Growing marijuana seeds can be daunting. Luckily we've put together the ultimate guide for growing cannabis seeds: Come see our Step-by-Step Weed To Seed Guide!
“Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.”
Growing your own cannabis plant starting from seed is a remarkable journey. Understanding the biology of the plant is one thing, but comprehending how a little miracle bean can turn into a gigantic tree producing flowers that can affect your body and mind is nothing short of an evolutionary miracle. Or rather a co-evolutionary story of plant and human.
Start Growing Weed From Seed
Our favorite thing about growing your own weed starting from a seed, rather than a clone, is that you get to see the full life cycle and enjoy a plant that is unique, just like you.
Raising a seedling from a cannabis seed, however, requires some patience, gentle hands, and a smidgen of luck. Thankfully pot seeds are remarkably vigorous because they are what's called endosperm seeds, which means they have almost pre-formed cotyledon leaves before you even add water. Below is a brief guide on the best techniques on how to grow weed from seed.
Related: Why Grow One Plant?
1) Germinating Your Cannabis Seed
To germinate marijuana seeds, add to a small container with purified room temperature water. Then place germinating cannabis seeds in a dark and warm place (like a kitchen cabinet) for 24-48 hours, but no longer. By drenching the seed, it absorbs the water thoroughly, activating the germination process on a physical and chemical level. Doing this helps to loosen the shell as it becomes a little softer making it easier for the embryo to crack it open. When your seed sinks to the bottom, it is ready to be planted, and sometimes the seed will pop out a small taproot. A cannabis seed can still be planted though if it does not sink or put out a taproot. When a seed pops a taproot (often called a tail), it becomes more vulnerable and it is better to plant it before this root emerges.
Note: Many germinate cannabis seeds using a wet paper towel on a plate. We find that this method is not the best for cannabis seeds because paper towels dry out quickly and getting the germinating seeds out of the paper towel can be clumsy. Using tweezers can be dangerous as soaked seeds are much more fragile. We like to play it safe and germinate cannabis seeds using purified water and jiffy pellets which are specifically designed to easily germinate seeds.
2) Planting Your Weed Seed
We see best results germinating seeds with seedling pellets that are made of a mix of compressed peat moss and coco husk. To expand, soak it in water for 10 to 15 minutes. Using warmer, lukewarm water, instead of cold water, will speed up the time the jiffy pellet takes to fully expand. Once your seedling pellet has absorbed enough water and has expanded to its maximum size, gently squeeze to remove excess water. The growing medium should be like a damp sponge that would not leave streaks when wiped on a table. Dig a small hole about 1/4 inch deep for your seed. (We like to use a chopstick to poke a hole.) Use a spoon to lift the seed out of its bath. If it has popped out a taproot be careful not to damage it. Gently place the seed into the hole (root down) and lightly cover it with dirt from the pellet. Now that you have started the germination process, your seedling will come above ground within two weeks. The older the seed, the longer it takes for it to germinate.
Want an easy-to-use starter kit for how to grow marijuana from a seed? Check out our Seedling Starter Kit, perfect for nurturing your germinated seeds into viable, healthy plants.
3) Weed Seedling Sprouts 🌱
Perhaps the most exciting stage for a cannabis seed, your baby plant will come above ground in 1-2 weeks, with the average popping up in 5 to 7 days after planting. As your seedling comes above the soil, its shell might take a few days to fall off. It’s best to leave it alone, nature has the job covered. If it does not come above ground after about two weeks, the chance of of it being a viable seed is dramatically reduced, and it’s best to try again. Even the best seeds have an 85% germination rate. When your seedling comes above ground, it is going to want to see a direct light source.
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4) Lighting for Your Cannabis Seedling
Marijuana seedlings require a medium amount of light-- enough to get energy to grow, but not too much light that to get burned. Leaving your seedling in direct sunlight will cause the leaves to curl, while too little light will cause the seedling to stretch. If growing outside, seedlings want to see a direct light source to stop them stretching. If inside, a sunny windowsill with more than half a day of sunlight works wonders. Otherwise, 24 to 30 inches from a grow light is an excellent supplement. Your seedling should not stretch more than 6 inches at most.
Related: The Cheapest Way to Grow Pot Indoors
5) Watering Your Cannabis Seedling
For cannabis plants young and old, it’s best to use bottled, distilled, or filtered water as these are without chlorine. If using tap water, let it sit for 48 to 96 hours before watering to dissipate any chlorine. Chlorine can also be eliminated by boiling for 20 minutes. Under normal conditions, after soaking your seedling pellet, it should contain all the moisture your plant needs before it comes above ground. As it grows, it will only need about a shot glass worth of water at most per week to keep the medium damp. Seedlings don’t drink a lot of water, which makes sense given their size. Your plant will do better in a growing medium which is damp but not soaking wet. Overwatering is just as deadly as drying out!
