When growing cannabis for the first time, you want the process to be as simple and easy as possible. But buying marijuana seeds for the first time can feel like decision overload. What is easy to grow? What gives the best results? With so many different strains out there, and so many suppliers, how do you even begin to choose? Which online seedbanks are reliable and reputable? How do I germinate them successfully and not waste my cash? What strain should I start with? How many seeds should I buy?
We’re here to help—with this Ultimate Beginners Guide to Buying Marijuana Seeds 2019. We’ll show you exactly how to choose and buy marijuana seeds and get them sprouting even if it’s your very first time.
Choosing Marijuana Seeds
There are many advantages when it comes to growing cannabis from a seed. Some find the experience of growing their own plant from a seed to flower a very rewarding experience. Others enjoy having control over the growth and nutrition of their plants.
No matter the reason, it is very important to choose the highest quality cannabis seeds. To do this, you need to know the different varieties and strains of seeds that you can purchase. You also need to be aware of any problems that may occur when ordering seeds online.
This comprehensive guide is meant to help any beginner go from ordering to successfully germinating their first cannabis seeds. By the end you’ll be able to navigate online seed banks, choose a great option for your first grow and feel confident making your first order.
About Cannabis Seeds
Let’s get some basics about marijuana out of the way first.
Cannabis Plants 101
Cannabis plants can be male, female, or hermaphrodites. The reproductive organs are found on separate plants, making it a dioecious plant. A cannabis seed is created after a male plant pollinates a female plant.
Most marijuana that is consumed is from a seedless female flower (hence the name sensimilla—sin semilla means without seed in Spanish). This makes it very unlikely to find seeds in product received from a dispensary.
Some plants contain both male and female reproductive organs. These plants are known as hermaphrodites. Hermaphrodite plants can produce pollen and self-pollinate their own flowers.
Regardless of whether a plant self-pollinates or a male plant pollinates a female plant, seeds are created. When the seeds reach maturity they are dropped from the plant. These seeds can be used to produce new plants or harvested for food or hemp oil.
The Difference between Male and Female Weed Seeds (Hint: You Have to Grow Them)
Although there are many myths about how to tell the difference between a male and female seed by appearance, the only guaranteed method of determining the sex of a seed is to see how it grows.
The first signs of the sex of a cannabis plant appear during the pre-flowering stage, usually around 6 weeks. At this point, you can tell your plant is a female if a small bud becomes visible on the core between the fledging branch and the main stock. These small buds will eventually become adult flowers.
Females can also be identified by the white pistil hairs that grow where the bud will form.
Unique to a young female plant, there will be one or two long white hairs from the small bud. These hairs become orange or red as the flower matures.
Male plants can be identified by the pollen sac that they create. This is a tulip shaped bulb that does not have any pistil hairs sprouting from it. It basically looks like a penis or maybe even a penis and balls, appropriately enough.
Once a male plant is identified, it is important that it is immediately removed. When male and female plants are left together, the male plant will pollinate the female plant as it matures. This will cause the female plant to produce seeds instead of developing a flower. You need to avoid pollination for a successful harvest.
Male plants are considered useless because they do not produce any effects when consumed. However, they are for breeding. In other words, the paradigmatic 1970’s science fiction novel.
Why Grow Weed from Seeds Instead of Clones?
A clone is a part of a plant that has been cut off, but still grows roots and stabilizes as a genetic reproduction of the “mother” plant. MaryJane’s article on how to clone marijuana is available here, but may be a little advanced for beginners.
Growing from a seed, however, arguably offers more benefits than growing from a clone.
Advantages of seeds over clones:
- Using seeds produces a tap root, which anchors the plant into the soil. Clones do not produce this, making them less sturdy and unable to absorb as much water and nutrients. The tap root ensures a healthier plant.
- Seeds come in more varieties, giving you much more choice and control over the end product.
- Plants grown from seeds produce higher yield, as they experience less stress.
- Risk of disease or pests is reduced.
- Seeds are a great way for beginners to start growing cannabis since they can be purchased discreetly online.
Marijuana Seed Types
The initial, and possibly the most important, step in growing cannabis is deciding which type of seed you would like to plant. This choice will partially determine how much care your plant will need.
Below we will go through the different options available to help you select which type is best for you.
Regular Cannabis Seeds
Regular seeds will produce both male and female cannabis plants. These seeds have not been chemically or genetically altered, so they are entirely natural. You’ll usually end up with half the seeds being male and half female.
These seeds are easy for beginners to grow, but require early sex identification. Male plants need to be avoided to stop them from pollinating the female plants and ruining your harvest. Even if male plants are removed, female plants can still become hermaphrodites because they are not feminized.
