Thanks to numerous cannabis breeders, the home grower now has a plethora of strains from which to choose. There are a handful of fundamental breeding strains (Northern Lights, Haze, OG Kush, Skunk #1 and Chemdawg) that are part of the parental cross of most modern strains. Before choosing seeds to purchase, growers should do some research on the strains that they are interested in to learn about the conditions and environmental controls required for the plant. Some strains are better suited to indoor grows (like a short, squat indica), and some are more suited to an outdoor garden (like the tall, lanky sativa). Websites like Leafly and Seedfinder can help you select strains that will perform best in your space.
Once you’ve decided on a couple of strains, the next choice is whether to buy regular or feminized seeds. Feminized seeds have been bred to have no male chromosomes, and will produce only female plants. This can be great for growers looking to reproduce their plants with vegetative propagation (ie, taking cuttings). However, feminized seeds have a higher likelihood of producing hermaphroditic plants, or plants with both male and female flowers that can be full of seeds. This lowers the value of the plant when you are growing strictly for consumption. Some growers choose to buy regular seeds and keep some of the males to create their own strain crosses, and replant the seeds collected from the pollinated females.
Sourcing your seeds is the next step. If you live in a state that sells seeds through its medical or recreational dispensaries, that’s a great place to pick them up. Some states also allow patients and caregivers to sell or donate seeds to each other. Another option is to purchase your seeds from online seedbanks. The laws around purchasing seeds in the US aren’t super straightforward. Purchasing seeds by mail domestically is strictly illegal; however, there are several large reputable companies that ship to the US from overseas with a good level of success. Your seeds are at risk of being seized by customs officials who will just throw them away and send you a letter stating that you violated customs laws. Should this happen, some seedbanks are kind enough to send you a replacement. Some popular online sites are Attitude Seedbank and BC Bud Depot, shipping from the UK and Canada. Possessing seeds is still illegal under federal law, and not all states with medical or recreational legislation allow home cultivation, so deciding to take this step can certainly incur risk.
Once you’ve purchased your seeds, the last step before planting is examining your seeds. Make sure they are dark brown in color; some may have stripes or splotches of tan or black. Pale or green colored seeds are likely not viable. Check the size of your seeds. Indicas will be a bit larger with some dark stripes, and sativas will be somewhat smaller in size and uniformly colored. Lastly, your seeds should have a hard outer shell; seeds that are soft or damaged aren’t likely to germinate or be hardy if they do. Growing from seed comes with its challenges, but can also be extremely rewarding.