Starting your seeds hydroponically has many benefits, but many people are unsure how to go about it. Cannabis Seeds sprout easily with our step by step guides for germinating weed seeds in soil, water, tissue, rockwool, & more! A lot of people are constantly put off when it comes to germinating cannabis seeds hydroponically. This is because of how time-consuming it is and how much effort it requires. But one thing they do…
Hydroponic Seed Starting 101: A Primer for Beginners
Starting your seeds hydroponically has many benefits, but many people are unsure how to go about it. Shannon McKee gives us a primer on the basics of starting your own seeds to expand on what you’re currently growing.
Many people skip starting their own seeds because of the time and effort to get them started, but there are some great reasons to start your own seeds hydroponically. It’s so much easier to just go to the store to pick up some seedlings to pop into your system and get growing, right? Well, store-bought seedlings do have some downsides that can be avoided if you start your own.
The first is that you’re limited to what you can grow in your system. You have to choose from the options available at the store. However, if you start your own seeds, you can grow anything. This means you can grow your favorite heirlooms or even rare plants that aren’t found at many nurseries.
Adding seeds to your hydroponic system means that they won’t go through any trauma or root damage from being transplanted into your system. This process may also introduce diseases or bugs into your hydroponic system from the store.
Also, you get the satisfaction of growing a plant from a tiny seed rather than just picking up a seedling. Plus, a packet of seeds can grow a number of plants for just a few bucks, whereas the cost of only one seedling can be the same amount.
Seeds are also more cost-effective than buying one or two seedlings in the long run, as you can save some for the following year. The germination rate can decrease over time, but often, you can still get quite a few to sprout over the years until you have to buy your next seed packet.
What You Need to Start Seeds in a Hydroponic System
The first time you start your own seeds for your hydroponic system may be a bit more expensive at the beginning because you need to buy more materials than in future years. Seeds need water, light, oxygen, and heat to grow. You really don’t need anything too special to grow your own seeds.
You can use a grow tray with a dome for your own miniature greenhouse to create an ideal environment. If you’ll be growing your seeds in an area that is cooler, you may want to invest in a heating mat that goes underneath the grow tray to keep it warm as this is a necessary condition for sprouting to occur. Light is good to have as well as this will help your seeds sprout.
Inside of your grow tray, it can be beneficial to use a pot that works for your seeds and their future as seedlings in your hydroponic set-up. You’ll want to use starter cubes, such as those made of stonewool (rockwool). The key here is to use something that can withstand being immersed in water without dissolving, as it could clog up your system after transplanting.
Step by Step Instructions for Sprouting Seeds in a Hydroponic System
- The first thing that you’ll want to do is to soak your starter cubes in clean water for about an hour. After they’ve been given a chance to soak, put a few seeds into the cube’s hole. You’ll want to add several just in case you have some seeds that don’t germinate. Once they sprout, you can thin out the weaker plants to allow the strongest to grow.
- Prepare your grow tray with about an inch of clean water or nutrient solution that is at half strength. Arrange the light source and heating mat as needed. You can keep the lid on to keep the heat and moisture in the tray.
- Put these planted cubes into the grow tray and add water or the half strength nutrient solution as the level goes down in the grow tray.
- After about four days, you’ll start to see some sprouts emerging.
Some people prefer to use a Ziploc bag, rather than a grow tray, when trying to get the seeds to germinate as it functions like a greenhouse. Seal the bag with a little bit of air and put it in a dark place for about four days to get the seeds sprouted. Then, you can put the starter cubes with sprouted seeds into the grow tray.
Step by Step Instructions on Transplanting
Keep your tiny seedlings growing strong with your hydroponic nutrient solution. Once they’ve gotten bigger, you don’t have to make the nutrient solution half strength.
You’ll start to see the seedlings’ roots coming out of the bottom of the cube, and this is the sign you’ve been waiting for, as it means you can start transplanting. This can take about two to four weeks depending on what plants you’re growing.
Clear up a spot in your hydroponic system’s growing media for the seedling – cube and all. Gently transfer the starter cube into your growing media, and cover it gently.
Give the root system a chance to naturally seek out the water and nutrients in your system by top watering it for a few days to give it a chance to grow the root system.
Voila! You grew your own seedlings into a strong plant for your hydroponic system. Depending on the type of plant, you’ll be able to get your first harvest about four to eight weeks from the time you transplanted your seedlings.
