Can You Plant Weed Seeds Directly In Soil

Handling cannabis seed germination is no difficult task, but it requires a great deal of precision and care. If you can provide that, you’re good to go. Cannabis sativa sp. is commonly known as marijuana and has been grown throughout the world for thousands of years. Cannabis seeds germinate in 3 to 7 days, though some varieties may take 10 to 15 days. While germination is a natural… Direct sowing, the technique of planting seeds directly in the outdoor garden, works well for many plants. Learn the correct techniques for this method.

How to Germinate Cannabis Seeds

Cannabis, better known as marijuana, is getting more popular across the United States as more medical reports deem it highly useful for better health and more states legalize its sale and use. There’s no question of how potent and beneficial marijuana is for health and recreation, so it is no surprise that more individuals are more getting interested in growing the herb in their homes.

Like any other plant, cannabis goes through the germination process before full growth. Handling cannabis seed germination is no difficult task, but it requires a great deal of precision and care. If you can provide that, you’re good to go.

Below here, we breakdown the main aspects of cannabis seed germination you need to know.

The Ideal Germination Conditions for Cannabis

For maximum cannabis seed germination, you need to provide the following conditions:


Marijuana seeds need adequate moisture in the soil to develop properly. You can maintain moisture by using well-watered soil or a naturally-moist medium such as compost. Alternatively, you can use mulch on the ground to lock the moisture in.


Your seeds need a stable setup during planting to guarantee proper germination. You can achieve this by placing the seeds about 1.3cm to 2.5 cm into the medium, not any further or closer to the medium surface.


Marijuana seeds require a proper balance between hot and cold temperatures for proper germination. Keep the temperature around the germinating area adequately warm, because colder temperatures tend to delay the germination process.


Marijuana seeds need direction when being germinated. When placing the germinated seed into the growing medium, ensure that the white root is looking downwards into the medium and the seed body is looking upwards. Positioning it otherwise means the root will have to reorganize itself, which can slow germination.

Seed Germination Methods

There are more than a few options to choose from when picking a method for your seed germination process. We list and explain the best of them below:

Use Starter Cubes & Seedling Plugs

This is the most recommended cannabis seed germination method on this list because of its ease. Starter cubes and seedling plugs are specially designed for the purpose of seed germination, so they come filled with the right kind of planting mix and a hole drilled adequately in the middle for placing your seed. All you have to do is place your seed carefully into the hole and close it with a simple pinch of the nearby planting mix.

The Pros
  • They have high germination rates thanks to adequately pre-set conditions
  • They are easy to use; you open them up and start planting
  • They give less room for error
  • Some of them are designed to allow hydroponic growing (water-based planting)
  • They aren’t too expensive
The Cons
  • Are usually sold in packages of 50 plugs or more at once, no less.
  • Some plugs dry out too quickly after opening.
  • Some plugs must be soaked for a while first before use.

Plant your marijuana seeds directly in the final growing medium

Another good method for germinating your cannabis seeds is by planting them within your final growing medium from the very beginning, whether it is soil or compost or water.

The Pros
  • The seeds don’t get transplant shock during transplanting
  • The seeds get accustomed to the medium early on, which fosters growth
The Cons
  • Some final mediums are not adequately nutrient-rich to support cannabis seed germination in its earliest stages

Use a germination station

For best seed germination results, you can alternatively employ a germination station before transferring to a final growing medium. Germination stations are pre-designed to offer optimum conditions for germination.

The Pros
  • Germination stations are cheap to purchase
  • You can create your own DIY germination station at home using a plastic dome fitted over a plate that’s placed on a heating pad.
The Cons
  • Germination seeds are only appropriate for the early stages of growth, unlike, say, the final medium.

Soak Your Marijuana Seeds in Water Overnight

Alternatively, you can germinate your cannabis seeds using water alone. Place the seeds in a glassful of mildly warm water overnight and wait for the white root to break through the seed shell. Then you can transfer to a final growing medium.

