How to germinate Cannabis seeds: a guide for beginners

Last updated on February, 2024

In this article, I explain step by step how to germinate with the paper towel method, as it requires simple equipment and has a high rate of germination. How to germinate marijuana seeds indoors step by step, what you need to start, how to store your seeds, and tips to get your seeds started!

This is how the life of the Cannabis plant begins. A viable Cannabis seed looks brown with some stripes, hard to the touch, and dry. If it feels weak or it’s white or light green, it’s probably an undeveloped seed and it won’t produce a healthy plant.

You can start your seeds indoors or outdoors, but we recommend doing it indoors because there’s a bigger chance of seed survival. When germinating seeds outdoors, the small plants are exposed to cold/hot weather, wind, pests, and mold. In this stage, plants are very vulnerable and it’s important to keep them safe. On the contrary, when germinating seeds indoors, we reduce or eliminate the possible negative outcomes caused by temperature changes and insects, for example.

There exist many methods for germinating seeds indoors. For example, placing your seed between cotton balls or paper towels sprayed with water, placing your seed in a jiffy or a small cup directly into the soil.

cannabis seed
Cannabis seed macro

How to germinate Cannabis seeds in 3 easy steps

For starting seeds indoors you need:

  • Cannabis Seeds
  • Plastic container with a lid or 2 plates
  • Paper towels
  • Water sprayer with clean water
  • Small cup or glass of water

Time: From 12 hours to 7 days

How to germinate Cannabis seeds – Paper towel germination method step by step.
For germinating, Cannabis seeds need high relative humidity, air, and water

1. Place the seed on a paper towel and inside a container, spray with room temperature water

Place your Cannabis seeds on a paper towel, inside a plastic container, or between two plates. This container must remain dark, warm, and humid at all times. Spray the napkin with warm water and cover it with a lid or plate. Place your container in a warm place and leave it there.

seed germination container

2. Open the container every few hours and spray with water until the seed opens
Open the container every few hours and spray it with water. Never let the napkins dry up or your seed won’t sprout. The napkin must stay moist, but not soaking wet. Prepare the next growing medium as soon as you see the seed opening.

cannabis seed opening germinating

3. When the seed opens and shows a tap root, plant it in a small cup, jiffy, or plug
When the seed opens up and starts showing the first white tap root, it’s time to put it in its next growing medium (soil, coco, peat) in a small cup, jiffy, or plug.

cannabis seed germination tap root

Start your germinated seeds in a small container to avoid watering issues

cannabis seedlings in solo cups
Cannabis seedlings in solo cups
Cannabis seedlings plug
Cannabis seedlings growing in plugs
cannabis seedling jiffy
Cannabis seedling growing in a jiffy, ready for transplant

TIPS before starting to germinate Marijuana seeds:

  • Store your seeds in a sealed plastic bag in the fridge and take them out when you decide to plant them. This mimics the season change from Winter to Spring when Cannabis plants usually sprout and promote germination.
  • Soak your seeds in a glass of clean water, at room temperature (20°- 25° C) for 12 hours. Keep in a warm place and signal it to prevent accidents (like drinking the water or throwing them out).
  • Soaking your seeds in a glass of water for more than 24 hours will deprive them of oxygen and they are likely to drown and may not sprout. A seed that sinks after 12 hours it’s likely to be viable and good for germination. If it floats, touch it, and it will probably sink. On the other hand, seeds that float after 12 hours are not likely to sprout soon.
  • Get a water sprayer and set reminders to spray your germinating seeds. A dry napkin may also damage a recently sprouted tap root and kill off your plants before starting.
  • It is very important to track germination dates and stage changes during your grow. Do not forget about your germinating seeds! If you leave them for too long in the container and do not plant them, they’ll grow a long taproot but they’ll end up dying without proper growing conditions. Set reminders and schedule your tasks. Use our free app Grow with Jane to make it easy and fun!

Frequently Asked Questions about Cannabis Germination

What is the best temperature and humidity for Cannabis germination?

The best temperature to germinate Cannabis seeds is 25° C / 77°F
The best relative Humidity to germinate Cannabis seeds is 70 / 90%  

Do I need growing lights for Cannabis germination?

