Whether you are a cannabis fan who has just begun growing a couple of plants recreationally, or you are looking to test your green thumb for the first time, there is one question that’s going to come up at some point. Do seeds go bad? Let's find out! Are These Cannabis Seeds Good? Growing with bad marijuana seeds is particularly harsh on growers of all levels. This is mostly because it’s tough to pinpoint when the seed itself is the actual Find out how to tell if a weed seed is good by looking at visual characteristics. Learn ways to determine if a seed is viable and discover where to get them.
Do Cannabis Seeds Go Bad?
M any pot fans are starting to look into growing their own supply. After all, how hard can it be? Nature does it all the time, and it doesn’t even have any grow light options other than the sun. While you may not be producing showroom quality nugs, there’s a pride that comes with tending to your own garden and snipping buds straight off the branch. Plus, you can’t beat the price.
Plenty of online stores sell seeds so it’s pretty easy to pick your favorite strains to start. However, if it’s been a while since your seeds arrived and they’re not yet planted, you can forgive yourself for wondering if maybe you’ve waited too long. After all, how long do marijuana seeds last? Whether you are a cannabis fan who has just begun growing a couple of plants recreationally, or you are looking to test your green thumb for the first time, there is one question that’s going to come up at some point.
Do Marijuana Seeds Go Bad?
First off, marijuana seeds are the same as many other plant’s seeds. A waxy outer shell called the seed coat protects the embryonic shoot, stem, and root contained within, which are nourished by a nutrient-rich oil surrounding them. As long as the shell remains intact and the plant inside doesn’t dry out or get damaged, your seed can still grow into a cannabis plant.
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However, this shell will not last forever. Once it dries out and hardens the seed coat can crack and expose the embryonic plant to damage. Or the seed coat hardens to the point that it no longer lets in moisture. In both cases, the seed is no longer viable.
Of course, there is some debate in the cannabis community over how long do marijuana seeds last. Some growers claim that when stored in the ideal conditions, marijuana seeds can last anywhere from six months to a year after packing and still spout once placed in the soil. Other producers believe that marijuana seeds can last up to a decade if properly refrigerated in the right containers.
Most seed producers agree that on average three to six years is a maximum for viability, and every day that the seed is stored drops the chances of it germinating just a little bit.
So how long do marijuana seeds last? In general, six months is the maximum if you’re looking for a nearly 100% germination rate. After three years, you’re looking at a germination rate of around 50%.
What constitutes “ideal conditions” for cannabis seed storage also depends on the genetics of that particular plant. Some cannabis strains produce a much hardier, longer-lasting marijuana seed that can last for years and still stretch their leaves once planted. Others produce seeds that need to quickly return to the soil.
How Marijuana Seeds Are Stored
In terms of long term storage for your marijuana seeds, there are four main factors to consider:
When it comes to how long marijuana seeds last, temperature is the main factor. In nature, heat tells the seed that winter’s over and it’s time to start sprouting. If your marijuana seed’s not in the soil, this means that the plant matter inside the marijuana seed will begin to germinate and then rot.
41 degrees Fahrenheit (5 degrees Celsius) is the absolute warmest you want your storage spot to be, with the sweet spot being somewhere around 38 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you are refrigerating your marijuana seeds, they’ll last the longest in a separate unit or a spot near the back. Every time you open your fridge you are changing the temperature which can harm the seeds over time.
Humidity is also your enemy when it comes to how long your marijuana seeds will last. When a seed gets wet, it cracks open to allow the sprout and root out. This will let in rot if the seed isn’t planted. A humidity level of about 5% is the maximum you want to allow.
Much like heat and humidity, light tells that seed to wake up because it’s time to spring forth.
In order to keep your seeds from going bad, it’s best to keep them stored in a dark container in order to avoid light. photo credit
By keeping your seeds in a dark or opaque container, they’ll keep dozing long term. Light can also damage the surface of the marijuana seed, which in turn will damage what’s stored underneath, causing your marijuana seed to go bad.
Besides being dark, for your marijuana seeds to last long term, you want to expose them to as little oxygen and carbon dioxide as possible. These gasses are what growing plants breathe, as well as the pests that consume them. If you’re refrigerating or freezing your marijuana seeds, make sure your container is as airtight as possible. If you can vacuum seal them, even better.
Alternatively, if you’re planning on planting in the next few months, regular mailing envelopes will do in a pinch. They’ll keep the marijuana seeds out of the light and dry, so all you have to do is store them in a cool place. Plus, envelopes make it easy to label your strains so that you can keep them separate.
