The first step in growing your own cannabis, explore expert tips and tricks on how to successfully germinate, transforming your little seeds into healthy sprouts. Seed priming lets you get to the fun part of growing faster while increasing success rates and even yields. A common germination method for cannabis is to soak the seed overnight in a glass of water that is at room temperature because this triggers hormones that
How To: Germinate Cannabis Seeds
There’s just something amazing that happens as you watch life unfold from the smallest seed to a full-grown plant. It’s a connection to nature that is often lacking in today’s buy everything pre-washed world. Some patients are legally allowed to grow a limited number of cannabis plants at home (with , either outdoors or inside. The number of plants and the amount that can be stored depends directly on the quantity of dried cannabis a patient is authorized to use daily, so make sure to review the ACMPR guidelines before starting.
If you’re growing your own cannabis starting from seeds (as opposed to cut clones), the first step is to transform them from the seeds to sprouts. For seeds to germinate, they require three things: moisture, warmth and darkness.
Fill a glass with clean, room temperature water (between 18 and 25 degrees Celsius is ideal). The type of water you use should sync up with the type of water you drink. If your tap water is safe for drinking, you can use it for germination. But if you have to use filtered or bottled water to drink, your seeds will also need it to grow.
Drop your seeds into the glass of water and leave them to soak in a dark place that holds a temperature between 20 and 25 degrees Celsius. After 10 minutes, check on the seeds. If a few are floating at the top, gently tap them to see if they sink. (If they don’t, just let them float!) Place the seeds back in the dark for another 8-12 hours.
Note: If you are germinating colour-coated seeds, each colour should be placed in a separate glass. The colour will slowly dissolve in the water, making the seeds and their colour-coded strain identifiers indistinguishable.
Place the seeds on a plate, bedded in between layers of damp paper or cotton towels, before placing them back in the dark to continue germinating. Check on them every 6-12 hours, dripping water onto the top layer of paper towels to ensure they remain damp. Do this for 48-72 hours.
After two to three days on the paper towels, the seeds will swell causing the casing shell to crack. It may take up another day or two, so if you don’t see split casing shells, be patient. However, it’s also important not to let the newly emerged root stay exposed to the damp paper towels too long, as it can create early root damage. Look for the white, initial root visible at the spot the seed is cracked. It will look like a little tail sticking out of the seed. That’s how you know your seed is ready to be planted!
How to Prime Seeds for a Head Start on the Grow Season
Looking to give your seeds a head start? Seed priming lets you get to the fun part of growing faster while increasing success rates and even yields.
Few things compare to the joy of seeing that first bit of green poking through the soil. Growing is an art, and a beautiful one at that.
Germinating seeds yourself brings a sense of accomplishment as well as pure excitement for what’s to come. For impatient gardeners like me, seed priming offers a true edge in the process of seed germination, increasing success rates, and speeding things up.
What is Seed Priming?
Think of priming as hydrating seeds. Seed priming establishes consistent moisture and temperature for seeds so they begin the germination process. In many cases, seeds are primed and then the germination process is halted before roots and sprouts emerge.
This can occur because controlled priming works within a window of time between priming and pre-germination. As long as priming does not surpass the maximum length of time, seeds can safely dry back to a dormant state and await planting. Amazingly, at the time they’re sown, primed seeds will sprout more quickly and abundantly than non-primed seeds.
Seed Priming at Home
Seed priming is possible for hobby and home gardeners, although it may be more or less a little-known secret or a proud discovery of greater gardening success. Only this year did I learn the amazing experience of improving germination by priming and testing seeds in wet paper towels.
Soak seeds in a small bowl of water for no more than 24 hours.
Soaking Seeds First
When priming seeds at home, you can soak seeds or use the paper towel method of germination. If soaking, place seeds in a small bowl of water and soak for no more than 24 hours. Recommendations on total soak time vary but range commonly between eight to 12 hours and absolutely no more than 24, or else the seeds might begin to rot.
Wet Paper Towel Seed Priming
The plastic baggie and paper towel method of starting seeds is a very useful technique. A kind gentleman in a Facebook gardening group suggested it for planting pea seeds to see if they’d sprout. Here are the steps:
- Fold a paper towel in half.
- Space out pea seeds on the folded paper towel.
- Spray room temperature tap water lightly on the paper towel.
- Fold it to fully cover the seeds and ensure it is evenly moist.
- Place the folded paper towel in a zip-top plastic baggie.
- Label with the date and type of seed.
- Place near a heating vent or on a warm surface such as the top of your fridge or microwave.
I couldn’t believe my luck the next morning! When I checked on the pea seeds in the baggies, I saw the radicles (first roots) had begun to emerge from almost all the seeds. Amazed, I proceeded to use the same wet paper towel and baggie-priming method with beans, Roma tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, cucumbers, and even fruit seeds for fun. Almost everything germinated. Brilliant!
You can gently bury the entire primed seed loosely below the soil.
As Seedlings Emerge
Prior to priming, be sure to check your local weather. Once you start the priming process at home, it’s vital to get the seeds into the ground soon after they begin germinating. In as little as 24 hours, you may see some tiny seedlings starting to push their way through the seed coats. You can gently bury the entire primed seed loosely below the soil and it should continue its journey to the surface in short time.
Why Should I Prime Seeds?
Planting primed seeds results in shorter germination times and better rates of germination. For both commercial farmers and home gardeners, seed priming saves time and optimizes growth. Here are some key advantages of using primed seeds or priming seeds yourself:
Faster Seed Germination – Moisture added when priming seeds speeds up the germination process.
