It’s finally time for you to become the ultimate cannabis connoisseur. After years spent consuming and enjoying marijuana grown by others, in 2019, you’re ready to buy cannabis seeds and start growing your own. Online seed banks are ideal due to the selection, convenience, and privacy they provide. But where do you begin? What kind of seeds should you buy? How do you find a reputable online seed shop?
There are a lot of factors for you to consider before you decide what and where to buy. The location and growing conditions you’ll be working with, as well as the desired effect of the final product will determine which strains will be best for you to grow. You’ll also need to think about the current laws where you live, as well as your need for privacy when it comes to placing a transaction and having the product shipped to you.
This guide will help take you through the process of narrowing down your seed strain, as well as choosing the right online seed bank to buy from.
Types of Cannabis Seeds
The search for the right seeds starts with the basics. Cannabis seeds can be divided into three major categories — regular, feminized and autoflowering.
Regular cannabis seeds are the most basic marijuana seed. These are the seeds that marijuana plants have been producing throughout history, since before humans began tinkering with them.
Regular seeds produce both male and female plants which makes things harder for growers, because unless you’re a breeder – you don’t want seeds in your final product, and that’s exactly what you’ll get if your male plants pollinate your female plants (For those who are new to this world – unlike male plants, female plants create the beautiful, sticky buds that harvesters want).
While you won’t be able to tell whether a seed will produce a male or a female plant, you can assume that roughly half of your seeds will produce females. Most growers simply grow a few extra plants to make up for the males they end up with (regular seeds are usually less expensive than feminized and autoflowering seeds).
If you have a bit of a green thumb and would like to spend 2019 perfecting your cannabis breeding technique in order to become a marijuana master – you’ll need to work with regular seeds. But novices can have a hard time distinguishing male from female plants, this is why regular seeds aren’t generally recommended, and also why most people never use regular seeds – regular cannabis seeds aren’t particularly popular.
Feminized marijuana seeds eliminate the cannabis gender guessing game – each of these seeds has been bred to grow into a female plant and will do so 99.9% of the time. This removes the need to separate out males when growing.
This type of seed is created by forcing cannabis into a state where male flowers grow on a female plant, allowing self-pollination. The seeds these plants produce are feminized since they contain no male genetics.
Feminized cannabis seeds are the most popular seed type and generally the most recommended. They’re the easiest for novice growers to use and are favored by seasoned growers as well, because unless you’re breeding – male plants are an unnecessary hassle. Feminized seeds are more expensive than regular seeds, but provide better value for the money (and time) as only female plants are produced.
Both regular and feminized marijuana seeds are also called photoperiod seeds to distinguish them from autoflowering seeds which will be discussed next.
“Photoperiod” refers to the light cycle cannabis plants are exposed to while growing. The cycle between dark and light. Photoperiod seeds will enter their flowering phase (begin producing buds) when the day/night cycle drops below a certain point. Generally switching to a 12 hours on 12 hours off photoperiod will trigger flowering.
Photoperiod seeds are preferred by most of the growers because they can delay flowering. Delaying flowering allows the plants to grow larger so that when flowering is finally triggered the plants are more productive (bigger yield which is also more potent).
While feminized seeds make it easy to know that you’re growing bud-filled female plants, autoflowering seeds make things even easier (for those who aren’t gardening enthusiasts and simply want to grow some bud).
Regular and feminized seeds require the grower to toy around with the lighting in order to stimulate the flowering process, auto flower seeds don’t need such care. Instead, they automatically begin when they reach a certain age (usually around 6-9 weeks) – though this depends on the strain.
For novice growers, autoflowering seeds can be easier to grow because they remove the need to worry about tweaking the day/night cycle to get flowering started. They’re also great for any growers interested in a shorter growing cycle or growers that need smaller plants.
However, due to the way autoflowering seeds are created, they aren’t quite as potent as their photoperiod siblings. As a result, they tend to be less popular than feminized seeds – but still more popular than regular seeds.
Most of the autoflower seed strains are also feminized, but there are few regular autoflower strains on the market as well. Autoflower-feminized seed strains usually cost more or less the same as their feminized version, while regular-autoflower seed strains usually cost more or less the same as their regular version.