How To Tell If Your Marijuana Seeds Are Still Healthy?
What should you do if you find some old seeds and have no idea how long they were stored? Maybe past you put them in a freezer bag in the hopes of keeping your favorite strain alive, or found a couple at the bottom of a baggie that the trimmer missed.
How do you know if your marijuana seed has gone bad, or if it’s healthy and viable to grow into a plant? There are four easy ways to check if your marijuana seed is still good.
If your seeds are dark brown, black, or gray, that’s a very good sign. The shell is intact and uncompromised, which means the genetic material inside has been kept safe.
Seeds should have a dark color. If seeds are still green they are probably not ready yet. photo credit
Viable seeds should also have stripes or spots all the way around. If the seeds are white or green, they’re most likely still immature.
Check if the seed still has a waxy coating. A healthy seed should have a slight sheen to it, as though it’s been oiled. This means the seed still can retain moisture.
If the seed is still healthy, you should be able to lightly squeeze it without it crunching between your fingers. If the shell has no give and splits or splinters under light pressure, then your marijuana seed has gone bad and has no chance in the soil.
Cracks or Holes
If there are any cracks or holes anywhere on the shell, your marijuana seed’s likely gone bad and will most likely not sprout. Bacteria and other harmful lifeforms can find their way into the seed, or it will dry out.
The True Test of a Cannabis Seed
Of course, the best way to test whether your seeds will sprout is to plant them and see. If some green shoots climb their way out of the soil after a couple of days or weeks, you’ve got your answer.
Storing marijuana seeds is a great way to make sure you always have your favorite strains on hand, as well as to keep yourself stocked up on plants for the long haul. Luckily, marijuana seeds can last for years as long as you make sure your seeds are cool, dry, airtight, and out of sight. There’s no better time than now to learn a new skill, so let’s see how green your thumb can get.
How Do You Tell If a Seed is Good or Bad?
If the seed is dark with stripes or spots all the way around, has a waxy shell that doesn’t crack when you give it a light squeeze, and doesn’t have any visible cracks or holes, it’s probably still good. If there are holes in the shell, it’s dry, or especially pale, your marijuana seed’s probably gone bad.
Do Autoflower Seeds Go Bad?
All marijuana seeds can go bad, including autoflower seeds. However, by keeping your seeds at a stable 38 degrees Fahrenheit and at around 5% humidity, as well as airtight and out of the light, your seeds may last up to 5 years or more.
How do you like to store your seeds? Share your thoughts in the comments!
Paul Barach is a Seattle-based freelance writer, editor, and author with experience creating well-researched, edited web articles covering cannabis news, culture, history and science. Paul is a regular contributor to PotGuide and has also contributed to publications such as Medium.com, SlabMechanix, Litro, and The Trek. He prefers to spend his free time outdoors and most recently hiked the Pacific Crest Trail. So far he has only fallen into the La Brea Tarpits once. You can follow him on Instagram @BarachOutdoors and stay up to date professionally through his LinkedIn page.
Are These Cannabis Seeds Good?
Growing with bad marijuana seeds is particularly harsh on growers of all levels.
This is mostly because it’s tough to pinpoint when the seed itself is the actual problem. Most growers will blame themselves for a problem that shows up in their grow long before they assume it’s the seeds.
The term ‘bad seeds’ usually refers to any type of seed that has a significantly higher likelihood of causing problems in a grow. I’ll cover the most common reasons for bad seeds in this tutorial!
These cannabis seeds were germinated between two wet pieces of paper towel!
These are pot seeds you might get from a friend, or maybe you have them stashed somewhere and forgot how you got them. In either case, if the shell of the seed looks beat-up, it may not germinate as well or quickly as seeds that were stored in good conditions.
Seeds are a little nugget of genetic material than can hopefully grow into a plant. And like all other genetic material, it doesn’t last forever! Although seeds can be viable for quite years and years after they’re first produced, the chances of them successfully germinating goes down over time (and old seeds also tend to take a lot longer to germinate than fresh ones). The resulting seedlings are also more likely to be slow growing. But sometimes they sprout like they were born yesterday!
Check out the picture below. We sprouted all the plants at the same time. The tub on the right has seeds that were planted within a week of receiving them in the mail. The tub on the left has a very popular strain with award-winning genetics… but the seeds were more than 6 years old from when we first bought them. Even though they were all put into the tank at the same time and the new seeds grew like crazy, the seeds on the left got outpaced by algae – only one sprouted and though its roots keep growing and growing the actual never got any bigger than two round leaves even after a month!
