Learn how to easily cold stratify perennial and native wildflower seeds to help with quick, uniform germination for spring planting. As fall approaches, it’s time to start thinking about germinating seeds for the upcoming growing season. Starting them outdoors and then transferring inside can lead to good results. How can this be accomplished? Germination is the first stage in the life cycle of your plant. Getting it right positions your marijuana crop for healthy development and bountiful harvest.
How To Cold Stratify Seeds For Spring Planting
Many native varieties, like Prairie Coneflower, require cold stratification if seeding in spring. The good news is this is an easy process for any gardener.
Many wildflowers—especially native varieties—have clever mechanisms in place that help protect them from germinating too early in the spring or too late in the summer. These varieties re-seed naturally in the wild and stay dormant until the proper time for them to start sprouting. More and more gardeners are seeing the benefits of growing native varieties in their landscapes and with a simple technique called cold stratification, you can easily add these wildflowers to your garden in the spring.
Cold Stratify Seeds: Why Not Just Sow The Seed?
Many annual varieties, like Zinnias, and Sunflowers, have soft shells and can simply be sprinkled on bare soil in the spring. But some perennials, especially native wildflowers, have a hard coating that helps protect the outer shell from breaking and sprouting too early. We’ve all experienced an unseasonably-warm spell in in the middle of January or February — this mechanism helps prevent the seeds from being tricked into coming out of dormancy until it’s just the right time.
The good news for gardeners is that the natural cold stratification needed for germination can be forced with just a few materials, water, a refrigerator, and patience.
If you’re planting native wildflowers or varieties that require cold stratification in the fall, this step isn’t necessary. Nature will do what it does best during the winter months and cold stratify the seeds for you.
There are quite a few native varieties that should be cold stratified before planted in spring. We chose Prairie Violet Seeds, St. John’s Wort, and Tennessee Purple Coneflower as some of our varieties to plant.
Cold Stratify Seeds: Varieties
There are several perennial and native seed varieties need to be manually broken from dormancy in order to sprout and thrive in your garden. If you’re planting native seeds and aren’t sure, chances are you should at least scarify and soak your seeds before planting.
Common varieties that require cold stratification for spring planting:
(Asclepias) (Lupinus) (Hypericum perforatum) (Ratibida) (Viola pedatifida) (Scabiosa) (Caltha palustris)
- Perennial Sunflowers (Helianthus) (Geranium maculatum) (most varieties) (some varieties) (Saponaria ocymoides) (Oenothera speciosa) (Delphinium) (Dodecatheon meadia)
- Heliopsis (Agastache foeniculum)
- Catmint (nepeta) (Vernonia gigantea)
Although this is a comprehensive list of the most common varieties, there are other seeds that do require cold stratification before spring planting. It’s best to call us at (877) 309-7333 if you aren’t sure.
Most of the materials you need to cold stratify seeds can be found in your home or tool shed.
Cold Stratify Seeds: Gather Materials
Cold stratification is an extremely easy process and once you’ve done it once, you’ll no doubt get the hang of it. The first step is to gather the materials needed, all of which can be found in your home, tool shed, or with a quick trip to the hardware store.
Materials for Cold Stratification:
- An all purpose sand mixture and/or Peat Moss
- Paper Towels
- Plastic ziploc bags
- A Sharpie or pen for labeling
- Mixing bowls
Cold Stratify Seeds: Step by Step Process
Now that you have your materials, you can use three different methods for cold stratifying your seeds. All three of these methods work equally well and offer up different ways to basically keep the seeds moist in your refrigerator until it’s time to plant. We’ll go over all three methods:
Yard and Garden: Germinating Seeds For Future Growth
AMES, Iowa – As fall approaches, it’s time to start thinking about germinating seeds for the upcoming growing season. Starting them outdoors and then transferring inside can lead to good results. How can this be accomplished?
ISU Extension and Outreach horticulturists can help answer your questions about germinating seeds.
How do I germinate butterfly weed seeds?
Harvest the seed pods of butterfly weed, Asclepias tuberosa, when the pods begin to split. Seeds can be sown directly outdoors in late fall or started indoors.
When sowing seeds outdoors, work up the soil in a protected location in early to mid-November. Scatter the seeds over the prepared seedbed and then cover the seeds with approximately one-fourth inch of soil. The cold, moist conditions over winter improve seed germination. Seedlings should emerge in spring. Carefully transplant the seedlings to their permanent locations when the seedlings are three to four inches tall.