So even with your female plants, always keep an eye out for tell-tale ball-like pollen sacs.
Feminized Cannabis Seeds
Feminized seeds are a type of cannabis seed that ensures that all resulting plants are female.
These seeds are not naturally occurring, but are created through a process called feminization. This is achieved by spraying the plants with different solutions of colloidal silver, or gibberellic acid, or a method known as Rodelization.
As stated above, cannabis plants can be hermaphrodites that naturally carry the physical traits of both sexes. Hermaphrodites occur due to the lack of the presence of the opposite sex in nature.
However, feminized strains grown in the appropriate conditions are resistant to becoming hermaphrodites. By eliminating the requirement to identify the sex of the plants, commercial growers are able to save time and increase their yield.
These seeds only have a single set of genes, making them almost identical to the female “parent plant” they are produced from. This is not the best option, though, if you are looking for diversity in your plants.
But if you are only interested in producing buds, these are the seeds for you. They’re also good for beginner growers because you do not need to worry about having to quickly identify male plants that may devastate your harvest.
Auto-Flowering Cannabis Seeds
Plants grown from auto-flowering seeds will automatically begin their flowering cycle once they’ve reached a certain age. This differs from other strains of marijuana that begin their flowering cycle when their exposure to light is reduced due to their size or age.
Auto-flowering seeds can be purchased either feminized or regular, depending on your preference. This seed is great for beginners because a specific light schedule isn’t needed to encourage the plant to begin to flower.
For the same reason, it’s also great from growing outdoors in northern climates where summers are short. Auto-flowering plants will take full advantage of the long days of summer and the highest quality light.
For those looking to maximize yield: These plants tend to flower sooner, which allows more harvests per year.
Finally, another reason auto-flowering seeds are a great beginner’s choice is that these plants don’t need too much attention.
They have a very specific schedule for the first six weeks; if any problems occur they must be taken care of then. But if these plants are well nurtured during that time frame, they can produce great yield in about two to three months.
Different Strains of Marijuana
A strain is a genetic difference of the same species. Indica, sativa, ruderalis, and hybrids are the four main types of cannabis strain.
Which to Choose?
Now that we have talked about the different types of seeds, it is important to talk about the different strains of marijuana that are available—and what kind of high each one will produce.
A strain is a genetic difference of the same species. Indica, sativa, ruderalis, and hybrids are the four main types of cannabis strain.
As well as the psychoactive effects, this section will also explain which strains are best for treating certain symptoms of diseases and conditions.
Indica plants are short, sturdy, aromatic, and wide. They can grow to be between three and six feet tall. This means that they are more compact, making them better suited for an indoor grower.
- The flowers and buds are closer and tackier when touched compared to the sativa plant.
- They have a short flowering period of 8-12 weeks. Indica contains more resin, which makes it ideal if your goal is to make hashish.
- In terms of effects, indica can make you feel sleepy, apathetic, and provide you with muscle and pain relief.
- This strain has an effect similar to a sedative and helps your body to become deeply relaxed. This is the strain that gives you the feeling of being “stoned”.
- It provides strong relief for body pains. Which makes it especially good for treating migraines, muscle pain, sleep disorders, eating disorders, seizures, insomnia, and glaucoma.
Sativa tends to grow very tall and thin, sometimes as tall as 20 feet. For this reason sativa is recommended more for an outdoor grower.
- The flowering period is often longer when compared to Indica at 10-16 weeks. The buds produced are loose and airy.
- Effects-wise, sativa affects your head more than your body. It makes you feel happy, energized, creative, and uplifted.
- It’s well known for being used by creative people such as artists, and is often used as an anti-depressant. It’s perfect for the day smoker.
- Sativa can help to treat symptoms of mood disorders and can help provide energy if you suffer from chronic fatigue.
This the least well-known of the major strains of cannabis. Some people consider this a subspecies of sativa, but it has a variety of qualities that differentiates it as well. This plant grows short and thin.
Ruderalis is not as popular as indica and sativa. Mainly because these plants usually contain very small amounts of THC, while having higher levels of CBD. This strain grows very fast and thrives in cold climates, so is often used by breeders to create strong and hardy hybrid strains.
A hybrid occurs when one strain of cannabis is crossed with another, to create a more intense strain, or to increase yield or potency. The combination will carry features of all “parent” strains. The idea is to combine the best features of each strain into one “perfect” plant.
Multiple years of cross breeding have created a huge variety of different hybrids available to buy today. In fact, hybrids are the most common varieties available, as it is very rare now to find a strain that is 100% indica, sativa, or otherwise.
- Strains that are mainly sativa give you a euphoric buzz.
