Don’t you need grow lights to start seeds?
Not at all!
In fact you don’t need any lights at all.
Seeds sprout in the dark.
Once they sprout, they will need light, however.
But they don’t need a powerful light, so you can still easily get by without a grow light.
The key to getting seeds to sprout is not the light, but good preparation. And a lack of light.
Keep reading to learn how to effectively start seeds to ensure the best chance of success. And by success, we don’t just mean a sprouting seed, but a strong, high-yielding adult cannabis plant.
- 1 How To Start Seeds Indoors Without Grow Lights
- 1.1 What You Will Need
- 1.2 Preparation
- 1.3 Begin The Germination Process
- 1.4 What to Do When the Taproot Sprouts
- 2 Start Seeds Without Grow Lights: Final Thoughts
How To Start Seeds Indoors Without Grow Lights
There is no need for a grow light of any kind to start growing a seedling indoors, but you will need a light source (or the sun) when the second stage of growth begins.
What You Will Need
- Some normal paper towels
- Glass or cup of water
- A container with a lid (Tupperware works great)
- Cannabis seeds
- Good water sprayer
- Small Styrofoam cups (one for each seed)
Any paper towels will do the trick, but the best ones are the expensive, more absorbent ones like Brawny. The purpose is to absorb moisture and provide an insulated bed for your seeds.
Glass Of Water
This can be any glass or cup. You just need something capable of holding water that won’t easily spill or tip over, if it gets nudged.
Container With lid
It is best if you can get one that is not transparent or translucent. A plastic Tupperware that is a solid color with a lid that does not let in light is going to be your best bet here.
The idea is to provide a sealed environment that is dark and damp. Also, make sure the container has a good seal.
Feminized seeds are more expensive but will give you a much more valuable crop. Normal seeds are great too, but just be aware there is a good chance you will get some males, or hermaphrodites, which are both male and female and produce seeds themselves.
If you keep them, your harvest will be far less valuable, because the buds will be full of seeds. Most growers remove male and hermie plants for this reason, but that is up to you. Some people try to turn hermaphrodites back into females, but that is a bad idea for several reasons.
Any good seed bank sells feminized seeds and the price difference is very much worth it. You can see our comparison of the best places to buy seeds online here.
You can also make your own feminized seeds. The process is easier than you probably think. We have an article on how to make feminized seeds.
You want to get a good one, because it is just plain annoying when you get a cheap one and it breaks immediately or drips all over when you spray it. There is no reason to skimp on this item, because a good one is only about five bucks.
These are cheap and plentiful. You can use plastic too. I just like Styrofoam myself for this purpose. They are very cheap and available anywhere. You won’t need the cups right away, but they come in handy once you have some seedlings.
This is not critical, but if you are germinating somewhere with a dynamic temperature, it is important to try to keep your germination room around room temperature, or about 76 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit. If it gets a little warmer, that’s OK. But if it gets too cold, it will hamper your results.
Before you begin the germination process, which is the first step of growing cannabis, you need to follow the basic preparation steps.
Some of the following steps are not critical but merely best-case scenario steps to help you get the best possible seedlings.
Store Seeds Properly
Store your seeds in a plastic sealed bag in a cold spot, like the refrigerator. The bag is to avoid any contaminants getting on your seeds and compromising their health early on.
The cold temperature of the refrigerator (or a cooler) is to trick the seed into thinking it is winter during the storage phase, to keep them from germinating. When you take them out to start germinating them, it seems like spring and triggers sprouting.
Presoak The Seeds
Presoak your seeds in a glass of room temperature water for 12 hours. Be careful not to oversoak them. Oversoaking will drown them and deprive them of oxygen for too long.
This is an easy step but be careful not to lose track of where the seeds are. Do not misplace them or the glass.
Soaking has the added benefit of helping you identify which seeds are likely to do well. If the seed sinks to the bottom of the glass after 12 hours, it is a good seed that is ready to germinate. If the seed floats and does not sink, it is not ready to be planted.
Get A Spray Bottle And Cooking Timer
Purchase a small water spray bottle and a basic cooking timer. These items are both cheap, but they will make your germination process so much easier and more effective. You can get both of them for around five dollars, give or take a dollar or two.
Get A Notebook
Purchase or set aside a notebook to track your plant’s growth and germination tasks.
A Note About the Sex of Seeds
This is important (not necessarily for the germination step), because it will inform the rest of the growth process to some extent. There are 2 kinds of seeds.
- Feminized Seeds: these seeds will only produce female cannabis plants; feminized seeds are more expensive and not as plentiful, but they do produce female plants, which are the most desirable.
- Normal Seeds: Normal seeds are more common and can produce male or female plants; they are less expensive and easier to deal with overall.
Sadly, there is no way to tell if you have feminized or normal seeds in seed form. Usually, you will know if you have feminized seeds, because you will have paid for them.
Begin The Germination Process
The following steps will ensure the best possible chance of successful germination. As you will see, not only can you start seeds without a grow light, but you should start them without any light whatsoever!
Set Up Your Environment
As I mentioned earlier, I like to use Tupperware for this because it has a good seal, and the colored ones are pitch black inside when closed.
Wash your container and the lid with hot soapy water and then dry it completely. This is important to avoid any contamination of the environment before you place any seeds in there.
Line your container with a paper towel. I like to fold my paper towel over itself at least once. Twice is OK, but once is ideal. Make sure the paper towel extends to the edges of the container.
f possible, find a closet or darker area of the room to set your container when it is ready. This keeps light from landing on your seeds during the germination process.
Place Your Seeds
Take the seeds you have selected for germination and place them in the container on top of the paper towel. Try to give them a couple of inches of space between each other, to allow a bit of air space and even ventilation.
Once the seeds are in place, spray them and the paper towel with water. It is best if the water is at room temperature.
Cover your container with its lid and place it in a dark place that is room temperature, or a little bit warmer.
Once your seeds are in a closed container and a warm, dark place, you need to check on them every few hours to make sure the paper towel is still moist.
It is important to keep the paper towel moist but not soaking wet. If there is too much water, the seed will not sprout.
Open the lid and spray the area as needed then close the lid quickly to avoid letting all the moisture out or letting too much water in.
What To Expect
It can take over a week for some seeds to sprout. However, that is mostly what happens with older seeds that have not been prepped correctly. More likely, you will see sprouting start between 1 and 4 days.
What to Do When the Taproot Sprouts
Eventually, you will see the taproot come out of the seed. When this finally happens it is time to move the seed to a Styrofoam cup with soil or peat or whatever you choose to fill the cup with for this stage.
You will also need to give the newly sprouted plant some light at this point. But you do not need a full-blown grow light for this. You can just use a regular fluorescent bulb or a regular LED light. A strip LED light works well for seedlings. You can read about the difference between grow lights and regular lights here.
Start Seeds Without Grow Lights: Final Thoughts
Starting seeds without grow lights is how you should be doing it anyway. Seeds need darkness to sprout, so you don’t want any light, much less grow lights.
Once the seeds have sprouted, you need to give them some light. But even then, you don’t need a grow light. Seedlings don’t need a powerful light. In fact, they can’t handle a light that is too powerful.
Rather than a dedicated grow light, you are actually best off with just a regular fluorescent fixture, or a weaker LED light