No! You can start the germination process and you won’t need any lights yet, but it’s recommended not to wait too long to get them because you’ll need them soon!
The Cannabis plant needs light as soon as it pops out from the soil. In the first weeks, young plants are not yet able to process high-intensity light. Led lights or lower-wattage lights as CFL are better for this stage. A cold (blue) spectrum light is better for this stage, as it promotes vegetative growth.

Seedlings growing in a space bucket with led light

A Cannabis seed just sprouted but the seed shell is stuck on the seedling. What should I do?

The seed shell normally falls off when the first pair of round leaves (cotyledons) are formed. Sometimes, this shell is tough and gets attached to the already-formed cotyledons. You can spray it with clean water to soften the shell and leave it for a few more hours. If you decide to take it off, you can try spraying it a little with water and gently take the shell off using sterilized tweezers. Be very careful not to damage the seedling!
Notice that in the following pics, the seedling finally manages to get rid of the seed shell by spraying water on it, but the soil mix seems muddy and not of good quality. Overwatering may cause stunted growth in seedlings!

seed shell stuck on seedling 2
seed stuck on seedling
seed shell stuck on Cannabis seedling 3

When is the best time of the year to germinate Cannabis seeds?

The best time to germinate a Cannabis seed for outdoor grow is at the beginning of Spring. Cannabis plants are annual, they grow all Spring and Summer and start flowering towards Autumn when days grow shorter. Growing indoors, you may germinate your seeds whenever you like if you manage to give them the right environment to live in. Read our Growing Checklist to find out how to do it!

How long does it take for a Cannabis seed to germinate?

A Cannabis seed may take 12 – 72 hours (best conditions) to a few days to germinate, or even more if the environmental conditions are bad. Storing your Cannabis seeds properly and giving them the best environmental conditions to germinate will increase the chances of success.

My Cannabis seeds won’t sprout after a few days, why?

Sometimes seeds won’t sprout for many reasons: they are old or dry, have wrong storage conditions, wrong germinating methods, problems at the seed bank, etc.
I do not recommend disturbing or trying to crack the seeds, as they are very fragile at this stage and you may damage them. Try the above-mentioned “glass of water” method to “activate” your seed. It’s better to be patient right now, make sure they have the above-mentioned sprouting conditions, and wait.

How to store Cannabis seeds

Keep your seeds in a dry, dark, and cold place, for example, in the fridge (in the original packaging if possible), inside a ziplock plastic bag for better conservation. When the time of germination comes, get your seed out at ambient temperature.

Germinating is the first step towards your next Cannabis plant!

If you’ve read the whole article, now you know the basics of how to start growing your own Cannabis plant. Patience is key to success when growing Cannabis and this stage is no exception. Taking notes is a very good method to track your progress and see what’s working and what’s not.

Remember to keep your seeds in the fridge until you’ve got everything ready to start and follow the steps closely.

Growing Cannabis requires a bit of reading and experimenting, but it’s not rocket science and it’s a VERY rewarding experience. We hope you feel encouraged and start germinating your Cannabis seeds soon!

Tell us in the comments if you tried this method and how it’s going!

Read the following articles and become a Cannabis home grower!

81 thoughts on “How to germinate Cannabis seeds: a guide for beginners”

    • Hello Anna! Usually, between 2 days and a week. It depends on the relative humidity in your growing room and how fast the seedling grows. For seedlings, it is recommended to keep humidity levels to prevent dehydration because this could easily kill a small plant. Remember to spray water on it and do not overwater the growing medium, especially on these first days. This may also kill a seedling, be careful!
      Thanks for reading and commenting!

    • Hi Bob! Once germinated, it’s recommended to plant the seed with the white tap root pointing down for your seedling to sprout easily. Despite how you place the seed in the soil, roots can sense gravity and will respond growing down, while the stem will grow upwards to reach the light.
      Thanks for reading and commenting!

        • Hi Kiarri, exactly! To clarify, in this case, the roots of plants are positively geotropic, meaning they grow downward in response to the force of gravity and positively hydrotropic, which means they grow towards the moisture in the soil. On the contrary, stems are negatively geotropic and positively phototropic, meaning they grow towards the light source.
          Thanks for reading and commenting!

