. The excitement is palpable, and you’re ready to try every trick in the book to make sure that everything works according to plan. However, Mother Nature is unpredictable and the seeds you sowed with care may not germinate at all. If that has frustrated you and you want to learn how to germinate cannabis seeds, here are a few pointers that can steer you in the right direction.

Best way to germinate cannabis seeds

There are many ways to germinate cannabis seeds, but we will get straight to the best method. This technique has worked almost every single time for us. Of course, no matter how hard you try, you cannot expect 100% germination at all times because some seeds may be old or just not viable. However, you can rest assured that this one’s better than the others.

Step 1 – Choose the best seeds

Take a look at all the seeds in your stash. While some will be super hard, some might be soft and disintegrate as soon as you press them. This is another reason why you must purchase seeds only from reputed companies. At Fastbuds , all seeds are checked rigorously and then sent across different locations. Once you inspect the seeds, choose strong ones that are hard to the touch.

Step 2 – Get rubbing!

This is a step that will help the seeds germinate so fast you’ll find it unbelievable. Generally, most cannabis seeds require at least 4-5 days to sprout, but by doing this you’ll make sure that the process speeds up by at least 2 days.

So, all you need is a hard and scratchy surface like, say, sand paper. You can also opt for a nail file. Then, pick your seeds one by one and rub the tips once or twice on the sand paper. Remember that it has to be light and swift because if you press too much you might destroy the seeds way before you even soak them in water!

Step 3 – Soak seeds in water

After a quick rub, immerse the seeds in a glass of clean water. They won’t sink immediately, but after 10-12 hours a light touch will send them down. Let the seeds remain in the water for at least 24 hours. Do not soak them for more than 48 hours or you risk ruining them completely.

Step 4 – Get paper towels

After 24 hours have passed, you’ll see that the seeds have split a bit. It’s not going to be easily visible, but if you look closely you will see a slight crack and the white interior of the seed inside. At this point, get a few paper towels, and place the seeds in them. Wrap the seeds lightly and sprinkle some water on the towels.

Note that you cannot overdo this step. Meaning the towels have to be moist – neither too wet nor too dry. Place the towels in a ziplock bag or anything that’s airtight. This is important since placing the towels in an open area will make them dry out faster and the seeds will not be viable anymore. Next, place the airtight container in a dry area. Now, you’ve done everything you can, and it all depends on time and the seeds after this stage.

Step 5 – Check the seeds

Generally, it’s best to wait for at least 4-5 days for the seeds to sprout, but since the seeds were rubbed on a hard surface earlier, they may sprout in just 2-3 days. After a couple days have passed, you can check on the seeds. If they haven’t sprouted, place them back in the bag. Sometimes, you’ll see half of the seeds sprouting while the remaining look dull. Simply select the sprouted ones and leave the remaining in the bag.

Step 6 – Get the container ready

This is something you need to do before taking the seeds out because you cannot let them dry out. Grab a container of your choice and fill it with a good potting mix. Use containers that have ample holes at the bottom or use fabric pots that let the water drain out completely. A mix of coco coir + gardening soil + perlite in a 40-40-20 proportion seems to work well for cannabis plants.

Also, if you’re growing photoperiod plants, you may shift the seeds to small cups with soil and then transplant them later. But, if you’re using autoflowering seeds, it’s best to plant them in their final containers so you don’t have the headache of transplanting them later.

If the seeds have sprouted with the taproot clearly visible, plant them immediately in the soil. To do this, poke a small hole about an inch deep with your finger and place the seed in it. Do not sow more than one seed per hole. Remember not to push the seeds too deep into the soil or they will have issues breaking out.

Step 7 – Water

Once you’ve covered the seeds with some light soil, sprinkle water on the seeds. Remember not to pour the water too quickly or the seeds will dislodge themselves. If you don’t have a sprinkler, grab a coke bottle and poke holes on the cap to use it in a pinch. This works nicely as a sprinkler and isn’t too hard on the seeds.

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If you see any of the seeds poking out after watering them, simply cover them with soil again. It’s important for the seeds to NOT be exposed to sunlight. At the same time, you must ensure that the soil isn’t bone dry or dripping wet. It must be moist – just like you did this with the paper towels.

Maintaining enough moisture in the soil is critical. In some locations, the soil may dry out faster due to the climate. In such cases, watch the pots every 5-6 hours and pour water if they are too dry. If you’ve poured too much water, a good container will help drain out all the excess.

Step 8 – Seeds sprout

If you’ve done everything right, you will see the seeds break out of the surface of the soil. AT first, you’ll only see the cotyledons. At times, the seeds cannot break out of the hull and remain stuck in there. Although they break out of the hull by themselves in a couple of days, you can help them by sprinkling some water on the hull gently. Remove the hull as slowly as you can.

Step 9 – Maintain the seedlings

After the seeds sprout and you see the cotyledon, let the seedlings remain in dull light for a day until they adjust to the light around. For indoor growers, using CFLs will help. If you’re growing outdoors, you can cut the top of a coke plastic bottle and place it on top of the seedlings to prevent harsh sunlight. Make sure you do this only for a day or two and the seedlings will adjust to the environment.

It’s important to water the seedlings regularly during the first week. Again, remember that the soil cannot be too wet or dry. Maintain the perfect amount of moisture and your seedlings will reward you with big buds later!

Moist vs Soaked cannabis seed germination test

What’s the best way to germinate cannabis seeds? Let’s pursue our germination test series with another critical matter: should the seeds be placed in moist conditions, or is it better to completely soak the seeds to ensure the highest germination rates and the fastest germination speed? The answer may surprise you!

