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Cannabis Seeds — What To Look For And How To Choose Them

Added 14 June 2022

cannabis seeds sprouting

You’ve got fresh seeds after waiting for two weeks. 

Your grow room is more than ready. Everything is in its place. 

And, then, you plant the seeds. 

Typically, most seeds germinate within a week, but as the days go by, you notice that the seeds aren't sprouting. 

It's okay, you tell yourself. The internet says that many seeds may take even 15 days to germinate. 

However, even after 15 days, the seeds refuse to show up — a major bummer. Not only have you wasted your money, but also time, which is essential when growing a cannabis plant.

So, what went wrong? Well, it can be due to various factors — you ordered bad quality seeds, the packaging was poor, or the seed bank just scammed you. Or, you’re probably a beginner with very little experience. Regardless of the reason, it boils down to one thing — great seeds grow into amazing plants. 

So, you must know what to look for when purchasing cannabis seeds. 

In this article, you will learn everything you need to know about identifying quality cannabis seeds. Needless to say, you’ll have a bumper crop in no time!

How to Identify High-Quality Cannabis Seeds?

Growers choose to grow cannabis from seeds for various reasons. Seeds produce tap roots that give the plant better anchoring capability compared to clones. You can find seeds of every kind of cannabis strain easily. In addition, seeds are more stress-resistant than clones, and they grow better resin and terpenes. 

If you are growing for similar reasons, you need to ensure that you pick the right seeds. And there are various ways you can pick and identify high-quality seeds, such as the following:

1. Is the Cost Too Good to Be True?

cost of cannabis seeds

The price of the seeds can be a dead giveaway of whether the seeds are good or not. Like almost everything else, you get what you pay for when it comes to seeds, and high-quality seeds come with a high price tag.

Furthermore, breeders work on their strains to produce various effects. For instance, you now have even photoperiod strains that can be harvested in just 8 weeks. Developing a strain with different characteristics enough to stand out from the rest takes time. 

Breeding spectacular cannabis strains is not an easy job. Although it's possible to pollinate a male and female cannabis plant and produce seeds, the resulting plants may not be what you expected. In fact, the offspring may not resemble the parents at all in some cases. 

Breeders can produce great seeds because of their experience. It takes years of backcrossing and inbreeding to develop good strains.

Some breeders spend decades developing a strain they prefer. Some strains could turn out to be duds, despite all the hard work. Professional breeders make it a point to cross the strain several times so that the strain becomes stable and carries the genetics of their parent plants.

Breeders pick several plants for their attributes including color, size, speed of growth, and a lot more while breeding plants. It is a long process of trial and error that ultimately gives them the results they want.

Therefore, cannabis seeds are slightly more expensive than other plants because, well, high-quality weed is expensive. That does not mean that you cannot find good seeds for a low price or bad seeds cannot be expensive — it’s just a baseline to determine the seeds’ quality. 

2. Is the Strain Right for Your Setup?

is the strain right for your setup?

Sometimes, the seeds can be of high quality but if your setup is not suitable for that strain, they will not sprout properly. And since there are hundreds of strains available everywhere, you should do some research to narrow down your options.

Look at seeds that suit your growth setup, preferences, local climate, etc. Look at the strain’s features like its size, preferred climate, any special nutrient or techniques required, etc.

If you buy the right genetics a single cannabis plant is enough to give you lots of buds. When choosing strains make sure you always pick something you like. Stating this is very obvious but some growers tend to go by what others prefer. They see amazing pictures of the plant and decide to try it. Although this might work in many cases, the strain you choose because of another grower may not be suitable for your climate. Therefore it's always best to go with seeds you've had prior experience with. On the other hand, if you are an expert who has grown several cannabis seeds and resides in an environment that is compatible with cannabis, then go ahead and try as many strains as you want.

Growers choose strains based on their preferences involving the taste, high, and yields. There's also a difference between how sativas and indicas grow. For example, sativas tend to be taller while indices grow shorter and bushier. In addition, you'll be able to harvest indicas a tad faster than sativas.

