With hundreds, even thousands of cannabis strains available today, and any number of websites selling them, choosing and buying the right marijuana seeds can be overwhelming.
So how do you pick the right one?
This in-depth guide to buying cannabis seeds will help you choose exactly the right seeds for your needs—without stress and from a reputable source.
Plus, we'll show you how to germinate them and get them growing ASAP.
[A quick disclaimer: Before buying seeds make sure growing is legal where you are. Even if it is legal, importing seeds from another state or country may not be. We also want to make it clear that while seed bank adverts are sometimes served on our site, we have no direct or affiliate relationships with any seed sellers.]
Table of Contents
- 1 Stress-Free Cannabis Seed Buying Guide: Introduction
- 2 Cannabis: A Brief History
- 3 Why Cannabis Seeds Instead of Clones
- 4 Cannabis Seed Types
- 5 Different Strains of Cannabis: Pros & Cons
- 6 More about Cannabis
- 7 How to Distinguish Quality Weed Seeds
- 8 Germinating and Planting Your Marijuana Seeds
- 9 How to Purchase Cannabis Seeds Online
- 10 Recommended Online Seed Banks
- 11 Other Recommendations
- 12 Conclusion
Stress-Free Cannabis Seed Buying Guide: Introduction
The first step in the rewarding experience of growing cannabis is of course choosing the right seeds.
This means purchasing the type and strain of seed that fits your needs from a reputable seed bank. This can seem overwhelming when considering the thousands of options available.
But there are many benefits when it comes to growing cannabis from a seed.
Some find the adventure 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 essential to choose the highest quality cannabis seeds to ensure the health of your plants.
To do this, you must 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 assist you in the process from ordering your seeds to germinating them.
We'll start with a quick trip back in time...
(Or just skip to the next section if history's not what you're here for.)
Cannabis: A Brief History
Humans have been utilizing marijuana for thousands of years. The plant originated in Central Asia and was used to its full potential when discovered by the Chinese.
The crop then spread across all of Asia, before the seeds found their way into Europe, Africa, and South America.
Marijuana finally made its way to North America in the early 1900s.
Archaeologists believe the usefulness of hemp is why cannabis was originally cultivated. Being able to use it to make rope, oil, clothing, paper, or to trade those items was very valuable. China was the leader in producing and trading these crops.
But although hemp was valuable, that is not all cannabis was used for.
Cannabis has been used for medicinal purposes for many years.
The first case, documented in 2,737 BC, was the use of cannabis in tea to treat rheumatism and gout by Shen Neng (or Shen Nong), the Emperor of China. The ancient Greeks treated inflammation and tapeworm with cannabis. Egyptians were using the plants for treating cataracts and eye problems. In India, you could find cannabis being used during religious ceremonies or for relief from pain.
Fast forward to the 20th century, where in the United States marijuana use became illegal.
A major milestone for marijuana use occurred in the late 1970s, when the Netherlands decriminalized cannabis. The country then allowed possession and selling of up to 30 grams. This led to the popular tourist attractions of coffee shops in Amsterdam.
The next big day in cannabis history came when California legalized medicinal marijuana use. In 1996, California Proposition 215 passed, allowing the use of medicinal cannabis, even without the FDA’s approval. Then in 2014, Colorado made recreational marijuana use legal.
Today 24 of the 50 states have decriminalized or legalized marijuana, bringing the dream of legalization closer every day.
Why Cannabis Seeds Instead of Clones
A clone is a portion of a plant that has been removed, but still grows roots and stabilizes as a genetic reproduction of the “mother” plant. Growing from clones is used to speed up the growing process.
But growing from a seed is often more beneficial than growing from a clone.
The tap root that is produced when germinating a seed, anchors the plant into the soil. Clones do not produce this, resulting in a much less stable plant that is unable to absorb as many nutrients. Having a tap root ensures that you have a healthy and happy plant.
Seeds can offer customization and more of a variety as well.
Plants that are grown from a seed experience less stress, which usually results in them producing a higher yield. There is also a reduced risk of pests and disease when starting from a seed compared to starting from a clone.
Seeds are a great way to give you more control of your cannabis plant.