Moist vs Soaked cannabis seed germination video

To assess moist vs soaked germination conditions, Dutch Passion made a side-by-side germination test. 15 cannabis seeds were attempted to be germinated in soaked conditions and 15 seeds germinated in moist conditions. Does adding too much water to your cannabis seed germination help improve germination rates, or does it have a dramatically negative effect? The video, below, shows exactly what happened.

As shown by the video, perfect germination occurred when the cannabis seeds were germinated between lightly sprayed (i.e. moist) cotton pads. All 15 seeds germinated perfectly. However, of the 15 seeds that were placed between soaked (saturated) cotton pads, only 3 seeds were able to survive. The others showed brown coloration on the embryonic root, this is a sign that the root had started to rot in the waterlogged conditions.

How much water should you use to germinate cannabis seeds?

In the Dutch Passion ‘moist vs soaked’ cannabis seed germination experiment, some simple cotton pads were used. This is usually a reliable way to germinate seeds, whether you are using feminised seeds, regular seeds or autoflower seeds. Note that for the successfully germinated seeds in moist conditions, a minimum amount of water was used and delivered the best results. Just 3 light water mist sprays were given to each cotton pad.

The advantages and logic of germinating cannabis seeds in moist conditions

For the 15 cannabis seeds that successfully germinated in moist conditions, we ensured that the cotton pads were lightly sprayed (3 times for the lower cotton pad, 3 times for the upper pad).

The key principle is that cannabis seeds need only a small amount of moisture to soften the shell casing and allow a root to emerge into a moist, oxygenated environment. Once the root has emerged, access to oxygen is just as important as access to moisture. The root needs very little moisture at this stage.

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The disadvantages and problems caused by trying to germinate cannabis seeds in soaked conditions

Of the 15 cannabis seeds that attempted to germinate in soaked cotton pads, only 3 survived. That’s because the waterlogged conditions simply didn’t provide enough oxygen for the root to grow.

Both the upper and lower cotton pads were soaked in water and the seeds were placed in-between. The soaked conditions allowed the shell casing to soften and open. However, as soon as the roots started to emerge, most of them simply started to rot and die. The easiest way to spot this is via the brown discolouration the root tip.

This is usually a sign of root damage, and for freshly germinated seeds this is often fatal. Even if the seedling survives, with root damage the plant may be permanently stunted only allowing a small, poor yielding plant to grow.

Soaking cannabis seeds during germination causes them to stagnate.

Dutch Passion advice on cannabis seed germination

There are many different ways to germinate cannabis seeds. We should also remember that cannabis seeds have found ways to germinate for thousands of years without human intervention.

But since cannabis home growing became so widely adopted, many growers want to aim for the very highest germination rates that they can achieve. If you are buying the best cannabis seeds at premium prices, you may want to get your seed germination rates as high as you can possibly get them.

For that reason, the Dutch Passion team recommend the cotton pad seed germination method. Remember to lightly spray the upper and lower cotton pads only 3 times each to create moist conditions. Adding more water, and soaking the cotton pads will only decrease your germination rates.

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If you are serious about giving your cannabis seeds and seedlings the best possible start in life then the following blog is essential reading. It explains how to avoid the top-10 mistakes made by growers with seeds and seedlings.

Germinating cannabis seeds in moist cotton pads results

In the Dutch Passion cotton pad seed germination video 5 cannabis seeds were placed in-between 2 cotton pads. Each cotton pad had been lightly sprayed with 3 squirts from a simple water mist spray bottle. To evaluate the seed germination test properly, a total of 15 seeds were germinated with 100% germination rates.

Note that the moist cotton pads were placed on a dinner plate and the plate was sealed with transparent kitchen film. This ensured that the moist cotton pads didn’t dry out. If this happened, the germinated seeds would eventually die. The experiment took 4 days, though many home growers would perhaps inspect after the germination after a couple of days and re-plant the germinated seedlings into a grow container.

Germinating cannabis seeds in soaked cotton pads results

Experienced cannabis growers know the dangers presented by soaked/saturated seed germination conditions. That’s why many of them avoid using e.g. toilet tissue, which can hold a lot of water and not drain well. In the Dutch Passion moist vs soaked seed germination video, only 3 of the seeds just about survived the waterlogged conditions. All the rest were ruined by the soaked/saturated germination conditions.

Once the root emerges from the seed, it needs a certain level of aeration in order to survive. Leaving cannabis roots in waterlogged conditions inevitably results in root rot. That’s why so many growers find that they achieve superior results when using grow containers (e.g. air pots or felt sacks) that offer superior root aeration levels. Experienced growers know that overwatering plants or seedlings can stunt growth, and in worst cases kill the plant.

The main message for growers is that it is very easy to get low germination rates even from perfectly viable cannabis seed simply by using germination conditions that are too wet/soaked. To get the best germination rates, use moist conditions. Never use soaking wet conditions for cannabis seed germination. If the root emerges and spends too long in these saturated conditions the seed/seedling will die.

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:

  1. Fold a paper towel in half.
  2. Space out pea seeds on the folded paper towel.
  3. Spray room temperature tap water lightly on the paper towel.
  4. Fold it to fully cover the seeds and ensure it is evenly moist.
  5. Place the folded paper towel in a zip-top plastic baggie.
  6. Label with the date and type of seed.
  7. 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!

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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!

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