Cut out the dependency of only being able to grow the types of plants that are available as seedlings at your favorite gardening store. Take a little extra time to nurture your seeds so that they become strong seedlings ready to transplant into your system. You’ll be able to take pride in your efforts with how healthy your plants are and your overall system’s health.
How to germinate marijuana seeds
Germination begins the life of your plant, so it is essential to understand precisely how to do it. There are many methods for germinating marijuana seeds – some more successful than others.
This guide will discuss the many ways to germinate your seeds as well as some strategies for ensuring you get the best results possible. But if even the right methods fail I stand by my seeds and replace non-germinated seeds for free.
About germinating cannabis seeds
Too long to read? Watch the video
It starts with the seed
Like all plants, marijuana starts as a seed. What looks like a pebble is actually an entire plant conveniently stored with a few days supplies of food to support itself. During germination, this food is converted into sugars that the plant uses to break through its shell and form its roots. From that point forward, the young seedling depends on its environment to provide the nutrients it will need to survive.
Germination brings a seed out of its slumber and triggers the growth process. A seed will begin germinating once it receives enough moisture.
At that point, it will increase in size and break open its shell. A germ opening forms and a root will emerge, which will help the plant absorb nutrients from the earth.
Nature and gravity ensure that the root grows downwards and the stem upward, creating a young seedling that can survive off light and earth.
Since all marijuana grows from a cannabis seed, many people want to know how to identify a healthy seed.
Honestly, it is difficult to tell if a plant will be healthy based on its seed alone. There are, however some tell-tell signs.
Planning your first grow? Check out my easy beginner seeds and grab an all-in-one Pot for Pot solution
Generally speaking, a pale-green, white, or very dark marijuana seed may have trouble germinating well. But this does not always reflect the outcome of the plant and is always worth trying.
If you are unable to use all of your seeds, store them in a cool, dark and dry place until you can. A refrigerator is ideal.
Planning for germination
Seeds are designed to germinate, but they are more likely to do so if given the ideal environment. There are many methods of germination, but they will all require:
- Moisture to help the seed expand and break through its shell
- Minimal interference so that delicate structures aren’t accidentally broken that mimic springtime (between 20°-22° Celsius or 68°-72° Fahrenheit)
If you remember these three things, your germination attempts are more likely to be successful.
It should go without saying that successful germination is important. Your seed is the foundation for your plants – which is why many successful growers choose to start with high-quality seeds.
You can also improve your germination attempts (and possibly speed up the process) by soaking your seeds in 1% hydrogen peroxide or a compost tea solution for 12 hours before using them. This process will kill any infectious agents.
3 Simple ways to germinate your seeds
The best germination method is the one that works for you, and if you are like me, you’re going to want something simple and natural.
My favorite way to germinate seeds is a 24-water soak followed by soil germination, but something else may work better for you. Here are three of the easiest ways to germinate seeds.
Germinate seeds directly in soil
Planting your seeds in the soil that you intend to grow in is the most common and often, most successful method of germinating marijuana seeds.
This method is perfect for ensuring young seeds have minimal interference since the fragile root is protected by the soil. It’s also the most natural way for marijuana plants to grow.
How to plant marijuana seeds directly in soil
The first step in learning how to plant marijuana seeds directly in soil is to first make sure you use the right type. Use mildly fertilized potting soil or a seed starter. It should have a pH of approximately 6.
This type of soil will have spores and minerals that help young marijuana plants thrive. Do not add nutrients – potting soil has enough nutrients for at least the first two weeks of the plant’s life.
If you add any more nutrients, you risk killing your seedlings due to a nutrient overdose. Place your soil in a small pot.
In my free Grow Bible you will find even more tips for sprouting seeds and how to germinate weed seeds
- Grow with my Quick Start Guide
- Discover secrets to Big Yields
- Avoid common grow mistakes
Steps to germinating cannabis seeds
To prepare the soil for your seed, push your finger into it to create a small hole that is up to 1.5cm (0.6 inches) deep.
You can also use a pen or pencil.
- Place one seed into the prepared hole and cover it with soil. If you’ve already germinated, the seed will have a root – place the root facing downward (more on that later).
- After you’ve covered your seed with loose soil, do not mess with it.
- That includes pushing it down further – this will happen naturally as you water it.
- Use a plant sprayer to moisten the soil and place the pots under a fluorescent lamp.
- Don’t use a windowsill, because the temperature is not stable enough for germination.