The Pros
  • It works well for seeds with extra hard seed coats
  • Cuts out all the extra preparation required in soil-based germination
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The Cons
  • Some seeds, especially the older ones, cannot germinate in water because they require a longer time
  • There is always the risk of over soaking the seeds and killing them

Try the Paper Towel Method

The most DIY cannabis seed germination method on this list is the paper towel method, which involves wrapping your seeds in thin paper towels, making them wet and leaving the setup a warm place. Soon enough, the white roots start showing and the seeds can then be transplanted.

The Pros
  • It is so cheap; the thinnest (and cheapest) paper towels work best
  • It is so easy to do.
The Cons
  • Thicker paper towels can be hard to separate new seedlings from after they’ve sprouted
  • There is a high possibility for errors during transplanting, such as root breakage when seed roots are found to have grown into the paper towel, not on its surface.
  • Paper towels can dry if unattended, thereby killing the new seedlings.

Planting Germinated Seeds

Once the cannabis seeds have germinated, they need to be planted in order to grow into proper cannabis plants. The recommended method for planting cannabis seeds includes the steps below:

Step One : Set and prepare your planting medium. You can use either a rooting cube or a planting mix for planting, depending on your preference. Rooting cubes have no major preparation requirements –have one ready from Oasis, Jiffy or another good brand. If you’re using a planting mix, procure sterile soil for the process. Random soil doesn’t cut it here.

Step Two : Next, add water to the sterile soil or rooting cube to saturate it. Then use a needle or chopstick to drill small planting holes within the soil or rooting cube. Please do not use your finger for this task.

Step Three : Get your tweezers and sterilize them with alcohol or spirit first. Then use the tweezers to pick the seeds, paying good attention to the fragile white roots.

Step Four : Place each germinated seed into a hole of its own, ever so tenderly, such that the root faces downward. Don’t place the seeds too deep into the ground either, because it slows growth. Move quickly because the roots are easily damaged by exposure to the atmosphere.

Step Five : Next, cover each of the holes with adequate soil or rooting cube. Make sure the planting mix or root cube is moist and not too cold.


Germinating and growing cannabis seeds requires a bit of work, but when done right, the end results are worth every minute spent. Like any other plant, cannabis seeds have to go through germination and then plant growth. Making sure each of these stages is done right will guarantee you a super bouncy harvest every time.

How to Germinate Cannabis Seeds

This article was co-authored by Lauren Kurtz. Lauren Kurtz is a Naturalist and Horticultural Specialist. Lauren has worked for Aurora, Colorado managing the Water-Wise Garden at Aurora Municipal Center for the Water Conservation Department. She earned a BA in Environmental and Sustainability Studies from Western Michigan University in 2014.

There are 10 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.

This article has been viewed 64,240 times.

Cannabis sativa sp. is commonly known as marijuana and has been grown throughout the world for thousands of years. Cannabis seeds germinate in 3 to 7 days, though some varieties may take 10 to 15 days. While germination is a natural process, factors such as light, humidity/moisture, and temperature must be controlled for cannabis seeds to sprout.

How to Direct Sow Seeds Successfully in Your Garden

Colleen Vanderlinden is an organic gardening expert and author of the book “Edible Gardening for the Midwest.” She has grown fruits and vegetables for over 12 years and professionally written for 15-plus years. To help move the organic gardening movement forward, she started an organic gardening website, “In the Garden Online,” in 2003 and launched the Mouse & Trowel Awards in 2007 to recognize gardening bloggers.

Julie Thompson-Adolf is a master gardener and author. She has 13+ years of experience with year-round organic gardening; seed starting and saving; growing heirloom plants, perennials, and annuals; and sustainable and urban farming.

The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

  • Working Time: 30 mins – 1 hr
  • Total Time: 1 – 4 wks
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $5 to $20

Growing plants from seed is one of the most economical ways to add plants to your garden. And while starting seeds indoors under lights or in a sunny window is a very popular method, there is an even simpler way. Direct sowing is the method of planting the seeds directly into outdoor garden soil. There is no special equipment, and there are no little pots and flats to mess with. You don’t have to worry about transplanting (and the related risk of transplant shock) or hardening off your plants.

