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Growing Seeds Vs Clones

Growing Marijuana From Seeds or Clones: The Seven Most Important Issues to Think About

Like many other cultivated plants, marijuana can be grown from seeds or from clones created by taking cuttings from a mother plant. There are good reasons to consider both options, and many experienced growers rely on a mix of the two approaches.

Seeds and clones represent two drastically different starting points for cannabis crops, though, so understanding the pros and cons of each will always be best. Fortunately, taking a handful of especially significant issues into account should normally make the better choice clear.

Marijuana Seeds and Clones: The Most Significant Differences

Cannabis plants still grow wild in parts of the world, and they perpetuate their kind mostly through sexual reproduction. Just like with so many other plants, males of each species in the wild fertilize flowering females which then produce seeds. Marijuana seeds obtained from seed banks are almost always the product of intensive breeding, but are much like those found in nature, generally speaking.

Instead of planting seeds and allowing them to germinate and grow into mature plants, marijuana cultivators can also take cuttings from existing plants, prepare them properly, and then plant those. Such “cloned” plants can mature just as successfully as those grown from seeds, with the process even being repeatable.

As might be expected though, these radically different approaches to growing marijuana do each have their own strengths, weaknesses, and requirements. Being familiar with how the choice of seed or clone impacts the following seven issues should make it easy to choose appropriately in any situation.

  1. Availability

Marijuana seeds of all kinds can now easily be obtained from online or local seed banks. Owning un-germinated cannabis seeds is legal, even in many jurisdictions that forbid the possession and use of marijuana. Marijuana seeds can also be shipped quite easily, inexpensively, and often legally, allowing growers who live far from brick-and-mortar seed banks to obtain supplies.

Getting started with cloning marijuana, on the other hand, requires having access to a healthy, sufficiently mature mother plant. That can be a deal-breaker for people who do not have cannabis-growing friends or other connections.

Clones can also not be shipped nearly as easily as seeds, and doing so is illegal in most places. On the other hand, once you get started with cloning marijuana plants, you can keep the cycle going for as many generations as you would like.

Availability: An advantage for seeds.

  1. Financial Cost

Seeds cost significant amounts of money when purchased from seed banks, especially for highly desirable strains. It is possible to cross-breed marijuana plants and collect the seeds they produce for later use.

Even in the unusual case of someone who pays for a first generation of clones, subsequent generations will not require cash outlays at all. With regard to out-of-pocket start-up and ongoing costs, clones beat out seeds purchased and repurchased at retail but are more or less tied with seeds produced and collected by hand.

Financial cost: An advantage for clones

  1. Effort Invested

Of course, the amount of cash spent on cultivating marijuana rarely tells the whole story. It takes plenty of effort to grow cannabis plants from either seeds or cloned shoots, and time is money.

Buying seeds from a bank is now generally a convenient, low-effort process. Cross-breeding plants and collecting seeds for future use will require a much more significant investment of time and effort.

Even where obtaining clones from others might be easy enough, that will rarely be a practical long-term solution. Growers who stick to cloning have to not only take care with cutting and trimming branches, but also with providing everything they need to develop roots and become established.

Effort invested: An advantage for seeds.

  1. Robustness

Wherever they come from, some marijuana plants end up being stunted or sickly, sometimes to the point of never maturing at all. The kinds of strains seed banks offer tend to be bred to be robust and easy to cultivate.

Cloned marijuana plants are particularly vulnerable early on. Tools like “autocloners” can be used to give them a better chance of becoming viable and accelerate their early progress. Still, plants cloned by inexperienced growers often fail because of insufficient rooting or a lack of light or nutrients.

Plants cloned from an infested or diseased mother will also normally exhibit the same problems. On the other hand, cloned plants derived from a healthy, robust mother will tend to be the same themselves.

Although seeds can also be infested, reputable suppliers will make sure they are not. High-quality seeds can provide a fresh start for a growing operation that has struggled with diseases and the like.

Robustness: An advantage for seeds.

  1. Predictability

As the name suggests, cloned marijuana plants include the same genetic information as the mother they were obtained from. That makes cloned cannabis plants extremely predictable with regard to issues like maturation rate, yield, bud quality, and other significant factors.

The sexual reproduction that produces seeds, however, ensures significant amounts of genetic variation among them. Even two seeds taken from the same mother can sprout into plants that exhibit markedly different characteristics.

Most reputable seed banks today go to a great deal of effort to categorize and detail their offerings as exhaustively as possible. While some variation among the seeds produced cannot be avoided, buyers mostly tend to be satisfied that their purchases match product descriptions. Cloned plants do allow a level of predictability not possible with seeds, but some growers find the difference less than consequential.

Predictability: An advantage for clones.

  1. Harvest Timing

Cloned plants start life well ahead of seeds that have to germinate and grow quite a bit to catch up. The difference can be mitigated somewhat by choosing seeds that have been bred to mature especially quickly, but that will normally require accepting some compromises.

Another harvest-related benefit of cloning is that cuttings which are planted at the same time can be expected to grow and mature more or less in lockstep. That means having all of a crop’s plants ready to flower at the same time. Viable cloned plants can also typically be forced to flower ahead of schedule, although this will lower yields.

Genetic variations and the increased complexity of the process mean seeds tend to mature at different times. In extreme cases, this can leave certain plants requiring quite a bit more growing time while others are ready to start flowering. Seeds that were stored improperly or are simply too old can also take longer to mature than others planted at the same time.

Harvest timing: An advantage for clones.

  1. Additional Considerations

There are a number of other factors that might seem at first glance to recommend either seeds or clones, but which tend to appear less significant upon closer inspection. The three most obvious of these are:

  • Cloned plants never need to be sexed, since they are genetic duplicates of the source. Cannabis seeds produce plants of both sexes by default, but strains that have been “feminized” to generate only females are widely available. Growers who stick to seeds do have to choose between the simplicity of feminized seeds and the options opened up by the alternative. Most marijuana growers who end up with crops that requiring sexing nowadays do so because that is the only way to achieve their particular goals.
  • It might be thought that either cloned or seed-grown plants would produce larger yields in general, but that does not play out in practice. Factors like the genetic makeup of particular plants can make it seem like one approach has a yield-related advantage, but this is not actually the case. The predictability of cloned plants might encourage less variance in yield, but an especially robust bunch of seeds could produce a bumper crop. On average, it will always be other factors that contribute the most to yield.
  • Both the seed- and clone-based approaches to marijuana cultivation are sometimes characterized by detractors as short-term solutions, at best. The evidence says otherwise, with many highly experienced growers having used both techniques for decades without problems. If either seeds or clones seem more sustainable over the long term, it will normally be because of how issues discussed earlier impact a given situation. While each will require distinctive measures to sustain, buying seeds; cross-breeding and collecting them; or cutting and planting clones can work for as long as desired.

Additional considerations: A tie.

Two Entirely Viable Ways to Grow Marijuana

As the preceding discussion hopefully made clear, both seeds and clones can be used to grow marijuana easily and efficiently. Neither approach boasts any generally decisive advantages, but both have distinctive strengths and weaknesses.

This is why so many experienced, successful cannabis growers go back and forth between the two techniques or even use them simultaneously. Either seeds or clones can get a beginner off to a great start with cultivation, as well, although different kinds of preparation and follow-up will be required in each case.

The best way to figure out whether to use seeds or clones for growing marijuana is simply to think about how issues like those above play out in the context of your goals and situation. Both are worth trying and going back to over time, as well. Start with seeds from for a high-quality growing experience!