Help – My Cannabis Seeds Aren’t Germinating!

Germination of cannabis seeds is a relatively quick and easy process but failure to germinate cannabis seeds is anything but uncommon. In fact, many home growers occasionally find themselves looking at seeds that show no signs of life.

There are a number of reasons why cannabis seed didn’t crack open and begin growing a healthy taproot. Some of the issues are caused by the people doing the germinating, and some simply cannot be helped. Most of the time, problems with germination can be attributed to a handful of common causes. The good news being that by identifying what went wrong, you’ll be in a much better position to avoid the same mistake next time.

Why your Cannabis seed isn’t germinating


95% of the time, cannabis seeds will germinate easily, and quickly, just by adding some water, and some warmth. A seed can germinate and show a shoot above ground in just a few days.


Genetics is half the battle towards a good crop. This can’t be stressed enough, though you can get good plants from random genetics, buying good quality seeds from good seed banks will increase your chances of germination, and a quality end product.

Some growers may be tempted to use seeds they found in a bag of cannabis they bought from somewhere. These seeds may not germinate at all, they may be infertile, or if it does grow, it could grow into a hermaphrodite cannabis plant.

Improve the chances of your seeds germinating by buying good genetics. You won’t regret it!

Not Enough or Too Much Moisture

Another reason why your marijuana seeds might not be germinating is due to issues with moisture. For one, a lot of people end up drowning their weed seeds outright.

Yes, some people germinate their weed seeds in nothing else but water, but this tends to not have the best success rate, and it is because the seeds end up drowning.

This can also happen if you use soil, paper towel, or peat for germination. It’s not too difficult to drown them, so spritz them with enough water to be moist, but there should not be any dripping going on. Too much water can actually rot your seed outright.

On the other hand, if the weed seeds are too dry, and your germination medium is too dry, the seeds just won’t get enough water to germinate.

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Water is an essential part of marijuana seed germination, and without it, nothing is going to happen.


It’s possible the room in which you placed your seeds was – or became – too warm or too cold. Ideally, the space in which you place your cannabis seeds during germination should be between 70 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit, or 21-32 degrees Celsius. If it’s cooler than that, your seeds may take longer to sprout. If it’s warmer, the higher temps can alter the chemistry of the seed and interrupt or corrupt the process.


Since the roots of any plant are almost always kept in the dark – buried in the soil and protected from light by the pot around them – it shouldn’t be surprising to know that almost total darkness is important to successful germination. That said, it is certain wavelengths that can inhibit germination, not light in general. In most cases, red wavelengths promote germination, while blue wavelengths can interrupt or terminate it.

If your weed seeds are getting way too much light, there is a chance that they will not germinate. This is not always the case, but it can definitely be a contributing factor.

However, what is interesting is that as soon as the seeds pop open, they can do fine with some light, but just not too much.

Insufficient soaking time

There’s a possibility that your non-germinating seed didn’t soak in the water glass for long enough. The density and hardness of the shell can vary from seed to seed, so one seed could need 18 hours while the others require only 14.

Did all your seeds sink to the bottom of the glass before you transferred them to the paper towel? If one remained floating, it could be because too little water penetrated the shell.

One way to make your seeds more absorbent once they’re in the water is to scuff them a little bit before soaking. You can do this by rolling a strip of sandpaper with the rough side inward, and shaking the seeds within the tube.

Seed Casing Did Not Detach

When the seed casing does not detach, the seed was not placed deep enough in the soil. It can also be caused by soil that is too dry. To fix, simply spritz the plant with mineral water. After waiting a few moments, ease the casing off. In the future, this can be prevented by planting the seed deeper and ensuring that the soil stays moist.



This is quite an unlikely possibility, but it’s worth mentioning. If you handled your seeds with your bare hands while you prepared them for germination, it’s possible they were damaged or affected by the oils or other contaminates. To be safe, try to touch your seeds only with tweezers or sanitary gloves, or wash your hands with a non-toxic soap before you begin.

Old seeds

It could be that your seeds were left too long before they were germinated. Though this is highly unlikely if you just purchased your cannabis seeds, if you’ve been saving them for more than 6 months, it’s possible. Stored correctly, cannabis seeds could

Incorrect storage methods

If a cannabis seed is stored incorrectly, they will lose viability. To keep cannabis seeds viable for longer, they need to be stored correctly. Incorrect storage is a big factor in germination, and could be the reason why your cannabis seed isn’t germinating.

Cool temperature between 5 and 10°c and humidity levels no higher than 25% is a great way to store your cannabis seeds. A dark cool place with very few temperature fluctuations is ideal.

A refrigerator is perfect, but do not use refrigerator that you use often. Opening and closing the door will change the environment in the fridge. A stable environment is what a cannabis seed needs. If they have been stored incorrectly, they may not germinate at all.

Store your seeds in a light proof container, in the back of the fridge, and your seeds could stay viable for years.

Different Methods Of Germinating Cannabis Seeds

Growing cannabis, just like other plants, is an organic process without a strict set of rules. It is not a linear system to learn, but an art to be mastered. Over time you will develop your own personal alchemy based on your successes and consistently reap super yields.

There is no single specific way to germinate cannabis seeds. Different growers will usually choose to use one germination method that suits them best.

In A Medium

This most closely resembles what happens in nature. Some growers will plant directly into an easily managed small starter pot or a seedling tray full of the medium in which the plant will spend its whole life. This could be soil, perlite, coconut coir or your choice of combination.