- Feminized cannabis seeds are the most popular as they offer large and potent plants with less effort (removes the need to separate out males).
- Autoflower-feminized cannabis seeds are also quite popular, and are great for those who want smaller plants or a shorter growing cycle. Keep in mind autoflower strains are less potent than their photoperiod (non-autoflower) siblings.
- Regular cannabis seeds are not very popular and not very recommended unless you are planing to start breeding your own.
One of the biggest considerations in figuring out what type of cannabis seeds to purchase is where you’ll be growing your plants. While most cannabis seed strains can be grown either indoors or outdoors, some will do better in one or the other environment.
While you can grow cannabis both indoors and outdoors, the latter is an unusual option in most places due to illegality, theft, and damage concerns. People typically opt to grow indoors to ensure privacy and the safety of their plants.
Indoor growers face challenges not shared by those cultivating outside. However, there are significant advantages as well.
Generally, indoor plants don’t face the same pest and disease problems that outdoor plants do, so growers can choose seeds from strains that aren’t quite as resistant to these threats.
Indoor spaces support a much wider variety of seeds. With precise environmental controls even challenging strains can be grown with relative ease. In general, available space is most often the limiting factor.
While outdoor cultivation unquestionably increases potential crop sizes and dramatically reduces costs – it is also significantly more difficult than growing indoors as you’re at the mercy of the weather, daily temperature fluctuations, pests and many other factors you have no control over. You will have to make sure the seeds you buy are resistant to the extremes Mother Nature can throw at you.
Growing outdoors limits the strains you’ll be able to grow unless you’re a highly-seasoned cultivator. A large percentage of the strains available today have either been bred to grow best indoors or are so specific in their growing requirements that only indoor grow spaces can be adjusted to properly accommodate them.
As a result, outdoor growers usually do best choosing the seeds of a simple landrace variety. Landrace strains haven’t been modified by humans. They exist as they have for hundreds of thousands of years. These varieties grow well outdoors because that’s where they’ve always grown, and natural selection has favored genetics optimized for the harsh conditions.
Local climatic conditions can vary widely from place to place. Growing seasons can be longer or shorter, temperatures can be cooler or warmer, and rainfall levels can be drastically different. It’s important to buy cannabis seeds well-suited to your local environmental conditions.
Warm, dry locations have the ideal conditions for outdoor cultivation and allow growers to buy seeds across the entire cannabis spectrum.
Growers in cooler areas will generally face shorter growing seasons, with cold weather conditions arriving earlier and photoperiods lapsing into flowering territory sooner. These growers should favor seeds that prefer colder temperatures and can safely run their full development cycle in a short duration. Fast flowering varieties are well-suited to short growing seasons.
Warmer, moister latitudes have longer growing seasons and can support a much wider variety of strains. However, humidity brings with it a host of possible diseases. You’ll want to buy seeds from strains resistant to bud rot. You also want to avoid strains that don’t handle extremely moist soils.
Over the millennia, natural selection and human breeding have created an abundance of diversity in marijuana plants. It’s possible to select seeds for plants optimized for a range of specific characteristics. With the explosion of marijuana strains in recent years, it’s now feasible to find strains matched to nearly any specific profile. Here are a few of the characteristics that are variable between strains.
Plant Shape and Height
There’s a huge amount of variability in the size and shape of cannabis plants. Some strains tend to grow tall and thin. Some strains, particularly when grown outside, can reach ten feet or more. Other varieties are short and compact. It all depends on the plant’s genetics.
Indoor growers have more control over height and shape due to the controlled environment. The use of plant training can further adapt the natural genetic predisposition of a given plant to fit a smaller space. Outdoor growers have less latitude in this area. But in both cases, it’s usually best to choose a strain that most closely matches your desired plant height and shape so that less effort is required to get your desired result.
Bud Density and Stick Length
When your plants enter their flowering phase buds will begin to appear around the perimeter of the plant. Depending on the genetics of the strain you’re growing, these buds may be naturally dense and compact or light and airy.
