If you buy a packet of regular seeds, they’ll come with a mix of males and females. A lot of cultivators prefer to grow these because they haven’t been backcrossed—essentially inbred—as much as feminized or autoflower seeds. You’ll need to sex out the seeds once their reproductive organs show during the flowering phase and discard the males—because they don’t produce buds and will pollenate females, resulting in seeded flowers.
Because US federal law still prohibits cannabis, it can be hard to find information on seed banks and breeders. Breeders who have a long history and positive reputation are usually a good place to start. To get an idea of what well-established breeders look like, check out:
Feminized and autoflower seeds will cost more because more breeding work was put in to creating them and they take less time for the grower to get buds.
Dispensary staff should be able to give you information on the seeds they’re selling, but keep in mind that a lot of dispensaries focus on selling flower and end-products. It’s a good idea to call ahead and talk to staff to see if they are knowledgeable about seeds and can give you specific information on growing.
Even one weed plant can produce a lot of buds come harvest time, so make sure you grow a strain you like. Note strains you enjoy when you pick something up at the dispensary or smoke with friends, and look for seeds of it when you want to start growing.
Navigating the cannabis seed market can be challenging when states have different degrees of legality. This guide will answer your questions on buying seeds so you can be on your way to growing your own cannabis.
Seeds can come feminized, meaning you can just put them in soil and start growing for buds. These seeds are guaranteed to be bud-producing females and growing them cuts out the step of having to sex out plants and discard the males.
While a bill that would allow adults 21 years and older to grow recreational-use cannabis at home has been introduced in the Washington state Legislature, currently the only legal exception for home growing is medical. If you have a Washington medical marijuana card, you can grow a small number of plants without registering, and up to 15 if registered.
For that reason, you may want to seek the advice of an attorney well-versed in cannabis law to make sure you are protected when buying seeds.
How to buy seeds
Although an increasing number of states are relaxing restrictions on growing cannabis at home, Washington is not one of them, as of press time.
How much you will pay for seeds depends on the strain you buy. Typically, a pack of 10-12 seeds can be as low as $40 but expect to pay up to $500 for high-end strains.
One of the biggest advantages of autoflowering seeds is their ability to produce a minimum of two outdoor crops. When you grow them indoors, however, you can produce four or five crops a year, and certain strains can become mature in as little as 10 weeks. They are heavily resistant to mold and pests and produce a higher yield when exposed to powerful light sources.
Buying seeds directly from a brick-and-mortar shop gives you the benefit of being able to talk to an expert before making your purchase. Make sure the dispensary you’re buying from has employees who are experienced with the growing process.
When you’ve decided which strain to grow, do a bit of research to familiarize yourself with the unique cultivation needs of that strain. While there are general guidelines for growing any type of cannabis, each strain has its own specific needs. Some strains do better in specific parts of the world or climates. Growing a strain that is well-suited to your climate will make it easier on you and the plants while giving you better odds of a successful harvest. If you aren’t certain what strain you want to grow, you can always give mixed packs of seeds a try, though it may be difficult to replicate any successes.
Growing inside gives you a bit more flexibility as you can control and fine-tune the growing culture for your plants. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
How to buy weed seeds online
Marijuana seeds are now easier than ever to find and purchase. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
On the other hand, feminized seeds have been bred to produce only female cannabis plants. For many growers, these are the best cannabis seeds to use. One reason is that using feminized seeds means you won’t need to buy quite as many because a higher percentage will grow into female plants. However, feminized seeds are not fool-proof, and there is no fully reliable germination guarantee, so you should still pay attention to the sex of your plants as they mature so you can spot and eliminate any males that might pop up. In general, feminized seeds are easier and more straightforward to grow.
If you live in a state where it is legal to grow weed at home and there are not many restrictions on home cultivation, then you’ll likely be able to buy cannabis seeds directly from your favorite licensed dispensary. In some cases, you may also have the option of buying from a brick-and-mortar or online retailer.
The difference between male and female seeds is important for growers. To get big harvests of smokable buds, you want only female plants. Male plants, on the other hand, can cause a lot of problems as they will pollinate the female flowers, which makes the buds produce seeds. While some people argue for the usefulness of male cannabis plants, most growers are primarily interested in big, seed-free flowers from female plants.