Cannabis Seed Types
The first step in the growing process is deciding which type of seed you want to plant. This choice determines how much care your plants will need. This makes it very important to think about how much time you are willing to put into taking care of your plants.
Below we will go over the different types of seeds available and which type would be best for your next grow.
Regular seeds are entirely natural and have not been chemically or genetically altered. These seeds produce both male and female plants.
When purchasing, they usually come with around half of each sex. Unless you are looking to produce more seeds, it is important to identify the sex of your plants early.
Male plants need to be avoided to stop them from pollinating the female plants and ruining your harvest of buds.
However, even if the male plants have been removed, your female plants can still become hermaphrodites because the seeds have not been feminized. So you'll still need to keep an eye on how the plants are growing.
Feminized / Rodelized Seeds
Cannabis seeds that are guaranteed to grow to be female plants are called feminized seeds. These seeds are created through the chemical process of feminization.
Feminization is achieved by either spraying the plant with colloidal silver or gibberellic acid, or a technique known as Rodelization.
Cannabis plants can be hermaphrodites that carry traits of both sexes. These plants appear due to the lack of the presence of the opposite sex. Feminized strains, if treated properly, are resistant to becoming hermaphrodites. This eliminates the requirement to identify the sex of your plants. Which saves growers time and increases their yield.
Feminized seeds are not the ideal seeds for growers looking for diversity in their plants. These seeds have only one set of genes, making them identical to the female “parent plant” that they are created from.
However, they are great for growers who are only interested in producing buds.
Feminized seeds are also good for beginners because they do not have to worry about identifying the sex of their plants and risk ruining their harvest.
Auto-Flowering seeds differ from other seeds in that their flowering stage isn't triggered by changes in the light cycle. An Auto-flowering seed begins its flowering cycle automatically once it reaches a certain age.
These seeds can be purchased feminized or regular, depending on your growing preference.
This is a great seed choice for outdoor growers in northern climates. These plants take advantage of the long summer days and highest quality light, even though the summers are short.
The indoor grower, on the other hand, will appreciate that this seed allows for more harvests per year because it flowers faster.
This plant does need a good amount of attention, though. If any problems occur, they must be taken care of within the first six weeks. But as long as these plants are well cared for, they can produce high yields in two to three months.
Different Strains of Cannabis: Pros & Cons
There are four main strains of cannabis: inidca, sativa, ruderalis, and hybrids. Each strain of cannabis produces its own unique high. We will discuss the usual effects each strain has, what the characteristics of that plant are, and how some of the strains are used medicinally in the section below.
Indica is a sturdy, short, wide, and aromatic plant. They usually grow between three and six feet tall. Due to their compact size, indica is often favored by indoor growers.
The flowers and buds of this plant are close and tacky when touched. They have a short flowering period of 8-12 weeks. If your goal is to make hashish, then indica is ideal since it contains more resin.
Indica can make you feel sleepy, apathetic, and provide you with muscle relief. It has an effect similar to a sedative and helps your body to become deeply relaxed. This is the strain that gives the classic feeling of being “stoned”.
It also provides relief of any pain throughout your body.
Indica can help treat migraines, sleep disorders, muscle pain, eating disorders, seizures, glaucoma, and insomnia.
Sativa is a plant that grows tall and thin, sometimes up to 20 feet tall. For this reason, it is recommended for an outdoor grower.
The buds that this plant produces are loose and airy. The flowering period is much longer when compared to indica, at 10-16 weeks.
Sativa effects are felt more in your head than in your body. This strain makes you feel energized, creative, happy, and uplifted. It is often used as an anti-depressant for these reasons. Many artists use sativa for the creative side benefits. This strain is perfect for a day smoker.
Sativa can help treat symptoms of mood disorders and provide energy for those suffering from chronic fatigue.
This is probably the least well-known of the major strains of cannabis, making it not very popular.
Although it has a variety of qualities that differentiates it from sativa, some consider ruderalis a subspecies of sativa. This plant grows short and thin. While usually having low levels of THC, it usually contains high levels of CBD.
This strain is particularly favored by breeders to create hybrids, because it grows quickly and thrives in cold climates.
A hybrid is created when other strains of cannabis are crossed, producing a more intense strain to increase yield or potency.