If you're looking for medical marijuana strains, it may help to walk into your local dispensary and find out more about the strain. Or you could go online and find more information about the strain. Typically a reputable seed bank will give you more information than you need.

It is very important to choose seeds that are compatible with your climate. For instance, if you reside in a hot location, you must purchase heat-resistant seeds. Similarly, if you come from a cold climate, it would help to buy seeds that are resistant to cold temps. 

Also, you should be knowledgeable about the humidity in your region. High humidity areas usually invite mold while very hot climates are vulnerable to pests.

Last but not least, make sure you purchase strains that are easy to grow for beginners. Also, the strain you choose depends on whether you are going to grow outdoors or indoors.

Some growers choose autoflowering strains specifically because they don't have big grow rooms. In addition, autoflowers will grow marginally well even if you provide just 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness for their entire lifecycle. 

On the other hand, photoperiod strains will not grow as expected if you fail to provide 18 hours of light and 6 hours of darkness in the vegetative stage, and 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness during their flowering stage. 

As you can surmise by now, autoflowering strains will not only fit into smaller grow rooms but you will also save a bit of electricity by choosing them. However, since photoperiod strains yield more compared to autoflowers, you will probably have to harvest at least once or twice more to get the same yield.

3. Are the Seeds Harvested at the Right Time?

harvesting cannabis seeds

The quality of the seeds also depends on when they are harvested. If they are harvested when the plant is fully mature, they are more likely to grow properly. On the other hand, seeds from a premature plant may not grow as well. 

This is because the plant loads the seeds with adequate energy to grow as it matures. Premature plants will have seeds that lack the same energy levels. 

Reputable seed banks harvest the seeds at the right time, so you can trust popular seed banks. But if that information is not available, you can look at the seeds’ color (more on this below).

4. Regular, Feminized, or Autoflower Seeds?

Regular, feminized, autoflowering cannabis seeds

Next, you need to look for the right type of seed for your garden, which depends on your cultivation goals. There are three major types of seeds you can buy, such as:

  • Feminized Seeds

Feminized seeds are produced by crossbreeding female plants and they almost always guarantee a female plant.

So, if you want to enjoy bountiful buds without worrying about growing male plants and separating them from the female ones while saving a lot of time and effort, you can choose feminized seeds. 

The only downside with feminized seeds is that they can sometimes develop plants that turn into hermaphrodites, but the chances are slim and easily avoidable if you take the right precautions.

  • Autoflowering Seeds

On the other hand, autoflowering seeds produce autoflowering cannabis plants. Autoflowering plants have an internal genetic clock, so they transition from the vegetative to blooming stage automatically, and their growth cycle is quite short.

Autos are unlike photoperiod or regular cannabis plants, which rely on the light cycle to switch from vegetative to bloom. Regular plants have a much longer growth cycle, too.

  • Regular Cannabis Seeds

Lastly, you can buy basic cannabis seeds that may or may not grow into female plants, and mostly, these seeds grow photoperiod specimens. 

While such seeds require you to be on your toes to prevent pollination of your female plants, they are still a lot cheaper than feminized seeds.

5. Are the Seeds Dark or Light?

color of cannabis seeds

The quest does not end once the seeds are delivered. Now, you need to personally inspect the seeds, starting with their color. 

While seeds have varying colors, a healthy and fertile seed will have a brown, red-brown, gray, or black color. On the other hand, if the seeds are white, yellow, or green, they won’t be as fertile and should be discarded.

Also, in most cases, light color is a sign that the seeds were harvested from a premature plant, so the results won’t be satisfactory even if you decide to grow them.

Additionally, healthy seeds will also have a turtle-like pattern or tiger stripes on the surface. These features may not be visible to the naked eye, but it’s nothing a basic magnifying glass can’t help you see.

The seeds must also have a proactive coating on them that is a little shiny — a dull coating means the seed is not healthy.

6. Does the Seed Crush When Squeezed?

good quality cannabis seeds

Next, place the seed between two fingers and squeeze it. A healthy seed will have a strong, protective shell over it which is firm and hard. This is a sign that the seed was harvested from a mature plant and had enough time to grow a hard shell.

