How To Properly Soak & Germinate Seeds In Water


Todde Philips

🇺🇸 Retired veteran, father, rock-climbing expert & rosin connoisseur.

Most people reading The Press Club articles are familiar with what it means to germinate cannabis seeds. But if not that’s okay, we’re going to start from the beginning. 

If you’re coming in with knowledge, experience, and a solid success rate with seed germination already that’s great too. We’re going to suggest a few pro tips and tricks. 

We’ve got something here for everyone.

Germination is the sprouting of a seedling from a seed, the process through which the outer shell of the seed cracks and the plant radicle and plumule emerges. Germination is the first sign of life from a seed, and it’s good news for the cannabis grower, signaling that the genetics contained within have a good shot at showing their true colors. Germination is the very first phase of plant growth, and it’s an important step to get right. Properly germinating cannabis seeds gives the plant the highest chances of success. 

Although the cannabis seed is self-sufficient at first, it does need to have the right environment to spout and take root. Creating the best environment to let nature do its thing is what germinating cannabis seeds is all about. While there is nothing fancy about this process, it does require intention. Simply plunging seeds into the soil can work, but the success rate isn’t as good as with some other methods of germinating seeds. 

There are several methods that growers use to germinate cannabis seeds, but we’re partial to the approach of germinating in water. It’s a method that works well for any type of cannabis seed, including feminized and autoflowering varieties. Just be sure to start with high-quality seeds from a reputable breeder. 

Check out our article How To Tell if Your Cannabis Seeds Are Good or Bad.


Advantages of Germinating Seeds in Water: 

  • Great visibility of the seed - easy to see when it “pops” 
  • Simple and straightforward 
  • Doesn’t require many supplies 
  • High germination success rate 
  • Fast - only takes 8-24 hours

Disadvantages of Germinating Seeds in Water:  
  • Seedling can “drown” if left in the water too long after germination 
  • Seedling needs to be transplanted to a growing medium, opening the door for potential damage during transplant


Let’s take a look at how to germinate cannabis seeds in water. 

1. Gather supplies including  

  • your high-quality cannabis seeds 
  • one clean container for each cannabis cultivar you’re germinating 
  • labels and a pen 
  • room-temperature RO water

 If you don’t have access to RO water, distilled water is fine. Just avoid tap water, since it contains chlorine. 

2. Fill each container with the clean water, about ½ cup per container

3. Label each container with the specific cannabis cultivar you’ll be germinating inside

4. Drop the seeds into the water. Swirl the water around a bit to let the seeds sink to the bottom. You can also use a clean tool to plunge the seeds down into the water


5. Note the date and time on each label, plus the number of seeds inside each container. We're looking for the small white radicle, or "root" to emerge. 

6. Place the containers in a warm, dark place. Anywhere from 70-85 degrees Fahrenheit is good, with about 77 F being ideal. On top of the refrigerator is often a nice spot.

7. Set a timer for 8 hours, so you can check the seeds after that amount of time. Some may already be popping by then. We're looking for the small white radicle, or "root" to emerge.

8. Once a small radicle emerges, it’s time to take the seeds out of the water. if you leave them in too long, they can actually die. Never touch the seeds directly.  

9. Place the seeds that have popped into the growing medium you choose. There are several good options, including coco coir. Use sterilized, blunt-end tweezers to grip the seeds and handle them.


10. Don’t use a “hot” growing medium, meaning something that contains a lot of nutrients. The seedling will have all the food it needs for the first couple weeks. This is why coco coir is so good.

11. If any seeds haven’t popped in 24 hours, keep an eye on them but give them another 24 hours. Don’t soak for more than 48 hours.

12. As a last-ditch effort to save any seeds that haven’t popped in 2 days, go ahead and place them directly in the growing medium. 

13. There’s one more trick to consider for stubborn seeds that refuse to pop. This is the scuffing method, where you lightly rub something abrasive over the surface of the seed to make the outer barrier thinner. This can help the baby root brak the surface and poke through. 


Keep in mind that seeds will sprout at different times. Don’t worry if some take a little longer. 

Make sure you document everything, stay organized, and keep the cultivars separate. Cleanliness is also key here. 

Avoid touching the seeds after they’ve sprouted, because oils from your hands can be detrimental. Keep equipment and the overall environment nice and clean. 


Pheno-hunting requires growing from seeds, and germination is a critical first phase that you have to get right. Soaking seeds in water and allowing them to germinate this way, before transplanting them into another growing medium, is simple, easy, and it has a high success rate. 

If your seeds don't pop in 48 hours soaking in water, you can use the scuffing method to weaken the outer shell of the seed, or place the seed directly into the growing medium. Sometimes these strategies help stubborn seeds. 

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