- Indica dominant hybrids, on the other hand, create more of a relaxed body high that some refer to as “couch lock”. Indica = “in da couch.”
- Hybrids that are half and half are an even balance between a head high and body high.
More Info about Cannabis
Hemp is considered a type of sativa. This form of cannabis is utilized for industrial purposes and can be used for a variety of commercial items such as food, clothing, paper, paint, and textiles. It’s usually grown and harvested in the northern hemisphere.
Unlike other forms of cannabis, hemp has a very low THC content of .03% or lower, and a relatively high quantity of CBD, meaning it gives little to no high when consumed or smoked.
When you read different strain descriptions, you’ll see that the aroma and taste of the cannabis are often discussed in detail—sometimes almost like wine tasting notes.
The smell and flavor of cannabis come from terpenes (same thing for wine, by the way), which are the plant’s natural oils. Terpene quantity and combination varies from strain to strain.
Pay attention to these tasting notes when deciding which strain to choose, as this will affect your experience when smoking or using a dry herb vaporizer (what’s a dry herb vaporizer? Look here.).
Naturally grown plants—i.e. grown without chemicals or genetic modification—are generally considered the most aromatic and best tasting. However, these are not always the easiest to grow.
THC and CBD
THC and CBD are the two main chemical compounds present in marijuana.
THC, or Tetrahydrocannabinol is what gets you high. It creates the psychoactive effect that can change your mood and perception—the euphoric head high that is usually used for recreational purposes.
CBD, or Cannabidiol, is an anti-psychotic. It enhances the positive effects of THC while helping to reduce the more negative ones. CBD is where the medicinal value of marijuana derives from. It is used to help treat symptoms of many different diseases and conditions.
How to Identify Quality Cannabis Seeds
Now you know the general type of seeds you’re looking for (sativa, indica, hybrid, etc.), it’s time to talk about quality.
First things first, order from a reputable seller. We suggest Robert Bergman’s ILoveGrowingMarijuana and often refer to his free book on growing.
Once your seeds have arrived, here’s how to tell whether they’re any good.
What Does a Healthy Cannabis Seed Look Like?
Healthy cannabis seeds are fat, rounded, dark brown or gray, with tiger stripes or a mottled pattern. They’ll have a smooth, glossy finish and a firm shell that will withstand light pressure without cracking.
A small, brittle, pale green or white seed is immature and will likely not germinate. If it feels light, is very dry, or cracked, it is probably too old to germinate. (N.B. A few strains exist that produce white seeds, but the product notes should warn you if that is the case.)
Finally, your seed should show no signs of mold or other potential pathogens.
Float or Sink Test
Some growers rely on the float or sink test. Leave your seeds in a container of water for around an hour. Any seeds that sink to the bottom are most likely healthy. Discard the rest.
However, ultimately germinations is the only way to tell for sure whether your seed is healthy.
How to Germinate and Plant Marijuana Seeds
The process of getting your seed to sprout a new plant is called germination. This is Step 1 in your growing process.
When the seed splits and a small white tendril appears, the seed has germinated successfully. This white tendril is the taproot.
For successful germination, marijuana seeds need three basic things: moisture, warmth, and air. Growers use three main methods to ensure they get just the right amount of all three. We’ll describe all three, so that you can choose the method that will work best for you.
Soaking The Marijuana Seed
First, add your seeds to a container filled with warm water—not hot though, as you don’t want to boil them.
As mentioned above, some growers will then wait until the seeds have sunk to the bottom to remove them. Other growers, however, will wait longer and remove the seeds from the container once a visible taproot has appeared.
Why soak your seeds? Soaking speeds up the germination process and ensures that the seeds are completely moist before planting.
However, this method does risk mold or rot attaching to your seed. So pay extra attention for signs of mold when planting seeds germinated this way.
Germinating in Starter Cubes & Plugs
This is arguably the perfect beginner method. These plugs or starter cubes are designed to give seedlings ideal conditions for germination. Germination is quick and easy.
Simply insert the seed into the plug or cube and then add water according to the instructions.
If you’ve pre-soaked, place your seeds into the cubes/plugs root side down.
- Root Cuttings, Clone Plants, Start Seeds and more!
- Perfectly-sized to fit a standard flat growing tray (or 1/2 tray)
- Predrilled planting holes make seeding and plant propagation a breeze!
