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starting cannabis seeds paper towel


The process in which a cannabis seed sprouts, which will eventually turn into a full plant.

How to germinate a cannabis seed

Cannabis seeds need three things to germinate: water, heat, and air. A great way to ensure successful germination is the paper towel method, which requires:

  • Two clean plates
  • Four paper towels
  • Cannabis seeds
  • Distilled water

To germinate seeds:

  • Soak four paper towels with distilled water; they should be soaked but not dripping
  • Place two of the paper towels on a plate
  • Place the marijuana seeds on the wet paper towel at least an inch apart from each other
  • Cover seeds with remaining two water-soaked paper towels
  • Cover with a second plate, upside down, like a dome, to create a dark, protected space
  • Keep seeds in a warm place, between 70-85°F

Seeds should germinate in 3-10 days. Check paper towels once a day to make sure they’re still saturated, and if they are losing moisture, apply more water.

If it’s been two weeks and a seed hasn’t sprouted, it’s probably a dud, and it won’t sprout.

A seed has germinated once the seed splits and a single sprout appears. The sprout is the taproot, which will become the main stem of the plant, and seeing it is a sign of successful germination.

It’s important to keep the delicate seed sterile, so don’t touch the seed or taproot as it begins to split.

Paper Towel Germination Method?

First grow: The brand/supplier (I'm in Canada) of seed I'm using has a "suggested" germination method that they ask you to do if you want to take advantage of their guarantee (they'll replace the seeds if they don't germinate using this method).

It's a form of the paper towel method which includes a 16-18 hour soak, pouring the water onto paper towel on a plate, folding the towel over the seeds, and letting sit until germination (2-7 days). It supposed to be stored somewhere warm, dark, and not covered/in bag. They suggest misting with water so it doesn't dry out.

I have the paper towel/plate on a heated germination mat but have found it to be drying out in as little as 8 hours. Should I go against the grain here and put it in a half-closed ziploc bag? Do I risk the seeds not germinating if they dry out for a few hours while I'm at work?

Sally Scalera: Here’s an easy, fun way to germinate seeds in a paper towel

Growing plants from seeds is an easy, inexpensive and fun thing to do.

When you learn how to start plants from seeds, the variety of plants that you can grow increases dramatically, but not the expense.

My favorite way to germinate seeds is in a paper towel. Paper towels can be used for any seed that needs to be covered, even if just a little bit. This is especially helpful if you have gathered seeds and you’re not sure how long they take to germinate.

This is a fun activity to do with kids, along with making recycled newspaper “pots” to grow the germinated seeds in, before transplanting them into a container or the garden.

The larger the seeds, the easier they will be to germinate in paper towel. Two exceptions are carrots and radishes, which are best seeded directly into the garden. Celery seeds shouldn’t be germinated in paper towels either, because they germinate on the surface of the soil.

Most flower and vegetable seeds germinate within a few days, but peppers are a notable exception. They take 10 days to germinate.

To germinate seeds in paper towels, gather the seeds, paper towels and silicone or plastic bags. Label the bags using tape (if using silicone bags) and a permanent marker, with the date and name of the plant.

Step 1: Take one sheet of paper towel, fold it in half and place it under running water until wet. If you have liquid seaweed, soak your paper towel in the liquid seaweed solution instead of just plain water.

Step 2: Place the paper towel between your hands and press them together, working your way down the towel until a lot of the excess liquid is squeezed out.

Step 3: Lay the paper towel out on a flat surface.

Step 4: Place the seeds on the paper towel, staying away from the edges. When using a new packet of seeds, decide how many plants you want to grow and only place that many seeds on the paper towel. New seeds will have a 100% germination rate in paper towels. When germinating seeds from an old packet, place extra seeds on the paper towel since some of the seeds may be diseased or no longer viable.

Step 5: Loosely roll up the paper towel so that it looks like a tube.

Step 6: Put the paper towel in the bag, but don’t close it, and place the open bag in a warm location that is out of the sun.

Step 7: In a few days, carefully unroll the paper towel to see if the seeds have germinated. Germinated seeds will have roots and cotyledons, or a cotyledon in the case of corn. If the seeds have not germinated, loosely roll the paper towel up again and place it back into the bag. Repeat step 7 every few days, until all the seeds have germinated.

Once the seeds have produced roots and cotyledon(s), it’s time to plant the seedlings in small pots. For the best success, fill the pots with a fast-draining potting mix and place them in a tray that will hold water.

Water every pot a couple of times, until the potting mix is thoroughly wet and there is excess water in the tray. Take a sharpie pen and poke a hole in the middle of each pot’s wet potting mix. If the roots have grown into the paper towel, carefully cut or tear apart the paper towel.

Put the root in the hole (along with any paper towel that may be stuck to the roots) and lightly press the potting mix over the roots and around the stem. Place the tray of seedlings in the light conditions that the plants require, which are full sun, partial sun/shade or shade.

It is important to make sure that the seedlings have ample water at the beginning, as they will grow rapidly. It is fine to have water in the base of the tray for the first few days after transplanting.

After that, keep an eye on the seedlings and water when the potting mix begins to dry out. I keep my seedlings in the front of the house so I walk by them multiple times a day. Once the seedlings produce their first set of true leaves, they are ready to be transplanted.

To make recycled newspaper pots, you will need sections of newspaper, school glue, scissors and a few cans of food. Tear a section of newspaper, that has five to six pages, into wide strips, starting at the top of the page and ripping down to the bottom.

When I do this, I get two wide strips and then the third strip is the center folded portion of the section that I flatten out.

Before rolling the newspaper around the can, pull the bottom sheet out at the bottom of the stack (away from you), so that it sticks out farther than the other sheets.

Next, place the can near you, making sure that the end of the can is far enough over from the left edge of the newspaper so that it can create a bottom for the pot.

Roll the paper around the can, as you roll the can away from you. When the can reaches the farthest end of the sheets, apply some glue along the last strip (that is longer than the others) and press it against the side of the can.

Take the scissors and cut the circle of paper, that is formed underneath the bottom of the can, from the end of the newspaper towards the base of the can. Create at least five sections as you cut around the circle of newspaper.

Lay a section down over the bottom of the can, overlapping each layer and gluing in between as you go, to create the bottom of the pot. Leave the can in the newly constructed pot for a short time until the glue sets.

These pots are great because when you plant the transplants, the pot can be planted too. Before planting, make sure the potting mix and newspaper pots are thoroughly saturated.

When planting, tear or cut the top of the newspaper pot off so that the entire newspaper pot is completely buried, or the pot and plant could dry out.

As with every time you plant a new plant, don’t forget to inoculate the planting hole with a variety of granular mycorrhizae. If you would like more information on this, drop me an email at [email protected]

This weekend would be a great time to start germinating some seeds that you already have, or you could pick up a new packet at your nearest garden center.

If you have any raw sunflower seeds in the shell, why not germinate those in a paper towel?