One of the very first steps in growing cannabis plants is getting a hold of some seeds.
Whether you buy them at a dispensary or through a specific growing company, you need to order them and get them ready. However, sometimes you can’t start growing them right away. Maybe the season isn’t right, but you got a great deal online. Or perhaps there is some problem with the growing equipment, so you need to hold off for a little while.
But what do you do with the seeds? If you can’t start growing them right away, how do you store and preserve your cannabis seeds?
Why Store Cannabis Seeds?
The idea of having a secret stash of cannabis seeds likely seems pretty ludicrous to many. Most people picture cannabis purists with a canister containing all of their most prized seeds, kept away in a secret safe, almost like you are hoarding them.
However, the real reason to store cannabis seeds is entirely a practical one. As already discussed, there are sometimes problems that prevent you from using your seeds when they arrive. Perhaps there’s even been a mix-up, and you end up with your seeds far too early.
What if you are a commercial growing business? A big part of sustainable best practices is to ensure that you can quickly develop and create your own strains, using mixed breeding and, thus, you need to cultivate cannabis seeds. When you have a strain to sell, you always end up with a surplus that you need to preserve for the next season.
Also, don’t forget that cannabis seeds are living things, effectively acting as the eggs for future baby plants. If you don’t treat your cannabis seeds properly and ensure they are stored and preserved in the right way, then they can quickly die.
Seeds are in a state of hibernation before they germinate, so you not only need to keep them alive for their eventual germination but also dry, healthy, and away from entering any germination state. You don’t want your seeds to ‘wake up’ before it is time.
So, what are the things you need to keep in mind when storing your cannabis seeds?
Storing Cannabis Seeds #1: Keep It Dark
This is definitely the one element of cannabis seed preservation that most people get wrong; you need to keep your seeds away from the light. While light is generally a good thing for plants, it can be deadly for seeds.
The seeds are, effectively, tiny time capsules that contain the future of the plant. They need the right conditions to wake up and germinate, and one of the contributing factors is light. While being in the light won’t cause the seed to germinate on its own, the chemical processes inside of the seed that determine its germination can get confused by continuous sun exposure. Thus, the seeds will lose some of their germinative power, becoming nothing more than duds.
Furthermore, the sun can permanently burn the seeds, but you won’t be able to see it. It is sort of like an internal sunburn, as the continuous subjection to UV radiation breaks down the chemical chains within the seed.
If this happens, even if the seed does eventually germinate healthily, then it will likely struggle to achieve full plant growth. In fact, even if it does grow into a whole plant, it will likely be sickly and unproductive as a cannabis plant, giving you little bud.
Storing Cannabis Seeds #2: Keep It Cool & Dry
Heat is one of the major determining factors that a seed uses to figure out whether it should germinate or not.
Remember that the process of germination is the seed trying to estimate its surroundings based on its environment. It wants to be planted in the soil, with ideal moisture, heat, and humidity, so that the plant it shoots out can take root and prosper. As it doesn’t have eyes, it needs to rely on chemical reactions to figure out if it should activate.
One of these is the temperature. The seed will start the chemical process of germination if it finds itself in a warm environment, especially one caused by excess sunlight. This is why you need to watch out for excess sunlight even if you keep your cannabis seeds in an opaque container; the sun can still affect your seeds.
You need to keep your cannabis seeds stored away from the light entirely, so as to avoid getting too warm. If it gets too hot, the seeds might start to attempt to germinate, despite the fact that there is no aggregate material like soil for them to latch onto. This will waste your seeds’ potential, ultimately ruining them.
Keeping your seeds fresh is also to do with watching the ambient humidity around your seeds. If there is too much water vapor around your seeds, they might start to think that they are sitting in the dirt and being rained on. And that brings us to our next tip.
Storing Cannabis Seeds #3: Keep It Sealed
By far, the best thing you can do to preserve your cannabis seeds for the future is to keep them in a sealed container. If you store them somewhere that doesn’t have a properly sealed lid, you not only allow them to be damaged by excess light and temperature but ambient humidity as well.
You want to separate your seeds from the outside world as much as possible – if you could keep them locked in a vacuum, it would be preferable. Unfortunately, unless you are happening to keep your cannabis seeds in the dead of outer space, the best thing you can do is instead find an opaque, sealable vessel.
Something sturdy, resilient, and able to prevent any air or moisture getting into the container would be best.
Storing Cannabis Seeds #4: Keep It Labeled
When you store your cannabis seeds, you must keep them adequately labeled. This is absolutely vital, as you not only need to know that they are cannabis seeds but also what strain they are. You might even forget that there are cannabis seeds in the container at all!
If you are a home grower and wanting to grow a specific strain, you really need to know what strains are in which container. It’s no good reaching into a mysterious case of seeds and growing whatever is in there. You spend so much time and energy growing these plants, so why waste them?
How Long Can You Store Your Cannabis Seeds?
Considering that cannabis seeds are living and organic, they can actually be preserved for a surprisingly long time.
If you keep them in a secure, suitable container – one that is dry, dark, and well-sealed – you can get a long life out of them. Many people report using cannabis seeds after a full five years of storage, assuming they were stored correctly.
You can even freeze cannabis seeds. For this option, you need to carefully freeze them in sealed bags, as well as correctly thawing them when it is time to use them.
Don’t forget, though, that freezing and thawing cannabis seeds will degrade their eventual quality because they become damaged by freezing. The cellular expansion that takes place when being frozen means that, if there is even a single gram of excess water in the seeds, they will gradually burst and break down.
Try to only freeze your cannabis seeds if you absolutely have to, as it is usually better to keep them regularly sealed and dried for long term storage. Another huge advantage is that you don’t have to defrost them in a careful, monitored manner meticulously – you can just take them out of the package to make it a lot easier.
Perhaps the best way to store your cannabis seeds is to vacuum pack them. Excess air, moisture, and everything will be sucked out, leaving behind nothing but your seeds and ensuring their safety for many years at a time.
More Tips on Germinating Cannabis Seeds After Storage
When you finally find some good seeds to store, you also need to make sure that you germinate them properly. As the seeds will likely be chemically altered after storage, it may be harder to activate them. Make sure to soak them carefully with mineral water, as well giving them additional nutrients like hydrogen peroxide and germination boosters.
Another great tip is to make sure to scar your seeds, or even remove the outer ridge entirely from each seed. This is because the outer parts of a cannabis seed can become too hardened and tough after prolonged storage.
To improve the seed’s chance of germination, pop the shell off to ensure that the seed can readily germinate in the water. This also improves its chances of absorbing any nutrients you give it, eventually leading to a healthier and more robust cannabis plant.
If you are still really struggling to get your older seeds to germinate, then cut them open entirely, as this maximizes the surface area. This is risky, though, as it could result in the seed being completely destroyed and unable to germinate.
Final Thoughts Storing and Preserving Cannabis Seeds
The thing about preserving cannabis seeds is that you need to treat them very carefully. You also need to choose which ones to store. Some seeds aren’t really viable for storage, whether due to having sat out for too long or because they have suffered damage. Make sure that any seeds you are planning on storing for a long time are 100% healthy and undamaged.
Regardless, remember to treat your seeds carefully and be gentle with them. Knowing how to store and germinate cannabis seeds is useful, but not as useful as remembering that you won’t get anything out of them if you mistreat them.
Keep them dry, cool, and in the dark, yes; but also give them love and care. Treat them right, and they will most definitely reward you with some excellent bud in the end.