The weird method Redditors are using to germinate seeds
At one point or another, every gardener has found themselves late on starting their seeds. Whether you’re a beginner at gardening or just having a year when everything has been a bit overwhelming, not planting the seeds of your favorite vegetable on time can be frustrating. That’s where Reddit comes in. Reddit gardening has taken off recently, in large part due to the discovery that you can germinate seeds in the Instant Pot (you know, that thing in your kitchen you use to make stews and rice).
The Instant Pot method
The Instant Pot method involves placing your seeds in the Instant Pot on the yogurt setting. It can be credited in large part to a scientist in Ottawa who, during the 2020 growing season, found herself unable to find seeds until it was well past time to germinate them. Now, could a regular gardener have figured this method out? Perhaps. But for scientist Lyanne Betit, this was a no-brainer.
Thanks to her knowledge of organic chemistry, biochemistry, and gardening, Betit came up with the idea to jumpstart her seeds’ germination in the Instant Pot. She was already behind on the growing season and needed a way to speed things up. Knowing that seedlings in warmer climates can thrive in 89° to 91° F. (32 to 33 degrees Celsius), Betit knew the yogurt setting on the Instant Pot was the perfect consistent environment to encourage seed sprouting.
The Instant Pot method works best for warm weather crops like tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers. It can be especially helpful if you’re behind on the season like Betit, or if you just want to speed up the initial germination process. For those who don’t have a lot of surface area to dedicate to germination, the Instant Pot method is perfect.
How it works
Thanks to the Reddit gardening community, we have a good idea of how this method works. You start by placing the seeds between layers of damp paper towels and putting them in a Ziploc bag. The Instant Pot is turned on and set to the yogurt setting, then the Ziploc(s) with the damp paper towels and seeds is placed inside. There are some seeds that need a slightly cooler temperature and won’t do well inside. Betit discovered you can place these seeds in a Ziploc bag on the lid of the Instant Pot instead. It’s a cooler temperature than inside but is still consistent enough for seeds to germinate.
Why is this possible?
Gardeners often germinate seeds indoors so the seedlings are a good size for transplanting when the outdoor growing season begins. Because seeds require a steady temperature within a set range to germinate and thrive, the Instant Pot provides that environment. It’s warm, void of any drafts, and is a controlled environment — similar to a greenhouse, if you will, but on a smaller scale.
Depending on the seed, the consistent environment is able to help seeds germinate from one to seven days. This method, however, isn’t recommended for cool-weather crops like the Brassica family (cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, etc.) because the environment will be too warm for them to thrive and survive.
You can try it at home, too!
If you have an Instant Pot, try this method at home! If you’re unsure of the temperature your seeds need to germinate and the packet doesn’t say, the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources has compiled a list of of ideal seed temperatures. To successfully execute Reddit gardening’s Instant Pot method, you’ll need:
- Your desired seeds
- Paper towels (dampened)
- Ziploc bag(s)
- Sharpie (to mark what seeds are in which bag if germinating more than one type)
- A strainer
- Potting containers for germinated seeds
- An Instant Pot (but of course!)
A step-by-step guide
Starting the Instant Pot method may feel a bit weird at first, and you might not get it right the first try. Here’s a step-by-step guide you can follow to help execute it as best you can:
- Make small piles of four to five seeds and dampen one paper towel per pile (so, if you have three piles of seeds, you’ll need three damp paper towels).
- Place the seeds one inch apart on the bottom half of each paper towel, leaving room for roots to sprout.
- Fold the paper towel in half and place it inside the Ziploc bag. You’ll want one bag per set of seeds, making sure to label each bag with the plant type.
- Pour half a cup of water into the Instant Pot. The water will keep the Instant Pot from burning the bags, as well as help create a warm, humid environment for the seeds. Place the strainer inside.
- Set the Instant Pot to the lowest temperature possible on the yogurt setting. This should be 91° F. Set the Instant Pot for the max time available for your version, which will be anywhere from eight to 99 hours.
- Place the Ziploc bags into the strainer (stacking is OK!) and put the lid on the Instant Pot.
- Be sure to check on your seeds two times a day after the first day, as some may germinate faster than others (especially if they’ve been bought recently or have a softer coating). A majority of the seeds will germinate within a week, and you’ll know they’re ready to be transplanted to potting containers when the tiny white root sprouting from the seed is one to two inches long.
