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Best seed germination method - cup of water or damp towels?

  • by proteus
  • Jan 18 2009 11:04 PM
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Posted 18 January 2009 - 11:04 PM

I've seen two approaches to germinating cannabis seeds.

1. CUP OF WATER method: Drop the seeds into a cup of distilled water, and put the cup in the dark, and wait.

2. PAPER TOWELS method. Place the seeds between damp layers of paper towels (but not too wet), and put them in a zip lock bag or between two plates, and wait.

There seems to be a contradiction between the two methods. The paper towel method claims the towels should be damp but not soaking wet, which implies that the seeds might get waterlogged (or not able to get oxygen if you make the towels too wet).

The cup of water method puts the seeds completely underwater and hasn't the least concern for too much water. In fact, the people who use this method say that the seeds should sink to the bottom of the cup after a few hours, implying that the seeds floating on the surface aren't going to germinate.

Both methods work, but the question is, which one works the best to insure germination?

Any thoughts, theories about why one should work better than another? What's your experience? Are there any other methods that work even better?

IMPORTANT: I'm not asking which method you use, I'm asking WHY you use the method, and why do you think it works better than another method.

Edited by proteus, 19 January 2009 - 01:30 AM.

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  • Recluse420
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Posted 18 January 2009 - 11:17 PM

I've tried both and like the paper towel the best.

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  • katana2k9
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Posted 19 January 2009 - 12:22 AM

i agree paper towels and use distilled water like evian at room temp. check every 12 hours until taproot is half a cm and place in soil quarter inch deep cover and lightly i mean very lightly spray with water to stop it drying and leave for 2 day chazzzah u have sprouts. hope this helps :rolleyes:

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Posted 19 January 2009 - 12:42 AM

Paper towel:smoke:

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  • The Grim Reefer
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Posted 19 January 2009 - 12:59 AM

i do both, cup of water till the seeds sink once touched down (not long) then transfer to paper towels.

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Posted 19 January 2009 - 01:20 AM

Thanks guys, but I'm not really looking for a vote. No doubt more people use the paper towel method as it is the most advertized. No doubt both methods work but 99% may use one method but the 1% method may actually be better, but just saying which one you use doesn't explain anything. See what I mean?

I'm trying to find out which has the best germination rate and why. Recluse420 has used both but he likes the paper towel the best. I assume that's because the paper towel works best. But why does it work better?

The Grim Reefers uses a combination of the two. Interesting. Why does letting the seeds sink before transfering them to paper work better than just putting them in damp paper towels (or vice versa)?

Is there a botanical reason for the two methods? A theory? A hypothesis? What are your thoughts? Do you have a link to a reference article that explains it all?

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Posted 19 January 2009 - 01:24 AM

Paper towels.

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Posted 19 January 2009 - 01:29 AM

Why don't you just go grow some weed !!!!

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  • The Grim Reefer
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Posted 19 January 2009 - 01:42 AM

My own personal reason for using my method (a combination) is that once the seed sinks its been penetrated and is starting the germination process, i then transfer to paper towels so as to lessen the chances of drowning the seedling lol. I also find it easier to transfer from paper towels with minimal damage, and easier to keep control over them.

The main thing with germination is minimising damage and stress you cause to the seedling. Whatever method u use just be careful and itll be successfull. The reason youll find so many differeing opinions is that all methods are essentially correct - that is they all work. What will usually mess up the germiantion is planting too deep, over watering, using nutes too early or having wrong temps lol. If you want you can just moisten the soil and place the seed about 3mm deep, then it will germinate and sprout straight from soil. This is another avidly pushed method, as it reduces the chance of harming your taproot and seedling. Use whatever you feel comfortable with, most people stick with the method they first try, because it works and they dont want to change for fear of messing up. So germinate a few more seeds than you need just for safety sake (i have had a 100% germ and sprout ratio so far) and then take the strongest when your going further. Easiest solution.

EDIT: I dont have a link to any articles but i can type 1 up for you if you'd like a bit more info on the germination process

Edited by The Grim Reefer, 19 January 2009 - 01:50 AM.

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Posted 19 January 2009 - 01:54 AM

Thanks Grim Reefer, that was informative and it makes sense. In the past I used paper towels, but I've never been sure why it works.

Are the seeds that don't sink, dead?

The reason I'm asking why a particular method works best is for two reasons: It's interesing in its own biological light, but mostly because some of the seeds I'm looking for are *expensive* and I want to insure the best germination rate to get the best bang for my dollar. If I had the money, I would do an experiment with lots of seeds and use both methods, and then just count the method which has the best germination success rate.

Anyone else?

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Posted 19 January 2009 - 03:24 AM

I have tried both. The paper towel seems to work best for me. It just seems that you get alot better of a taproot using paper towel than a cup of water.

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Posted 19 January 2009 - 03:34 AM

bump grim reafer

i soak in water w/ a touch of superthrive, when they sink, theyre ready for a moist towel

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  • bonbonbondia
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Posted 19 January 2009 - 03:57 AM

I think you have it mixed up. You can't just leave it in a cup of water, the seedling will drown before it sprouts. The cup of water method usually entails leaving it in water for 12-24 hours (or until it sinks) then planting it or putting it in paper towels.