As with height and shape, much can be done during cultivation to influence how your plants’ buds form, but plants that produce light-airy buds will nearly always produce that sort of bud. Cultivars that produce dense buds can end up sparser if mistakes are made while growing.
Stick length refers to the vertical height of a given grouping of buds. Longer stick lengths support more buds per plant. However, strains with short sticks and dense buds can produce a greater yield than plants with long sticks but weak and airy buds. In terms of total yield, many growers prefer strains that support dense buds on long sticks (for obvious reasons).
This refers to the total amount of bud that can be harvested from a given plant. High yields would seem the most important factor when choosing marijuana seeds since high yields mean more final product, but other factors can be more important. It’s sometimes worth accepting a lower yield in order to optimize other characteristics.
Smell and Taste
Depending on the individual genetics of a given plant, the mix of scent compounds can differ widely, creating distinct and variable odors.
Some strains will have the characteristic “skunky” smell and taste that many people associate with marijuana, but you can also find plants with sweet, fruity, floral, herbal, earthy, piney and peppery scents, in many combinations – the variable and combinatorial nature of cannabis scents are what allows strains that smell and taste like sugar cookies, cream soda, and diesel fuel..
Cannabis plants can smell quite strong, this can be problematic if you’re growing indoors in a connected, multi-family dwelling such as an apartment or a townhouse that shares a wall with your neighbors. To avoid complaints, make sure you install proper ventilation and buy cannabis seeds that will produce low-odor plants.
This is the amount of time it takes a given plant to fully complete its flowering stage (ready to harvest). In general flowering times sit between six and twelve weeks while certain strains push through their flowering cycle faster than others, particularly autoflowering varieties. But keep in mind that short flowering times (6-7 weeks) usually produce smaller plants which are also less potent.
Ease of Growing
Some strains of marijuana are more forgiving than others. Those that allow for mistakes are much easier to grow and are more appropriate for novice growers. Most of the online seed banks have a dedicated category for beginners, while others just mark some of their strains as “easy to grow”.
At the other end of the spectrum are strains that require exacting conditions in order to grow well. Any errors made while cultivating these can often lead to crop failures. These should only be attempted by experienced growers capable of consistently producing the needed conditions.
There are thousands of different marijuana strains available today, each exhibiting different characteristics. It’s hard to be certain exactly how many strains there are since different growers can apply the same name to genetically distinct plants, and sometimes the same plant can have more than one name. That’s why this guide is going to focus on top-level groups/types instead of naming specific strains, except when discussing the general subtypes directly below the top level types.
Understanding the main species distinctions will give you the knowledge you need to select cannabis seeds from specific strains since all strains are either pure versions of the top level species or a genetic hybrid of two or more of them.
Cannabis indica is a short, squat plant. It typically grows less than 5 feet tall and has dense, bushy leaves. The branches grow close together and the leaves are wide. Indica usually takes around 7 to 10 weeks to fully mature and be ready for harvest. Indica flowers can smell quite pungent and skunky, so keep that in mind if odor is a concern in your grow area.
Once harvested, ingesting indica will give you a relaxed, “body” high. People enjoy indica for its calming effects. Take care with strong indicas or large amounts, though, as too much can create “couch lock” that can make it tough to move around and take part in normal activities. Indica works particularly well as a sleep aid. It’s also useful as a pain reliever, a muscle relaxer, and an anxiety reducer.
Other strains you’ll find when you buy cannabis seeds online will be categorized as sativas. These plants grow taller than indicas—usually around 6 feet high, but sativa can grow as tall as 20 feet tall if you grow them outdoors. The branches on these plants grow rather loosely and the leaves are long and narrow. Sativa takes anywhere from 9 to 12 weeks of grow time before it’s ready to harvest, and the flowers can smell sweet, floral, and somewhat fruity.
Unlike indica’s relaxing “body” high, sativa provides a cannabis boost that’s frequently described as more of a psychoactive “head” high. People enjoy it for the energy, motivation, and creativity it gives them. People often use sativa strains as an appetite stimulant, to control their ADHD, or to treat depression.