The cross-breed will have features from the “parent” strains. Many years of cross-breeding are responsible for the thousands of hybrids that are available today. Hybrids combine the best parts of each strain to create the perfect plants.
Strains that are sativa dominant will give you a euphoric, head buzz.
Indica dominant hybrids create a more relaxed, full body high. Some people refer to this feeling as “couch lock”.
Hybrids that are half and half are a balance between a head and body high.
More about Cannabis
Hemp is usually harvested in the northern hemisphere and 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 other textiles. Hemp has a very low THC content of .03% or lower, giving little to no high when consumed or smoked.
When reading different strain descriptions, the aroma and taste of the cannabis is often discussed.
Smell and flavor comes from the terpenes. Terpenes are fragrant essential oils in the plant.
Knowing a strain's terpenes is an important part of deciding which to choose, as this will affect your experience when smoking or using a vaporizer.
Plants grown without chemicals or genetic modifications are known for having the best smells and tastes, although these are not always the easiest to grow.
THC and CBD
THC and CBD are two main chemical compounds found in the cannabis plant.
THC, or Tetrahydrocannabinol, creates the psychoactive effect that can change your mood and perception. THC produces a euphoric head high that is usually used for recreational purposes.
CBD, or Cannabidiol, is an anti-psychotic that can enhance the positive effects of THC while helping to reduce the negative ones. CBD treats symptoms of many different diseases and conditions and the medicinal value of marijuana is derived from this chemical.
How to Distinguish Quality Weed Seeds
Once you determine the type of seeds you want to grow, it is important to ensure the best quality seeds are purchased. To do this, you must place an order through a reputable seller. A brief list is provided below.
In addition to this, there are several other ways to determine if a seed is viable once you obtain them.
One of the first signs of a good seed is the appearance.
A healthy seed will appear fat, rounded, dark brown or gray, and seem like it has tiger stripes or a marbled pattern. It will also have a smooth, glossy finish.
A healthy seed will have a firm shell that will hold up under minor pressure and not have any cracks.
If your seed is small, brittle, pale green, or white it is immature and will probably not sprout. If your seed feels light, is dry, or is cracked, it is probably old and will not make it through the germination process. There should be no signs of mold or other pathogens on your seed.
Some growers have other methods to determine the quality of their seeds.
One of these methods is the float or sink test. This is done by leaving your seeds in a container of water for around an hour. If the seeds sink to the bottom, they are most likely healthy.
Ultimately, the only way to tell if your seed is healthy is through germination.
Germinating and Planting Your Marijuana Seeds
Germination is the process of getting your seed to sprout a new plant. The sign of successful germination is when the seed splits and a small white tendril appears. This tendril is called a taproot.
Cannabis seeds need three basic things to ensure successful germination: moisture, warmth, and air.
Here are the different methods growers use to germinate their seeds.
This method is done by soaking seeds in a container filled with warm water, but not hot as this could damage your seeds. Some growers wait until the seeds have sunk to the bottom to remove them. Other growers remove the seeds from the container when a visible taproot has appeared from the seed.
Soaking the seeds increases the speed of the germination process and ensures that the seeds are completely moist before planting.
This method does, however, risk mold or rot attaching to your seed.
Starter Cubes & Plugs
This is an easy and quick process of germination. With this method you insert the seed into the plug or cube and then add water as per instructions that come with the starter cube or plug. This gives the seedlings the ideal conditions for germination.
If you have presoaked your seeds, place them into the starter cubes or plugs root side down.
Examples of cubes and plugs are Rockwool Cubes and Rapid Rooters.
The first step of this method is to wet a paper towel and fold it. Then you want to place your seeds inside the wet paper towel and fold it again. Place the folded paper towel inside a plastic bag and seal it. Store this plastic bag in a dark, warm area where you can easily keep an eye on it to ensure no mold appears.
This technique has less of a chance of mold growth than the soaking method.
Once the taproot, appears then you want to transfer the seed to soil.
Another paper towel method involves wetting four sheets of paper towels with distilled water and wringing any excess water out. Place two of the paper towels on a paper plate and put your cannabis seeds on the paper towel about an inch apart from one another.
Next cover the seeds with the other two wet paper towels.
