hand holding a germinating seed

Beginner’s Guide to Germinating Cannabis Seeds

For the cannabis plant, life begins at germination. Understandably, the germination process is one of the most important in your cannabis plant’s life. In the quest to germinate cannabis seeds, there are a few schools of thought. The best and most foolproof way to germinate seeds is using peat pellets. Using a wet paper towel is one popular method, but paper towel offers virtually no protection to seedlings. It’s also not very beginner-friendly. Enter Peat pellets.

Peat pellets are essentially disc-shaped, biodegradable growing mediums for germinating seeds. Comprised of (as the name implies) peat moss held together with mesh and other seed-specific nutrients. Peat pellets, such as Jiffy, are an ideal medium since it prevents damage and root stress to the seedling during transplantation.

How to germinate cannabis seeds with peat pellets

You can pick up 12 and 36 packs of jiffy pellets online or at your local home and garden store. Beyond that, all you need for germinating cannabis seeds is water, a pencil, tweezers, a room with a stable temperature and of course, cannabis seeds. Once you’ve got everything you need, we’ll go over the three steps to germination, starting with how to prepare your peat pellets.

Step 1: Adding Water

It really is that easy. However, decide how many plants you’re looking to harvest and aim to plant roughly double that amount. This way, if anything goes wrong — especially if this is your first time growing — you’ll have backup seeds.

When you’re ready, start adding a bit of water (within 40 mL) to the peat pellet, let it absorb the water and expand. The peat pellet should be wet and firm throughout but not overly waterlogged. Now peel back the mesh on top and use a pencil or other tool to bore a hole in the center. The hole should be no more than an inch deep. Use your pinky as a guideline; if the hole extends significantly past your first knuckle, it’s too deep. Cover the hole and try again.

Step 2: Planting

Next, you’ll want to place the seeds inside the hole you just created in the pellet. Be careful with this — cannabis seeds are actually pretty fragile, and the best way to make sure you don’t damage the seed during planting is by using tweezers or a similar tool. After planting the seed, (gently) cover the hole with the surrounding dirt in the pellet.

Once planted, make sure your germinating cannabis seeds stay at consistent room temperatures no higher than 24C. Now the most difficult part is waiting! Sprouting should occur between three to eight days after planting. Check your pellets daily; they should be consistently moist. If they dry out, add a little more water. Be patient — Even if this is your first grow, peat pellets have a high success rate. If you took the precautions outlined in this guide, expect a 90 to 100 percent success rate.

Step 3: Transplanting

After all of your germinated seedlings have sprouted, you can begin transplanting them to their final pots. As previously mentioned, using peat pellets makes this process easy since it naturally protects the fragile germinating cannabis seeds from root damage.

Your final pot should be a one-gallon (or larger) grow bag, also easily sourced online or at any home and garden store. For soil, you can either choose a premix or build your own from scratch. First-time growers should opt for premix until ready to expand their horizons. Not all cannabis requires the same soil, but a good place to start is a coconut coir potting mix like Coco Loco.

When you’ve got your pots ready with soil, it’s time to transplant the seedlings. Completely removing the mesh cover on the peat pellet is optional at this point, and it may be better for first-time growers to leave it on. An advantage to taking it off is giving the roots an easier time proliferating. Place the seedling deep enough in the soil to cover almost all of the stem. Then, water generously. At this stage, you’ll need to make sure you’ve got proper grow lighting or adequate light in your outdoor grow location. You should begin to see new fan leave foliage in around a week!

Now the real growing process begins. Check out our guide to sexing cannabis and how to beat common culprits behind curling fan leaves.

For more growing tips and the latest cannabis coverage, breaking news, editorials and more, be sure to follow CLN.