- Optimum water and oxygen retention for seedlings
- Rapid rooter plugs are fortified with general hydroponic micronutrients for abundant root growth
- The optimal air-to-water ratio within the plug matrix results in explosive early root growth
- Use rapid rooter for robust early rooting that supports explosive plant growth
- 50 Plugs per bag, bags sold individually
- Measures 10-1/2-inch length by 12-inch width by 3-1/2-inch height
Paper Towel Method
First, wet a paper towel and fold it. Place your seeds inside the wet paper towel and fold it over again. Seal your folded paper towel inside a plastic bag. Then store in a dark, warm area where you can easily check it regularly for mold (however, there is less chance of mold here than with the soaking method).
Once a taproot appears it’s time to transfer the seed to soil.
Paper Towel Method Number Two
First wet four sheets of paper towels with distilled water and wring out any excess water. Lay two of the paper towels on a paper plate and place your cannabis seeds on them with an inch in between each one. Next cover the seeds with the remaining two paper towels. Lastly, cover with another paper plate to create a suitably dark and wet environment for germination.
Your paper plate seed germinator should be kept at around 70-90 degrees Fahrenheit. Again, once a taproot appears you know successful germination has taken place.
Plant The Seed Straight Into Plant Growing Medium
This method is pretty self-explanatory. Simply place the seed directly into a light potting soil mix, the same soil into which you would otherwise transplant your seedling to finish growing into a mature plant. Keep the soil moist and relatively warm. Here is an instrument to use if you don’t want to trust your finger.
- Simultaneous display of Indoor/Outdoor Temperature and Humidity
- ax/Min with "reset" function
- Humidity: 10 to 99% RH
- Temperature: 14 to 140°F (-10 to 60°C)
- Accuracy: ±5%RH; ±1.8°F, ±1°C
Why choose this technique?
Because it eliminates transplanting, which can stress your seedling. Instead, your seed can begin to adjust immediately to its environment.
The problem with this method is that because your seed is covered in soil you’ll have to wait that extra bit longer for a shoot to appear before you know whether it has successfully germinated.
Transplanting Your Seeds to Growing Medium
OK. Your seed’s germinated successfully, time to transfer it to its growing medium.
As mentioned in the section above, prepare a pot of light potting soil. Poke a hole in the soil about a ¼ inch deep, using a pencil or similar. Place the germinated seed in the soil, taproot side down, and smoothly cover with soil.
Remember to keep the soil moist and warm, but be careful not to over-water. You don’t want to drown your sprout before it even gets the chance to grow. A little TLC, though, and it will soon begin to sprout.
How To Remove Seeds from A Cannabis Plant
In the event that you have some male plants, you might want to remove the seeds for growing at a later date. To collect them, just use your finger to gently free them from under the buds and stem.
If any of the seeds appear immature, old, or damaged (see notes above for signs that a seed won’t germinate), dispose of them now to save bother later.
How To Store Cannabis Seeds
There are a few different ways to store your collected seeds for future planting. All of them involve keeping them in cool, dark conditions to maintain their viability.
We’ve got a whole post on storing cannabis seeds elsewhere on the site, including optimal humidity and temperature ranges.
But here are the basics:
One option is the refrigerator. Store them in an opaque, airtight container with a desiccant pouch to keep out light and moisture. Rotting due to temperature changes and excess moisture may still occur though if you’re not careful.
Another popular option is freezing. If freezing, keep the seeds in a vacuum sealed container with a desiccant pouch. However, be aware that some growers claim that the freezing process can dry seeds out or cause damage to cell structure.
If conditions are correct, though, it should be possible to keep cannabis seeds for years.
Legality of Purchasing Cannabis Online
In countries where cannabis is legal, buying marijuana seeds online will not present any legality issues.
However, in countries like the United States, the issue becomes much more complicated.
Although in some states cannabis is legal either medicinally, recreationally, or both, it is still considered illegal federally. This is because states are not obligated to enforce federal marijuana laws. That said, in states where it is not yet legal and in the eyes of the Feds, cannabis is still a Dangerous Drug That Leads to Reefer Madness and Eternal Damnation.
Be Warned. In particular, it is illegal to send cannabis (including cannabis seeds) through the US Mail. So don’t expect Amazon to get into the Whole Seeds business anytime soon.
Purchasing cannabis seeds online from overseas in the United States is illegal, but it seems no serious legal action is taken if your package is apprehended by customs when entering the country. Unless you are already on the Fed’s SH-T List in which case they might take the opportunity to put you out of circulation.
If Customs or the Post Office cops seize your seeds many seed companies will send you another package of seeds to replace the ones that were taken. Whether or not an online seedbank is willing to replace lost or confiscated merchandise is something to consider when choosing where to place your order. ILGM is particularly nice about this.
However, serious action will be taken if seeds are sent from within the United States, even if both states consider marijuana use legal. Although it sounds backwards, this is where breeders and growers tend to get in the most trouble.