Pale or Flimsy Seeds
When I first started growing I was told that good cannabis seeds needed to be very hard with dark tiger striping. If you could crush it between your fingers, it was a bad seed, or so I was told. This has not been my experience at all!
Did you know that the “stripes” on cannabis seeds are actually part of a protective coating? The “pale” seeds in this photo are actually just regular seeds with the coating rubbed off!
Over the years, some of my very best plants came from flimsy, light brown seeds that very likely would have been easy to crush between my fingers.
So I’m a big believer in the fact that if you put the seed in the ground and a fast-growing healthy seedling comes out of it, it was a viable seed! Don’t toss a seed you are really interested in just because it’s a little pale; give it a chance (I’m talking more about tan seeds, it’s very unlikely a yellow seed will sprout)!
Note: Although the hardiness of the seed was likely important in the wild, cannabis growers have been breeding plants for generations to make good buds, not seeds! We growers strive to provide an ideal germination environment that lets almost any seed germinate successfully. As a result, we haven’t been breeding for seed hardness. Just like a teacup poodle hasn’t been bred to be strong, cannabis seeds haven’t been bred to be strong. They have other qualities we love
Bag seeds you randomly find in your buds aren’t supposed to be there, so that means that the genetics are a toss-up. Even if the seeds started with good parents, there’s no telling how high or low the quality will be. Unfortunately, the only way to find out is to grow it… Some growers win the genetic lottery, but many others lose out.
If you talk to breeders, you’ll learn that when you breed two “star” strains together you don’t always get what you’d expect. It seems like every one of the seedlings (or at least most of them) should be capture the best qualities of both their parents.
However, that’s not how genetics works most of the time. Without intensive breeding and backcrossing, when you mix two random plants you often end up with only a fraction of the seedlings capturing the best of both parents.
Bag seeds are a wildcard! You never know what you’ll end up with!
So depending on how the seed was originally made, bagseed often has a lot of variety. Even if the buds you got were an incredible quality, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the seeds will produce buds like that. If you’ve ever gotten involved with breeding or growing other types of specialized plants like roses, hops or even apples, you’ll know that seeds rarely breed “true” to the parents, and cannabis isn’t any different.
That being said, sometimes bagseed is all you have, and lots of growers get lucky!
Hermaphrodite or Male Plants
If a cannabis seed was produced with a male doing the pollinating, it means that about half of the resulting seeds will end up being male (which you don’t want, because only female flowers turn into bud). In that case, you want to determine the gender of your young plants as soon as you can so you can toss all the male ones before they start making pollen sacs.
If growing with seeds that were produced without a male plant around, the seeds sometimes end up being hermaphrodites, which means they grow both male pollen sacs and female flowers (again, something you don’t want).
One of the best ways to ensure all your plants end up being female is to start with feminized cannabis seeds from a trustworthy breeder.
Sometimes It’s Random!
Even if you’re starting with the best, most fresh seed stock, occasionally you’ll get an individual seed or plant that just doesn’t grow as well or quickly as the others, or maybe you’ll get a super awesome seedlings that just starts kicking butts and taking names from its first moment.
Natural variation is totally normal! It’s always a good idea to sprout at least a few more seeds than you need in case you happen to run into a runt, or some other expected problem! If all your plants are healthy and growing fast except one, you can blame the seed!
How To Tell If A Weed Seed Is Good?
Every cultivator knows how critical seed quality can influence the growth outcome. If you get duds, they won’t sprout. Some bad seeds will germinate but won’t reach their potential yield. It’s essential to know how to tell if a weed seed is good if you want your cultivating efforts to pay off.
Join us as we explore the characteristics of seeds and how to differentiate the good ones from the bad. We’ll also show you how to select the right vendor and where to buy quality seeds, so you get value for money and a bountiful harvest.
Let’s start with answering the question, what do good weed seeds look like?
How to tell if a weed seed is good
If you buy your seeds from reputable seed banks, you can be sure of getting quality seeds almost all the time. You’re more likely to get poor seeds from your local dealer. However, if you know how to tell if a marijuana seed is good, you can rule out bad ones immediately.
One way to judge the quality of cannabis seeds is by looking at their appearance. Be aware, though, that seeds from the same plant can have unique characteristics, just as with human siblings. Quality seeds will differ visually.
