When you grow cannabis, you can start with either cannabis seeds or cannabis clones. But what’s the difference between cannabis clones and seeds? Is one better than the other? Find out below as we go over the pros and cons of these two growing options.
What Are Cannabis Clones and Seeds?
Cannabis seeds and cannabis clones are two things you can use to start growing marijuana. Both seeds and clones can be planted and grown into mature, flowering marijuana plants.
Cannabis seeds are just what they sound like: seeds from a cannabis plant. Like other flowering plants, female cannabis plants can produce seeds that feature a variation of their own genetics. These ovular, peppercorn-sized seeds can be planted and grown into fully mature marijuana plants.
Cannabis clones are cuttings from a live cannabis plant, which growers call the clone’s mother plant. Cannabis clones share the exact same genetics as their mother plant, hence the name “clones.” When planted and carefully tended, a clone can be grown into a fully mature marijuana plant that is genetically the same as its mother plant.
These are the basics of cannabis clones and seeds. Now, let’s take a more in depth look at each growing option’s advantages and disadvantages.
Growing From Cannabis Seeds
Growing from cannabis seeds is the more traditional way of growing marijuana plants. It’s also the more common method, especially among home growers. In part, that’s because cannabis seeds are more accessible than clones. However, cannabis seeds also have several advantages that make them an attractive option for both beginners and experts.
Pros of Growing Cannabis From Seeds
Seeds Are Accessible
One of the best things about cannabis seeds is how easy they are to get. You can order seeds online straight from seed banks and have them sent discreetly to your home in the mail. You can also pick up seeds at dispensaries. And once you start growing cannabis, you can choose to create your own cannabis seeds yourself, giving you an endless supply of seeds.
Seeds Offer Fresh Genetics
When you grow a seed, you’re getting its genetics and no baggage. That seed hasn’t been exposed to a poor growing environment, molding, pesticides, or diseases. If you grow with clones, that may not always be the case. Compared to clones, seeds offer more of a blank slate and a fresh start, which can make growing easier.
You Can Get Feminized Seeds
Back in the day, growers had to spend a lot of time trying to keep male plants away from their female plants. Males are great for breeding, but they can be detrimental to your flower yield if they pollinate your female plants.
Today, however, you can get feminized seeds that have a 99% chance of producing female cannabis plants. This takes worrying about male plants out of the equation, making using seeds to grow easier than ever before.
Multiple Seed Type Options
In addition to using feminized seeds, you can choose to grow using regular seeds or autoflowering seeds. Regular seeds can produce male or female cannabis plants, so they’re great for growers who want to crossbreed, create seeds via pollination, or just try their hand at growing the old fashioned way. Then, autoflowering seeds will grow female plants that will automatically flower once they reach a certain maturity. This makes them an excellent option for beginners or those who want a lower maintenance grow.
Cons of Growing Cannabis From Seeds
Seeds May Not Germinate
Before you can actually grow marijuana seeds, you need them to germinate. Germination is the process of activating a seed that’s been dormant for a while so that it will sprout and start the growing process. To germinate cannabis seeds, you need to expose them to the right level of moisture and warmth.
Germinating marijuana seeds isn’t difficult, but it takes time and attention to detail. And even with the best strategy, some cannabis seeds just won’t germinate, so the germination process can sometimes be a headache.
Seeds Are Slower
Seeds take longer to grow into a fully mature plant compared to clones because seeds need to go through every step of the growing process. There are four stages of this process: germination, seedling, vegetative, and flowering. Rooted clones start from the vegetative state, but seeds start from scratch. The germination and seedling stages take an average of three weeks, which adds around three weeks to the overall grow time of plants that are grown from seeds rather than from clones.
Seeds Always Have Genetic Variation
Seeds have similar genetics to their parent plants, but they always have their own unique genetic code. So, even if you grow a crop of new plants using seeds that are all from the same mother plant, these sibling plants won’t be exactly the same. This can be a con if you don’t want much variation in a crop.
Growing From Cannabis Clones
A clone is a cutting from a live mother plant, so it’s an exact genetic copy of its parent. By raising a clone instead of planting a seed, you have more guaranteed genetics, but you also have to deal with a trickier growing process. That means that, in general, growing from cannabis clones could be considered a more advanced option compared to using seeds.
Pros of Growing Cannabis From Clones
Clones Always Have Expected Genetics
Many would say that the biggest advantage of clones is that they have an exact copy of their mother plant’s genetics. So, assuming you like the mother plant’s genetics, you’ll be happy with the genetics of the cloned plant. There’s no genetic rolling of the dice with a clone, so clones produce more consistent results in terms of cannabinoids and terpenes. This is great if you’re looking for uniform results from a crop. It’s also ideal if you want to grow something specific, like a cannabis strain with a certain THC to CBD ratio or a particular flavor profile.
Clones From Mother Plants Will Always Be Female
With cloned plants, you can rest easy knowing that they’ll always be female plants. They’re exact genetic copies of their mother, so there’s no chance they’ll be male.
Clones Are Faster
A lot of cannabis growers prefer clones over seeds because they speed up the growing process. If you’re growing from a seed, you have to germinate it and nurture it into a seedling before it hits its vegetative state. Clones, on the other hand, start in a vegetative state. On average, this head start reduces a plant’s growing time by three weeks.
Cons of Growing Cannabis From Clones
Clones Can Be Hard To Find
Not everyone can get their hands on high quality cannabis clones, which are definitely harder to find than high quality cannabis seeds. Clones are living cuttings that are cut from live marijuana plants, which are highly regulated. In certain areas where home growing is legal, you may be able to buy clones from a dispensary. But if you don’t have a legal dispensary that sells clones near you, finding any clones—let alone high quality clones—can be challenging.
Cloned Plants Are Delicate
A rooted clone clipping is less delicate than a freshly sprouted seedling, but adult clones are not as hardy as adult cannabis plants that grew from a seed. This is because clones never grow a taproot.
When a cannabis seed sprouts and starts growing, its first growths create a taproot that grows straight downward. Over time, the plant will continue to grow fibrous roots, also called secondary roots or lateral roots, off of the plant’s large central taproot.
Cannabis clones don’t grow tap roots. Instead, they grow adventitious root systems. These fibrous roots lack a strong central taproot, making clones less hardy and more fragile compared to marijuana plants that grew from seeds.
Clones Sometimes Have Baggage
Perhaps the biggest downside of cannabis clones is that they can come with negative traits from their mother plant. If a clone’s mother plant was harboring pests, diseases, or mildew, the clone will have them too. And if the mother had any genetic issues, the clone will have them as well, since it’s an exact genetic copy of the mother.
Genetic issues are usually just disappointing, but pests and pathogens have the potential to ruin every other plant in your garden. This makes vetting where you buy your clones from very important. Additionally, when you get clones from an outside source, you may want to consider quarantining them for a period of time before you allow them into the same space as your other plants.
Clones and seeds both have pros and cons, and neither option is inherently better than the other. If you’re a new grower, you may want to start with seeds instead of clones, since seeds are less tricky. But if you have some experience under your belt, consider trying both options and seeing which works best for you in various situations. It often takes a bit of experimentation to find out what works for your growing style, so don’t be shy about trying something new.
Clones and Seeds?