As the video below illustrates, we believe (very strongly) that seeds are far better than clones. But, in the spirit of balance and fairness (we don’t want to be accused of being partisan) we’re going to ask questions like: Which is better? Are seeds better than clones? Does one have an advantage over the other?
What is cannabis cloning?
Cloning a cannabis plant involves taking stem cuttings from a vegging cannabis plant, or mother. These cuts are planted and, as their root systems develop, they go through both the vegetative and flowering stages. The subsequent plants share the same genetic blueprint (genotype) as the mother, and, if grown in the same environment, will share the exact same physical characteristics as the mother, too.
What are the advantages of cloning?
Starting from clones is a widely used propagation method, especially in the USA. But why is growing from clone popular? Let’s explore some of the positives.
1. Are clones cheaper than cannabis seeds?
Assuming you already have some nice vegging plants, your cuttings won’t cost you a dime. When you compare the cost of these cuttings to the cost of individual cannabis seeds, it seems like the clones are the cheaper option.
BUT – this is assuming two things: you already have a mother plant and your mother plant doesn’t cost you anything to maintain. If you don’t already have a mother plant, you’ll need to grow one for the cuttings, but how will you grow this mother plant? From seed or clone? How will you obtain the clone? How much will it cost? Will you grow the clone to take more clones? If you do have a mother plant, how much is it costing you to keep it alive? How much room is it taking up?
Basically, when comparing the cost of seeds vs clones, it’s not as straightforward as you might think. Clones have a higher initial cost ($12 – $20, average) but they have a head-start in terms of growth so spend less time under the lights. In our opinion, the cheapest and best way to obtain clones is to grow some good plants using high-quality cannabis seeds, and take the cuttings from your favorite. At least this way you’ll have the pleasure of growing from seed and your mother plant will be of supreme health and pathogen free.
2. Do clones finish faster than seeds?
Seeds take time to crack. Some take 24 hours while others can take up to 5 days to pop a taproot. Indoors, the seedling stage takes 2 – 3 weeks on average, and up to 6 weeks if cultivated outdoors.
Cloning eliminates the entire seedling stage. Once the root system develops, the cuts enter veg and are ready to start gaining mass. A clone could give you a seven week head-start on a seed.
3. Are clones always female?
Feminized cannabis seeds are our most popular sellers, and for good reason. One single male plant can pollinate an entire crop, meaning buds full of seed but empty of punch. It’s a lot of hard work down the drain.
Feminized seeds, however, can never be 100% guaranteed to produce only female plants. They are a natural product and subject to nature’s whims. That said, the breeders at Homegrown Cannabis Co. have got this down to a fine art. Every feminized seed is 99% sure to produce a female plant and if it doesn’t, it will be replaced.
With cloning, however, there is no question of the plant being anything but female. The cutting will an exact replica of the mother. If the mother is female, the clone will be female.
4. Do clones lose potency?
Cloning takes away the scope for genetic diversity. If you clone from a potent cannabis plant, the clone will be a potent cannabis plant. If you clone from a tall cannabis plant, the clone will be tall cannabis plant. Clones are exact genetic replicas of their mothers.
5. Can you take clones from clones? How many clones can a plant produce?
Cloning makes a perpetual harvest possible – making it easy to produce an unlimited supply of high-quality cannabis flower, in theory. You can obtain 10, 50, even 100 viable cuttings in one go from a healthy, well-developed mother plant, and this plant can be kept alive for years with proper care and maintenance.
Perpetual harvesting benefits medical patients in terms of economics and reliability. If you find a strain that works for you, you’ll want to grow it out time after time. To keep that mother alive, all you need is a dedicated area in which the mother will never receive more than 6 hours of continuous dark. You’ll need to keep it fed and watered and you’ll need to prune it to keep it manageable. You don’t want it growing too big and you’ll need to keep the root system healthy. You could also simply take cuttings from every clone you grow out.
Tips: keep on top of cleanliness and hygiene and try to keep your mother under your control – too many people pass their mothers around to their friends WITHOUT knowing how well cared-for they’re going to be.
6. Are clones easier to grow?
Once you’ve transplanted your seedling, your plant will only be a few weeks behind a clone. It may have a weaker root structure because only plants grown from seed have a tap root.
A plant grown from seed will generally show more vigor and more resilience to disease, especially during the early stages.
Clones, like autos, are great in a Sea of Green (SOG) set-up – and can prove easier keep uniform than plants grown from seed. The clones – being of equal size – should grow at the same rate.
What are the disadvantages of growing from clone?
The apparent benefits of cloning can make it appear to be the “holy grail” of cannabis propagation. However, there are plenty of reasons to choose seeds over clones.
1. Do clones inherit the flaws of the mother?
For all the promise of growing endless plants with the same, desirable traits, there is a dark side to cloning. Any vulnerabilities and weakness such as poor genetics or disease will also be inherited by the clones.
Always choose the best, healthy plant to be your mother. And be extra-strict in terms of cleanliness and hygiene. Clean hands, clean shears, clean EVERYTHING!
2. Can you clone an autoflowering cannabis plant?
Auto-flowering plants switch to the flowering period after a predetermined time, usually 2-3 weeks into the vegetative stage, making cloning impractical. Also, clones do not have time to recover first from the “shock” of the cutting.
Cloning only works for photoperiod plants.
3. Do seeds produce bigger yields than clones?
Plants grown from seed develop a better root structure (that taproot again). Expect stronger plants with bigger yields.
What’s the best way to get a cannabis clone?
There are two ways to obtain clones – buying them or taking cuttings from your best plant). Each has its pros and cons.
Option 1: Buy your cannabis clone
Clones are available from dispensaries or licensed facilities. Buying takes away the hassle/pleasure of procuring seeds, germinating and nurturing them through the vegetative stage.
Although quick and convenient, most people don’t have access to a good supply of clones. Even when you can buy them, there are some drawbacks to doing so.
- There is no verifiable way of knowing the growth pattern and other traits of the mother – you have to take the seller at their word.
- It’s almost impossible to determine if the cuttings were taken from a sickly or poorly cared-for mother,which may introduce unwanted pathogens into your environment.
Option 2: Clone your own.
The best way to obtain stem cuttings is to grow the plants yourself. It’s not only reliable but also more cost-effective in the long-run.
Typically, it entails:
- Germinating and growing the plants.
- Discarding the males to keep the grow area female-only.
- Taking cuttings from each female, and labeling for identification.
- Keeping the original mother plants in the vegetative stage.
- Rooting the clones and growing them out, keeping a record of the qualities of each clone.
- Harvesting and assessing the flower, then cloning from your favorite plant.
It may be a time-consuming process, but it’s the only way to know exactly how good (or bad) your clones will be.
Is Cloning Cannabis For You?
Cloning may require a bit of a learning curve. By and large, though, it’s not a hugely complicated procedure. Once comfortable with cultivating cannabis, it’s merely a matter of replacing the germination and seedling stage with cutting and rooting.