Finally, cover the paper plate with another paper plate. This will create a dark and wet area for your seeds to germinate. Your paper plate seed housing should be kept at a warm temperature, 70-90 degrees Fahrenheit.
Just like the other methods, once a taproot appears you know germination is complete.
Plant Straight Into Growing Medium
Growers often choose this technique because it eliminates any risk of shocking your seedling when you transplant it to where it will finish growing. This allows your seed to begin to adjust immediately to its environment.
This method begins with placing the seed directly into a light potting soil mix. The soil should be kept moist and at a relatively warm temperature.
The downside of this method is that you will not be able to see if germination occurs, due to the seed being covered in soil.
Transferring Seeds to Growing Medium
When a taproot appears and you are assured of successful germination, it's time to transfer the seed to its growing medium.
You will want to transfer your seeds into a pot of light potting soil.
A ¼ inch deep hole should be poked in the soil to prepare it for your seed. This can be done using a pen, chopstick, or any thin stick. The seed should be gently placed in the soil, taproot side down and smoothly covered with soil.
Once the seed is covered, it is important to keep the soil moist without over watering. Too much moisture can smother and destroy your sprout before it even gets a chance to grow.
With proper care and attention to the amount of moisture and heat your seedling receives, it will begin to grow.
Removing Seeds from Your Plant
There are times, even if it is not your goal, that your female plant will be pollinated and produce seeds.
To remove seeds from a cannabis plant, you must gently free them from under the buds and the stem with your finger.
If any of the seeds appear immature, old, or damaged you should dispose of them as they will most likely not survive the germination process.
Storing Cannabis Seeds
If you have found quality seeds but are not ready to plant them, there are a few options to store them for future planting. Some growers claim that they can be kept for years if they are stored in the right conditions.
Seeds must be kept in dark, cool, and dry areas to maintain their health. Some growers will, therefore, store them in the refrigerator.
These seeds are stored with a desiccant pouch to remove any moisture in an airtight, opaque container.
But there is still a risk of possible rotting due to temperature changes and excess moisture.
Another popular system growers use to preserve their seeds is to freeze them. This is done by keeping them in a vacuum sealed container with a desiccant pouch.
Some, however, argue that the cold can cause damage to the cells of the seed or dry the seeds out.
How to Purchase Cannabis Seeds Online
The first step in the rewarding process of growing your own marijuana plant is purchasing the right seeds.
The most convenient way of obtaining the highest quality seeds is often to purchase them from an online seed bank. But with so many seed banks out there, it is hard to distinguish which ones are trustworthy.
Below is a list of the top seedbanks of 2018 for buying cannabis seeds.
Recommended Online Seed Banks
When buying cannabis seeds it takes a lot of confidence in the company you are purchasing them from. Since you are not the one harvesting the seeds, you must trust the information that the seed bank provides about genetics of the plant that the seed came from. This is why it is essential to purchase your seeds from a well-known and trusted seed bank.
The founder of this seed shop has been honing his skill since 1980. After traveling and experimenting with crossbreeding, he opened what is now Nirvana.
Nirvana is a seed bank located in Amsterdam that was founded in 1995. This shop sells top-notch cannabis seeds and nutrients world-wide, except to Australia.
This shop has also created their own hemp wine, hemp beer, hemp liqueur, and even hemp iced tea.
What has made them a great success is their quality products and focus on the customer.
They have a small and dedicated team that ensures excellent customer service. They have experience growing and breeding their strains so they can easily answer any questions that you may have. Nirvana ships their products fast and in inconspicuous packaging. If any problems with shipping occur, they will promptly send you a replacement. They also accept multiple different types of payment.
Although this is a great company, you are only given a small selection of strains to choose from because they only carry ones they have developed themselves.
Nonetheless, Nirvana has some excellent strains.
- One example is the Bubblelicious Feminized, which was created in the Midwest and was developed further in the Netherlands back in the 90s. This plant is not the easiest to grow, but it grows robustly and flowers within 8 weeks. It has a sweet bubblegum taste, as the name suggests. This hybrid is high in CBD and gives your body a very relaxed feeling.
- Wonder Woman is another popular strain from Nirvana. This is a cross between Super Skunk and White Widow. This easy to grow hybrid will flower within 8-10 weeks and produce easy to trim buds. It provides you with a traditional skunk flavor and a happy euphoric high.
