What Do Cannabis Seeds Look Like

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Three cultivation experts fill us in on what they are excited about as we enter the outdoor planting season. How do cannabis seeds work? Learn how to store your seeds, how long you can store them for, how to germinate them and their internal biology. The marijuana seed can be both inspiring and intimidating. Check out our guide to cannabis seeds before you start your first grow.

Hot Cannabis Seeds To Grow in 2022

Three cultivation experts fill us in on what they are excited about as we enter the outdoor planting season.

Luckily for us, cannabis was made illegal. After all, if the U.S. government had not decided to criminalize marijuana, starting with a tax for growing it, we wouldn’t have nearly as many different types. When cannabis growers and breeders were forced underground, they used male and female plants to create their own seedstock. The illegal distinction borne by the cannabis plant has led to it being one of the most diverse botanicals on the planet. When the War on Drugs meant Americans could no longer get landrace genetics like Acapulco Gold from Mexico, we looked further toward Amsterdam’s marijuana melting pot. The fusion of American cannabis enthusiasts and High Times legends like Sam the Skunkman, Ed Rosenthal, and Steve Hager with Dutch seed companies blessed the world with delicacies like Super Lemon Haze and provided the platform to promote them. Today, the worldwide cannabis seed market is a thriving industry.

Seed germination for outdoor growing starts in spring. Seeds require 10-15 days longer than clones, so the end of April is an excellent time to pop them to get the 2022 outdoor harvest outside by Mother’s Day. We checked in with three ganja growing all-stars to see what cannabis combinations they’re excited about this year.

David Downs
Senior Content Manager, Leafly

What seeds are you excited about for this planting season?
For this planting season, I’m super-juiced to re-run Humboldt Seed Co’s Squirt (feminized) for year three. I can smoke that super-optimized modern Tangie cross all day, every day, and it makes a great salad with another sativa during the day or some gas at night.

I’m also hyped to bring back HumSeedCo’s Hella Jelly (fems) for year two as a super-agronimized modern sativa that finishes early and has mad cherry and cotton candy taste and zippy daytime effects.

I’m stoked to run Archive Seeds Dosi-Tree outside for the first time for that Dosi gas plus Lemon Tree’s size and syrupy lemon smell. Yum! Last year it was In-House Genetics’ Slurricane IX—that killed!

And lastly, I’m pumped to run Terp Hogz Geneticz Z3 for the first time this year! I think I’ll always want some Zkittlez in the garden, and Z3 is a way to get at the root of some optimized Z terps, as opposed to chasing new Z crosses. I can’t wait to have a pound of Z3 for Thanksgiving! Terp Hogz is selling seeds direct to your door on NXTLVL delivery in the Bay Area—if you don’t know how cool it is to shop, buy and get Terp Hogz genes delivered in a couple hours—now you know! It’s so clutch.

Do you typically grow from seed? If so, why?
Yes! I like the vigor of seeds, especially regulars—they get huge outside! There’s also less chances of a virus or pest infection from seeds vs. clones. I buy seeds all year and they keep well until it’s time to plant. (But I still might get a clone of Jokerz from Compound Genetics for this year, and if I do, I’m all about it!)

What does your grow setup look like?
I start popping indoors the first day of spring and raise babies inside where it’s warm, then sex the juveniles, and harden them on the porch in The City, before transplanting the keepers into 30-gallon fabric pots outdoors in the NorCal sun by Mother’s Day! We try and KISS (keep it simple, stupid). We use Fox Farm Ocean Forest soil plus amendments and well water on a drip timer. And BT to fight the caterpillars!

Are there certain types of cannabis or specific cultivars that do well where you are growing?
Yeah, I’m an outdoor NorCal Bay Area grower, and I’m deliberately running Humboldt Seed Co, Archive, and Terp Hogz because I think their gear tends to be tested and screened for outdoor runs. I know HumSeedCo does a bunch of mixed-light testing, and Terp Hogz in Mendo also works in mixed light. Archive’s stuff seems to be developed more indoors in Oregon, but I know that Lemon Tree has killed it outdoors in Santa Cruz.