- Be mindful of mold. When you check on the seeds, examine the paper towels to make sure there’s nothing fuzzy growing. Because it can be taken care of in its early stages with a mix of water and hydrogen peroxide, you don’t want to let the mold get out of hand and ruin your germination.
- The seeds should be removed once they’ve germinated using a sanitized pair of tweezers. Grab the body of the seed (taking care not to touch the root) and transfer them to a pot with soil. Make a small hole in the top of the soil, place the seed in with the root pointing down, and bury only the white root, leaving the body of the seed above the soil. Give it a tablespoon of water.
Once germinated and planted, seedlings will need around 12 to 16 hours of light a day. If you don’t have access to this amount of light naturally, be sure you have some grow lights on hand! Thanks to Reddit gardening, seeds all around the world may germinate just a little bit faster from here on out.
How to Germinate Marijuana Seeds: 4 Methods Plus Expert Tips
Every gardener knows that you must plant a seed to grow a garden. But you say “Mitch, what about clones? They’re not seeds.” This is true, but at some point in a young clone’s life there was a seed planted to produce its mother. So, it all starts with the seed. Learn how to germinate marijuana seeds in this comprehensive tutorial.
This article from Grow Weed Easy covers everything you need to know, and quite possibly things you don’t, to insure those expensive, hard to come by, not to mention expensive, marijuana seeds, are put to good use. So, without further ado:
Introduction: Cannabis Seed Germination
Cannabis germination is the process of getting your seeds to sprout. You know sprouting has occurred when a little white tendril pops out of the seed.
The little white tendril that emerges from a cannabis seed during germination is your plant’s first root, known as a “taproot.” All other roots made by your cannabis plant in its lifetime will sprout from the taproot.
The taproot – and maybe a few tiny early offshoots of the taproot – will get longer and longer, pushing the seed up, and after the shell breaks through the surface of your growing medium, the first leaves (these first round leaves are known as “cotyledons”) will emerge from inside the cannabis seed.
The cotyledons were already created as part of the plant embryo in the seed itself, so the cannabis seedling doesn’t have to grow them. In fact, the emerging first leaves are what break apart the shell after it’s cracked open by the taproot, as pictured here.
The next set of leaves after the cotyledons are your plants first “true” leaves and will have jagged edges. They are the first leaves that your seedling cannabis plant has grown all on its own.
Germination of cannabis seeds
The first stage for any grower is germinating the seeds. To achieve best results, we should use healthy, quality cannabis seeds. All seeds from Philosopher Seeds come in labeled packages with a batch identification number, so the product tracking is much easier.
Although seeds do not need much to germinate, we do have to consider a few basic aspects to be successful. It’s kind of a prenatal stage in which the grower has to be very careful to meet the few needs of the seeds during this phase.
What are the needs of a seed to germinate?
First of all, we should state that healthy and viable seeds do not need any type of additive or special handling to germinate.
Germination of a cannabis seed
Basically, seeds need 3 things to germinate:
- High moisture level (80-100%)
- Average temperatures (20-24ºC)
- A bit of oxygen
Cannabis root hairs
Different propagation media for germinating cannabis seeds
These are the most commonly used mediums to germinate marijuana seeds:
Glass of water: Some growers use a simple glass of water to germinate their seeds. You just have to put them in the water and in few days you’ll see the radicle sprouting. This method works well especially for hydrating the seeds, but we must remember that they can’t be soaked in water for more than 2-3 days, otherwise they may rot. Using RO water is advised, although you can also use tap water (let it set for some hours so it reaches room temperature and all chlorine is evaporated). Once you see the radicle, it is time to plant the seeds in a suitable growing media. Many growers add a few drops of hydrogen peroxide to the water to accelerate the process.
Germination of cannabis seeds on paper towels
Regardless of the chosen substrate, put the seeds about 2-3mm deep and cover them with a thin layer of substrate. Always remember that seeds are living organisms and some of them may be weaker than others. We are especially concerned about customer satisfaction and always encourage you to tell us your experience. Producing seeds is a passion for us!
“Seed banks do not produce seeds but optimism!” Goeffrey Stephen Hamilton
Grow lights for germinating cannabis seeds
Right after the seedlings start sprouting from the seeds, they need a light source for proper growth.
If you are growing cannabis outdoors, make sure that your plants have enough sunlight for proper development.
Seedlings sprouting under fluorescent tubes
On the other hand, if you’re growing indoors, use fluorescent tubes or CFLs during the first days. In some days/weeks, you can change to MH lamps or LEDs, always checking the temperatures inside the grow room.
