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Cannabis seeds that float when germinating

Floating Seeds in Water – Is This a Good Seed Viability Test?

How do you know if your seeds are still viable? Simple, do a seed germination test. Place the seeds in some water. The ones that sink are still viable – the ones that float are dead.

This advice is all over the internet so it must work? But how reliable is it?

Floating Seeds in Water – Is this a Good Seed Viability Test?; source: Pens & Pencils

Do the Floating Seed Test Properly

If you check out a number of sites that describe this test you soon realize that there are several different ways to do it. Some people add soap to the water to reduce it’s surface tension. Others put the seed in a jar and give it a good shake or they might soak the seed for 24 hours before doing the test.

There is no agreement on how to do the test properly. That means the test results reported on social media are not very reliable since they rarely include the details of the method used.

There are also silly claims like “this method is not 100% accurate and it only works with freshly harvested seeds of certain fruits such as melon, watermelon, cucumber, squash, peppers and tomatoes”. There are thousands of different types of seeds. Why would it only work on some vegetables and what does “not 100% reliable” mean? Maybe it only works 10% of the time?

Another site says, “the test only works for melons or cucumbers if the seeds are fresh and have not dried out.” So it doesn’t work on purchased seed. This same site went on to state that you need to ferment tomato seeds to get them to germinate, and I have already shown that this is a myth.

This gardening technique is so poorly defined that it is not possible to know how to do it correctly.

Citizen Scientists – Floating Seed Test for Viability

A number of gardeners have done tests to see how well the floating seed test works.

Pulsatilla albana ssp. armena – the Pulsatilla ‘seeds’ are actually fruits – achenes with “fluffy tails”, source: BotanyCA

I had some red pepper seeds from a store bought fruit and tried floating the seeds without drying them. Half floated and half sank. I removed the floaters and used them to try the test again. Half floated and half sank. I then tested this last group of seeds for germination. The ones that floated and then sank had 8/10 germinate, and the ones that floated twice had 3/10 germinate. So it is possible that floaters have a lower germination rate, but the floaters in this test were certainly not all dead.

I tested some Camassia seeds; 38 of 48 (79%) sinkers germinated and 12 of 16 (75%) floaters germinated, after a month in the fridge using the baggy method.

Someone from our Garden Fundamental Facebook Group tested Briza maxima (quaking grass) and found better germination with floaters.

Marijuana seed that floats will germinate on top of the water in 24 hours.

Twelve different kinds of pepper seeds were tested in this video and both floaters and sinkers had good germination.

I’ve germinated quite a few clematis seeds and most of them have fussy tails. They all float. Many seeds have this characteristic including some grasses and pulsatilla.

Both floating and sinking peppers seeds germinate, source: Daisy Dawes

The top picture in this post shows two jars. The one on the left contains black pepper seeds – they sink. You can distinguish them from papaya seeds that float, and are frequently added to spices since they look like black pepper but are much cheaper.

Science on Seed Viability Using the Water Float Test

Acorns have very low germination because many seeds don’t develop completely inside the nut and because various pests lay their egg in viable seeds which are subsequently eaten by the larvae. Floating them is a common way to eliminate many of the non-viable seeds. Even with this test, too much agitation of the water will cause viable seed to float.

Juniperus polycarpos, the Persian juniper, also produces a low number of viable seeds. Floating in water is not a reliable means of separating the good from the bad, but floating in a sugar solution does work. Sugar water has a higher density than water and this difference can be used separate seeds of various densities. The heavier viable seed sinks.

The float test “works well with hard-seeded peas in the family Fabaceae (e.g. Daviesia, Chorizema, Gastrolobium and Gompholobium) and Mimosaceae (e.g. Acacia), and has also been used on species in Hemigenia with good success. Do not attempt this test on seed of Allocasuarina. Allocasuarina seed is mucilaginous. This means it has a mucous membrane around the seed that gets very sticky on wetting.”

Arabidopsis seed forms a sticky mucilage on the outside of the seed as it absorbs water. Mutations of arabidopsis have been found that don’t produce this coating, allowing them to be separated from normal types with a float test. This is an example where within a single species, some seed floats and some does not, depending on genetics that has nothing to do with seed viability.

Arabidopsis wild seed (WT) sinks while a mutation (mum) floats. The floaters germinate in 24 hours siting on the water, source Helen M North

“Wheat was used in one set of experiments, and the average of all tests showed a germination of 68.3 per cent for the sunken seeds and 72 per cent for those that floated. In another set of experiments lentil was used, and it was found that 75.4 per cent of the sunken seeds and 86.7 per cent of those that floated germinated.”

The floating characteristic of seeds depends very much on their weight, surface coating, shape and specific gravity. Some seeds do develop a large seed coat which can be empty and these likely float. The specific gravity of a seed is controlled by the environment (moisture) and internal enzymes and hormones. Some dead seeds sink, while some spongy seeds like spinach float even if viable.

Does The Seed Float Test Work for Testing Viability?

There are cases where a float test can be used to identify viable seed, but when science reports on these they are quite specific about the type of seed and the method used.

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On the other hand gardeners tend to simply lump all seeds into one category and say they all work, without specifying the method that works.

As a general rule, gardeners should assume that the float test does NOT work for testing seed viability, unless there is evidence it works in a specific case.

A Better Way to Test Seed Viability

Use my baggy method if you want to test seed germination. You will actually see the root come out of the seed and know for certain that the seed is viable.

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.

Float test

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

Germination Station

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.

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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.

Items required

The items required for this method include the following:

Hand-held plant sprayer (optional)

Bowl or plastic bag

Steps

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.

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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

Conclusion

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!