I want to run stuff that’s been tested outside, for sure. Lots of the latest crosses are bred and tested inside and many breeders and growers don’t know how they’ll react to the variations in heat, humidity, etc. outside. I want stuff that’s hard to fuck up, as opposed to some diva that molds the second it rains, or some crazy sativa that won’t finish until November. But that’s just me! Everyone’s needs are pretty specific!

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Jeff Jones
Horticulture Instructor, Oaksterdam University

What seeds are you excited for?
I am fond of recommending and growing varieties that produce well-rounded plants with new tastes and smells.

Do you typically grow from seed? If so, why?
No, but I have done so with Oaksterdam University students over the years often.

What does your grow setup look like these days?
A simple 4′ x 4′ area light up with LED lights in a larger room that I have found no need for AC to cool.

What has been your experience growing autoflowers?
To me, this is the best reason to grow from seed. They only come this way and are getting better varieties all the time.

Are there certain types of cannabis or specific cultivars that do well where you grow in Oakland?
We have a mix of urban growers that are survivors. Many obstacles to keep from having a successful harvest in tight city living. I grow inside due to this better neighborhood policy. I find less issues and arise with having long-term success. But I do know a few good areas that have outdoor gardens with little to no worry for either the garden or neighbors with bad smells.

Shango Los
Podcast Host, Shaping Fire

What seeds are you excited about this year?
Since I live on Vashon Island in the Pacific Northwest, I have to choose seeds that will finish flowering fast enough during our short summers. I’ll mostly be growing autoflowers so I can germinate them on June 1 and harvest at the end of August before the rains start. I am excited to grow the Purple Pope collaboration between Gnome Automatics and Night Owl Seeds. The flowers smell of sandalwood, lemongrass, and yuzu. Northern Cheese Haze from Mephisto Genetics is always a winner for me too. It captures some of that fresh sunshine-dried linen sweet smell of haze with the bloomy-rind cheese funk that we love cheese strains for.

The most reliable photoperiod for where I live continues to be Mandelbrot’s famous Royal Kush from Mendocino, which will often finish in 50 days. There is a new collaboration between Emerald Mountain Legacy and Mean Gene From Mendocino called Royale with Cherries that blends the gas and shorter flower times with Mean Gene’s Cherry Lime Pop which contributes a complex Maraschino cherry sweetness. It is exquisite. Last summer, it finished well ahead of all the other photos. And it hashed well for us too.

How was the 2021 Autoflower Cup? Are you experimenting with autoflowers?
The 2021 Autoflower Cup was a great gathering. For so long, autoflowers really didn’t perform as we wanted. But the modern era of autoflowers are so much better tasting and yielding. And because they can be grown nearly everywhere in the U.S., they are quickly gaining a following. And, of course, since autoflower enthusiasts are so often ridiculed by photoperiod growers, it is nice to hang with a big group of people who share this special interest.

I am past simply experimenting with autoflowers at this point and have fully embraced them. Before this season, I have grown 156 varieties. I’m at the point now where I believe in them, understand their advantages and disadvantages and can really work with them to meet my cultivation goals.

How do Cannabis Seeds Work

How do cannabis seeds work? You might not think that this is important, but knowing how seeds work can give you important insight on how to store them and what the germination profess involved. Cannabis seeds are technically small, oval-shaped dried fruit, around 3-4mm long and 1.5-2mm wide. They’re covered in a very subtle membrane, and underneath that layer there’s a much harder layer which is the largest system of the embryo, covering it and protecting it.

On the inside of the seeds you can find a substance called albumen, which is a nutritional reserve that keeps the embryo healthy until germination; it’s also the seeds initial source of energy once it begins germinating.

Now, for the center of the seed, home to the precious embryo from which your new plant will grow from. It contains the plant’s genetic code alongside four other parts; the radicle, the hypocotyl, cotyledons and gemmules. The radicle is the embryonic root; this is the part of the seed where roots come from. The hypocotyl is known as the embryonic stage, and the cotyledons are in charge of those first few leaves that you can see once the seed germinates.