That’s not to say that direct sowing is foolproof, or that it is the right method for every plant. Plants that require a long growing season—including tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants—won’t perform well when direct-sown in cool-weather regions. And plants that require very specific germination conditions are best started indoors. But a surprising number of vegetables, herbs, annuals, and perennials can be sown directly in the garden.

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Although direct sowing is an uncertain art, subject to the whims of weather and local wildlife, the enormous cost savings mean that occasional failure is a fair price to pay. A garden started from direct-sown seeds costs a fraction of what it costs to start a garden from potted nursery plants.

When to Direct Sow Seeds in the Garden

When to plant your seeds will depend on the plant species and on the climate in your region. Many vegetable seeds can be planted as soon as the frost is fully out of the ground in the spring and the soil can be readily worked, but some seeds may require warmer soil to ensure that they will germinate and sprout. Some seeds can be sown in the fall, depending on the climate and the seed. Research the plant species and read the requirements listed on the seed packet to learn the best planting time for the seeds you want to grow.

Before Getting Started

Each plant species has its own preferences for soil type, planting time, sun and water requirements, and care. Do some research on the species you are planning to grow in order to learn these preferences. You may find that only certain areas of your garden are suitable, or that your soil type will require some added soil amendments.

Most plants grow best in a soil type known as “loamy”—soil consisting of a balanced mixture of sand, clay, and silt. If your soil is very dense (clay) or very porous (sandy), amending it with organic material such as compost is often recommended. Other amendments may be recommended if your soil’s pH level is too acidic or alkaline to grow the plants you want. A soil analysis performed by your university’s Extension Service or a commercial testing lab is the best way to learn about your soil and what amendments might be needed.

What You’ll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Garden fork
  • Rake
  • Trowel
  • Hose sprayer with mist setting


  • Seeds for planting
  • Plant markers and string


The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

Prepare the Soil

Start with loose, weed-free, level soil. Take some time to prep the area first by removing all weeds, rocks, and sticks, and break up large clumps of dirt. Loosen the soil with a garden fork, add soil amendments if required, and rake the area into an even, level surface.

A recent soil test can be useful in learning the composition of your garden soil. The test will tell you what amendments are needed to make the soil optimal for the types of plants you want to grow. Almost all soil will be improved by thoroughly blending in some organic material, such as well-decomposed compost, peat moss, or manure, but you don’t want soil that is too rich, as not all seeds germinate well in extremely fertile soil.

The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

Prepare the Seeds (if Needed)

The seed pack instructions and your research may indicate that some seeds will do best with some prior preparation. For example, seeds for some plant species need to be slightly softened by soaking them in water before planting. Others may need to be “scarified” by rubbing them against fine sandpaper. Scarifying helps thin the hard shells on some seeds, making them more easily absorb water, germinate, and sprout more easily.

Some of the seeds where scarification is recommended include lupine, nasturtium, sweet pea, and morning glory. Some plants, including perennials like milkweed, need a cold/moist period to germinate, called stratification. While it often occurs naturally when seeds drop from a parent plant in nature, going through the cold, wet winter to weaken the seed coat, you can place these seeds in a container with moist seed starting mix, put them in the refrigerator, and mimic nature. A good book on plant propagation will tell you how to best prepare seeds for direct sowing.

The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

Plant the Seeds

Follow seed packet instructions for planting depth and spacing. Some seeds require light to germinate and prefer to be sown directly on top of the soil. With very tiny seeds, the sowing method is often to pinch the seeds between the thumb and forefinger and sprinkle the seeds into the soil by rubbing the fingers together. Larger seeds usually need to be buried at a prescribed depth—sometimes individually and sometimes in small clusters to ensure proper germination.

