Everything You Need to Know to Buy Cannabis Seeds

So you've decided to grow your own cannabis, and you've got your grow space all set up. You're all ready, except for one small detail; you are going to need some genetic material to get started. In other words, you will have to locate some cannabis seeds or clones to begin your cannabis grow.

Greenpoint Seeds

4.75/5

Royal Queen Seeds (Spain)

4.75/5

Soma Seeds

4.5/5

Crop King Seeds

4.25/5

MSNL

4/5

Seedsman

4/5

Humboldt Seeds

3.5/5

BC Bud Depot

3.5/5

Barney’s Farm

2.75/5

Where Can I Buy Cannabis Seeds?

Generally speaking, there are two primary sources for cannabis seeds:

  1. Local stores & dispensaries or
  2. Buy seeds online (retailers & breeders)

In both cases, you will have the option of choosing brand name seeds from established commercial breeders, specialty seeds from artisan breeders, and cannabis seeds from “no-name” or low-end breeders. In jurisdictions where cannabis is not yet legal, the only option will likely be to buy seeds online, and they will only be available from retailers willing to ship.

What’s the difference between a breeder and a retailer? Breeders only carry the strains they produce themselves, while retailers will carry products from a variety of breeders. Some hybrid breeders/retailers sell their own seeds as well as those from other breeders.

Buying cannabis seeds online is similar to purchasing any sort of seeds (lettuce, kale, carrots, etc.). There are hundreds of varieties (aka – strains), a range of quality, wildly different price ranges, and sellers of varying integrity. It is easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer variety of choices available. In order to make things easier, here is a list of questions you should consider before buying cannabis seeds online.

Buyer's Guide

1) Are you growing inside or outside?

When purchasing for indoor growing, you will want to look for strains that grow shorter so they can fit in the grow space in your home (less than 120 cm, or about 4′). You may start with 8′ high ceilings, but containers can be a foot or taller, and you’ll likely have fans or exhaust systems secured to the ceiling (taking up the top couple feet of space).

2) How much time do you have for your grow?

Some strains can be ready in less than three months, while others can take as long as five months. If you’re growing outside, consider how much time you have available for flowering. For example, in my part of the world, it starts getting cold by mid-September, making outdoor flowering very challenging.

3) Indica, sativa, or hybrid?

While there is considerable debate about the actual differences between these classifications, sativa strains tend to grow taller and take longer to flower. In contrast, indica-dominant strains require less time and room for vertical growth. Hybrids are somewhat in the middle.

4) Regular, feminized, or autoflower?

Regular seeds are usually less expensive, but you can expect at least 50% of them to be male and, therefore, not really useful for growing bud. If you want to guarantee all your plants will be female, then buy feminized seeds. Autoflower cannabis seeds are a special kind of hybrid that automatically starts flowering regardless of the photoperiod (light schedule). Autoflower plants are generally ready to harvest in 10 weeks or less, but they’re not recommended for the beginning grower since they can be a bit finicky about their growing conditions.

5) Is it legal to order seeds?

In most cases, seeds cannot legally be shipped across international borders, and especially not to areas where cannabis is still illegal. That being said, there are many breeders around the world, and if you’re willing to buy the seeds, most retailers will agree to ship cannabis seeds. You may see an option for stealth shipping (often at an additional cost), which essentially means that your seeds will be discretely sent to you, perhaps tucked away in a brochure or t-shirt. This shipping option makes it less likely that your package will be confiscated in transit, and many buyers go this route. However, this is also an indication that it may be illegal to send the seeds from their origin to the destination you’ve requested. Keep in mind that if your seeds are somehow “lost” during shipment, you will probably have lost your money spent as well. Check out your local retailers and the online stores in your country before you consider international shipment

6) What's your budget?

Seeds can be expensive! I have paid as much as $20 per seed for top-shelf artisan seeds, but low-end budget seeds can be as little as $2-3/seed. For beginners, I would recommend not spending more than about $8-10/seed.

7) How many different strains should I buy?

While it is tempting to purchase a variety of different seeds, unless you are a very experienced grower, I would recommend growing no more than two strains at the same time. Different strains will grow differently (have different physical traits), have different feeding requirements, and be ready for harvest at different times. These differences add complications to the growing process. It’s best to avoid these problems until you have at least 5-10 grows under your belt.

8) How many seeds should you buy?

Cannabis seeds are often packaged in groups of 3, 5, or 10. At least 80% of the seeds you buy should germinate, so if you want to grow eight plants, you should buy ten feminized seeds to be safe. If you’re purchasing regular seeds, buy approximately double the number of female plants you want to grow (to account for having to throw out all the male plants). Try to avoid buying more seeds than you intend to plant this season since storing seeds for an extending period of time can be tricky, and older seeds may not germinate.

9) What's your level of experience?

Beginners should purchase easy to grow, forgiving strains. One of my favorites is the classic White Widow, but any reputable breeder or retailer should be able to advise you. If you are more experienced, you can try more challenging strains like autoflowers, CBD-dominant strains, or pure sativas.

10) Do you need to worry about odor control?

While all ripening cannabis flowers tend to be aromatic, some strains are much more “skunky.” If you’re growing your cannabis in a populated area outdoors or inside your own home, you might want to consider a less smelly strain or installing some odor control (like a carbon filter).