Most of today’s strains are hybrids, meaning they possess some combination of sativa and indica genetics. Sativa-dominant strains generally exhibit sativa-like characteristics, while indica-dominant strains more strongly reflect indica characteristics.
There are over 100 different cannabinoids (the active compounds found in marijuana). Depending on how each of these is expressed in a given hybrid can determine the different effects users will experience as well as the plant characters. This explains how such a wide variety of hybrid strains can be created from two starting species. While browsing hybrid strains – make sure to look at their levels of indica and sativa genetics and try to relate that to its described effects to get a better picture of what this strain has to offer.
Each strain comes with different combinations of cannabinoids, which are the active ingredients in marijuana. Cannabinoids such as THC, CBD, CBN, CBG and others plug into the cannabinoid receptors throughout our bodies, simulating natural body chemicals. This makes cannabinoids helpful in easing symptoms and treating various illnesses.
Keep in mind that strain potency (percentage of THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids in the final product) is determined by its genetics, but also by the growing environment (mainly by the amount of sun/light it gets).
Cannabinoids don’t come into play when it comes to the flavor and scent of a given strain. This is driven by terpenes, which are volatile aromatic compounds produced by the same glands in the plant that produce THC and CBD. Varieties that vary the relative levels of certain terpenes over others will yield very different flavor characteristics. This is why some strains smell like berries, while others taste like fruits (mainly sativas), earth, or diesel fuel (mainly indicas).
While THC has been demonstrated to stimulate appetite and reduce pain and nausea, which is useful for certain medical conditions, CBD is more commonly thought of as the medicinal cannabinoid. If you’re looking to purchase seeds for medicinal use, it’s common to look for hybrid species that produce high levels of CBD, with a low THC content. Many medicinal users want the medical benefits of the plant without the associated high.
However, for those that require THC’s medicinal properties, or are looking for a combination of medicinal and recreational qualities, strains that exhibit a 1:1 ratio of THC and CBD are a smart purchase as 1:1 CBD-to-THC ratio will dull out the intoxicating psychoactive effects of THC. 2:1 CBD-to-THC ratio will cancel the euphoric effects of THC completely.
When buying cannabis seeds online the seeds are generally sold in packs of varying amounts. Not all seed banks sell in the same pack sizes, but across all seed banks, the most common pack sizes are 1, 2, 3, 5, 10 and 20 seeds. Larger seed packs provide higher bulk discount resulting in lower cost per seed.
These include a single type of seed. If you’re looking to purchase a specific strain you’ll probably end up purchasing it in a regular pack.
If you are not sure what you are after or just want to diversify your grow – value/mix packs are a great way to go. With mixed packs you’re generally able to pick a specific category of seeds like feminized or CBD-heavy strains instead of a specific strain. Most of the seed banks will specify the exact combination of seeds you will get, but not all of them. Mixed packs are usually priced lower (per seed).
Wholesale / Bulk Discount
When purchasing specific cannabis strains, you get the lowest cost per seed by buying wholesale, in bulk. You’ll need to purchase quite a few seeds to qualify for bulk pricing (usually above 100 seeds), but per seed, your overall cost goes down the more you purchase.
The Purchasing Process: Where to Buy Cannabis Seeds in 2019
Now that you know the basics of choosing seeds, the next step is to find a good online store. Here are a few tips to help guide you and make your buying experience a positive one.
Marijuana laws differ from country to country and in some places, from state to state. If you’re planning to grow in a place where possessing, using, and growing cannabis is fully legal, buying seeds is no problem. If possessing and growing weed isn’t legal in your area, purchasing seeds gets more tricky. While possessing small amounts of marijuana typically isn’t a major criminal offense in places where it’s illegal, growing marijuana is often punished more harshly.
Only you can decide what level of risk is acceptable for you to take. Of course, we don’t encourage anyone to knowingly break the law. We do wish to educate those who seek more information, however, believing that the more people become educated about cannabis, the faster the laws that prohibit it will change. We’ve seen a virtual cannabis revolution in the years leading up to 2019 and hope to see the forward motion continue.
