Clones Vs. Seeds — Which is Better for Cannabis Cultivation?

Clones Vs. Seeds — Which is Better for Cannabis Cultivation?

Should you start from clones or seeds as you embark on your cannabis cultivation journey? You’ll find the answer in this blog.  

Small-scale cannabis growers and home-growing enthusiasts often struggle to determine the best, fastest path to cultivation success. 

Should you opt for seeds or clones as you get started? 

Both options have benefits and downsides, and the decision is highly personal. We’re here to help with a comprehensive guide to both methods, including their advantages and disadvantages and the nutrients you’ll need to succeed. 

Cannabis Genotype and Cannabis Phenotype

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of the cultivation puzzle, let’s start by taking a close look at genotype and phenotype. 

Genotype describes the cannabis plant’s genetic code or DNA. Plant components carry the genetic information that determines characteristics like growth rate, appearance, and effects. 

However, just because your plants share genetics doesn’t mean they’ll be identical. The environment in which a plant is grown deeply impacts the results. That’s where the cannabis phenotype comes in. 

Phenotype (pheno) references the physical expression of a cannabis plant’s genetic makeup.

“When a cannabis plant produces seeds, each seed is a phenotype that expresses a unique set of traits from the mother and father plants.”—Leafly

The phenotype results from your cannabis plant’s genotype combined with environmental factors, like the nutrient quality and quantity your plant receives. 

This distinction is why nurturing your cannabis clone or seeds with an appropriate feed schedule is essential. 

Starting with Cannabis Seeds

Home cultivators often start their cannabis crops from seed because they seek one of its primary advantages: experience. 

Many growers feel that starting from seed offers a more profound sense of satisfaction as they watch their plants mature from sprout to full-grown flower.

Seeds offer other, more practical advantages for commercial and home growers alike. So let’s take a closer look:


Advantages for Home Growers

  • Easier to Access. Ordering seeds online is simple, freeing you from worrying about separating female cannabis seeds from their male counterparts.
  • Highly Accessible. Ordering cannabis seeds can be cheaper and hassle-free for inexperienced growers.
  • Stronger Plants. Seeds tend to produce more robust cannabis plants that are ultimately easier to grow because they develop what’s known as a “taproot.” 
  • Bigger Yields. Many home and commercial cultivators have discovered that seeds produce heftier harvests than clones, primarily because clones develop into weaker plants if not effectively cared for. 

Advantages for Commercial Cultivators

  • A Fresh Batch of Genetics. Since they house a genotype unimpacted by exposure to environmental hazards, diseases, or improper nutrition, seeds give commercial growers clean genetics unencumbered by common issues. 
  • Create DIY Strains. Growing from seed lets you create custom strains through breeding, pairing selected male plants with high-quality females to develop signature strains.
  • High-Quality Flower. While it can be tricky to master, you can almost guarantee feminized plants when starting from seed, giving you sticky, cannabinoid-rich buds with no undesirable pollen sacs and wasted time spent ridding your crop of male plants.


Disadvantages for Home Growers

  • Unpredictable Germination. Not every seed is guaranteed to sprout. No matter how carefully you nurture them, you won’t experience 100% germination. You could spend months caring for seeds that produce no results. 
  • Longer Harvest Time. If you’re in a rush to grow consumable cannabis ASAP, cloning cannabis is faster; feminized seed's disadvantages include a longer growing time.
  • Accidentally Using Non-feminized Seeds. If you source seeds from a friend’s plant, about half of them will be male and undesirable for consumption. 

Disadvantages for Commercial Cultivators

  • Genotype Variation. Each seed from a parent plant has slight genetic variations, meaning you have less control over its color, flavor, and yield.
  • Phenotype Variation. Temperature, light, humidity, watering, and nutrient feed schedule will impact your plants’ phenotype, leading to more variations in your crop than you’d experience with cannabis clones.

Tips for Growing from Seed

  • Use a Properly Designed Nutrient Kit. Purchasing a well-thought-out grow system will ensure your plants have the nutrition they need to thrive.
  • Delay Feeding Until Leaves Appear. Growing from seed means your plants will have a delayed feeding schedule. Don’t start fertilizing until the first leaves appear.
  • Invest in Increased Flower Support. As you nurture plants from seed to develop a desirable phenotype, you’ll need to ensure the necessary support to produce desirable characteristics. 


Starting with Cannabis Clones

The typical choice for commercial growers, cannabis clones have several advantages, including reliability and the replicability of successful strains. 

Clones provide an exact genetic copy of the vegetating mother plant from which they’re sourced. Still, cloning cannabis is difficult for home growers. The hassle often outweighs the genetic advantages.

Learning to clone cannabis can be an issue for commercial producers, but the disadvantages are typically outweighed by the advantages well-rooted clones can offer once established. 

So what are the benefits of cloning plants? Let’s take a closer look.


Advantages for Home Growers

  • Avoid Male Plants. Cuttings taken from a mother cannabis plant are guaranteed to produce another female.
  • Immediate Flowering. With the proper nutrition schedule and a supportive environment, most clones can be coaxed into flowering immediately. 


Advantages for Commercial Cultivators

  • Create Exact Genetic Copies. Clones replicate their mother plant's desirable qualities, including productivity, appearance, size, and taste.
  • Reclone with Ease. How many times can you clone a clone? Under the right conditions, as often as you like! Clones can be nurtured into a cannabis mother plant and recloned for an unlimited source of new plants.

Disadvantages for Home Growers

  • Difficult to Obtain. While you can easily order seeds, clones need to be cut from a cannabis mother plant in an active vegetating state, making it challenging to buy clones online.
  • Extreme Fragility. Seeds are heartier than clones, which are delicate and often die before they begin rooting. You’ll need to have a highly tailored, customized environment with carefully regulated humidity and temperature.

Disadvantages for Commercial Cultivators

  • Inheriting Undesirable Traits. When you clone cannabis from a plant you haven’t raised from seed, you may be unwittingly reproducing undesirable genetic issues or faults, which may not be apparent until you’ve filled a greenhouse.
  • The Dangers of a Badly Established Clone. If you purchase your clones from an external source that hasn’t taken the time to establish them, the resulting plants may remain in shock for a long time or even die unexpectedly. In addition, it can take weeks of hands-on care for a plant to recover from incorrect cloning.

Tips for Growing from Clones 

  • Invest in a Grow Kit that Brings the Nutrients You Need. Commercially sourced clones can be fickle. However, a well-established, highly researched feed schedule will set you up for success. 
  • Ask Your Sources for Nutritional Information. If you’re growing clones from dispensaries or other commercial sources, ask your supplier about the plant’s individual nutritional needs to nurture a desirable phenotype.
  • Add Root Support. Cannabis grown from clones is notoriously prone to developing a lackluster root structure. Adding extra root support will help them thrive.


How to Clone A Cannabis Plant

  1. Select a Mother Plant. Look for a healthy, sturdy, and well-established plant at least two months into the vegetative stage of the growth cycle.

  2. Take a Cutting. Pick a long, healthy branch with at least two nodes, cutting on a diagonal to increase the surface of the rooting area.

  3. Place into Your Rooting Medium. Place the cutting into your rooting medium of choice, or use an auto cloner.

  4. Remove Unnecessary Leaves. Cutting away unnecessary leaves at the bottom of the plant helps your clones uptake water and nutrients.

  5. Transplant Your New Plant. Within 10-14 days, your clones will have rooted and be ready for transplant! 


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