Reputable seed banks recognize that it is not legal everywhere to purchase cannabis seeds, and that is why they take precautions to deliver your seeds discreetly and safely.
Many seed banks even offer different levels of discretion with your delivery, the more discreet the more expensive, in an attempt to avoid any issues that may arise with delivery. This is often referred to as stealth shipping.
How to Buy Marijuana Seeds Online
Buying marijuana seeds online can seem overwhelming and even scary to first time buyers. However, ordering cannabis seeds online is as easy as shopping online for any other product.
We recommend, however, that you always check your local laws before you order to make sure you’re not going to get into any trouble!
Also consider a seedbank which stocks seeds from multiple suppliers (including a couple listed below), often at very good prices.
Best Cannabis Strains for Beginners
Now that you have done your research for the different types of seeds, how to germinate them, different strains, and where to find them, here is the fun part—picking the strain of seed you want to grow.
This is how you will gain your experience. Once you go through a few different grow cycles, you will become an expert in no time.
When searching for seeds for your first grow, it is important to ensure that you are choosing a strong and robust plant that can fend for itself. You want to look for plants that don’t need exact light or nutrition schedules that would be easy to mess up.
Try to fool-proof your first grow as much as possible, to set yourself up for success. The first rule of fool-proofing is like Lay’s Potato Chips–Don’t Plant Just One. Be prepared for the inevitable: a non-sprouting seed or a seedling that just gives up. Plant all your seeds, then pick the best plants to keep and be ruthless with the rest (or give them away to friends DISCREETLY.)
Seeds recommended for novices are usually auto-flowering, feminized, and strains that provide high yields. It is important to keep it simple for your first few grows to get yourself comfortable with the process and develop your skills.
Here is a list of the best strains for beginners, known for being not as demanding and giving you high quality cannabis easily.
This auto-flowering feminized seed is one of the most popular strains. It is known as a fantastic strain for novice growers. It is easy to grow, very potent, and produces a high yield. The flowering time of this dreamy plant is only 8-10 weeks. This is a hybrid of indica and sativa to provide you a balanced high without anxiety. This will give you a sweet, fruit flavor with a classic hash taste as well.
Northern Lights is not known for being an especially potent hybrid, but it is a classic and easy to grow. This particular one is an auto-flowering feminized seed. A cross of 11 different genetics, this is the balance of the most desirable traits. This plant is also highly recommended for medicinal use due to its high THC and CBD content. The high yielding strain will begin to flower within 8-9 weeks so you can enjoy your perfect plants in no time.
Lowryder is a hybrid that was created to be very easy to grow, perfect for beginners. This seed grows true to its name as it stays short in height. This makes it compact and very discreet. It grows quickly, flowering within 8 weeks and is known to be very stable and reliable. This is a cross breed of two well-known plants, Williams Wonder, Northern Lights No. 2 and a lesser known breed, a Mexican Ruderalis. Lowryder is indica dominant, with an earthy taste that gives you a relaxing full body high.
This popular hybrid is very potent. It is a combination of Skunk #1 and Skunk Special. This indica dominant, feminized seed, produces large flowers with a high yield. It doesn’t need anything more than basic care to ensure successful growth. The flowering time is 8-10 weeks. This strain produces a relaxed high that can be used to help reduce stress and anxiety. It has traditional earthy aromas of potent skunk.
Green crack is great for a novice looking to try a legendary strain. These feminized seeds will grow easily. It has a flowering period of 7-9 weeks and is indica dominant. When consumed, Green Crack will provide you with tons of energy, hence the name, with a sweet, citrus, and mango perfume. This strain is perfect for the daytime when you need a boost of energy. It is also great if you are looking for something to treat chronic fatigue.
MaryJane Farmer’s Best Wishes for Your Success
Once you know the proper steps to take to choose and germinate seeds, beginning your grow process should be a whole lot simpler.
Quality cannabis seeds can easily be found online from reputable seed banks. There are many seeds and strains to choose from that are beginner friendly. You can choose exactly what kind of plant you want to grow and what kind of high you will experience from it.
Of course, this guide has only taken you up to germinating and planting your seed.
From here you will need to learn how to take care of your plant in the later stages of its life cycle. Check out our beginner’s growing guide and setup guide to learn more. And once you’re familiar with those, we recommend Ryan Riley’s Growing Elite Marijuana to help you step up your growing to the next level—and perhaps even turn pro. If you are interested in a professional course leading to a cannabis professional certification, we have some information that you want to see.
If you have something to tell us or question to ask, please fire away below to comment. And if you have photos, send them to me: MaryJane@420Beginner.com.
Last update on 2019-12-15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API