Do Your Research
There’s nothing more frustrating than wasting money on seeds that are duds, aren’t what you ordered, or never arrive. In order to avoid most seed-buying snafus, it pays to do your homework ahead of time. When looking into seed sellers, look for reviews. Find out if they have a good reputation amongst previous customers. Another thing to look into is whether marijuana is legal in their location. If so, wonderful. If not, this is an indication that you’re purchasing from a shady operation.
Privacy is also a huge concern, especially if you live in an area where weed is not yet legal. Browse through the seller’s website and see if they take precautions to protect your privacy. For instance, conscientious seed sellers will refrain from storing your personal information.
Although this may seem like an obvious thing, make sure they will ship to your country. It can be disappointing to wander through a site and get psyched up about the seeds you’d like to buy…only to find out that they won’t ship them to you. Shipping restrictions arise when a company starts having a high rate of unsuccessful seed shipments to a given area. Sometimes the restrictions are temporary while the company changes shipping strategies, and sometimes a company will break off shipping to a particular country altogether in favor of focusing on areas where the successful shipment rate is much higher.
If a company does ship to your area, make sure you read through the FAQs and shipping instructions. In many cases, you will have to assume the responsibility if the package doesn’t get delivered. In other words, if you live in a country where marijuana is illegal and your seeds are confiscated by customs, you’ll be out the cost of the order. It’s a bit of a gamble, but it’s one that can pay off due to creative stealth shipping methods.
Getting your marijuana seeds confiscated by customs is a real bummer and a blow to your wallet. It’s especially frustrating, for instance, for people who live in states like Colorado where cannabis is legal, but where overseas shipments must still go through U.S. customs and abide by federal laws that criminalize cannabis possession, growing, and consumption.
For those who are nervous that their seeds might get caught up in customs or discovered by a family member or roommate who checks the mail, high-quality seed stores typically offer stealth shipping options. Stealth packaging ideas are endless. Your seeds might be sent tucked inside a DVD case (that includes a real DVD), or they could arrive cleverly disguised as a package of candy or folded inside a rolled-up T-shirt. Because many seed companies don’t use their name in the shipping information on the packaging, these shipments are very easy for authorities to overlook.
Because there are still so many places where buying and using marijuana is illegal, you’ll find that a lot of seed sellers have become experts at stealth shipping. It’s almost just as much fun to see how creative they get in disguising your seeds as it is to actually get them.
Seeds shipped this way aren’t cloaked. They’re simply shipped in an appropriately sized, crush-proof container. References to the seed bank usually won’t be present on the packaging.
Stealth shipping costs a bit more, or given for free if your order is big enough (usually above 100-150 USD). Seeds sent this way are frequently hidden inside of some other objected unrelated to marijuana and then shipped to the customer. The packaging won’t have any references to cannabis or the seed bank printed inside or outside the package. If customs were to check the package they wouldn’t have any reason to suspect the contents were anything other than what they appeared to be.
Guaranteed Stealth Shipping
Guaranteed stealth shipping is the costliest shipping option but potentially the smartest. Guaranteed stealth is identical to stealth shipping, but with added insurance. If for any reason your package never arrives, whether because it was lost in transit or because it was seized by customs, the seed bank will reship your whole order at no extra cost. For larger orders particularly, the extra cost for guaranteed stealth is worth the premium you pay.
Not all seed banks offer guaranteed stealth shipping.
Any seed banks offering cannabis seeds for sale will take all major credit cards, while bank checks, money orders, and wire transfers are commonly accepted as well. Some will take cash – but only in specific currencies. Other electronic payment methods may be accepted on a country by country basis. It’s best to check with each seed bank to see which payments types are accepted.
When it comes to buying marijuana seeds, though, there’s another level of security to consider. Even if the information is transmitted securely, a credit card transaction leaves a record that can be traced to the purchaser. If privacy is a big concern for you, look for a cannabis seed seller who accepts Bitcoin as payment.