This seedbank is located in the U.K. and ships their huge selection of strains worldwide. Seedsman also often has promotions for free seeds. They have been selling high quality seeds since 2003.
They differ from other seed banks because they not only sell their own strains, but they sell strains from other trustworthy breeders as well. Their large selection makes it easy to find whatever strain fits your needs.
Another great part about this company, is that some of their profits are used to work for marijuana legalization worldwide. They are also costumer service oriented, with a less than 24-hour turn around for a reply to customers with questions and concerns.
- One of Seedsman’s most popular strains is the indica dominant Power Africa X MK Ultra FAST Feminised Seeds, bred by their own engineers. The seeds have a flowering period of 6-7 weeks and are fantastic for growing outdoors. It has a great fruity fragrance and taste, and a high THC content of between 15-20%.
- Original Skunk #1 FAST Feminised Seeds is another best seller on the Seedsman site. This strain has a fast flowering period of only 9 weeks and grows 2-4 feet. It would grow well in a greenhouses or in indoor conditions. This plant has a sweet taste, with a classic skunk aroma and gives a really good head high.
Crop King Seeds
Crop King Seeds is a reputable seed bank that has been around since the early 2000s. Based out of Canada they provide their customers with high quality, potent seeds. They have a number of different options to choose from, each created carefully for their consumers.
They only sell the strains that have the highest rate of germination and are the most potent.
As far as customer satisfaction, the reviews are overwhelmingly positive. There are also a number of ways to contact the company if you do run into any issues.
Crop King Seeds will ship worldwide with credit cards accepted.
- One of Crop King Seeds most popular seed is White Cookies. This is a cross between two of the most popular strains available, Girl Scout Cookies and White Widow. This hybrid has a short flowering period of 8 weeks and is indica dominant, at sixty percent. It is also high in THC levels. White Cookies is recommended for indoor growers and not too difficult for a beginner.
- Another popular seed from Crop King Seeds is Purple Kush. This is a seed known to grow into a beautiful plant with dense buds, thin white and orange hairs, and purple leaves. This strain has a very high THC level and will give you a “pure indica high”, relaxing your entire body. This seed flowers within 8-10 weeks and produces a high yield.
MSNL has a very strong online presence because of their consistency, high quality products, and reasonable prices. This seed bank has such integrity of their products that they will only sell fresh seeds. Any seed that is in stock for over two months will not be kept.
They also offer a quick delivery of some of the most popular strains on the market.
Shipping of seeds is the part that will worry new beginners the most, but MSNL has you covered. They offer three stealth shipping choices, to keep the seeds discreet as they are sent to you. These include “standard”, “stealth”, and “guaranteed stealth”. The more stealth the packaging the higher the shipping cost will be.
Two of the most popular strains from this seed company are Northern Lights Feminized Marijuana Seeds and Girl Scout Cookies Feminized Marijuana Seeds.
- Northern Lights is one of the world’s most popular strains of marijuana. When smoked, Northern Lights gives a standard skunky taste and smell. This strain is meant to make you feel an even head stone and body buzz. Relaxing you enough to do slight activity before bed. These seeds are ideal for indoor growers as it grows to a medium height.
- Girl Scout Cookies has just started to become more well-known over the past few years among growers and smokers. The flavor when smoked is like freshly baked cookies. This strain is very strong with a THC content of over twenty two percent. With a flowering time of 8-10 weeks, this potent indica dominant hybrid grows in almost any climate. The Girl Scout Cookies strain will produce a head high that is quickly followed by a smooth “body buzz”.
Amsterdam Marijuana Seeds
It is not difficult to find high quality seeds from this Amsterdam based seed bank. They only choose the best seeds to sell on their site at very reasonable prices. A team of engineers with over 30 years of experience allows them to provide their customers with the best seeds out there.
With over 100 different strains to choose from, finding one to suit your needs or desires will not be difficult.
AMS sells more than just seed, offering fertilizer, vaporizers, t-shirts, and even hemp cheese.
And don’t worry about getting it sent to you, they have guaranteed worldwide shipping.