If the seed crushes or is tender or pliable to touch, you should discard it because it will most likely not grow into a healthy plant.

7. Does the Seed Look Like a Teardrop and Big?

size of cannabis seeds

Now, carefully look at the seed's shape and size. A healthy seed should be shaped like a plump teardrop. If the seeds are flat or crooked, they are probably damaged or premature. Also, the seeds must be around 2 to 3 mm in thickness and 2 to 5 mm in length.

Remember, the larger the seed, the better it will grow. This is because large seeds have more energy stored in them, so they have the potential to grow into big plants. 

Do note that size is relative, and sizes vary with strains. So, we recommend you only compare the seed's size and shape of the same strains. 

8. Are the Seeds Heavy?

heavy cannabis seeds

Similar to the above point, you can check for seeds’ quality by looking at their weight. Heavier seeds have more energy mass stored within, so they are generally of a higher quality. 

Plus, if the seeds are light, they are likely drained of moisture and nutrient over time, which can lead to unsatisfactory growth in the coming weeks after germination. 

9. Do the Seeds Float in Water?

cannabis seed floating in water

Next, you can do a little test to check if the seeds are healthy and good for germination. For this test, place the seeds in a glass full of water.

After a couple of hours, healthy and high-quality seeds will sink to the bottom. Any seeds that are floating should be discarded as they are bad. 

The reason? If the seeds are healthy, the moisture will transmit through their membrane and make them heavier. Moisture also signals to the seeds that it is time to germinate. If the moisture cannot penetrate the membrane, it won’t signal the seeds to germinate. 

Just remember to do this test only if you are going to germinate the seeds immediately. Otherwise, this test can render the seeds unviable if you wait too long for germination.

10. Are the Seeds Stored Properly?

storing cannabis seeds

While you may not have access to the storage information of seeds, you should still try to look for it. Seeds can stay good for many years, but the best seeds are viable only for 12 to 18 months. 

Plus, they should have been stored in a cool, dry, and dark place to prevent any chances of mold or fungal infestation. 

11. Look for the Genetics

cannabis seed genetics

Always purchase from breeders that are very confident about their strain's genetics. If a breeder is not sure about the genetics of the strain the strain may be unstable. 

Most breeders list the entire family of the strain on the packet or online so you can go through all the information before purchasing the seeds. If you're unable to find this information anywhere, we recommend you stay away from that particular breeder as it could amount to bad breeding practices or unstable genetics.

Purchasing Seeds from a Reputable Seed Bank

The easiest way to ensure you are purchasing healthy seeds is to order them from a reputable seed bank. So, you need to do thorough research into a seed bank before you make that purchase. You can even talk to other experienced growers to know their experiences of purchasing seeds.

While choosing a seed bank, consider the following things to ensure high quality of seeds:

  • The seed bank is reputable and legitimate
  • They offer the most popular strains in a variety of seed types
  • They mention expected yields and the best growth conditions for the seeds
  • The seeds listed are appropriately priced but not too cheap or extremely expensive. 
  • The site is full of good customer reviews
  • The seed bank offers high-quality shipping and packaging, along with fast shipping time and stealth shipping

Will All your Cannabis Seeds Germinate?

Not all of your cannabis seeds will germinate even if you buy from a reputed seed bank with lots of reviews. There will be a few duds even if you pay a lot of money for them.


Well, it's because cannabis seeds are just like any other plant seeds. When you sow a few seeds, there's a chance that a certain percentage of them won't germinate no matter how reputable your breeder is. Even if you're experienced, a few seeds may refuse to do what you expect.  

Roughly you can expect at least 80 to 85% of your seeds to germinate. Apart from that, a few seedlings may die very early after germinating due to the conditions you provide. 

For instance, seedlings usually die due to damping off where the soil is too wet for them to thrive. Therefore it is very important to make sure that the seeds get the perfect conditions to germinate and grow well. 

Once the seeds germinate you will have to water very little to ensure that you are not overwatering. On the other hand, make sure you don't underwater because the seedlings can die even when the soil is too dry for them.