To start seeds indoors, fill a flat with a commercial germination medium (such as Jiffy Mix). Moisten the medium. Scatter the seeds over the surface of the germination medium and lightly press the seeds into the material. Cover the seeds with an additional one-fourth inch of the germination mix. Carefully moisten the additional material. Slide the flat into a plastic bag and place the bagged flat in the refrigerator. Leave the flat in the refrigerator for four to six weeks. After that, remove the flat from the refrigerator and place it in an area with a temperature of 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Seeds should begin to germinate in three to four weeks.
If no seedlings appear after four weeks, place the flat back in the refrigerator for another four to six weeks and repeat the process.
Take the flat out of the plastic bag as soon as seedlings appear and place the flat under fluorescent lights in a 60 to 65 degree Fahrenheit location. Transplant the seedlings into individual pots when the seedlings are one to two inches tall. Continue to grow the seedlings indoors under fluorescent lights for several more weeks. Prior to planting outdoors, place the seedlings outdoors in a shady, protected location and then gradually expose the seedlings to longer periods of direct sun. Plant the seedlings in their permanent locations after they have hardened outdoors for seven to 10 days.
How do I germinate Jack-in-the-pulpit seeds?
Jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum) seeds can be sown directly outdoors or started indoors. Harvest the cluster of berries as soon as they turn red in late summer. Each berry usually contains four to six seeds. Remove the seeds by gently squeezing them from the berries. Seeds can be planted immediately outdoors. Plant seeds one-half inch deep in a moist, shaded location.
Jack-in-the-pulpit seeds can also be started indoors. Before sowing the seeds indoors, the seeds must be stratified (exposed to cool, moist conditions) for 60 to 75 days. Jack-in-the-pulpit seeds can be stratified by placing them in moist sphagnum peat moss or fine sand and then storing them in the refrigerator for two to two and a half months. Suitable storage containers include small plastic bags and food storage containers. After the seeds have been stratified, remove the seeds from the sphagnum peat moss or sand. Plant seeds one-half inch deep in a commercial potting mix. In spring, plant the seedlings outdoors.
How do I germinate purple coneflower seeds?
Purple coneflower, Echinacea purpurea, seeds can be sown directly outdoors or started indoors. Exposing the seeds to cool, moist conditions (stratification) usually improves germination.
Outdoors, plant seeds in fall. Cover the seeds with one-eighth to one-fourth of soil. Seedlings should emerge in spring. Seedlings can be transplanted to different locations later in the growing season.
Indoors, fill a flat with 1.5 to 2 inches of a commercial potting mix. Sow seeds on the surface of the potting mix and cover with an additional one-eighth to one-fourth inch of material. Moisten the potting mix, slide the flat into a plastic bag, and place the flat in the refrigerator for two months.
After that, remove the flat from the refrigerator and place it in an area with a temperature of 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. The seeds should germinate in 10 to 14 days. Take the flat out of the plastic bag as soon as germination occurs. Transplant the seedlings into small pots three to four weeks after germination. Grow the seedlings indoors several more weeks before planting outdoors.
How to Germinate Marijuana Seeds: A Step-by-step Guide For 2021
Germination is the first stage in the life cycle of your plant. Getting it right positions your marijuana crop for healthy development and bountiful harvest. Therefore, it’s worth taking the time to fully understand all the variables involved when you want to germinate marijuana seeds. Due to the varieties of pot seeds, choosing the right strain for cultivation can be challenging, especially for first-time growers. You’ll also have to consider where to buy marijuana seeds at a cost-effective price.
The list goes on!
This guide answers all these questions and provides a step-by-step approach to the following:
Pre parations for germinating weed seeds
How to choose the right seeds
Where to buy marijuana seeds
The five standard germination methods
How to provide the most conducive growing conditions
It also covers some of the rules of thumbs to help your plants produce the highest yields possible.
It’s a long and exciting read, so let’s get the ball rolling with the seeds.
Choosing The Right Pot Seeds
The first step is to choose where to get marijuana seeds . You can get high-quality seeds online or from seed banks near you. Depending on the market demands or your preferences, you have to choose between Sativa or Indica. Your dealer will present you with a variety of strains to select. However, you want to buy feminized marijuana seeds.
That’s because the female cannabis plants are better at producing the massive buds and high quantities that weed lovers crave. Remember to ask for them when buying your seeds. You may not see much of a difference in the seed stage but making this strategic seed selection makes all the difference when your plants mature.