- The temperature of the soil should be 22° Celsius or 72° Fahrenheit which is easy to achieve with lighting.
- Keep monitoring your soil to make sure it stays moist.
- Within a week (or as little as 4 days) you should start seeing stems emerge from the soil. You now have a seedling!
- Once your plants are 2 to 4 inches tall (5 to 10 centimeters), transplant your plants into a larger pot with the stems further in the ground. Your plant will now have many roots that will support it for the rest of its life.
Germinate seeds in water
As I mentioned above, germinating in water is my favorite way to start my seeds.
It may seem like a bad idea, as there are more water and light than recommended when using this method, but it works! I’ve found that it is around 90% effective.
The “trick” is not leaving the seeds in water too long.
Usually, 24 to 48 hours is enough for the seeds to show their tail, but you can leave them soaking for up to 7 days without too much of a worry.
Water germination is useful because it assures that there is the right amount of moisture to begin germinating.
If done for just a short period, it can help crack open the shell, pre-sprouting the plant right before your eyes.
Water germination shortens the process by making it easier for the plant rather than having to push through the soil.
- To germinate with water, fill a glass with tap water and allow it to reach room temperature over a few hours.
- The temperature should be around 18° C or 65° F. Do not add nutrients. Drop 2 to 3 cannabis seeds into the water and watch for any changes.
- Refill the glass with fresh water every other day while maintaining its temperature.
After about 2 to 4 days the seeds should start to split.
You can place your seeds in the soil at any point, but once the roots are 3 to 5 mm (.1 to .2 inches) long, they must be planted.
These are the basic instructions from my store that I share with new growers:
As much as I prefer to germinate my seeds in water, it does have its downside.
At some point, you will need to handle your seeds, and this is risky. Germinating seeds are delicate, and the roots are especially fragile. If you harm them in any way, your plant might not develop well.
Be very careful when placing your sprouted seed into the soil, and if possible place the root facing down.
Germinate with cotton pads or paper towels
Another easy way of germinating your seeds is to use cotton pads or paper towels.
This is a common way of doing it because cotton pads or paper towels can keep the seeds moist and protected.
While cotton pads (or balls) or the best for this method, cheap, non-porous paper towels will work as well.
Just make sure they are plain single-ply paper towels – the cloth-like ones may cause your roots to grow into the towel.
- To germinate using cotton pads, place a few seeds between two cotton pads and moisten with a plant sprayer.
- When using a paper towel, place the seeds in between two paper towels and store the towel-cushioned seeds in between two plates, under an upside-down bowl or in a plastic bag.
- Keep the temperature around 22° Celsius, or 72° Fahrenheit, and (once again) do not place the seeds on a windowsill.
- In about 2 to 5 days, the seeds will start to split open, and a tiny root should appear.
- Place them in the soil when they are 3-5 mm or 0.1- 0.2 inches long.
Read my free Grow Bible to learn more about germination and caring for your plant.
- Grow with my Quick Start Guide
- Discover secrets to Big Yields
- Avoid common grow mistakes
Like the water method, germinating this way has its risk. If you are not careful, you can damage fragile roots while transporting them to the soil. You can also tangle the root in the wet paper towel if you are not extremely careful.
Explore the beginner cannabis seeds in my shop and start germinating your first seeds!
Use your fingers or tweezers to move delicate sprouts, and don’t allow the root to grow too long before moving it into the soil.
Other germination methods
Water, soil, and cotton pads or paper towels are the easiest ways to germinate your seeds, but they aren’t the only ways. You can also use starter cubes or plugs for germinating cannabis seeds. Simply drop the seed in, add water, and wait for it to germinate.
They aren’t always as successful, but they eliminate the risk of damaging your root when transporting a young sprout to its final growing home.
Below are two types of starter materials that can safely germinate your seeds.
Germinating seeds in rockwool
Rockwool provides the perfect environment for germinating seeds.
It is mineral wool that is made from volcanic rock and other materials (such as basalt and limestone). Rockwool is man-made by melting its ingredients into molten lava that is quickly spun into threads. These threads are then compacted, cured, and cut.
Rockwool is an ideal growing environment, but it will need to be amended slightly for marijuana plants.
First of all, you will need to add some fertilizer before you use it to start seeds. The TDS should be around 600ppm. You’ll also need to lower the pH since Rockwool has a pH of 7.0, which is too high for germination.
To lower the pH, soak Rockwool plugs in water for at least a day. Since water has a pH of 5.5, this will bring down the pH.
