The paper towel method involves placing one or more cannabis seeds between a few moist paper towels and placing it in a dark area of the house. It seems that the main issue with this strategy is the fact that paper towels are very absorbent by nature and will not stay moist for a long period of time. So unless you are able to dampen the paper towels every few hours, the environment will be far to dry for the taproot to emerge. Remember that moisture and darkness are the two key environmental factors that a seed needs in order to start germination.
Another reason I avoid the paper towel method is that the taproots are extremely delicate and can be exposed to potential damage when transplanted to the growing medium. Taproots are the foundation of your plant’s structure and should not be touched or exposed outside of the soil.
The number one method I have had the most success with and find the easiest is germinating directly in the soil or another preferred growing medium. It’s simplistic, but every time I have tried it with healthy seeds a stem broke the surface just 5-6 days after planting. Make sure that the seed is not too deep below the surface of the soil. This is a common mistake and for whatever reason people assume the seed should be a half inch or deeper into the dirt. Ideally, there should only be a 1/4 inch of space or a sprinkled amount of soil covering the seed.
It’s important to keep a thin layer of growing medium above the plant so that moisture is still present and it also won’t take too long to break the surface once sprouted. Leave 7 days time before digging up the seed to see what is causing it not to sprout. Patience is key and checking on its status too early could damage the taproot and potentially kill your plant before it can even grow.
There is some disagreement among growers about when exactly a planted seed should be exposed to a light source. I would argue from experience that the seed will sprout just fine without any light. The optimal time to turn on the light would be right after the main stem becomes visible above the soil. This is when the plant will need UV rays in order to continue to grow more sets of leaves and stronger roots. Others have claimed using a light before the seed sprouts add heat to the process which helps speeds it up.
In my opinion, if you can’t wait 4-7 days for a sprout for germination then growing isn’t the hobby for you. Either way, the best type of light to use for the beginning of the seedling stage is CFLs or Compact Fluorescent Lights. They generally have the spiral design and do not generate much heat which is perfect. Young plants shouldn’t be exposed to high wattage lighting because it will be overwhelming and can drastically stunt growth. It’s best to change the light type after the seedling stage has passed and there are several sets of mature leaves and branches.