Seeds Dried Out During Germination? (Try This FIRST)

There’s nothing more frustrating than leaving your seeds to soak in a paper towel only to find that they have completely dried out when you come back to check on them.

In this article, we’ll look at why seeds dry out during germination if they can be revived, and how to prevent them from drying out in the future.

Why do seeds dry out during germination?

Seeds can dry out during germination for several reasons. Let’s look at a few of the most common ones:

1. The Humidity in Your Germination Area is Too Low

If your seeds are drying out during germination, the first thing you should do is check your hygrometer. A hygrometer is an instrument that allows you to measure the level of humidity in the air accurately.

If you don’t have a hygrometer, they are very affordable, and I strongly recommend you buy one. A hygrometer can be your best friend during all stages of cannabis growth, from seed to cure. I recommend buying two or three hygrometers in case one malfunctions or if you need a hygrometer in more than one grow station.

If your hygrometer shows that the relative humidity in your germination area is too low (below 50%), you might want to utilize a humidifier. You also can place buckets of water inside your grow room if you can’t buy a humidifier. The water from these buckets will evaporate into the air of the grow room, causing the room’s RH to rise, which will keep your medium from drying out too fast. 

2. Your Fans are Drying Out Your Medium Too Fast

If your seeds are drying out during germination, you should first check the room’s humidity. If humidity levels are ideal, your fans might be causing your medium to dry. The constant blowing of fresh air onto your medium can cause it to dry quickly, even if the RH is proper.

You can also try reducing the power of your fans or switching to an oscillating fan if you have a static fan. If none of these tips work, you might need to accept that you will have to water your seed medium more frequently.

3. Your Grow Lights are Too Intense

Check your grow lights if your RH levels are ideal, and you are sure your fans are not the culprit. The brighter your grow lights are, and the closer your grow lights are to your seeds, the faster your medium will lose moisture. An intense/close grow light will cause moisture to evaporate out of your medium quickly, leaving your medium and seeds dry. 

Fortunately, cannabis seeds don’t need light to germinate, so don’t worry about dimming the light. All a seed needs to sprout is a germinating medium, heat, and moisture. Once the seeds sprout, they will need light. However, the light does not need to be too intense during the seedling and veg growth phases.

Can You Still Use Seeds that Have Dried Out?

Possibly. It depends on the extent to which the seeds dried and how long they remained dry. Seed viability depends on whether or not the seed had already germinated before it dried out. Once the seed starts germinating, you CAN NOT let it dry out, or it will wither and die. 

If the seed hadn’t started germinating when it dried out, and the seed only dried out for a short period, you might be able to re-wet the seed and still get it to sprout. All you can do is try and wait.

How Can You Tell if a Dried Seed is Still Viable After Drying Out?

There’s no way to be sure whether or not a seed is still viable after it dries out other than re-moistening the seed and its medium and waiting to see if it sprouts. However, there are a couple of clues you can look for:

Clue 1: If your seed already cracked before it dried out, most likely, your seed is lost. Again, once a seed cracks and begins the germination process, it MUST NOT dry out.

Clue 2: If your seed did not crack before drying out and only dried out for a few hours, then the seed might still be usable. Again, the only way to know for sure is to re-wet the seed and give it some time to see if it germinates. Be sure not to let it dry out again.

My Seed Still Hasn’t Germinated. Should I Remove the Seed to Inspect it for Viability?

If your seed is in a germinating medium like Rockwool or a paper towel, it should be easy to inspect the seed to see if it has already cracked or not. However, you are not recommended to remove seeds from the soil for manual inspection. If you remove the seed, you would have to replant it, and you risk quickly ruining a good seed by disturbing and handling it after planting. Once a seed is planted in soil, it should never be dug up or held again. It’s better to wait or to move on and plant new seeds.

If you decide to wait, and your seed hasn’t germinated after 2-3 weeks, it probably won’t germinate. Therefore, you might decide just to germinate new seeds and start over rather than losing approximately one month in your garden. That is the downside of waiting to see if the seed will germinate. 

Farmer’s Tip: If you are compelled to know a seed’s condition and are willing to risk digging in, you can gently lift the surface layer of soil around the area where the seed has been planted using a spoon. This will allow you to assess whether or not the seed is still intact and healthy. Try not to touch the seed with your hands. Just get a view of it, and if the seed looks good, backfill the soil over it and water in place.

How to Prevent Seeds from Drying Out in the Future

There are two main ways that you can prevent seeds from drying out in the future.

1. Use A Humidity Cover

A humidity cover could be a humidity dome or a humidity tent. A dome covers seed trays, and a tent covers solo cups and flower pots. You could use a crude humidity cover, such as a grocery bag if you don’t have a dome or tent.

Humidity domes and humidity tents help to retain the moisture in your germinating medium. By covering the cup or pot that your seed is in, the water cannot evaporate from the soil. The humidity cover keeps the moisture inside, which gives you more room for error if you forget to water or get too busy to check on the seeds.

If you can’t or don’t want to use a humidity cover, then you should make a note to check your seeds daily. Try setting a daily alarm on your cell phone at a time when you are always home. This will remind you to check your seeds and water them if the medium is drying.  

If you notice your germinating medium is losing moisture when you check the seeds, re-moisten it ASAP. DO NOT let your medium dry out a second time. 

2. Use An Auto Watering System

An auto-watering system is for soil germination. An auto-watering system is a device that automatically waters your plants. The device has sensors that detect when the moisture levels in each one of your pots are low, and it delivers water as needed before the soil dries out. 

An auto-watering system can be a lifesaver if you cannot check your seeds often. For example, you are busy at work all the time, and you are never home. 

There are many types of auto-watering systems to choose from, and there are DIY auto-watering models for handymen.

Did Your Seeds Dry Out in an Auto Watering System?

For cannabis growers who use auto watering systems, you might need to inspect your water lines or adjust your system if your seeds dry out. Dried seeds and medium are a sure sign that your system is not delivering adequate water to the medium. If, after adjusting, drying out persists, you might need to start watering each seed manually until you can resolve the issue, lest you let the seeds die from drying out.


If your germinating medium is moist, but your seeds are not germinating, then the problem isn’t that they are drying out. If that’s the case, you might need to investigate common reasons why seeds don’t sprout.

James Alexander James Alexander
Hey, I'm James! The founder and head writer here at I started this site to share my passion and knowledge of all things cannabis. I used to work as a budtender in central Amsterdam, and have over 7 years of growing experience.

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