Damping off happens when the seedling is in too moist of an environment. The young plant’s immune system is not strong enough to ward off a fungus that results in the plant rotting from the bottom of the stem. When this happens, the plant will bend over and die if not treated. To help fight the infection, lightly spray a 0.5% solution of hydrogen peroxide around the affected area. However, the best option is to avoid this by not exposing your seedling to too much moisture.
6) First Cannabis Seedling Leaves & Hardening Off
The first set of leaves to come above ground are called the cotyledons. These little leaves are packed with energy and will grow to about 1/4 in in size before eventually falling off. Your second leaves to emerge will be single blades and will be serrated, looking like regular pot leaves.
They will become several inches in length. During their growth your first actual set of leaves will appear. These are typically three blades. Around this time is when your plant is “hardening off”. You will notice that the stem will start to develop a thicker skin. As the leaves of the plant get bigger, they can gradually handle more sunlight, so move it into more direct light-- the more light the better! If sunlight is not available, grow lights are recommended.
7) Transplanting Cannabis Seedlings
About 10 days after germination (or earlier), when the baby cannabis plant has hardened off, roots will start emerging from the bottom of your seedling pellet and the plant is ready to be transplanted into a bigger pot. Handle your seedling tenderly so to not to damage the roots during this stage. Planting weed must be done with care as any stress will slow its growth so .
Dig a small hole in your bigger pot for the seedling, sprinkle some rooting booster in the bottom of the hole then carefully plant the whole seedling pellet holding your weed baby. Your plant's roots grow right through the casing of the jiffy pellet.
Now bury so the base of its stalk is level with the topsoil. Give it a watering to set the roots in the ground, then hold off watering until you pick up the pot and it feels light in weight.
Are you ready to transplant your seedlings? Shop our best selection of cannabis starter growing kits from small to large pots.
Related Link: How to Grow Marijuana as a Garden Variety
8. Separating the Girls from the Boys
At about 4-6 weeks into your plant’s growth, at the end of the vegetative stage, you’ll be able to determine the sex of the plant if you are growing regular seeds. You’ll want to separate and dispose of any male plants. This is an important step for growing cannabis from regular seeds because cannabis is dioecious, meaning that some plants are female and some are male.
Why Do You Only Want Female Weed Plants?
Only female plants produce THC buds during the flowering stage. You want to make sure your cannabis plants are all female. If you have a male plant, it can fertilize the other female plants, and they will work to produce seeds instead inside every bud and decrease cannabinoid production.
It’s essential to know the difference between a female and a male plant so that you can remove the male plants before they contaminate your crop with pollen. Unfortunately, you have a 50/50 chance of getting a male plant when growing a plant from a regular seed found in a nug from your last bag of weed.
There is a massive market for feminized seeds that will only grow into female plants. But even these seeds are not a 100% guarantee you’re going to get a female plant. To ensure a good crop, you'll want to germinate and plant many marijuana seeds and then separate the females from the males when the plants begin to show their sexuality.
How to Tell if a Weed Seed is Male or Female
As your plant matures sexually, it will develop between its nodes. Nodes are the area of the plant where the branches connect to the plant’s stalk. The distinguishing characteristics that will help you identify your plant’s gender:
Male Plants: Small pollen sacs will cluster in the nodes.
Female Plants: Stigmas will develop in the nodes. The stigmas can catch the pollen of male plants. Stigmas have hair-like veins that will extend from the sacs in the nodes.
Hermaphrodite Plants: These plants have both the stigmas and pollen sacs in their nodes. These are female plants that develop both sex organs when exposed to a lot of stress or simply come from an unstable genetic line.
Once you can identify the sex of your plants, you’ll want to remove the male or hermaphrodite plants because they can negatively affect the harvest of your female plants. That’s why it is crucial to germinate and grow several cannabis seeds to this stage to ensure you get at least one healthy female plant.
9) Grow Weed Plant, Grow!Suddenly, before your very eyes, the plant will transform. The vegetative stage is a period of growth; She will grow in height and branch out, putting off leaves and a network of branches. It is your job as the grower to meet her needs so that she can reach her full potential. With a good grow kit, this means as much light as possible and lightly watering often to maintain an even level of moisture.
The goal of the vegetative stage is to keep her healthy and allow the plant to grow as big and strong as possible so that she can hold many, many flowers.
Related Link: How to Be a Professional Cannabis Grower
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Our complete grow kits include everything you need to go from seed to your very own supply of high grade medical cannabis.