  1. I can get my seeds to germinate pretty easily but once I carefully put them in jiffy pot they haven’t come up. I put them about 1/4 – 1/2 deep. one set I covered loosely with plastic the other attemp I did not cover. I keep them in a tray on seedling heat mat. Not sure what to try next and will be end of my seeds and its getting late to start. Help?

    • Hi Rhoda, this may happen due to many reasons, for example too low/high temperatures and/or excessive/poor watering. We’d love to give you personalized advice, please download our free growing app and write an in-app message. We’ll be happy to help! As Grow with Jane app users, you also access our growing community where you can share photos, ask questions and more.
      Thanks for commenting, have a nice day!

      • Hi Greg, thanks for commenting! If you have specific questions about your plants, please download our growing app from and contact us via in-app message. There, you can share pics and info about your grow. We’ll be happy to take a look and share some personalized advice! Have a nice day!

      • I used Root Riot cubes from Amazon. Was my first time growing cannabis. They germinated and sprouted within 2 days. I used a seedling mat, a domed seedling cup and cold light. That was the easy part for me, the rest has been more challenging! Good luck!

      • I have never had any luck with germinating seeds. I have found that putting the seed 1 half an inch deep in good soil. The seed is pointed atone end and has an indentation on the other end. I take a pencil and mark 1/2 inch pokeit in the dirt and put the seed in point down indentation up. The seed will sprout the root from the indentation at the top an the the root will seek gravity and turn downward. The root goe’s down deeper and pops the seed shell out of the ground. This method will produce a plant with bigger stronger root and stock

    • Hi Ori! We’re back! Spraying the soil with water after planting the germinated seed is the best way to keep the right levels of humidity. If the soil is damped and muddy, the seed can’t breathe oxygen and dies (drowned). If the soil is dry, the seed also may die. The soil must be kept humid but also avoid overwatering.
      Placing the planted seed in a small container with some kind of cover helps keeping humidity levels high and there’s a better chance of survival.
      Here’s an article about how to keep the best conditions for a recently planted seed to become a seedling, including watering, recommended temperature and humidity levels and more.
      I hope it helps!
      Thanks for reading commenting, have a nice day!

    • Just moist and water around the seedlings 🌱 Try not to pour water directly into the seedlings stem the roots will look for a water and get bigger go towards the outside of your container

  2. I germinated two seeds and planted them in small planters (the half pint size that seedlings come in from the nursery).

    I lightly watered them every couple of days, and they looked good, but the leaves stayed the same size while they shot up to 4-5″ in height, now they’re drooping and looking sick/dead.

    How can I prevent this from happening again?

    • Hi Mica, we’re back! Seedlings elongate their stems when the light/lamps are too high or far away from the plant. Keep in mind the distance between the plant and the grow lights, which depends on their intensity and temperature. Filling the pots with soil mix to cover the elongated and weak stem, leaving out only 3 cm of stem and leaves may help to keep the plant up. Eventually, the stem will grow stronger and roots will expand.
      Here’s an article with recommendations about how to take care of seedlings, including watering, pot size, and lamp distance.
      I hope it helps! Happy growing!

  3. Hi- I have a couple of plants that I started from seeding inside. Once they reached about 1’, I planted them in 7 gl. Fabric pots in Kellogg organic plus soil outside in direct sunlight for 6 hours per day. They are growing daily, but every day the new set of leaves at the bottom that reach decent size will turn pale yellow, then light brown and fall off. The next day this starts all over again with the next set of leaves from the bottom. Any ideas of what I should do? 1 plant has 13 healthy sets of leaves on top 1/2 of plant because the bottom ones keep falling off. The other plant has 3 sets of leaves and was seeded a month after the 1st one….. same issue. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

  4. Let’s hope I have sum beginners luck.
    Today’s date 07-14-21
    Im gonna try Journaling, w notes and see where I go from here.

    • Hi Julie, thanks for commenting! We recommend trying our free growing app for journaling and keeping track of your grow, we also offer grower support and personalized advice. Just write an in-app message and we’ll be happy to help! As Grow with Jane app users, you also access our growing community where you can share photos, ask questions and more.
      Thanks for reading! Best luck and happy growing!

