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scarifying seeds cannabis

When your old cannabis seeds don’t want to pop, one of these four techniques could come to their—and your—rescue. Aging seeds are more difficult to grow than fresh ones and we’ll explain what you can do to help germination.

The seed’s shell is made up of two pieces, with a seam going all around. The side that’s raised more than the other is the ridge. A hardened ridge can make it difficult for the seed to open. To remove the ridge, run a sharp blade along the ridge on both sides. Handle gently and it should come off without damaging the inside of the seed.


As cannabis seeds age, their protective outer shell hardens and prevents water from passing through. Unless the tiny, dormant embryo that lives inside the shell detects moisture, it doesn’t know that the conditions are right to sprout. As a first step, pre-soak your old cannabis seeds for about 12 hours to see if that does the trick.

To improve your chances, use carbonated water and/or add one of these supplements that help with water absorption. Fulvic acid and most boosters also give your seeds a light dose of nutrients.

As you proceed through these steps, the risk of damaging your seeds past the point of recovery increases. Between each suggestion, give them a few days to a week to germinate. Allow the outside to dry each time to prevent rot. Do not try all or multiple techniques at once.

Whatever method you choose, be it natural old school or lab coat and tweezers – do your research and be patient!

Most failures occur with drowning or drying out in paper towels!

It’s Not Fool Proof!

Using a sharp knife or fine grit sandpaper – you can remove enough of the protective membrane to aid germination. Some seeds can crack in just a few days – especially after a 24hr pre-soak but they can still take much longer.

Only human intervention and sometimes ingenuity – has created an artificial way to do almost everything! But this intervention can help with the rate of germination but – can cause problems too. From contamination, dirty fingers/tools to a heavy handed approach – crushing, drowning, drying or snapping the life from our sprouts.

So What’s The Best Method?

Like everything in life – the choice is yours! Some seeds have a tougher shell than others do, in particular Auto seeds and larger seeds seem more prone to this. It can cause delays in germination or the shell can sometimes not fully open and remain stuck to the seedling.

Scarifying means to nick, scratch, or mar the surface of the seed to be more permeable. This helps water and oxygen enter the seed and reach the embryo. Without proper scarification, seeds can take weeks, if not months, to sprout.
Cannabis seeds have what some describe as a ‘harsh’ outer shell that makes them hard to crack open. The cover does this for a reason, helping protect it from birds and other animals who may want to eat it. When you’re trying to grow, this hard shell is almost like a blockade between you and your plant baby. Your goal is to scarify your seeds to make them grow faster.

Cannabis seeds have a firm outer shell to survive adverse conditions for decades in the wild. To encourage proper germination of cannabis seeds, you should scarify first. There are plenty of ways to scarify the cannabis seeds. For thinner-than-usual pods, nicking or rubbing may be enough. For thicker pods, soak them in boiling water for a few hours. You can also use rubbing alcohol or any other strong acid solution.

How scarifying can help germination

Mechanical scarification, more commonly known as nicking, involves cutting or breaking the outer layers of the seed coat with a sharp tool. Use a thin-bladed knife or other sharp objects. Stay away from anything that would damage the embryo, such as a saw. By removing only a few outer layers of the endocarp (seed coat), you allow water and nutrients to penetrate the embryo to help it sprout.

Scarifying cannabis seeds helps to reduce the hard impermeable outer layer, which doesn’t allow water and nutrients to get through. This is done by mechanical or chemical means, and in both cases, you should do it before sowing the cannabis seeds into a growing medium.

When you’re looking for tips on improving your germination rate, it’s essential to understand how seeds typically sprout. It all begins when the outer shell, or integuments of the cannabis seed, break down as it interacts with moisture. The embryo cells then become turgid and begin to grow, causing the radicle and plumule to emerge into the world!