Cannabis seeds are life matter, and if germination isn’t done correctly then the seeds are worthless. Cannabis plants are generally quite sturdy and they grow quite fast, but they’re extremely fragile before they begin their growth spurt. You need to germinate in humid places with a decent temperature, and make sure that the seeds have enough humidity for the 2-10 days it can take for them to germinate. Just because it hasn’t shown any roots in four days doesn’t mean that the seed isn’t going to open, you just have to wait and have some patience.
Another big mistake is germinating in a glass of water. The issue with this method is many people don’t take into account the water temperature. If the water’s too cold then the seeds will sit there for days until they eventually rot due to the low temperature in the water. This method’s okay for warm summer months when there’s a decent temperature and the water doesn’t get too cold. This still isn’t the seed’s fault.
One of the biggest mistakes is germinating straight in a jiffy or soil. The issue here is that the seeds will most likely take much more than 48h to germinate, and by then the upper layers of soil will have dried out, and if it doesn’t die off due to that then it will probably die if you try and water it to keep humidity up; in these cases, the seed tends to come to the surface or they can sink even further into the soil. Once again, this is the grower’s fault.
The only way to be sure that your plants are going to get a chance to grow is to germinate them before putting them in the desired medium. The only way to make sure that they germinate is to make sure that the temperature never goes below 20º and that the paper doesn’t dry. How? By using a simple plastic kitchen container. If you germinate your seeds in a plastic container with some damp kitchen paper and you keep it closed, the water from the paper won’t evaporate and dry out. Even if it takes 10 days it will still germinate. Once the seeds have opened, you’ll need to place them in a properly watered pot because you won’t be able to water again until the seedling pops through the surface, although this should only take one day indoors and maybe 2 outdoors. With this system you can germinate hundreds of seeds in a small Tupperware container. If it’s summer and it’s warm, you can just stick them anywhere out of direct light. If it’s the winter and it’s colder you can place the container on top of your TV or internet box to give it that extra bit of heat. If it’s going to be somewhere where light can get to it, cover the box in tin foil.
Why didn’t my seeds germinate? This is a question often asked by novice and experienced growers alike. Some people think that it’s because they bought old seeds or badly made seeds, but it’s generally because the germination process isn’t done properly. Cannabis seeds have a 99% germination chance, even after being in a box for up to 5 years.
For those beginning with the glass of water, the second step would be to move the seeds, after 24 hours, to the wet paper towels. Germination normally takes between 48 and 72 hours, and, in the case of old seeds, can last up to 5 or 6 days, or even weeks. Therefore, transferring the seeds to wet paper gives you more peace of mind, as you are dealing with less water and, if they open, they will not quickly drown.
First, you have won half the battle if you were careful with the original storage. Seeds must be kept in a cool, dry place. Therefore, the best option is to store them in refrigerators at a temperature between 6 and 8 degrees Celsius, and with relative humidity levels between 20% and 30%. And sheltered from light, of course.
For example, you can scrape off the outer layer of the seed with a little sandpaper, creating micro-abrasions that should let some water in. So you don’t overdo it with this scraping we have a little trick: roll up a piece of very fine sandpaper, with the rough side on the interior, and secure it with tape. Place the seeds inside and cover the openings with your hands. Then just shake it for a couple of minutes and the sandpaper will do its job. Another more risky option is to use a knife to cut the seed transversely, ever so slightly, which will help the water penetrate the shell.
Hydration to trigger germination
For all this you will need an airtight container or canister, or an opaque plastic bottle in which, in addition to the seeds, you should place little pouches of silica gel, to reduce the moisture. With regards to the best place in your refrigerator, the crisper is a good choice, as it is a little warmer than the rest of the fridge. Also, one last tip: if you store several strains in different bottles, it is a good idea to label them, so that you won´t have to open them to see which is which when you decide to plant them.
Because of this risk, there are growers who choose another way: germinating their seeds with the help of wet paper towels and dishes. If this method is chosen, you’ll have to grab a plate and place a soaked paper towel on it. After placing your cannabis seeds placed on top, with enough space between them, cover them with another damp paper towel. Although this method is widely used, some purist growers insist that you have to be very careful, because the towels used may contain chlorine and chemicals that could impede germination.
If you have only saved the seeds for a year and a half, they should not give you any problems. After this time period, even if you have stored them properly, germination may be more complicated because the older the seeds are, the harder their shells, so the water used to open them will take longer to penetrate them. Therefore, the first method to try to get the plant’s embryo to develop is to put your old seeds in a glass of water, with a few drops of hydrogen peroxide, for 24 hours. Hydrogen peroxide softens the shell and facilitates the water’s infiltration.
Another good investment, which can be key in the case of old seeds, is Jiffy 7. This product is a compressed pill of dried peat that you need to soak for a few minutes. At this point it becomes a small sack of soil that is specially designed to facilitate germination, because it features the ideal structure, is sterilized, has all the necessary elements to nourish the seedlings during the first week, and is pH-neutral. Due to these characteristics it can be your best bet to get your older seeds to sprout.