The general rule for planting seeds is that they should be planted three times as deep as the diameter of the seed. With very small seeds, this can be a matter of simply sprinkling a light dusting of soil over the seeds. But there’s no need to get out the tape measure; seeds aren’t all that picky and will often germinate regardless of soil depth.

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For edible row crops, you can drive stakes and hang string to ensure that you achieve straight rows when planting. This is not essential, but straight, well-spaced rows can make weeding and other care tasks easier if you have a lot of plants to care for.

Commercial seeds will gradually lose their ability to germinate over time. A new packet of seeds may have a 90 percent germination rate, while a three-year-old packet may have a germination rate of only 50 percent or even less. There’s nothing wrong with saving partial packets of seeds, but just be aware that you may need to plant the seeds more densely to ensure that enough germinate and sprout.

The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

Moisten the Soil—and Keep It Moist

The single most important step after planting seeds is to keep the soil evenly moist. Nothing hampers germination more than letting the soil dry out. You do need to be a bit careful about how you water, though. A strong blast from the hose will either wash your seeds completely out of the bed or mess up the spacing if you surface-sowed them. Use a “shower” setting on a hose wand or a “rose” fitting on a watering can to get a gentle flow of water for your seeds.

The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

Mark Planting Location

Make sure to mark where you planted the seeds. Small craft sticks labeled with indelible marker work well for this. This is important whether you planted new annual or perennial seeds in an established ornamental bed or are sowing veggies in your edible garden. Marking seed locations lets you monitor the progress of germination and helps keep track of your garden’s layout as planting season progresses. Without labeled markers, it’s all too easy to crowd your seeds with additional plantings or to accidentally pull “weeds” that are actually your newly sprouted seedlings.

The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

Recognize the Seedlings, Thin as Needed

Know what your seedlings look like. When they are newly sprouted, it’s often hard to tell a weed from, say, a tomato seedling. The first leaves to appear are the cotyledon, or “seed leaves.” Wait for a set of true leaves to appear to help you identify your plants well. There are websites you can reference to see what certain seedlings look like, and some seed packets have photos or drawings on them, as well. Knowing what your seedlings look like ensures you won’t pull them by mistake while plucking weeds.

Your newly sprouted seedlings may require thinning to maintain optimal spacing for growing to maturity. This is especially true of very tiny seeds, like carrots or celery, which are often planted by sprinkling them over the prepared soil. If allowed to grow too close, they won’t be able to mature into sizable plants, so shortly after the seeds sprout, thinning can begin.

Follow the seed packet’s recommendations for proper spacing between plants, and make sure to perform the thinning gently, so as to avoid disturbing the fragile new roots of adjoining plants. Rather than pulling the seedings from the ground, some gardeners like to pinch or snip them off at ground level to avoid disturbing the soil.

You may need to thin a second time as the plants grow larger and begin to crowd one another. For many vegetables, the seedlings plucked during thinning make an excellent addition to salads and other dishes.

Many plants, especially flowering annuals, will readily self-seed by dropping their seeds from ripened flower heads. You may find, for example, that last year’s snapdragons, zinnias, foxgloves, or marigolds have done all your direct-sowing for you. This is especially true if your habit was to let the flowers go to seed rather than deadheading them. Self-seeded plants often sprout up in dense clusters of seedlings, so you will need to thin them out to make sure your garden doesn’t get overgrown with volunteers. Even the most attractive plants soon seem like weeds if they are growing where you don’t want them.

The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

Care for the Seedlings

Young seedlings are somewhat frail and need careful attention for their first few weeks—especially when it comes to keeping the soil moist. Daily watering using light mist is generally a good idea, but in hot weather, twice-daily watering might be needed.

Follow seed packet recommendations for fertilizing. Normally, feeding is not necessary until the plant gets large enough to begin setting flower buds. With some plants, seed packages may recommend feeding with a diluted fertilizer for the first month or so, until the plants are strong enough to tolerate full-strength feeding.

Also, be diligent in weeding around your young seedlings. Weeds will compete for water, sunlight, and nutrients, so regular weeding is a necessary task.