Cannabis seeds, just like many other plant seeds, grow in pollinated flowers on female plants; seeds only contain the plant’s genetic code, so they don’t have any of the active principals in the plant, meaning that if you were to smoke it you wouldn’t get any sort of psychoactive or medicinal effect. They can be eaten however, as they provide an enormous amount of beneficial proteins, including Omega 3, 6 and 9. The aroma that comes from the seeds when burning isn’t pleasant at all, and if you’ve ever been smoking a joint that had a random seed in it then you know exactly what I’m talking about; they taste like some sort of burnt barbecue that ruins the taste of even the best, strongest tasting weed out there.

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Germinating seeds correctly depends on different factors; the main one being how mature the seed is. Seeds that look too white, green or the skin seems to be coming off or not there at all tend to be too young still, although there are seeds of this stature that will germinate perfectly, depending on the strain. Strains like Somango, or hybrids that come from it, and Haze seeds are some of the whitest seeds you can find on the market; sativa seeds tend to be much smaller than indica seeds, like Thai seeds are generally much smaller than afghan seeds. In this case, size doesn’t matter at all; if a seed is smaller than others that doesn’t mean that it’s going to have issues germinating or that it will grow smaller plants. Smaller seeds generally have less protection, but they’re much easier to germinate. Seeds can take between 3-18 days to germinate depending on the conditions such as temperature, humidity, substrate composition etc. The longer the seeds take to germinate, the less likely that they are going to germinate. Sometimes if after a while it still hasn’t germinated, you can gently squeeze the seed to break the outer shell and if done right, you can help the root to leave the shell; if done wrong, you’ll end up completely squishing the seed and any chances of germination that it had.

During the time the seed is maturing various factors need to occur for the seed to be able to germinate in the best conditions. Seeds have a germination period of three years, which is the average time estimated that seeds can be kept in good conditions; it’s not the same to keep your seed in a fresh, dry area than in a hot and humid one. Humid areas will damage seeds, stimulating their metabolism with the humidity without stimulating germination which could even kill the seed off entirely. Water absorption is due to the water potential difference between the seed and its surroundings. Water reaches the embryo through all of the layers of the seed, which then activates the development of the radicle; once this process begins, seeds need more oxygen than water, so giving your seeds too much water might in fact “drown” them. This is why we highly recommend not germinating your seeds in glasses of water, as the oxygen-water ratio is nowhere near optimal for germination.

By lowering oxygen levels as well as temperature storage levels you can increase the life-span of your seed for up to 20 years. Another storage technique is to dehydrate the seeds around 2-5%; no more is recommended as it might affect the internal constitution of the seed. Temperature is extremely important as it regulates the activity of the enzymes during germination; during storage, temperature regulates the embryos metabolism.

Oxygen is found in nature in a concentration of about 21%; seeds tend to germinate in conditions with around 20-21% oxygen, and hardly any seeds can germinate with a lower concentration than that; the only plants that can really do that are marine plants and algae, which need 8% oxygen.

Now that you know how cannabis seeds work, you can store your babies for up to 20 years if you want to, and give them the perfect conditions in which to open up their shells and let the radicle take over growing the roots. Happy growing!

Cannabis Seeds 101: Your Intro Guide To The Marijuana Seed

If you’re thinking about diving into the world of growing, why not start from the ground up? Here’s an introduction course to cannabis seeds.

If you’re a wannabe pot grower, you need to be an expert on all things cannabis seeds. This knowledge needs to be gained before you even purchase your first marijuana seed in order to ensure a successful grow. While we’ve given guides on how to begin the plant process and how to see it through to a bountiful harvest, you may be seeking more information about the seed itself. And so, without further ado, here’s our intro course to cannabis seeds.

Basic Plant Biology

To put it in the most basic terms, a seed is a plant that is in its embryonic stage. Like animals, plants reproduce by, well, reproduction. The process actually isn’t totally dissimilar from that of animals. In order to produce a seed, a plant’s ovule (like an ovum, or egg) needs to be fertilized by pollen (similar to sperm).