#1 Greenpoint Seeds

Greenpoint Seeds

Delivers: California and many other states in the USA
Shipping Methods: Discreet
Payment Accepted: Cash or check over $50 order, debit/credit cards, accept Bitcoin, Litecoin, and many other digital currencies
4.75/5
Expert Review

Pros & Cons

What We Liked:
  • Hybrid retailer
  • Many excellent strains available
  • Grown in the USA
What We Didn't Like:
  • Mixed reviews on customer service

#2 Royal Queen Seeds

Royal Queen Seeds (Spain)

Delivers: Europe
Shipping Offers: Free within Europe
Shipping Methods: Stealth shipping available
Payment Accepted: Credit cards, cash, direct bank transfer, and Bitcoin
4.75/5
Expert Review

Pros & Cons

What We Liked:
  •  Established seed breeder with over 20 years experience
  • A wide variety of strains for all situations
  • Very stealthy shipping
  • Many award winning strains
What We Didn't Like:
  • Shipping to USA not easy
  • Seeds can be expensive

#3 Soma Seeds

Soma Seeds

Delivers: Austria, Spain, Italy, England, Ireland, Czechia and Scotland.
Shipping Methods: Discreet cardboard envelope
Payment Accepted: Bank Transfer or cash in Euros only by post mail
4.5/5
Expert Review

Pros & Cons

What We Liked:
  • Artisan craft grower
  • Spectacular strains (the shelf above the “top shelf”)
  • Award winning strains
What We Didn't Like:
  • Small batch so seeds not always available
  • Will not ship to countries where cannabis is illegal (often available from local retailers)

#4 Crop King Seeds

Crop King Seeds

Delivers: Worldwide
Shipping Offers: Express shipping with tracking available for additional cost
Shipping Methods: Shipped discreet and delivered fast, free shipping on all orders over $200
Payment Accepted: Visa, Mastercard or Bitcoin
4.25/5
Expert Review

Pros & Cons

What We Liked:
  • Well established hybrid retailer
  • Well known for high quality genetics
  • Very good customer service
  • International shipping
What We Didn't Like:
  • Shipping charges can be high depending on where you live

#5 MSNL

MSNL

Delivers: Worldwide
Shipping Offers: Free shipping on all orders over $70
Shipping Methods: Extra stealth options and guaranteed shipping available
Payment Accepted: Credit/ debit payments, bank transfer, Bitcoin, international money order, and cash (in some currencies)
4/5
Expert Review

Pros & Cons

What We Liked:
  • Large, well established Euro retailer
  • Many different strains
  • Reasonable prices
  • International shipping
What We Didn't like:
  • Customer service reviews mixed
  • No germination guarantee

#6 Seedsman

Seedsman

Delivers: Worldwide
Shipping Offers: Free shipping within Europe when you spend €80
Shipping Methods: Guaranteed Delivery” option and stealth shipping
Payment Accepted: Bank transfer, cash, credit cards, debit cards, checks, postal orders, money orders, and Bitcoin (15–25% off every order)
4/5
Expert Review

Pros & Cons

What We Liked:
  • Easy to navigate website
  • Large strain selection
  • Bonus loyalty program for frequent buyers
What We Didn't Like:
  • Shipping time can be inconsistent
  • Processing of transaction can take some time

#7 Humboldt Seeds

Humboldt Seeds

Delivers: Worldwide
Shipping Methods: Discreet and protective packaging, tracking number provided
Payment Accepted: Debit/credit card, bank transfer, cash, bitcoin
3.5/5
Expert Review

Pros & Cons

What We Liked:
  • Well established, well known breeder
  • Many “classic” American strains
  • Many “classic” American strains
What We Didn't Like:
  • Difficult to find locally in USA
  • International retailers tend to raise the price

#8 BC Bud Depot

BC Bud Depot

Delivers: Worldwide
Shipping Offers: Flat rate $5 for default shipping and $35 for express shipping
Shipping Methods: Offers stealth packaging, shipping guarantee
Payment Accepted: Cash, money order & secure online credit card payments
3.5/5
Expert Review

Pros & Cons

What We Like:
  • Well established hybrid retailer
  • Carries most well-established strains, large selection
  • Fast efficient shipping
What We Didn't Like:
  • No germination guarantee
  • Customer service reviews mixed

#9 Barney’s Farm

Barney’s Farm

Delivers: Worldwide
Shipping Offers: Free within Europe when spend over €100, free for international orders over €200
Shipping Methods: Discreet packing and trackable delivery on all orders
Payment Accepted: Debit/credit cards, direct bank transfer
2.75/5
Expert Review

Pros & Cons

What We Liked:
  • Established in 1986. Over 30 years experience
  • Over ⅓ of their product line has won awards
  • International stealthy shipping
What We Didn't Like:
  • Expensive
  • Minimum of $200 order required for free shipping
  • Customer service reviews have been mixed

What's Next?

Once your seeds arrive, there are a couple of things you can do to ensure product quality before trying to germinate. First, are the seeds in their original breeders packaging? If not, there is no way to validate exactly what you have received. Next, examine the seeds carefully. If any are green or very pale colored seeds, it could be a sign of immature seeds, which won’t germinate. Mature seeds should be grey, speckled, or brown.

If your seeds come with a germination guarantee, make sure to follow the process outlined in the instructions. Take some photos as well in case there is any problem later on. Many breeders will guarantee an 80% success rate for their seeds. Beginner’s may want to use the “paper towel” method for germinating their seeds.

I also recommend taking photos throughout your grow to determine if there is any inconsistency in the seeds. Poor quality seeds will result in a variety of different phenotypes, which will make your grow more of a challenge.

So there you have it, a primer on what you need to know to buy cannabis seeds online. Get prepared, decide what you want, and get growing!

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