I've done both with decent results but nowadays I just make sure to have a supply of rapid rooters. Those work better and leave less chance of screwing things up.

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Posted 19 January 2009 - 04:23 AM

They are the same method.

just once extra step.

Imo
Just put it in the soil and let it do its thing.
Natures intended way.
Why change it?:smoke:

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Posted 19 January 2009 - 09:59 AM

I'm new but i took time & tried both over 2 wks. I tried towels & water both by themselves, what works for me is a mix of both.

I mix a gal of Dis. water to a half teaspoon of FF grow big and put my seeds in & let sit for 24hrs. Also I germed both seeds that float and 1's that sink. Then I put the beans into a papertowel soaked in the very same water for another 24hrs inside an air tight container & put the container on top of the vent holes that vent my DVR and leave it on the entire time. DVR is motrola from time waner.

I always have sprouts and it's rare that i loose more than 1. I also use the water method for tomato seeds but use water method only.

Key really is to find what works for you.:smoke:

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Posted 19 January 2009 - 01:23 PM

Thanks for everyone's input. Lots of insightful stuff.

amoril:
>"i soak in water w/ a touch of superthrive, when they sink, they're ready for a moist towel"

That's interesting. I did a search on SuperThrive. Lots of people swear buy it, others think it's snake oil. Most people say it won't hurt the seeds because it's just vitamin water.

I've always thought that seeds contains all the nutrients needed (except water) for germination. But for those seeds that have have degraded nutrients, SuperThrive might just be enough to get them started. It's certainly worth a try.

bonbonbondia:

>"I think you have it mixed up. You can't just leave it in a cup of water, the seedling will drown before it sprouts. The cup of water method usually entails leaving it in water for 12-24 hours (or until it sinks) then planting it or putting it in paper towels."

Actually some people do leave them in a cup of water, and never use paper towels. I have several sources for this and even two videos that show the seeds with tap roots. I have no doubt that it works, I just don't know if it works better than paper towels.

Smokey-eyes77:

>"They are the same method. Just one extra step."

Actually they are two different methods. One saturates the seeds with water with no oxygen available. The other allows the seeds to feel the air but are moist with water.

"Just put it in the soil and let it do its thing. Natures intended way."

Nature is not necessarily the best way. Natural selection is a statistical natural method based on the available conditions. Artificial selection chooses the best conditions. That's why we have artificial insemination, gene manipulation, hydroponics, etc.

knr117:

"I'm new but i took time & tried both over 2 wks. I tried towels & water both by themselves, what works for me is a mix of both."

Thanks for that.

I'm leaning toward a combination of both too (with the help of the guys here). Here's my hypothesis so far.

I suspect the cup of water method works because of good genetics. The seeds probably crack within 24 hours because they are genetically superior to bag seed. Thus they avoid rotting because they are removed before they have time to rot. I also suspect the people who choose this method are big growers who don't want to spend a lot of time with the slow seeds. Thus the cup of water method speeds germination, and helps eliminate the bad seeds.

I'm leaning toward the combination method: soaking the seeds in water for awhile lets the seeds get water into them quicker, thus speeding up germination time, and then putting them between damp paper towels which allows the seeds access to air and more time for the slower seeds to get started. That's my hypothesis at the present time and subject to change upon better information.

Any more ideas?

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Posted 19 January 2009 - 01:39 PM

If you are intending to grow in soil, I have never found any advantage whatever in germinating seeds in paper towels, it just adds a totally unnecessary extra step. I can in fact list several disadvantages.
I start my seeds off about 4 mm deep in my compost mix, keep them warm and moist, they pop the surface in 1 to 5 days.
If you were growing tomatoes or cacti you would read the instructions on the packet and put them straight in soil - why treat MJ differently??


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Posted 19 January 2009 - 02:10 PM

cantharis:
>"If you are intending to grow in soil, I have never found any advantage whatever in germinating seeds in paper towels, it just adds a totally unnecessary extra step."

I'm not using soil. I plan on using rockwook for the sprouts until they develop a substantial root system and then putting the rockwool cubes into pots of hydroton balls.

But you bring up a good point. Indeed, why not just plant them in the medium you plan on growing them in? I had always thought that the paper towel method improved germination rates. No? I suppose I could just put the seeds into rockwool cubes and just let them germinate there. It certainly would be simpler, but why are so many professional farmers suggesting to use the paper towel method?

So what is the advantage of using the paper towel method over simply planting them? Anyone?

Edited by proteus, 19 January 2009 - 02:11 PM.


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Posted 19 January 2009 - 02:34 PM

Do not use the paper towels. When the roots grow large enough for you to see them, there are little hairs on them you can't see that will grow in to the paper towels and will be damaged when you remove them. I prefer a net pot filled with perelite and you can set that in a bowl of water or I do it in my cutting container.

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Posted 19 January 2009 - 02:39 PM

Do not use the paper towels. When the roots grow large enough for you to see them, there are little hairs on them you can't see that will grow in to the paper towels and will be damaged when you remove them.


I removed my current grow when it was a seedling from the insides of the paper towl. Had to actually rip apart the fibers of the towel to get the taproot out because I let it grow in the container for an extra day, woops. Transferred it to soil and it's growing strong, obviously I didn't damage too much.


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