  5. I always just put it in a wet paper towel ,never knew to use warm ,and mine was always super we, always works, maybe it takes an extra day or two ,i also just put it in the soil and water that works also.I have had only one not pop success rate is very hi

  6. When the seed is done germinating is it ok to put it directly into the pot it will grow in or should I start with a small jiffy cup??? Does it make a difference ?

    • Hi James, both methods are good as long as they have good humidity and light conditions detailed in the article.
      In order to get personalized advice on your plants and send photos, please download our app from and contact us via an in-app message. We’ll be happy to help! Thanks for commenting and happy growing!

  7. Or as screw all the science talk and just plant the damn seeds and water them and carefully just watch them and you will be fine watch out for bugs and other things that’s what I did and they came out just fine

  8. I dont have soil, so im using dirt from outside. Would that affect it? Can i use it? If so any suggestions or tips?

    • Hi Jason! Every soil mix or “dirt” may or may not work, depending on its structure, nutrients etc. We suggest using a good soil mix or soil from your garden. This will result in better and healthier plants. If you need further help, you can download our app and send us a message. We’ll be happy to take a look at the pics and help you.

    • Fox Farms soils are an excellent growing medium. Happy Frog is not as hot as Ocean Forest and makes a great seedling medium. Afterward Fox farms Ocean Forest has everything the plant needs for a couple of months.

    • Hi Justin! Spraying your jiffies once or twice a day should be enough, depending on the aeration the container has. Do not let the jiffies dry but also do not overwater them or they may experience problems. You can apply a root stimulator to help the process.

        • Hi Terence, as soon as you see the sprout out of the seed you can plant it. Plant it right after sprouting to avoid the root from drying out and dying! If you can’t do it right away, you can spray water on it to keep it alive while you get all ready for planting. Thanks for reading and commenting, happy growing!

    • Hi Richard! Yes, most plants grow roots in the first inch of the stem if you cover it with substrate and water after.
      Thanks for reading and commenting! Happy growing!

  9. I’m in Western NY and am going to start inside soon – April 16, 2022. I am a nervous wreck! When I tried this years ago, I just plunked the seeds from my husband’s stuff into peat moss and put on a growing mat, then planted in larger pots which I hardened off and kept outside. They did great and grew probably 2′ tall, but then I got paranoid and destroyed them because I had a decent job then which I didn’t want to jeopardize. Anyway, the more I learn, the more intimidated I am, plus these seeds cost a small fortune!

    • Hi Marianne, I hope your next experience is better than the previous ones. We are here to help if you need guidance and support. Have a nice day and happy growing!

  10. Hi.

    I need help!

    My seeds have now germinated and two very young and small leaves are appearing.
    I have my seeds in a hydroponics system. There has not been any issues before.

    But now that I can see it has grown a root, the root is lying lamost on top of the soso, like the root is growing sideways and not downwards through the medium.

    What should I do?

    I don’t want to touch/handle it too much.

    Should I do something right away, or will it grow downwards on it self?


    • Hi! The roots will eventually grow downwards but in the meantime, you can keep them moistened by spraying water on them to prevent drying out. It’s better not to touch it and handle it, as you say. Thanks for reading and commenting, happy growing!

    • Hi Bobbie! The best way to grow in the house is by using artificial lights. There are many options in the market nowadays and it’s a great investment if you want to grow high-quality buds. The cannabis plant is not like a regular house plant, it has different needs of light intensity for the different stages of growth. A small plant may grow with some hours of sunlight on a windowsill but probably will not develop to its true potential. In the flowering stage, the cannabis plant needs 12 hours of high-intensity light and 12 hours of complete darkness. If you want to grow without investing in lights, it’s better to do it outdoors or in a greenhouse.

  11. Hi jane I have some weed seeds now germinated into seedlings in small plastic air pots. Should i remove the pots before the final transplant.Or leave them on.hoping the roots grow through the air spaces. ps. I am using coco coir perlite as the grow meadium. Many thanks for your sound advice Regards Walt.

    • Hi Walt! You should carefully remove the pot before placing your plant in the next one. Have the bigger pot prepared in advance with the medium filled up to where the roots will fit. Be sure that the medium gets into the small holes in the air pot. After transplanting, water accordingly to the new size of the pot. Try not to damage the roots when transplanting and everything will be fine. Thanks for reading and commenting, happy growing!