How to Identify Good Marijuana Seeds
Marijuana seeds are p retty distinctive. The fertile ones usually appear dark brown, black, gray, or red-brown with a slight glow as though the peel has some wax. Seeds that look different with colors like light-green, yellow, or white may also germinate, but the color should tell you they’re not high quality.
Usually, such seeds are not ripe because they were harvested at the wrong time. Healthy seeds are oval and small. On average, they should be between 2 to 3 mm thick and 2 to 5 mm long. When buying marijuana seeds , look for dark spots or tiger stripes on them. You also have to take the size and shape into account. In case of any doubts, a float test can help determine the viability of your seeds.
Although it’s not 100 percent accurate, placing your seeds in distilled water for about 2 hours can determine their viability. Seeds with sufficient mass will sink before the time is out. This indicates that they will sprout. But this test is only advisable when you’re ready to germinate them since the water will activate the seeds.
Tip : Keep your hand dry when handling marijuana seeds since moisture on your finger may damage them. It’s recommended to wear linen gloves to keep seeds safe.
Choosing The Right Cultivation Method
So you’ve selected the right seeds and are ready to germinate. If you’re like most growers, the top question on your mind is, “What is the best metho d to germinate marijuana seeds ?” Chances are you’ve experimented with marijuana germination but didn’t get the expected resulted.
That’s all right because even seasoned growers don’t get 100% germination. There will be some seeds in your batch that are duds. However, you can make significant improvements with the suitable cultivation method.
You should ask yourself specific questions to help choose the suitable method. Some of these questions include:
What kind of grow medium is available?
Can your budget afford all the necessary components?
How much time do you intend to work on your setup?
The answers to these questions will help determine the method you should use to germinate your marijuana seeds. But generally speaking, there are five standard methods you can use.
Continue reading to learn all about them.
5 Basic Ways to Germinate Your Seeds
Using a germination station offers one of the easiest ways to get your pot seeds started towards germination. It is a tool designed solely for this purpose. Doing so ensures that your seeds get the optimal conditions for germination. Assuming you lack the experience and time to try your hands at more demanding methods, using the germination station is the best option.
What is the Germination Station?
The germination station is a dedicated device with a growing space that ensures that cannabis seeds get optimal conditions for germination by allowing you to fully control the humidity and temperature. Usually, the problems faced when germinating marijuana seeds result from a medium that is too dry, too cold, or too wet.
The germination station enables growers to overcome these challenges. The station is the right size, user-friendly, and inconspicuous. It has a heat mat that keeps your growing medium warm with the right amount of moisture. You can house your seedlings in the germination station until their roots are at least 1” in length.
Components of The Germination Station
The station is designed to have everything required to get started with germination. Its components include:
Waterproof heating mat – You may get the 17 Watts, 120 volts heating mat with dimensions 9” X 19.5”.
Humidity dome – Retains moisture in the growing medium for the dampness required by seeds to sprout.
How to Use the Germination Station
The germination station allows you to use any growing medium of your choice in its cell seedling trays. Below are the steps involved:
Step #1: Soak your seeds for 24 hours in water
Step #2: Collect and place the seeds in the cells and use a small amount of medium to cover them.
Step #3: Watch for the sprouting of the first leaves to place proper lighting over the germination station.
NB: Light isn’t one of the prerequisites in this method; therefore, you don’t have to provide your seeds any light when using the germination station.
The Paper Towel Method
The paper towel method of germinating cannabis seeds is popular among home growers for several reasons. It is relatively more affordable, and you only need a few household items like a paper towel or cotton pad to get started.
Pot seeds do well with paper towels because they are kept protected and moist in the paper towels. Some argue that cotton pads do a better job of retaining moisture and are better suited for this method. However, affordable and non-porous paper towels will also do just fine.
Tip : Remember to buy single-ply paper towels instead of the cloth-like ones because the new taproots of your germinated seeds may grow into the cloth-like paper towels.
Let’s look at the steps involved in this method.
The items required for this method include the following:
Hand-held plant sprayer (optional)
Bowl or plastic bag
Step #1 – Spread a handful of your pot seeds on a paper towel and place another layer of paper towel over your seeds.
Step #2 – Moisten your seeds with a hand-held plant sprayer, or you may manually sprinkle some water on them with your hands if you don’t have a sprayer.
Step #3- Place your towel-cushioned seeds between two plates and cover it with a bowl turned upside-down. You can use a plastic bag to protect your seeds instead of the bowl.
Step #4 – Maintain a temperature of about 72° Fahrenheit or 22° Celsius and avoid putting your seeds on a windowsill.