Just from reading their reviews from previous customers, you can tell how satisfied every costumer has been. If for some reason you do run into a problem, their customer support team will respond to you within 24 hours.
- Limoncello Haze is a two time High Times Cannabis Cup winner, in 2008 and 2009, and is one of the most popular seeds that AMS sells. It is a mix of Lemon Ice and XTRM Super Silver. This is a sativa dominant strain with a flowering time of 9-10 weeks. This isn’t the easiest plant to grow, but it does produce a great yield. Limoncello Haze tastes like citrusy lemonade or limoncello while tingling in your mouth. It provides you with a relaxing high that you start to feel in your body and then moves to your head, lasting a long time.
- La Blanca was created by AMS’s colleagues in Spain as a response to a challenge to improve the White Widow. With a flowering time of 8-9 weeks, this indica dominant strain can be grown in many different situations. This plant grows large buds with high levels of THC. It has a very potent smell, even when it is just starting to grow. This strain is great for naps and boosting appetite.
Marijuana Seeds for Indoor Growing
- Purple Bud is a feminized seed bred by Sensi White Label sold by Seedsman. This seed is highly recommended for the indoor growers. This indica dominant plant flowers within 60-75 days. This colorful and potent strain is easy to grow and produces high yields. The effects are a relaxed body high and the aroma has notes of pine and sweet sandalwood.
- Papaya is one of Nirvana’s more popular seeds due to its resilience. This plant is recommended for the indoor growing because it is compact. It is also resistant to disease and grows quickly with a flowering period of only 9-10 weeks. As the name suggests this strain has a tropical aroma that tastes like exotic fruit. This gives you a calming body buzz that leaves you with a lethargic, almost narcotic effect.
- This hybrid from Amsterdam Marijuana Seeds is an indica dominant strain. With a flowering period of 8-9 weeks this deliciously sweet and potent plant was created with old school genetics. The Blueberry 420 is an easy to grow plant that produces a euphoric high. Great for relieving any pain or stress.
Award Winning Cannabis Seeds
- Goji D.C. Regular Seeds- 12 is a hybrid from Moxie Seeds. These seeds won first place at the High Times Medical Cannabis Cup in San Francisco in 2015 for CBD concentrate. The sedative effects combined with the anti-inflammatory relief of the CBD is how this plant received first place. Although this isn’t the easiest to grow, it is a dream for a CBD lover. With a flowering time of 8-10 weeks, this indica dominant seed is a must try.
- Big Bud (how could we not mention this one? ;)) was created by MSNL for maximum yields. This award winning plant achieved that goal and is one of the largest producing marijuana plants in the world. It has a flowering time of 8-10 weeks and grows to a medium height. The aroma is similar to wild mushrooms and the forest floor in fall. It has a subtle classic skunk taste, with musty undertones. The taste develops, after repeated use, to a sweeter citrus flavor.
- The AK47 from MSNL has won many awards and for good reason. This is an easy to grow and strong plant, making it very popular. It has a short flowering period of 8-10 weeks and grows to be medium height. This strain is compact and has a beautiful coating of resin crystals. The aroma of this plant is very potent and so is the taste. The flavor has notes of citrus and sour blueberries and cherries. The high that this award winning strain delivers is an intense head high.
The process of growing cannabis is simple, as long as the right steps are taken. Quality cannabis seeds can easily be found online from reputable seed banks. Moreover, there are many seeds and strains to choose from, depending on your personal preference. This allows you to choose exactly what kind of plant you want to grow and what kind of high you will experience from it.
This guide has taken you from selecting and buying to germinating and planting your seed. But that's just the early stages. From here you will need to take care of your plant in the later stages of its life cycle.
There are many more pieces of equipment such as tents, lights, ventilation, soil and nutrients, hydroponics, etc. to help accomplish this. Be sure to do your homework on these products and other stages of growth to ensure happy and healthy plants.
Finally, if you want to be sure to get the best value for money from your cannabis seed investments, we recommend you get your hands on a good grower's bible—and learn to grow like a pro.
Ryan Riley's 839-page tome is one of the best out there—and comes with a bunch of bonuses, including an audio version and a Stoner's Cookbook.
It might not be the cheapest, but it should easily pay for itself in big fat sticky buds!