How Should I Start Growing? Cannabis Seeds vs. Clones
After you choose your grow medium, select your grow space, and get all of the equipment set up, you’ll have to fill the space with some marijuana plants! There are two ways to start cannabis plants – from seed or from clone. You may be wondering should I start from seed or from clone? In this article I’ll break down the pros and cons to each so you can understand which option is best for you.
One thing to keep in mind – only the female cannabis plant produces the buds we all enjoy so thoroughly. Males do not produce buds and the presence of males during the flowering cycle will result in pollinated female plants that produce seeds. To sum it up – you don’t want male marijuana plants anywhere near your garden unless you are breeding.
Starting cannabis plants from seed is the natural, tried and true way to begin growing pot. It is important to understand that there are three different types of seeds – I will cover each of them below.
Regular Seeds: Regular cannabis seeds are bred by crossing a male and female cannabis plant to produce offspring. The seeds will contain both male and female plants. This means that roughly half of the seeds you germinate will need to be culled to separate the males from females.
Feminized Seeds: Feminized cannabis seeds are bred by crossing two female plants – one of which has been forced to grow male pollen sacks. Because feminized seeds contain no male chromosomes, they are almost always female. Feminized seeds are generally considered to be more cost effective as one can expect all of the seeds to be female.
Autoflower Seeds: Autoflowering cannabis seeds are bred by crossing two different species of cannabis – Ruderalis with either Sativa or Indica. As the name indicates, these seeds automatically begin flowering within a few weeks of germination without the need to alter the light cycle. These seeds are best for beginners with time and height restrictions.
Pros of Seeds
Vigor: Growing from seed results in more vigorous plants. Seeds contain a taproot whereas clones do not.
Acquisition: Cannabis seeds are easy to acquire and easy to produce yourself. They can be shipped all over the world.
Pathogens: One major upside to growing from seed is you get a clean start – meaning no inherent risk of pests or diseases (unlike clones).
Cons of Seeds
Sexing: If growing with regular seeds, you will need to identify the sex of each plant and remove the males. The process of identifying can be challenging and typically takes a microscope and some practice.
Time: With the exception of autoflowering seeds, growing from seed typically takes longer than growing from clone. This is usually due to the sexing process, which thanks to modern science, can now be completed in the first week or two of germination with a tissue sample.
Variable: No two seeds are alike. This means if you buy a pack of seeds, there will be different genetic expression between the plants – like siblings from the same parents. While this can be fun (trying new varieties) it also means that you can never grow the exact same plant again unless you clone it.
Viable: Not all seeds are healthy or mature enough to germinate. Healthy, fully developed seeds are typically brown in color as opposed to white or yellow.
A clone is exactly what it sounds like, an exact copy of another cannabis plant. This is achieved by cutting the branch off what is known as a ‘mother plant’ and then forcing it to grow roots – the result is a clone with the exact same DNA as the mother plant.
Pros of Clones
Consistency: Clones are the only way to preserve a certain strain. This is why there are so many strains that are dubbed as ‘clone only’ – you can try to recreate them but it’ll be like trying to recreate a snowflake.
Cons of Clones
Access: Acquiring clones can be very difficult if you don’t live in a legal state. It’s crucial that you source your clones from a trusted garden to ensure you get the strain you intended. Furthermore, many ‘exclusive’ genetics are tightly held by certain grow circles.
Pathogens: The other reason its important to get your clones from a trusted source is the risk of introducing clones with existing pests and diseases. This is extremely common – in fact, sharing clones is the leading cause of pests and mold in cannabis gardens.
Vigor: Remember, cannabis is an annual plant, which means in nature, the plant completes its entire life cycle from germination to production of seed within one year and then dies. Which means clones are not natural in nature. It is heavily debated whether clones lose their vigor over time, but one thing is for sure – clone health is essential for maintaining vigor.