Higher Rates of Germination – Seeds sprout in greater numbers when primed before planting. Proper priming can overcome seed dormancy for stubborn varieties.
More Forgiving to Temperature – Seeds go through many of their temperature-sensitive changes during priming. Therefore, they can germinate more easily in cooler temperatures, which in turn can impact heating bills in larger scale farming operations.
Reduce Fungi – It’s reported that priming seeds can lower the incidence of seedborne fungi in resulting plants.
Increase in Yield – Significantly higher yields are likely to occur with primed seeds. One study revealed a 21 percent greater yield when priming seeds first.
Higher Density and Vigor – Plants grown from primed seeds tend to be more vigorous and may also reach maturity sooner. This also means harvests may begin earlier in the growing season.
Affordable – Priming seeds at home is easy to do and you can use materials you already have around the home. It’s cheap, easy, and quite honestly, much neater than starting everything in soil first.
Environmentally-Friendly – This method of enhanced gardening is friendly to plants and the environment. Your green thumb is now even greener!
Save Valuable Planting Space – Priming seeds first speeds things up and allows you to identify viable seeds as well as potential duds. You can swiftly pot up the promising seeds and discard or bulk plant those that don’t seem viable.
Soak It — Seeds Best Suited for Priming
Starting seeds is so much fun, and it’s even better when you’re able to up the ante for quicker and better results. Consider what you’re planning to grow and whether priming the seeds can enhance your gardening experience. You can prime these seeds for quicker and more abundant germination. Try at-home priming with wet paper towels or seed soaking for the following seeds, to name a few.
Commercial Examples of Seed Priming
In professional environments, seed priming may involve a solute, whereas in-home gardeners will likely use water to prime their seeds. Even water vapor can aid in the seed priming process.
In a study of nanoparticle-mediated seed priming, seeds received a treatment of nanopriming agents, in this case turmeric oil nanoemulsions (TNE) and silver nanoparticles (AgNPs). This seed priming measure improved the germination of notoriously temperamental watermelon seeds and resulted in improved germination, better growth, and increased yield without altering the quality of the fruit.
Another study tested seed priming in developing countries. This study largely found “on-farm” seed priming to be significantly positive in its impacts to seed germination, plant growth, and crop yields.
Professional Seed Priming Methods
Commercial growers and suppliers rely on proven methods to prime seeds for best germination, growth, and yield. Some have their own proprietary means of priming seeds while others adhere to tried and true techniques. Here are the most common commercial priming methods.
Drum Priming – Seeds soak up moisture from controlled humidity within a rotating drum. The monitored water vapor moistens the seeds and primes them for optimal growth.
Hydropriming – While used in commercial operations, this method would also work at home. Hydropriming involves soaking seeds in water, specifically in aerated distilled water if possible.
On-Farm Seed Priming – Farmers can soak seeds overnight and allow them to dry briefly before planting. This method can reduce the overall time needed for the seeds to soak water directly from the soil.
Osmopriming – Soaking seeds in low water content paired with osmotic solution relies on osmosis to jumpstart the seeds without kicking them into true germination. Plant hormones or beneficial microorganisms may also be mixed into the priming solutions.
Solid Matrix Priming – A slower method, seeds begin in an insoluble medium that readily absorbs water, such as vermiculite. This method limits water uptake by the seeds.
Take these tips on priming seeds at face value and give it a whirl with your next planting. This is one case where it’s quick, clean, and easy to make a difference in your gardening endeavors!
Tip: Not all seeds need to be primed. Some, particularly those that are finicky when transplanted, may not be great candidates for seed priming or may sprout just fine on their own. Those that are small may simply not need it. Carrots, lettuce, radishes, and some herbs and flowers may do better without priming. If you do choose to prime these seeds, soak in a small dish of water and watch closely every few hours to avoid overdoing it. Trial and error is one of the best parts of gardening!
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Pre-Soaking in Water Germination Technique
A common germination method for cannabis is to soak the seed overnight in a glass of water that is at room temperature because this triggers hormones that signal the cells to start germinating.
Be sure not to leave the seeds in the water for more than 24 hours, as this will cause the seeds to become deprived of oxygen, drown and rot.
After you have allowed the seeds to soak, you will then remove the seeds from the glass of water and place them either in a:
- Moist Paper Towel
- Light Soilless Mix
- Any Other Growing Medium
You will then need to place the seeds in a location that is warm in temperature, about 70 – 90°F (21 – 32°C) and be sure to keep the towel or growing medium moist, not soggy wet.
If you over-soak the growing medium, be sure to drain off as much as possible to keep the seed from drowning. Within several days you will begin to see the sprout coming out of the seed if you are using the paper towel or cheesecloth.
If you are using another growing medium for germination, you will have to wait and see. When using the other growing mediums for germination, be sure not to dig, or open up the growing medium to ‘see’ if it is sprouting. If you do this, you run the risk of injuring the sprouting seed.
If there is fungus beginning to develop where the seeds are germinating, you may mist the medium with a very mild two-percent bleach or fungicide solution. Any more and you risk damaging or killing your seed.
Once the seed has developed its white sprout, you may now very carefully pick up the sprout and plant it. Be sure to have the growing medium that you plan to use to plant in, is prepared and ready to go, as the small rootlet is very sensitive to prolonged and intense air and light.
If you are planting the seedling into a soil mixture, cover the germinated seed with about 0.25 – 0.50 inches of fine soil or planting mixture with the white root tip pointing down.
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