Seed Sense: Finding and Buying Viable Seeds

By Shannon McKee
Published: April 15, 2020 | Last updated: May 11, 2021 07:43:14
Key Takeaways

A marijuana plant is only as good as its seed. Follow Shannon McKee’s advice on sourcing seeds, and you’ll be off to a strong start.

Anyone that grows vegetation of any kind can tell you that one of the most important parts of the process is starting with a good-quality seed. It doesn’t matter if you’re planning on growing a vegetable garden, flowers, or a prime crop of marijuana. The seeds that you use are going to play a big role in how your plants grow.


As the legality of weed is a hot-button topic right now, there are some considerations to keep in mind when purchasing seeds. This primer will help you get to the bottom of the legality of buying seeds in your area, where to buy seeds from, and how to tell if your seeds are viable.

Legality of Buying Marijuana Seeds

There’s a good chance that if you live in one of the states where medical- and recreational-use marijuana is legal, you can legally buy seeds to grow your own plants. Before you buy, though, it is a good idea to check with your local legislation to ensure that possession of marijuana plants is legal and that you’re complying with any regulations, such as only being allowed to grow a certain number for personal use.


One thing to keep in mind is that as federal law still considers marijuana an illegal drug, buying seeds from an online company that has to ship your purchase across state lines could be problematic. The chances of law enforcement investigating you is something to consider when looking for a reputable source.

In addition, if you purchase seeds from an out-of-country seller, there’s a chance that your package will be detained by US Customs and Border Protection. (You may find it interesting that if you do purchase seeds from another country, they’re typically labeled as a novelty rather than a viable seed to grow.) It is best, as always, to work within the legal parameters in your jurisdiction.

Read also: 10 Markers of a Quality Marijuana Seed


Where to Buy Your Seeds

An increasing number of jurisdictions are welcoming legal weed, and companies are sprouting up to fill this growing demand. The number of online companies selling seeds is growing and is sure to continue growing as demand continues to increase. There are several companies that have already established a great reputation for their products, so checking out reviews can be a good way to find a supplier.

In addition to buying from online seed stores, there are some additional brick-and-mortar options available to you. Dispensaries are a great option for buying seeds, especially since you may have a chance to sample the product you’ll be growing.


They’re also a great place to explore the different strains available to you. You can also check out your local medical marijuana farmers’ market and cannabis festivals in states where it’s legal.

Finding a Reputable Seller

Some strains come with a hefty price tag, so it makes sense that you’ll want to do some due diligence on who’s selling the seeds. There are a few things that you should look for, whether you’re buying online or from a local purveyor. You want the seller to have a proven track record of being in business, positive reviews from customers, knowledgeable staff, and have policies that give you peace of mind.

Getting dud seeds can be a real shame no matter what you’re growing, so it can be good to find a seller that stands behind their product. If a seller seems sketchy, there’s a good chance that they might be. Move on until you find a seller that makes you feel good about your purchase.

Read also: Ultimate Seed Feminizer: Colloidal Silver

Characteristics of a Healthy Seed

There are a few things that you should look for when your seeds are delivered. Your seeds should be dark in color. This dark color can range from gray to black and everywhere in between. They will also have spots or stripes on their seed coat.

Seeds that are green or white are not mature yet and probably won’t germinate for you.

The seed itself should have a waxy coating that makes it look shiny with a bit of a sheen. Also, your seed shouldn’t be able to be crushed. It should have a hard shell that allows it to withstand a light squeeze. A seed that can be easily broken is probably weak or old, and more than likely wouldn’t produce a strong, healthy plant. A final thing to examine is if there are any holes or cracks in the shell. These imperfections are another sign that your seeds are probably low quality and won’t germinate for you.

When in doubt, perform the floating test. Put a few seeds in a cup of warm water, give them a few hours, then check to see where they are in the water. Seeds that sink are more than likely of germinating quality, while those that continue to float are more than likely dead.

Were the Seeds Properly Stored?

It’s a safe bet that if your seeds don’t have the above desired characteristics, they may have an issue with quality. Marijuana seeds must go through a particular process for them to be high-quality seeds that’ll germinate. First, they need genetics from a good strain. Putting poor-quality seeds through the proper harvesting and storage process won’t turn them into a high-quality seed. The seeds should also have the chance to completely mature before they are taken from the plant. Seeds that aren’t allowed to mature are light in color. Storage is a high priority as well.

Seeds that aren’t kept in a cool, dark place run a chance of having mold or another pathogen contaminate them. They can be refrigerated or frozen but be sure to keep the temperature constant. You’ll also want to keep your seeds in an airtight container to keep out any moisture. If stored properly, seeds can last up to five years.

Finding and buying viable seeds may seem like a problematic process, but there are quite a few reputable places where you can find quality seeds. It all boils down to doing your homework. You want to make sure that the seeds you’re buying are from a seller that stands by their product. One of the best ways to verify their reputation is by talking with the seller. Feeling uncomfortable with their answers is a good sign that it’s time to move on to another.


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Written by Shannon McKee | Freelance Writer, Gardener

Profile Picture of Shannon McKee

Shannon McKee lives in Ohio and has been a freelance writer for several years now, including on her blog, Nicknamed by loved ones a garden hoarder over the past few years, she grows a wide variety of plants in her urban garden.

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