In 2019, Bitcoin is an increasingly popular way to anonymously buy cannabis seeds online. It’s a digital form of currency that’s not tied to any central bank. It allows users to make instant payments online without having their identity or personal information connected to the transaction.
If privacy is a big concern for you, find a seed seller that takes Bitcoin as payment. If you’re growing in an area where weed is legal, you’ll be able to use a credit card to buy cannabis seeds online, as well.
If you’re a budget shopper that likes a good deal, know that many seed banks offer coupon codes occasionally, generally 10 to 20% off your order. However, unless you’re checking frequently it’s easy to miss these.
The best and most available option for deal seekers is to concentrate on seed banks that feature a “special offers” page on their website. These usually feature rotating offers, some quite generous with up to 50% off.
Price & Budget Cannabis Seeds
Some seed banks offer a selection of budget seeds. If you’re looking to save money on your order, there are generally better ways. Budget seeds are always lower-quality and, depending on the seed bank, can be very poor seeds.
Instead, keep an eye out for special offers. This is an excellent way to save money while still obtaining high-quality seeds. If your budget allows it, buying in larger quantities will also lower your per seed cost.
If you must buy budget marijuana seeds, only purchase from highly-rated seed banks. This guarantees at least a basic level of quality. Budget marijuana seeds for sale from lesser-known banks could be pretty terrible, and then you really haven’t saved any money at all.
7-10 USD per feminized seed is a fair price range when buying marijuana seeds online (without bulk discount). The minimum price you should expect to pay for feminized seeds of reasonable quality is 5-7 USD (again, without bulk discount). If you’re paying less than that without applying a coupon code or a bulk discount, be skeptical of what you’re buying.
Most of the higher quality seed strains will cost around 8-12 USD per feminized seed without a coupon or a bulk discount, while only a very small group of strains will cost more than 12 USD per feminized seed.
Free Seeds and Loyalty Programs
A few seed banks will throw in free seeds with every order. The number and quality of the free seeds will increase with the size of the order. The free seeds offered rotate occasionally, so it’s worth checking to see what’s current. These free seeds are offered as an enticement to make your purchases with a given seed bank, and to look over their catalog of cannabis seeds for sale.
Loyalty programs are also common. The terms vary from bank to bank, but the basic concept involves accruing loyalty points with every purchase, which can eventually be used to get discounts on future purchases. The more you order the more points you get, so these loyalty programs reward frequent and bulk purchasers. If you purchase a lot of seeds, look for a loyalty program.
Some seed banks guarantee that a specific amount of the cannabis seeds you purchase from them will germinate. When you see this, it’s a good indication that the bank is confident about the quality of their seeds, likely because their product is first-rate.
For example, if your seed bank guarantees that at least 80% of the seeds they sell you will germinate under proper conditions and you find your results don’t measure up, the seed bank will mail you replacement seeds free of charge. These guarantees are very useful for novice growers.
Whether you wish to grow weed for recreational or medical purposes, starting this endeavor isn’t as easy as simply choosing a random strain from any shop and making a purchase. Before you buy cannabis seeds online, it’s important to know which kinds will best suit your grow space, climate, and needs. You also need to be well-educated on the cannabis laws in your area, especially as laws have continually changed in the years leading up to 2019.
Choosing the best seed seller is important, as well. Of course, you want to find one with a good selection and high-quality products, but you also want to ensure that you buy cannabis seeds from a shop that takes your privacy into consideration and does everything within their power to make your shipment as discreet as possible.
You should now feel pretty confident in your ability to purchase cannabis seeds online. You know that feminized seeds are the most popular and the most highly recommended seed type, with autoflowering seeds a close second. You know you should look for strains with properties that fit your growing conditions. You’re also familiar with different strains, and you understand that cannabis plants have a wide variety of characteristics that you can select for with your choice of seed, including plant size, crop yield, bud density, flavor, and more.
Finally, you’re comfortable with how cannabis seeds are priced, packaged, shipped, and things you should look for in a quality seed bank.
Buying cannabis seeds online can be daunting, but now that you’ve armed yourself with the requisite knowledge of the product and the industry, you can easily select the best seeds for your growing conditions, your goals, and your budget.