Close this search box.

Table of Contents

Cannabis seeds not germinating

Have you ever and your cannabis seeds not germinating?

Nothing is more frustrating than putting all your love and care into a seed to fulfill your dream of growing your own cannabis plant to realize after weeks:

Nothing is gonna get out from that seed.

We’ve all been there. Regardless of the method we choose to germinate our seeds, we all aim for the same goal: harvesting the best possible cannabis within our means.

But when 7 days have passed, and then 7 more, and then another 7 days go by, it’s pretty obvious what’s going on: nothing will happen. That seed is dead inside.

But, are you out of luck? 

Or, have your human mistakes kept you from obtaining cute little weeds to satisfy your craving for the most amazing substance on earth?

Well, today we want to cover this interesting topic so you know once and for all if you’re getting crappy seeds, if you’re doing something wrong, or if you’re simply carrying a seed-growing curse that’s been in your family since the winter of 1792.

Let’s get to it!

And let’s start with the basics.

How does the germinating process work?

Let’s make it simple. Inside each seed, there is a plant in the making. The seed is the “egg” of the plants, a fecundated egg.

Once the seed is been fecundated, she has all the potential to become a full-grown plant. But for that to happen, it has to be under certain conditions.

The first and most important one is hydration. The seed must absorb a certain amount of liquid to start a kind-of-complex process that I’m sure you don’t want me to detail.

But I will anyway just in case are a weed-geek thirsty for knowledge:

Once the embryo inside the seed has absorbed a fluid, a hormone called gibberellic acid
is released and absorbed by the plant’s cells. The cells turn this hormone into the sugar that will ignite the plant’s growth.

After a few days of absorbing fluids, releasing hormones, and turning them into sugar, the little embryo gets too dilated to be held by the seed. This is the moment when the seed opens and the first couple of leaves (also known as false leaves or cotyledons) get out looking for light. The photosynthesis process starts, and a new plant is on the way.

We can identify 3 parts of the germination process:

  • Hydration: in this stage, the seed’s tissues are absorbing humidity. This first stage is vital for the seed to germinate.
  • Germination: in this stage, the seed has absorbed liquids and goes through metabolic changes that allow it to develop.
  • Growth: in this stage, the seed breaks. The radicle is out. The plant starts to grow.

Evidently, there’s a lot more to this process, and you can read a full explanation on the web if you want further and fuller information.

But broadly speaking, that’s what germination is. Now, the next question arrives.

How to germinate a seed?

There are many different methods to germinate a seed, but they all have the same key points:

  • You need a healthy seed
  • You need a way to give water to the seed
  • You need low to medium lighted space to leave the seed do her thing
  • You need the right temperature
  • You need to wait

These aspects are crucial for your plant to grow, regardless if you have an indoor or outdoor crop. If you’re a new cannabis farmer, indoor crops are the easiest and most reliable way to grow weed.

Now, let’s review some of the most common methods:

Paper towels and a Tupper

Nothing complex here. You will need:

  • Paper towels (around 12)
  • A Tupper with a lid (or 2 plastic dishes)
  • Water

First, place half of the paper towels on the bottom of the Tupper or the dish. Spray it with room-temperature water until is wet (but not soaked). Then, place the seeds on top of the paper towel. Allow some space between them.

Then, cover the seeds with the remaining paper towels and spray them with water until is completely wet (but not soaking). Cover the Tupper with the lid, but don´t close it tight. If you’re using dishes, put the second dish upside down, covering your seeds.

Place your seeds in a dark, warm place. Keep a close look at the process, and don’t let the paper go dry.

When the seed cracks open and the radicle reaches ½ of an inch of length, transplant your future plant to a small vase.

Cotton and a glass jar

Here’s when your elementary education pays off. It’s time to replicate the experiment you did in science class. You’ll need:

  • A small glass jar
  • Some cotton balls
  • Water

Place a couple of cotton balls on the bottom of the jar. Spray them with room-temperature water.

Place a couple of seeds on top of the cotton. Place another cotton ball on top of the seeds, and spray with water. Repeat until you reach half of the jar, finishing with a cotton balls layer.

You can place the jar on a window and let it get a little sun. Don’t let the sun hit it directly. Make sure to keep the cotton balls wet at all times.

Once you see that little white tail out of the seed, is time to transplant it to its first temporary home.

The good-old vase

This is the most common way. You pretty much just throw some seeds at the soil, and that’s it.

Ok, that’s not exactly it.

For this method to work, you will need top-quality soil. There are a few ways to get it:

  • Fertilizing your soil on your own, by adding commercial fertilizer
  • Using coconut fiber as soil
  • Buying a starter kit formulated to germinate seeds
  • Using jiffies to germinate

You will need to use a small, 10 to 15 ounces pot for better results. You can also use a special germination tray, plugs, or any other germinators, especially if you’re germinating many seeds.

First, put a few rocks on the bottom of the vase to ensure good drainage, and then fill the pot with your selected soil. Press the soil a little bit, and open a hole of ¾ of an inch. Then, gently place the seed inside the hole.

Spread a little soil on top, just to barely cover it, and spray it with water. You can mix your water with different rooting products to increase your chances of success.

Place the vase in an area that can’t be reached by direct sunlight. The soil must stay moist at all times but avoid over-soaking it.

Just water

This is the easiest method, and it’s simply throwing your seeds in water until they open.

Really, hmmm… there’s not a lot more to say about this method, actually.

Get a glass, fill it with water, put your seeds in the water, wait a couple of days, transplant.