It should also be noted that there are some serious drawbacks to using Rockwool.
Because it does not occur naturally, it’s not the best for the environment.
It’s also not the greatest for your health; wear gloves and cover your mouth and eyes when handling this stuff.
Because of the extra steps involved (such as adjusting the nutrients and pH) and handling issues, this method is not recommended for beginners, although it is not terribly difficult to do.
You’ll need to purchase and TDS meters for the most successful germination, but outside of that, the material is very affordable and easy to find.
Because it does not require soil, this method is ideal for those who plan to grow hydroponically.
Germinating seeds in peat pellets
Peat pellets are another way to germinate seeds without the risk of damaging young roots.
Peat pellets are compressed peat, which is made of partially decomposed vegetable matter and is simply yummy for young plants.
The pellet enlarges when you add water to it, forming a container of nutrient-dense soil alternative around germinating seeds.
Unlike Rockwool, peat is already optimized for cannabis germination.
It has a pH of 5.5 and a TDS of 625, so you don’t have to worry about making any adjustments. The only preparation required is soaking the pellets in warm water.
Once the roots become visible, (by popping out of the peat), simply move the entire pellet into the soil, rock wool, or coco coir, where it will continue growing.
This type of germination is not recommended for hydroponic setups.
Peat pellets have a good germination rate, are easy to use, and are suitable for beginners. They are also ideal for cloning.
I recommend the Jiffy brand of peat pellets which can be purchased on Amazon.
In addition to the material used to germinate your seeds, the grow environment you provide will play a huge role as well.
Your seeds will need the correct temperature and levels of moisture to sprout into a strong, healthy plant.
“Weak plants are the result of weak seeds and poor growing conditions.”
Below are some tips for creating the perfect germination environment.
How to water sprouting seeds
Watering is essential throughout the cannabis life cycle, and germination is no exception.
Not enough water and your seeds do not germinate, too much and that root doesn’t survive.
Excess water keeps oxygen from the roots and can attract mold, which is why you have to be very careful not to overdo it.
When germinating weed seeds indoors using soil or another growing medium it is relatively easy to monitor the water levels. You should water your seed until you see water dripping out from below (and not more).
Even though the seedling cannot absorb that much water, it will evaporate quite quickly, so you need to make sure there is always enough around.
If you water it until it reaches this point, it should supply enough moisture for a few days.
Lighting and temperature
Like water, lighting is essential to a cannabis plant. In a mature plant, light enables the plant to form sugars from carbon dioxide and water.
Buy feminized seeds
- High-quality feminized seeds
- Guaranteed germination
- Incredible high yields
- F or grower’s of all experience
The plant then uses those sugars to power its growth – something we humans call photosynthesis.
For a seed, lighting is important as well because it provides heat, which a seed needs to push open its shell and send its root into the earth.
The best way to give your seeds the temperature it needs is with fluorescent lights. (T5 high output with a color temperature of 6500K).
Fluorescent lights are ideal because they do not use too much power, and they don’t give off too much heat.
You can place them as close to a young plant as you need, and although your seed doesn’t need it at this point, it will as soon as those first leaves start peeking out from the top of the soil.
Incandescent bulbs can also be used because they are great at generating heat. You can’t use them as grow lights, but for germination, they work just fine.
You can also use a seedling heating pad (available at most gardening stores). These heat the seeds from the bottom instead of the top. They will not be enough once your plant has started growing, however.
Keep the temperature of the soil around 72 degrees.
Seeds germinate best in warm, humid temperatures, similar to springtime.
To create a humid environment, wrap plastic wrap around your pot, creating a biodome for your plants. Just remember to remove the plastic wrap the minute you see any sprouts emerge from the soil.
If the soil, or water, or whatever you are growing in is hotter than 72 degrees Fahrenheit, move the lamp further away from the plant.
Dry air won’t kill seedlings, but if you can reduce it, even better.
Where to germinate seeds
When you’re planning your outdoor grow and you received your seeds, it’s best to germinate them indoors. This is because indoors it is much easier to maintain the correct temperature, water levels, and light exposure.
Even if you plan to grow your plants outdoors, you do not want to try starting them outside (unless you absolutely need to).
Outdoors you must worry about rain, clouds, and plenty of other things that could keep your seeds from sprouting.
You’ll also have to wait until the final frost has passed, meaning your growing season may be delayed compared to if you had started the seeds inside.
Starting indoors gives you a head start and your plants a better chance at survival.