    • Hi Brent! A big, tall pot (15-20 liters or more) and strong lights are key for a tall and strong plant. A balanced nutrient schedule and light substrate are really helpful. A plant growing directly on the soil of a garden with all the necessary nutrients and good soil structure, directly under the sun, most of the times grow very tall and bushy. You want your plant to elongate when in the veg stage and the early flowering, but not during the seedling stage. I hope this helps. If you need personalized advice for your growing space, please download the Grow with Jane app and talk to us from there, we’ll be happy to help!

  12. Growing cannabis at home can be a fun project and a nice way to have your own cannabis plants on hand. You may want to grow cannabis indoors due to inclement weather in your area or due to a lack of green space in your yard. Start by germinating the seeds. Then, plant the seeds in soil or in a starter cube. Once the seeds have been planted, care for them properly so they grow and thrive.

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  14. I am from Nepal…. I am a stater on cannabis farm…. Despite its going to be legalized in our country I don’t khow how to contact with foreign dealer for seeds, soil, lightning,… Plz guide me through the best seed provider and other materials… I am willing to germinate seeds in outdoor

  15. Found some seeds while I bought a few buds earlier in the year. Just put them in paper towels slightly damp didn’t sprout so placed them in a little bottle lid with water and in wardrobe for a few days and bingo so put I in small pot with growbag soil so fingers crossed I’ll get one or two. Do you think it’ll work

  16. Hello, thanks for the above, it’s very helpful. One question?

    how deep does one plant the germinated seed in the small potting container?

    thank you

    • Hi Sally, plant the seed with the root downwards just 1/4 inch or 0,5 cm deep in the soil. Barely cover the seed with humid soil. Planting the seed too deep may delay the seedling stage and cause the stem to elongate too much.
      Thanks for reading and commenting, happy growing!

  17. Thank you for sharing your valuable and knowledgeable information with us. This entire blog was quite exciting and I have read this whole article.

  18. Great information, I have a led grow light with 4 lights on it. Can I grow 4 plants using one light each or should I use 2 lights per plant. The lights are 80 watts each. Thank you !!

    • Hi Mondo! The wattage doesn’t tell us much about a LED grow lights, they can be very different. For some models, it would be enough and for others, it would not. If you need personalized advice, please download the Grow with Jane app and send us a dm from there, we are happy to provide free Grower Support for app users.
      Thanks for reading and commenting, happy growing!

  19. Once a tap root has formed I intend to place the seeds in peet plugs.can I then put them in a heated propegator under a couple of t10 strip lights untill they sprout

    • Hi Michael! Seeds need a warm, dark place to sprout, so the heated propagator sounds good when you are in cold climates. After the seed sprouts, you can start with the lights. It is recommended a light that is not so intense but depending on the LEDs, probably the strips are not enough for a plant to develop. We suggest LED lights intended for cultivation, they have enough intensity and the right spectra for plants to grow. Thanks for reading and commenting, happy growing!

    • Hi Adele! A good way of trimming your plants is cutting the lower leaves and buds, where little or no light reaches. This helps the plant to grow and focus its energy on the top buds, where there’s plenty of light. If you want personalized advice about a specific plant, download the Grow with Jane app and ask for grower support from the app, we’ll be happy to help!
      Thanks for reading and commenting, happy growing!

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  21. Hello I was wondering if I sent the pic you can tell me what I’m doing wrong with the Northern Lights thank you please respond

    • Hi Tripzz, it may take from 2 to 4 days for the seedling to sprout upwards. When temperatures are cold, it may take a little more time, up to a week. Thanks for reading and commenting. Happy growing!

    • Hi MG, while there are male autoflowering plants, most seed banks sell only female autoflowering seeds. Some of these female autoflowering seeds may turn into hermaphrodite plants so if you are seeing male flowers in your autoflowering plants, that’s probably the case. If in doubt, email the seed bank and ask them! Thanks for reading and commenting, happy growing!

  22. I need direction on what is next; I sprouted six seeds and planted in small cups. Now what is next?
    Do I keep them in dark till they come up and then put lights on them 16/8? Please help


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