Step #5 – Check on your seed after two to 5 days. By now, you should notice some seeds sprouting with tiny roots shooting from them.
You should regularly check on your seedling from the moment you find that they are sprouting. When the roots are between 0.1 – 0.2 inches or 3 – 5 mm long, transfer them to a growing medium like soil.
Starter Cubes And Seedling Plugs
Another common method of growing cannabis is the use of starter cubes and seedling plugs. The cubes and plugs help set up a seedling station by making the entire germination process quick and easy.
You only have to place your seeds in the cubes or plugs, provide enough moisture, and your seedling will grow automatically. The cubes and plugs are designed with holes to accommodate the seeds. You can scarcely go wrong with this method since the cubes and plugs leave little room for error. Hence, you should achieve a high germination percentage. The best part, there are several types to select.
The Best Types of Starter Cubes For Germinating Cannabis
Rapid Rooter Grow Plugs(Pros & Cons)
The rapid rooter grow plugs are the typical plugs used for hydroponic setups. They have round bottoms and don’t stand alone. Their makeup consists of a custom composting method that uses natural fungi to accelerate growth.
Hence the name rapid rooters. They are also 100 percent organic and made entirely from biodegradable materials. However, they need to be nutrient or water-soaked before use. Below are the pros and cons
There are 50 rooters available at a go.
It’s 100 percent biodegradable and organic.
They are usable in soil and any soilless growth medium.
New growers may find it tricky to use.
Rapid Rooter Mats (Pros & Cons)
Rapid rooters also come in the form of mats. These types are sectioned off and created with holes meant for germinating seeds. You can buy them with 98 planting areas for seed germination.
They can accommodate 98 marijuana seeds at once.
Using them makes transplantations easy.
Each cube is sectioned-off with already-made holes to house seeds.
They come with flat bottoms and cube shapes that enable them to stand alone.
It may be inappropriate if you’re on a tight budget.
Rockwool Starter Cubes(Pros & Cons)
Rockwool starter cubes are a must-use for hydroponic marijuana farms. Using Rockwool cubes for the germination process allows you to place your seedling into your hydroponic system safely. They are made to resist mold and retain adequate moisture to germinate the seeds. But before you decide to go with these, it’s worth knowing their drawbacks.
They are both cheap and readily available.
Come in handy for hydroponic systems.
It doesn’t comprise bio-friendly and organic materials
Can also lead to some health hazard: therefore, you need to wear protective clothing like masks and gloves before handling them.
You need to treat the cubes for use since their original pH isn’t friendly for cannabis germination.
Rapid Rooters(Pros & Cons)
Unlike some other types of starter cubes, rapid rooters work irrespective of your planting setup and growing medium. Generally speaking, they aren’t tricky to use since you only have to put your pot seeds into the rapid rooter with the smaller end turned downwards.
The rapid rooters have perfect conditions that your seeds require to germinate. All you have to do is to provide a place where your seeds can sprout without interruptions. In a matter of days, your cannabis seeds will germinate with tiny visible roots.
Not difficult to use, even for first-time growers.
Works regardless of the growing medium or system
It doesn’t require any setup or preparation.
Only come in sets of 50.
It only takes one week for them to dry up.
Rapid Rooter Tray
Another effective rapid method for germinating marijuana seeds is the rapid rooter tray. You only have to leave your seeds in the tray with water and watch the roots develop with time. A standard tray can go into a humidity dome and carry 50 rooters.
It makes the transplanting of seedling hassle-free.
Enables you to germinate 50 seeds at once.
It is ideal for germinating seeds or cloning when you have a humidity dome.
You only need your seeds and water to get started.
It can be wasteful if you’re germinating less than 50 seeds
Direct Growing Method
Although the various ways of germinating cannabis seeds are effective, there are times that nature’s way is also the easiest. In the wild, marijuana seeds germinate in fertile soil provided there are favorable conditions.
As a cannabis farmer, you can emulate this process by directly planting your seeds in the final growing medium. It doesn’t matter the growing medium you choose. You can get a cannabis seed to germinate provided you use the right approach. However, it’s needful to state that some mediums are more demanding than others.
Using this method means that your young seedlings don’t have to go through the shock of transplantation after sprouting since they germinate in their final resting place. Hence, it can save you some time, and the seedling development is immediate without any interruptions.
Plus, seedlings do not have to adjust to any other environment. Mind you, your marijuana plants have to deal with stress anytime you transplant them into a new medium, and this isn’t the case with the direct growing method.