Paper Towel

This method is preferred by those who want guarantees about the viability of their seeds. There is no question when seeds have germinated. This gives complete control over the amount of active space in any grow setup.

Don’t be disheartened if some seeds don’t make it. That’s just the way it is sometimes and it isn’t necessarily your fault. If it keeps happening, review your process or contact your seed supplier.

Jiffies And Plugs

Other growers opt for grow plugs or jiffy pots to save space during the germination period. Grow plugs have the advantage in that they are ready to go, already moistened straight out of the bag and are made with the cannabis grower in mind. They also come in handy pre-prepared trays. However, they must be used promptly or they will dry out.

Jiffy pots or similar are easily stored dehydrated peat pots and need to be soaked before using. This does have the advantage of being able to customise the nutrient and enzyme environment of the germination medium. Simply add your personal witches brew to the water before reconstituting. Plain water is okay of course.

Pre-Soaking In Water


Some people like to pre-soak their cannabis seeds before they continue with one of the methods above. This can be done by simply putting them in a drinking glass of lukewarm, clean water for 12-24 hours.

Pre-soaking seeds will soften the shell and gives the plant an early mini-boost. Especially with older seeds, this is an advantage. Older seeds get a drier and harder skin. By pre-soaking them first in clean water it increases the chance to a good germination rate.

Rockwool Starter Cubes

Rockwool can be regarded and used in the same way as plugs or jiffy pots. The issue with rockwool cubes is more a moral one than anything to do with their cannabis growing ability. They are inexpensive, easy to use and function very well and are used extensively in the pure hydroponics industry.

However, they don’t really have the best environmental cred with regard to their manufacture or dispensability. It would be difficult to consider them organic that is certainly the trend in contemporary cannabis demand.

What To Do If Your Cannabis Seeds Don’t Germinate?


The first thing to do if one or more of your cannabis seeds has failed to sprout after 7 days in the paper towel is leave them a little longer. Make sure the environment remains damp, dark, and warm, and continue to check them daily. If after 10 days you still don’t see results, it’s time to try something else.

Take another look at the germination method, and make sure you didn’t skip or misinterpret any of the steps. If all looks good on that end, there is a “last ditch” option we recommend:

Soak the seed with H²O²

If you’re seeds are old, you may want to do this on the initial soaking, before you try germinate your seeds, but it is also a great method to try and crack stubborn seeds.

H²O² will make the water a little more reactive, but only use a few drops in a glass. Hydrogen Peroxide will help soften the shell, making it easier for water to get inside the shell, and for the tap root to emerge.

Add some microbes to the seed

Roots love microbes! If your cannabis seed isn’t germinating, try rolling it in a rooting power and plant it again. When exposed to moisture these powders will begin to grow colonies of friendly bacteria that works in conjunction with the root zone.

These can help soften the shell, and produce some nutrients for when the tap root emerges from the seed. If your cannabis seed isn’t germinating, some beneficial bacteria can be very helpful.

Fulvic Acid

Using 2.5ml per cup of water of fulvic acid can also help weaken the shell of your seed and help it germinate. Fulvic acid is an organic acid, that is found in soils, and comes from the decomposition of organic matter.

This will help break down the outer shell of your seed, as the organic molecules break down the casing.

Carbonated Water

Carbonate water has CO°2 dissolved into it. This takes it from being still water to being fizzy.

The bubbles in carbonated drinks are formed on nucleation sites. This is where the CO²2 can latch onto a place, and turn into a bubble. The bubbles then form and float up through the water.

This makes the water more reactive, and can help soften the shell of your seed if it isn’t germinating.

If none of the above techniques have worked for you, there are some last resorts you can turn to if your cannabis seed isn’t germinating. These are harsh, but they can work, you just have to be gentle.

The whole idea of these techniques is to either soften or crack the shell, so water can get into the seed, and the tap root can get out. This can be difficult if the seed is old, or has been stored incorrectly, so we have to give it a helping hand sometimes.


Take some sandpaper, of a very fine grain, and gently scuff at the outer shell of your seed. Now be careful, you’re not trying to removing the whole layer of the seed. Just scuff the surface in a few places, and begin the germination method again.

This will weaken areas of the seed, which can now be softened and penetrated by the water. But sometimes this still isn’t enough.

You can also use a nail file to scuff the edge of your seed, just make sure its fine grain as you do not want to remove big pieces of shell.

Cracking the shell

The very last case scenario, and your last resort is to actually crack the seed manually. This can be done by holding the seed between your finger and thumb, and using your other hand to pick of a bit of the casing with your thumb nail.

By putting a small crack in the seed, you can be sure water will get in, and the germination process should begin. Do not soak the seed for too long, and it may be better to go straight into the medium after you have cracked the seed.

Too much water can drown it, and you don’t want to kill your seed after going through all this trouble to germinate it.

If you’ve pulled out all the stops and still your cannabis seed(s) haven’t germinated, it’s possible that seed just isn’t viable. There’s no way to tell whether or not a seed will sprout just by looking at it, unfortunately, and that’s why cannabis seed banks don’t have a 100% germination guarantee.



If your cannabis seed isn’t germinating, then you should just be a little more patient, most of the time, they will pop without any extra help, they just need a couple more days. As you can see, there are a number of factors which can affect weed seed germination, with there being a good few issues that can cause them to not germinate.

If you have waited for longer than a week, than you should start using these methods.

Buy your seeds from a seed bank with a good reputation, and your seed should germinate first time every time, as long as you germinate them correctly.

If you’re a new grower, or thinking about starting your own grow, then you are welcome to come and join our cannabis community

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