If you still plan to germinate outdoors, choose a location that will support the plant its entire life. You will not be moving the plant so choose wisely.
- Plant seeds when corn is typically planted in your area.
- Dig 6x6x6 holes at least three feet apart and fill them with potting soil.
- This will give the seeds enough nutrients to start.
- Then, dig a small, quarter-inch deep hole into the potting soil and drop the seed in.
- Soak that soil with water, and water it again in a few days if the weather is warm enough.
- You can use row covers to protect your seeds and keep the area warm but be careful to not leave them on too long – young plants will need the light once they break through the soil.
In my free Grow Bible you will find even more tips for sprouting seeds and how to germinate pot seeds
Best Way to Germinate Cannabis Seeds for Hydroponics
A lot of people are constantly put off when it comes to germinating cannabis seeds hydroponically. This is because of how time-consuming it is and how much effort it requires.
But one thing they do not know is that growing seeds in a hydroponic system will minimize the damage the seeds can get through other methods of germination.
What you Need for your Hydroponic System
First, you need to have a grow tray (not to be mistaken for grow tents) to hold your plants in a hydroponic system. This will create an ideal environment for your plants to grow in. Also, to avoid certain diseases and pests that usually comes along whenever a hydroponic system is set up.
Inside your grow tray, you should invest in a heater or heating mat to maintain a temperature that will encourage growth in your seeds. Aside from that, proper lighting should be installed as well to help your seeds sprout.
Another important thing to take note of is the pot where the germination will take place. You may want to buy starter cubes that can withstand being soaked for a very long time. Rockwool has got to be one of those products that will not dissolve in water.
Step by Step directions for ontogenesis Seeds during a aquacultural System
- The first thing that you should do is to soak your starter cubes or Rockwool in clean water for an hour. Once they have been given a chance to soak, place a few seeds into the cube’s hole. You may want to add a few more on each cube, just in case some seeds do not germinate.
- Once they sprout, you can take out the weaker or unsuccessful plants to allow the strongest to prosper instead.
- Prepare the grow tray with an inch of clean water or a nutrient solution that is not too strong.
- Arrange the light source and heating mat until a suitable environment is met. You can keep the lid on to stay the warmth and wetness within the receptacle.
- Place the planted cubes into the grow tray and add water or the half-strength nutrient solution.
- After regarding four days, you’ll start to see some sprouts emerging.
Apparently, some people prefer to use Ziploc bags, rather than getting grow tray when trying to get the seeds to germinate since it functions as a greenhouse. There is nothing really wrong about that. Just make sure to seal the bag with a little bit of air and place it in a dark place for four days to get the seeds to sprout. After that, you can put the starter cubes with sprouted seeds into the grow tray.
Another method is by using a paper towel. You can easily achieve this by following the steps below:
- Soak four sheets of towel in water. Once soaked, you must make sure that there is water dripping off of those sheets. Too much water is not good for the seeds.
- Set two paper sheets on one of the plates and place the seeds at least 1 inch apart from each other. After that, cover them with the other two sheets.
- Cover the seeds with the second plate to keep the moisture is locked in. Be sure that you check the seeds regularly to see if they have sprouted or not.
- This is where you will find out if your seeds have a chance to prosper.
Always be sure that the seeds are stored in a room where the temperature is maintained between 70 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Cannabis seeds usually sprout within 1–4 days. However, there are other seeds, older seeds to be exact, that often take up to a week to sprout.
- Whenever you try to check the seeds, make sure that the towels are moist. If the towels are dry, just add enough water, not too much.
You can understand that germination has occurred because the seed will split, and a touch root seems. Be sure that you don’t touch the taproot when it sprouts or during the transplantation process since it is very fragile.
Just be sure to use a paper towel that is nonporous. Using a porous paper towel will cause the cannabis seeds to cling to the pores of the paper towels.
Although you may not be successful at first, that is just part of life. You win, you lose; all that matters is
that you learn through these experiences. Even if you lose a few seeds in the process, you should not be disheartened by it since it happens to everyone — even if you follow the rules and step as meticulously as possible.
The Weed Blog has an article that directly compares traditional soil germination and hydroponics. Have a read at it if you are still undecided on what method to use; it might help.
Germinating through the process of Hydroponics is definitely a chore, but it is still worth it once you see the roots of your cannabis plants soaking wet and brimming with life. Once you succeed, you will be enjoying every hit you take from your own weed growth.