Assuming you choose soil as your growing medium, here are the steps to follow:
Prepare your soil to be moist but not soaking wet.
Make a knuckle-deep hole in the soil that’s about 0.5 to 1 inch or 1.3 cm to 2.5 cm.
Place your seeds in each hole and gently cover them with soil.
Using a heating pad or light, gently keep your setup warm
Check on your seeds after two days to check for germination.
Apart from the soil, you can also use coco coir or any other soilless growing medium. However, the idea is to exclude the transplanting process. Therefore, you should only choose this method when you know your seeds will become plants in the same medium you used to germinate them.
The Water-Soaked Method
Another easy way to grow cannabis seeds that you should consider is the water-soaked method. It is simple and is just as easy as it sounds. This method involves leaving your seeds overnight in lukewarm water and comes in handy for reviving old or hard seeds.
The lukewarm water softens the hard exterior of the seeds and enables the taproot to break through the coating. When you soak your fertile and feminized marijuana seeds in water, it will take some time for them to sink to the bottom of your container.
Get clean, lukewarm water and pour it into a container, ideally glass.
Collect your seeds and pour them gently into the water and close the lead.
Observe the container for the next 32 hours.
Carefully pour out the water and transfer your sprouted seeds into a growing medium or somewhere ideal to continue germinating.
Tip : You may use any container to soak your seeds. However, it’s better to use transparent glass since you can observe the seeds and find out when the taproots break out.
Generally, you shouldn’t keep your seeds soaked for more than 32 hours. Not all seeds will germinate after 32 hours. At this point, you should remove them from the water to prevent drowning them. Instead, find a moist, warm place for them to continue the germination process. You can use a paper towel here and follow the steps outlined in the paper towel process.
Planting The Germinated Marijuana Seeds The Right Way
The first few weeks after germination can be the most vulnerable days in the life of your marijuana plant. Therefore, handling them requires you to exercise extra caution. At this stage, the strain you chose makes no difference because all marijuana seedlings are quite delicate after germination.
Always keep the taproot of your seeds in mind while transplanting them. Do not touch it for any reason! The plant may survive when you touch it but break the taproot. However, the effects will show later in the life of the plant, usually as stunted growth.
Follow these tips when transplanting your sprouted seeds:
Drop the white taproot about 0.5 – 1.5 inches downwards.
Let the top part of the seed rest just beneath the surface of your grow medium.
Cover it gently and let it rest for a maximum of 10 days.
NB: Don’t worry if you mistakenly plant any seed upside down. Nature has a way of correcting such incidents. The root will eventually find its way downwards, provided there’s enough room for it.
Providing All The Right Conditions
Light is essential to most plant species, including the cannabis plant. Mature marijuana plants use it to produce sugars from water and carbon dioxide, commonly called photosynthesis. Sugar serves as the primary source of resources necessary for healthy growth and development, apart from soil minerals and nutrients.
Depending on where you store your seedling and the method used for germination, lighting may be required because the seeds need heat. When lighting is necessary, you can use fluorescent lights with 6500K color temperature and T5 high output. The temperature conditions should be around 72 °F.
Next, you need a moist, humid environment. You can spray moisture on your setup when required to keep it from drying up or wrap your pot with plastic wrap. This will create a biodome for your setup. However, you must get rid of the plastic wrap when any tap roots emerge or sprout break through the soil.
Typical Mistakes to Avoid
No matter which method you choose for germinating your marijuana seeds, there are some errors you should try and avoid. Most of these mistakes are common among new growers. Therefore, you should pay extra attention to the following if you’re growing cannabis for the first time.
Placing the seed too deep when planting or transplanting them
Overcrowding the seeds into one pot
Using an unknown soil composition
Overwatering the seeds
Using a direct method where soil conditions are unfavorable
Using too much fertilizer instead of a porous and moist environment
Overusing hydrogen peroxide in the water
Leaving seeds to be drawn in water when soaking them
Failing to hygienically handle radicles, seedlings, and seeds, especially with wet, dirty hands
Exposing the young roots to air for too long when transplanting them
Temperature fluctuation in the environment
Congratulations! You’ve made it this far, and you can consider yourself ready to germinate your seeds. However, it all begins with the right seeds bought from the right source. Then after germination comes other challenges when plants start growing toward maturity. Watching your marijuana plants go through the four growth stages of development is exciting and satisfying. But it’s also hard work so remember to enjoy yourself while you’re at it!