In addition, you have to remember that you will not be able to use all the seeds that germinate. For example, if you've bought regular seeds, some of the seeds will turn out to be male, and unless you are trying to breed them, you will have to discard the males. Of course, you won't know whether the seedlings are male or female until they get to the flowering stage.

If you've purchased feminized seeds, however, you can expect a majority of them to turn into female plants. The same goes for auto flowers but you won't find too many seed banks offering regular autoflowering seeds.

So how many seeds should I use, you ask? The answer depends on the number of plants you want. For instance, if you're trying to grow 10 plants, you should use at least 13-14 seeds to be on the safer side. If you are confident about your breeder, you can also go with 10 to 11 seeds. Remember, it's still okay if you have less number of plants but it will be very tough to manage if you have more plants than you originally planned.

Can you Buy Cannabis Seeds in a Dispensary?

Some dispensaries sell seeds whereas others limit their products only to flowers, concentrates, oils, etc. Therefore you can call the dispensary before heading there if your purpose is only to buy seeds.

That said, even if you are looking for medical marijuana strains, it's best to buy cannabis seeds online from a reputable seed bank. This is because online seed banks have a lot more varieties for you to choose, compared to dispensaries. 

You can also read reviews from other growers like yourself while buying seeds online. Most importantly, since more seed banks online focus only on producing seeds as expert breeders and do not sell other products such as flowers and concentrates, you're likely to get better seeds online compared to dispensaries.

Summary: Cannabis Seeds — What To Look For And How To Choose Them

Purchasing seeds nowadays is as easy as ordering a book from Amazon. However, unlike books, you never know what kind of seed you will get. UNLESS you take the right steps and check the seeds for quality consistency. 

In addition, cannabis seeds are expensive due to the extensive research that goes into them. Breeders take years to make strains stable. It’s not easy as crossing two strains and expecting the resulting seeds to match their parents in terms of size, shape, color, and genetics. Breeders pick various strains and cross them with other strains to bring out their best attributes. 

As a grower, you must choose seeds that suit your climate and environmental conditions indoors. For those living in cold climates, cold-resistant seeds are best whereas those living in hot climates should go for heat-resistant seeds. 

Also, look for pest-resistant strains. Of course, specific strains will be more expensive than your average cannabis seeds, but it makes sense to invest in high-quality seeds to get great weed. After all, you’ve invested a lot on the set up including the grow tent, lights, AC, etc., so don’t skimp on the seeds. 




Also good to note in all seed selling industries, "flowers, vegetables, trees, herbs exct. the cannabis market is highly polarized because its been illegal or in the grey area for so long. Many "breeders" are not breeders at all and are just reselling bulk seed made by one of the wholesalers in Spain. The cost of seeds are ridiculous for how many they get from a single plant and giving that most breeders are not putting in the work to create stable products its just robbery. Seedstockers is clear and to the point offering descent seeds are a affordable price vs other selling them for lots of money and they are garbage. Price is not always an indicator of quality.

From my understanding their is only a handful of resellers nowadays and most if not all the seeds on the market are from them. RQS, FB, and many other "breeders" get all their seeds from this type of arrangement. There is little to no regulation or clarity on the subject and its misleading to the consumer, however this does not mean they are always lesser, as some are, and some are not. It's just weird business practices that have become social norm.

Not all seeds are tested and most are just sold off as is, Garden Of Green, Expert Seeds seem to follow this pattern. It's next to impossible to release stable quality genetics every year in mass numbers without a massive operations fine tuning the genetics. The people, space and time required for this is a massive undertaking.

Check out Ethos genetics for some quality breeders. The idea is to go back to seed and say fuck clones, seeds are way more cost effective and easier to use and if you can have a stable output on seeds with little to no variation from plant to plant its growing security.

As for finding clone only strains in seed form, don't expect it to be to close to its clone only retaliative. Most of them are so specialized they are cloned out because they don't have replaceable traits when reproduced via seed.

Just my two cents, some of what I wrote maybe wrong or misquoted. Let me know if you know otherwise.