What do cannabis seeds look like? Here’s a summary:
- Color – ranges from green to brown
- Shape – some are spherical while others are pointy
- Size – there are small and large seeds
Now, let’s find out how to tell if a marijuana seed is good. Here are a few signs you can look for:
The appearance of weed seeds can indicate their quality. Typically, the outer shells of superior cannabis seeds have dark colors, such as black, brown, or grey. Avoid seeds with lighter hues—white, pale green, and yellow are of poor quality.
High-quality cannabis seeds will not have damaged shells. There won’t be cracks that expose the inside of the seed. You’ll also notice a healthy waxy coating when you look at the seeds under bright light.
While appearance offers a guide, it’s not a reliable indicator of a seed’s quality.
Shape and size
Healthy marijuana seeds may differ in size but look alike in terms of shape—they’re round or symmetrically shaped like a teardrop. Poor quality seeds usually have deformed or flat shells.
Seed size varies between cultivars. Larger ones are easier to grow because they have more stored energy and can potentially develop into healthy plants.
The weight of the seeds also matters when evaluating quality marijuana seeds. If you have two seeds and the smaller one weighs more than the larger seed, the former is of better quality. The bigger seed is lighter because it loses moisture and nutrients as it ages.
Darker high-quality cannabis seeds are hard when you touch them. To feel how firm a seed’s shell is, without using excessive pressure, squeeze it with your thumb and index finger. If the seed doesn’t crack or bend, it’s viable.
Bad marijuana seeds are usually supple or soft. It’ll save you time and effort if you identify them and exclude them at the onset.
Your cannabis seeds will degrade over time, so it’s important to choose freshly harvested ones up to four months old. If you preserve them well, healthy marijuana seeds can remain viable for some time.
It’s impossible to know a seed’s age unless it’s from your own plant. When buying seeds, you probably won’t know the age unless you buy them from a seed bank known for quality genetics. Check the data they provide.
Having inspected the seeds by sight and touch, a quick way to separate viable seeds from bad marijuana seeds is to do a float test. Fill a glass with distilled water and drop in the seeds you intend to germinate.
Check after an hour. Germinate the seeds that sink. Most growers dispose of the floaters as they probably won’t sprout. Even if they do, it’s unlikely you’ll get a healthy plant.
If you want to know how to tell if seeds are viable quickly, use the float test.
Suppose you don’t have time to inspect every seed for viability, germinate all your seeds and watch what happens. You can put them in soil or use other germinating methods. The quality of the seedlings will tell you if you’ve used healthy marijuana seeds.
The challenge here is wasting precious time using this method because you only see results when the germination process is over.
What does a healthy marijuana seed look like?
There are several ways to determine the viability of your seeds. One is by looking at the color of the seeds—healthy marijuana seeds are usually brown with varying shades from light to dark. You may also come across seeds with tiger stripes or turtle-shell patterns.
Seed colors may change due to genetics or environmental conditions, but they’re healthy if they remain in the range. It’s when they display a greenish shade that you have a reason for concern.
They’re not bad marijuana seeds per se, but green hues are a sign that the seeds did not have time to develop properly. There’s a high risk that these seeds will not germinate.
Another way to identify healthy marijuana seeds is to look at their size and weight. If they meet the color criterion, bigger seeds are usually healthier because they’re packed with nutrients and energy. However, you may have smaller seeds that are more viable if they weigh more than their larger counterparts.
Healthy marijuana seeds typically have a body shaped like a teardrop. If you notice seeds that are flat or distorted, they may have a genetic flaw. You’ll have issues germinating them, and if they do sprout, they’ll produce plants that are below par.
Another clue that’ll show that you have healthy marijuana seeds is the appearance of their shell. Good seeds will have shiny-looking shells as though there’s a layer of wax on them. Avoid seeds that look dull and have a matte finish.
How long are cannabis seeds viable?
Now that you know how to tell if marijuana seeds are healthy, the next question is how long are cannabis seeds viable?
The short answer is, it depends on how well you preserve them. Weed seeds get the signal to sprout when there’s heat and moisture. According to some cultivators, if you store your cannabis seeds in a dark and dry space, they can stay viable for as long as 5–10 years.
Pro tip: place a cotton ball with your seeds to absorb excess moisture.
Fresh, healthy marijuana seeds will germinate quicker than older seeds. While you can keep seeds viable for years, some of them may not sprout. The longer you preserve them, the fewer seeds will be productive.