9) Marijuana Flowering Stage
Your once baby seedling from feminized cannabis seeds is now a beautiful, bushy cannabis plant, will transition to flowering stage when she is exposed to 12 hours of consistent darkness. She will have a growth spurt of vegetative growth aimed at giving the plant ample size and strength to support those coming buds. Then, her growth slows as she delegates her energy to building buds. Flowers start as leaves that bunch up at the top of the main colas of each plant and white hair-like structures (pistils) will emerge. These become tiny buds. These budlets fatten and stack. The plant will continue to add more pistils and crystals begin to form over the buds. These are trichomes and are the main source of all the medicinal cannabinoids!
Related: A Week by Week Guide to the Cannabis Flowering Stages
10) Harvesting Your Weed Plant
Saying goodbye is never easy. However, your cannabis plant knows when it’s her time. And your nose will too. As her buds finish developing, that classic scent that she is known for will come out in force. When the smell of her flowers starts to waver just the smallest amount, that’s her waving goodbye.
It is time to harvest your weed when:
1) the color of the stigmas (the hair-like structures coming off the buds) you want these to be 80% or more to have turned from white to orange/red/brown
2) the color of the trichomes (the yummy crystals on the buds) you want these to turn from clear to milky/cloudy with just a few amber.
The most accurate judge of readiness to harvest are her trichomes. These yummy crystals are the key to it all but can only be seen with magnification. Peak THC is found when the trichomes are milky/cloudy in color and have rounded, mushroom-shaped heads. When they get amber, THC is degrading to another cannabinoid, CBN.
Harvest by removing any remaining fan leaves, cutting down each branch, and hanging the branches upside down to dry in a dark place with a humidity around 50%, temp around 65℉.
Related: The Ultimate Guide on How to Harvest Weed
We hope this guide helps you find fun and success with growing your own weed plant. If you have any questions, please shoot our grow coaches an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We love to talk about plants! Check out our grow kits here if you're ready to get started.
FAQ about Starting Growing Weed from Seed
FAQs about How to Grow Marijuana from Seeds
How long do cannabis seeds last?
This depends on how you store them. All seeds lose viability over time, but seeds with stronger genetics will last longer. Indoor weed seeds stored in a cool, dry place are viable for one to two years. You can refrigerate your seeds and they will last for many years as long as they stay dry and away from moisture-- if they get wet, they will mold and not germinate.
How to make your weed seedlings grow faster?
Cannabis is a sentient being and when she is a seedling, she is at her most fragile. Some things, like her timeline, cannot be altered. Increasing the hours of light that a seedling receives to 20 hours a day will give her the most opportunity to grow. Managing her environment so that it is not too hot or humid, and making sure to not overwater, and transplanting early will set her up for success.
When to transplant cannabis seedlings to bigger pots?
Your cannababy seedling is ready to be transplanted when the plant has hardened off, she has started to show her second set of true, serrated leaves, and the roots start emanating from the bottom of the seedling pallet. This is approximately a week after you planted the germinated seed in the jiffy pellet. Your seedling should not spend more than 10 days in just the seedling pellet.
Can weed be grown from the seeds?
Yes! Cannabis grows wonderfully from seeds indoors and outdoors. It is not uncommon to find volunteer seedlings from a few seeds in places that cannabis is regularly cultivated, but not all seeds that you find in buds are viable marijuanas seeds. That's why it is so important to get high quality seeds for your own cannabis plants. Feminized marijuana seeds are a great choice due to their reliability. And yes, autoflowering cannabis seeds are naturally feminized!
How long does it take to grow a seed of weed?
The time it takes to grow marijuana plants from sprouted seeds to harvested buds varies depending on the cannabis species variety type and the conditions that each plant is grown under. On average, growing cannabis is a 3 to 8 month (10 - 32 week) time commitment. On the fastest side, plants grown autoflowering seeds are ready to harvest in 80 to 100 days after the seed germinates. If you want to stick with photoperiod cannabis, starting from cannabis clones can also cut down on time because you skip the germinating seeds process and waiting for those seeds to sprout. If you go with cannabis clones, make sure that you source from healthy parent plants.
How long does it take for a weed seed to turn into a plant?
Germinated cannabis seeds tend to pop their first root within 48 hours. We recommend to germinate seeds and plant in a jiffy pellet within 24-48 hours. Planted cannabis seeds tend to sprout above ground in 5 to 7 days and then are considered seedlings. Plant cannabis seedlings early as they grow rapidly and become baby plants in just a couple weeks. How long it takes from there depends on the the type of cannabis and how long of a vegetative stage your plants enjoy.
Can seeded weed be good?
Seeded weed is neither good or bad, it is the cannabis plant completing her biological mission by getting pollinated by a male plant. However, we do not recommend smoking weed with seeds; seeds contain no cannabinoids (so they won't get you high), don't taste very good, and can give you a headache despite being non-toxic.