There is a method for germinating aged seeds which have lost most of their germination capacity. Although this method is not necessary to germinate our seeds, it can be useful for some of you.
This method implies keeping the seeds at very low temperatures for a short amount of time, and then let it reach room temperature slowly. In this way, we replicate the winter-spring period, which stimulates the germination of seeds. Seeds are kept for 3 days in the freezer, 3 more days in the fridge and 3 more days at room temperature before starting the germination process.
The best method to germinate cannabis seeds
There is neither a miraculous technique to germinate seeds, nor a miraculous method to grow cannabis. Each grower has its own preferences depending on knowledge, equipment,etc. The key point is understanding the needs of the plant.
If you have further questions or doubts before germinating your seeds, do not hesitate to leave a comment here, we’ll be pleased to help you in any way we can!
Comments in “Germination of cannabis seeds” (6)
I’m just starting to learn through trial and error. I’m getting seeds from people who sell, not from seed banks. I’ve been trying about 5 seeds using variations of germinations methods – but the yield is pretty low. For peace of mind, is germination or a sprout guaranteed from every seed?
Hi GreenFramer, thanks for your comment. If a seed has been properly maintained in a cool, dark and dry environment, and all the instructions for germination are followed correctly, there’s no reason for it not to germinate. Reputable seed banks and breeders (like us) will store seeds in a specialised fridge or cold room to ensure the longest life and viability possible. When seeds don’t germinate it’s usually due to inadequate storage conditions or incorrect germination conditions. I hope that helps, all the best!
I really enjoyed reading this article. Thanks for sharing your amazing photographs.
We’re happy you enjoyed it, thanks for letting us know!
John Aitken 2020-10-08
John, yes I am having the same problem put 2 seeds per peat discs and the have came through but over a week and they are very skinny and we’re bending over I had to cut a straw sliced it to make 2 supports to keep them straight I’m watering them not to much I’ve never had this problem so I’m at a kind of loose end any help will be greatly appreciated. Regards John
Hi, I planted my Royal Gorilla & Wedding Cake seeds all at the same time, separately, in small jiffy-peat pots. It is winter here in my part of Australia – not so cold ( 10’c overnight low – 19’c Daytime Max) and it is mostly sunny – although where I have had my germinating box sitting only gets a few hours direct sun at present. I have kept all the little pots nice and moist – and just to be safe, I opened the two small vents on the top of the germinating box so that in the afternoon, in the direct sunlight, I wasn’t accidentally roasting the seeds to warm. I had some other seeds growing in the box to, tomatoes, eggplant and beans, which I planted on the same day using the same Jiffy-Pots. – It has been about 2 weeks now – And All of the vegetable seeds have begun to sprout – so the conditions of the germinating box must be Ok. But no sign of any sprouting activity with the Royal Gorilla or Wedding Cake. Maybe around a week ago, I made a small DIY planter pot out of newspaper and filled it with seed raising mixture, then planted a CBD Beyond Diesel seed – and I left this sitting uncovered in the same spot. It just sprouted yesterday. So I have moved my other seeds in the jiffy pots inside on my kitchen window ledge where it gets a lot more sun (Maybe should have done this to begin with!) My question: Is it too late now after 2 weeks of seeing nothing? – Or might I get a pleasant surprise now they are sitting a much more sunnier spot. Can it take this long to see a sprout?? I have kept them moist -and- they were planted correctly at about 1cm with the crown up
ive had my seeds in water for a couple of days, but still unsure if the glass should be in the dark or in light. can anyone ansa, this is my first attempt
Hi,I got some seeds ( med Auto kush hindu ) I put them between 2 cotton pads and watered as per info, also had a g3 speed which sprouted almost immediately but transferred it to a clean cut cola can, wrong way round i might add and in normal compost, I over watered and managed to retrieve the seed which still had some tail left, re-planted it in canna grow dirt but as yet no show. The kush seeds 4 off have shown signs of side cracking but I think my conservatory is to hot and not much is happening, have I ruined it all or can I save them clearly a complete novice but other than the heat in conservatory in which the +G3 speed sprouted so quickly I’m not sure what the problem is, pls help..thanks
Hi Ando, About the G3 seed, I’m afraid the only thing you can do now is cross your fingers and hope she’ll make it! With regard to the Auto Kush seeds, it’s advisable to replace the cotton pads every 2-3 days, using new ones moistened with fresh water. You can add a few drops of oxygen peroxide to 100ml of water and use the mix to moisten the pads, you’ll increase germination rates. Best of luck!