It’s best to use spring or distilled water, as they’re free from chlorine and other chemicals.

Probably so far, you have done any (or all) the processes described here.

Then, why the hell your seeds won’t come out?!

Let’s see some possible reasons.

Why are your seeds not germinating?

There must be some bad vibe around because your seeds are just not popping plants!

Calm down. First of all, this happens even to the savviest gardeners. And not only in cannabis crops.

So now let’s see some things that could be going on:

Your seeds are “sleeping”

This means your seeds are in some sort of gardening purgatory, where they’re not dead, but not “alive” either.

Actually, they are alive. They’re just “zombie seeds” waiting for optimum conditions to get back to life and let their first leaves come out.

Most of the time, the reason for this is the proximity of winter, a time when most seeds plants can’t grow properly due to the extreme conditions.

If this is your case:

Place your seeds between layers of soil, coconut fiber, or paper towels. Then, put them inside a Tupper and spray them with water. Put it in the fridge at 39° to 50°F, or at room temperature for… as long as it takes.

Each seed is different and results may vary.

Your seeds have hardened

There are several reasons why your seeds aren’t opening

Due to long storage, and exposure to the elements, amongst other reasons, sometimes your seeds can have thick and hard skin. Your baby plant is not strong enough to push it through and see the light.

If this is your case, solve it by soaking your seeds in water for a few days, and then starting the germination process. You can also try to gently break the seed, but this is a very delicate process that should be done with gloves and tweezers.

Your seeds are dry

Storing your seeds for too long, or under inadequate conditions can dehydrate them, and make germination unviable.

This problem has no solution once it has happened, but you can prevent it by planting your seeds ASAP.

You have granny seeds

Just as humans, cannabis seeds have a timeline to born, grow, get old, and die. Each plant has a different time, but once that time has arrived, is very hard to germinate them.

To prevent this from happening, make sure to write down the seed’s production date. Cannabis seeds can last up to 3 years under the right conditions.

Your seeds are sick

There are several reasons for your seeds to be sick:

  • Wrong manipulation
  • The mother plant was sick
  • Improper storage
  • Poor conservation techniques

To avoid this, choose certified seeds to grow your cannabis plants.

Your seeds suffered physical or chemical damage

Cannabis seeds exposed to extreme temperatures, crushes, radiation, chemicals, and other harmful conditions can be unable to germinate.

Again, avoid this issue by buying only certified seeds.

The temperature isn’t right

For the germination process to be successful, some conditions must be met, and one very important is temperature.

Cannabis seeds need to be kept in a warm environment to be able to germinate. Cold environments can slow down or even stop the germination process.

Make sure to keep your germinators at 64° to 77°F at all times.

Your seeds aren’t moist enough

We’ve said it before: your seeds need to be wet at all times. Not sometimes, not barely moist. The means you choose to germinate your seeds, whether paper towels, cotton, coconut fiber, soil, whatever, must be wet at all times.

I can’t stress this enough: the means to germinate your seeds must be wet -not soaked- at all times.

So, if you forgot about your seeds for a couple of days “but I remembered and spray them right away”, sorry friend, that’s probably not gonna cut it.

For germination to happen, you must keep your seeds wet at all times, this will allow the embryo to expand and then break the seed.

Remember: keep your seeds moist at all times.

You’re not giving your seeds enough light

There are many different opinions when it comes to germination lighting. Some people assure seeds only germinate in dark conditions, whilst others recommend up to 16 hours of light a day.

There’s not a 100% right answer on this, we can only assume that both ways can work since there’s a lot of anecdotical data on the subject.

What we can recommend is for you to always follow your vendor’s germination and grow recommendations.

You’re not patient

Maybe you started germinating your seeds one week ago and you’re hating the people who say they got their seeds germinated after only 48 hours.

Not all seeds germinate at the same speed. Factors like the seeds’ quality or strain, the soil used, the conservation temperature, and many, many others, can impact your seeds’ germination time.

So, just hang in there for a little longer, your plants may break out at any moment.

But if they don’t…

Seed germination hacks

Still no luck at all? Ditch those seeds and start over, just add any of these tricks:

Pick the best seeds

When you buy certified seeds, you have a high chance of having almost all of them grow. For that reason alone, they should always be your first choice.

But if you’re re-growing from your plant’s seeds, or you just happen to have some, you can increase your chances of success by choosing the best seeds from the get-go.

Take a close look at the seeds and get rid of the ones that are bumped, broken, smashed, already open, etc. Put the chosen ones in a glass of water, and let them soak all night.

The seeds floating in the water are less likely to germinate. Use the ones that sunk.

Guarantee the best temperature

Seeds need a warm environment for the germination process to happen. To help them a bit, place your germinator on top of your fridge, your router, your stereo, or any other warm surface. You can also keep it near to your laptop or phone charger.

Pump it up

Give more chances to your seeds by:

  • Adding fertilizer to your soil
  • Using special potting soil
  • Using a starter kit
  • Adding root stimulator to your seeds’ water

These easy add-ons can exponentially increase your chances to see your seeds turn into chunky plants.

Love your seeds

Keep a close look at your seeds: they’re your babies. 

Make sure the temperature is right, they’re always moist, they’re getting the light (or darkness) they need, they’re warm enough…Anything to make them feel cozy and loved.

I always add a few sessions of sweet-talking to my plants, but maybe that’s just me.

Growing cannabis, from germinating the seed to finally harvesting the results of your hard work (yours and hers) can be quite a venture. Tasting her amazing flavor, and getting stoned with your own production is definitively rewarding.