Choose healthy marijuana seeds that are less than a year old. Some established seed banks may indicate the age of the seeds.
If they don’t, you can use the touch test that we mentioned earlier. Squeeze the seeds lightly with your thumb and index finger. If they’re firm, you’ve got young and healthy marijuana seeds. Older seeds may feel soft crack under pressure.
Where is the best place to order cannabis seeds?
Where’s the best place to order marijuana seeds? If marijuana is legal in your state, you can get your seeds from dispensaries or buy them online from seed banks. The latter may be your only option if state laws prohibit the sale of cannabis.
When buying seeds from dispensaries, be sure to check that their staff knows how to tell if a marijuana seed is good. If you’re not happy with the answers you get, you’re better off looking elsewhere.
You should do the same when shopping online. To get high-quality cannabis seeds, we recommend that you only buy them from reputable seed banks such as Homegrown Cannabis Co.
Stay away from small dealers that offer cheap seeds. There’s a high chance that you might end up with duds or low-grade seeds. It’s better to pay a bit more for quality marijuana seeds than endure the heartache of seeds that don’t sprout.
Most recognized online cannabis seed providers offer seeds at competitive prices. We have regular promotions such as Buy-One-Get-One (BOGO), which are money-savers. You get two packets of seeds for one price.
Established seed banks like ours offer a seed replacement guarantee because we stand by the quality of our marijuana seeds. If you have seeds that don’t germinate, we’ll replace them once at no cost.
Another reason to buy from reliable vendors is that they usually have an extensive collection of high-quality cannabis seeds. You’re likely to find the strain you want without searching many websites. Your order and private details are also safe because they have secure payment systems.
3 tips on how to get high-quality cannabis seeds
If you want healthy marijuana plants, you need to grow high-quality cannabis seeds. Sub-par seeds will only cause you to waste time and money because most won’t germinate. When they do, you end up with crops that don’t live up to their potential.
Getting high-quality cannabis seeds may not be as tricky as you think. Here are some tips to improve your odds of having seeds that’ll give you the crops and yield you want.
Choose the right supplier
Buying your seeds from an established seed bank is a reliable way to ensure you get only quality marijuana seeds. Most of these vendors pride themselves on providing customers with the best seeds. Homegrown offers replacement seeds if they don’t germinate.
You have a wide range of cannabis seeds to choose from. If you want sativa or indica cultivars, these seed banks will likely have the strain you want. Some may even have hard-to-find ones.
Get professional advice
When buying high-quality cannabis seeds, you want to know as much about them as possible. Reputable sellers have weed experts who prepare detailed information about the seeds and answer your questions.
These professionals will also advise you on the type of seeds that are suitable for your cultivation goals. You don’t need to figure out for yourself if you should grow regular, autoflower, or feminized seeds.
Create your own seeds
You can create high-quality cannabis seeds if you want to, but it’ll take some knowledge of the subject. You need to pollinate the flowers of your cannabis crop. To do so, you need the male part of your plant to send pollen to the female, which has flowers.
Except for plants grown from feminized seeds, most have both male and female parts. If you want to produce your own quality marijuana seeds, you should choose regular seeds.
Before you act on this knowledge, make sure you understand your state’s weed laws. Some states still prohibit the home cultivation of cannabis. If yours is one of them, don’t despair. Not being able to grow pot doesn’t mean that you can’t buy quality marijuana seeds.
U.S. Federal law allows citizens to purchase seeds as souvenirs. You can preserve them until it’s legal to cultivate in your location, as long as you don’t germinate them.
Get your high-quality cannabis seeds today
Once you know how to identify quality marijuana seeds by sight and feel, you’re able to rule out the bad ones before you germinate them. There’s no experimenting involved, which is a waste of precious time.
If you’re unsure of how to inspect the seeds properly, use the float test. It’s simple to do and separates the seeds that’ll germinate from those that won’t.
The no-brainer way of getting high-quality cannabis seeds is by buying them from reputable seed banks like us. You’re assured of premium-grade seeds 99% of the time. If not, we’ll replace the ones that don’t work.
About the Author: Kyle Kushman
Kyle Kushman is a legend in the cannabis community. He is the modern-day polymath of pot: cultivator, breeder, activist, writer, and educator. After winning no less than 13 Cannabis Cups, there’s nothing this guy doesn’t know about indoor growing – he’s been there, done it, and is still doing it to this day!