Is seeded weed less potent?
There is a lot of anecdotal reports on forums of seeded weed being just as potent. However, scientific evidence has found that when female marijuana plants get fertilized with pollen, the amount of cannabinoids present in the buds significantly decreases. This means that yes, seeded weed is less potent than unfertilized buds.
Do weed seeds germinate fast?
Depending on the age and quality of the seeds, germinating cannabis seeds takes about 24 hours. Older cannabis seeds can take longer to germinate, if they germinate at all. That's why it's important to buy marijuana seeds from reputable medical cannabis breeders.
Can a weed seed grow in just water?
You can germinate cannabis seeds in water for up to 48 hours. Many that grow cannabis indoors grow cannabis in water which is a practice called hydroponics. However, this isn't just water; it's water with salt-based nutrients needed sustain the plants and get them to produce buds.
Can I just plant weed seed in the ground?
You sure can just plant seeds in the ground! It's called 'weed' for a reason. Cannabis seeds are resilient and want to grow. However, if you plant weed seeds outdoors at the wrong time of year with not enough hours of light or plant seeds in compacted or poor quality soil, your seed sprouts will not grow happy weed plants. We recommend starting seeds indoors in jiffy pellets then transplant into a growing medium designed for growing cannabis, like our Superb Soil mix.
Do weed plants grow back every year?
No. Cannabis is an annual plant. This means that its life cycle has one season. The plant will grow, flower, and then die. In the wild, the plant would drop viable seeds that would grow the following season. This would mean that your female plants would need to be pollinated by a male plant to make seeds.
But to make the best marijuana flowers and buds, you do not want your female plants to pollinate. You are better off growing new plants from new cannabis seeds. More advanced growers can sometimes get their plants to revert to the vegetative state again, but this is very challenging and often stresses plants.
How much weed does one plant yield?
This is great question that we cover in depth here: How Much Weed Does One Plant Produce? but it really comes down to the size and health of the marijuana plant and the growing conditions. If you start feminized cannabis seeds indoors, transition young plants outdoors to 35 gallon pots in spring, allow to grow all summer under direct sunlight, you can harvest over a pound in Croptober-- just from a single plant! Under ideal conditions, autoflowering seeds can yield 8+ ounces.
How can you tell if a weed seed is male or female?
You cannot sex regular cannabis seeds just by looking at a seed. To tell if your regular cannabis plants are male or female, you will need to sprout the seeds and grow the plants. Around the 4 to 6 week from the time you germinated seed, the plant will begin to show signs of sex. If you want to know sooner, there are genetic testing services (like LeafWorks) that can identify male plants as early as 7 days post germination which saves a lot of time, resources, and money.
How long does it take to smoke a seed?
This all has to do with how much luck a stoner has (or not). Considering the current state of cannabis genetics and available buds on the market, more than likely everyone who smokes weed is going to find a seed in their joint, blunt, bowl, or bong at some time or another. You'll know when you smoke a seed because they tend to pop and ruin the taste of the weed you're smoking.
Where can I get cannabis seeds for growing my own plants?
You can purchase seeds at most dispensaries in states where it is legal to grow Cannabis for personal use. Some growers also sell their own seeds through social media outlets. A pack of ten seeds may cost between $50-$100. You’ll want to research which seeds are best for growing based on your skill level and the type of marijuana you like.
Depending on where you live, you’ll want to research the rules and regulations for growing cannabis for personal use. To avoid legal issues, make sure you buy from legal, licensed growers and dispensaries. And do not ship or transport seeds into states or countries where growing is illegal.
What types of characteristics should I look for when buying a cannabis seed?
How to grow a marijuana plant from seed starts with seed selection. When buying seeds, you’ll want to buy feminized seeds from a reputable seed bank company to maximize your chances that your plants will be female. These seeds are often specially treated to ensure that they are female plants.
You’ll also want to buy well-established strains where the genetic background is easy to find. These varieties are some of the best autoflowering strains:
Girl Scout Cookies
Then depending on your skill level, you’ll want to decide between:
Auto-flowering Cannabis Plants: These are easier plants to grow because their light/dark cycle is easier to manage.
Photoperiod Cannabis Plants: These are bigger plants that have one harvest. These plants are also more complicated and expensive to grow.
Other things to consider before you buy your seeds:
The Blend: This is the percentage of the three species types of cannabis: Sativa, indica, and ruderalis.
Growing Environment: Some seeds grow better indoors vs. outdoors. So you’ll want to decide where you are growing your plants before you buy your seeds.
Plant Height: Depending on your growing space, you’ll want to factor in the plant’s height potential.
Harvest Timing: Some seeds harvest faster or more often than others.
Potency: Some plants have higher THC and CBD percentages than others.