Once the ovule is fertilized by the pollen, a seed is formed. Like an embryo, a seed contains a wealth of genetic material. Inside that one tiny object is the future of the organism. And like animals, the fate and final outcome of the seed is almost entirely dependent on how you treat it in its early stages of development. Here’s how to set up your baby, er, cannabis plant, for health and success.

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How To Germinate Cannabis Seeds

Before you plant your seeds, you’re going to want to germinate them. What is germination? It’s basically a process by which seeds become hydrated. When they are hydrated, the enzymes in them become activated and ready to grow. When a seed is properly and completely germinated, the beginning of a root emerges from the seed’s shell.

So how do you germinate your cannabis seeds? First, you have to determine whether or not your seed is even viable. According to the experts, an ideal marijuana seed should be dark in color with black stripes. If you have seeds that look like that, great! Germination should be successful. There are a few methods of germination, but the easiest one is the paper towel method. Simply put your seeds between two damp paper towels on top of a flat surface, like a tray, and keep that on top of a warm surface. A root should break through the seed in just a few days.

If a root isn’t showing up in the expected time, you may need to stick it in some water for a day or so. This will help soften up the exterior of the shell and make it easier for the root to emerge.

What is a Feminized Marijuana Seed?

You may have heard the term “feminized marijuana seed”. But do you know what it means? According to our very own cannabis strain expert, Danny Danko, “feminized seeds are the result of using “male” pollen from a hermaphroditic plant to fertilize a female flower, resulting in plants that can be female or hermaphrodites but never males.”

Are Cannabis Seeds Legal?

Okay, so now you know the basics of what seeds are and how to begin the planting process. Feeling inspired and planning your grow operation already? Great! But first thing’s first. You have to buy some. But where? Since cannabis is federally illegal, surely the embryonic form of cannabis is prohibited as well, right? Not necessarily. If you reside in a state with either legal recreational weed or a medical marijuana program, chances are, you will be able to purchase seeds without any issue. However, some medical marijuana programs do not allow the purchase or possession of cannabis seeds for home growing. So make sure you do your research regarding your state’s medical marijuana program or recreational cannabis laws.

Buying A Marijuana Seed Supply

Once you’ve done your research and you have determined that yes, buying cannabis seeds is totally legal, the next step is to actually make your purchase. So where do you buy them? More to the point, where do you buy quality seeds? Your best bet is making the purchase at your dispensary. You’ll have the peace of mind knowing that your seeds will be high quality. And if you need guidance on what kind of seeds to buy (ie what strain would work well in whatever environment or climate you live in), the people working in the dispensary should be able to help you out.

It might be tempting to buy your seeds online. You’ve probably seen ads for websites claiming to sell superior seeds at an attractively low price. We strongly recommend that you do not fall into this trap. As with many things, keep the motto “buyer beware” in mind. Purchasing anything online has its risks. But cannabis seeds are particularly tricky because of the federal prohibition. Where you buy your seeds is ultimately up to you. But we recommend that you make your purchase at a dispensary or a trusted friend or colleague.

Storing Your Seed

Once you determine the legality of cannabis seeds in your state, have figured out what kind of cannabis you want to grow and have purchased your marijuana seed of choice, what’s next? You’re going to have to store your seed. But what is the optimal way to do this?

It is ideal to store them before germination. To do this, you’ll need an airtight container that is either opaque or dark colored. Keep your marijuana seed in this container and then store the container in a cool, dry and dark area. To ensure absolute dryness, some cannabis growers like to stick one or two packets of food-grade desiccants in the container as well. If those kinds of chemicals scare you, however, some dry rice to soak up any potential moisture can work too.

Final Hit: What Do You Do With Your Cannabis Seeds?

So what do you once your seed supply is successfully germinated? It may just be time to plant it and begin the next phase of your cannabis grow process! This next phase involves choosing the right growing medium for your needs, the right environment (like a grow box or greenhouse) and the best grow lights (if you’re growing indoors) to ensure healthy plants.

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