There are many potential variables to consider when growing marijuana. The first is whether you will start with seeds, clones, or clone tissue culture. Each option has its own set of pros and cons, and you can either fail apically or experience great success with both. Here’s what you should consider when faced with the clones vs. seeds debate.
Seeds are a reliable method for growing marijuana and are easy to find. Clones, on the other hand, are fast, efficient, and exactly like their mother plant. Although tissue culture clones are almost identical to traditional clones, they take up less space and eliminate the risk of pests and diseases. However, clone tissue culture, seed, or clones all have their disadvantages.
Clones are cuttings from a mature mother marijuana plant that grow into new identical plants. A clone is a genetic copy of the parent plant, which can either be good or bad. They are sometimes called “starts.”
Since they are exactly the same as their parent plant, they will inherit all of the features and characteristics of that plant. That means, if the parent plant had health issues, the cloned plant would also have problems from the start.
For that reason, clones should come from strong, healthy plants that are free from pests, bacteria, or any noticeable disease. It’s a good idea to learn about its parent plant’s lineage. That way, you know the potential yield, height, and flowering time.
You can also ensure you are creating the ideal environment when you know your clone’s strain. When selecting your cutting, inspect the roots. Clones do not have a taproot. They develop secondary roots, which are also known as a fibrous root system. A clone with a well-developed root system is more likely to survive.
Pros of Growing Clones
Here are the pros and cons of growing marijuana from a clone.
You Know What You are Getting
Since a clone is a genetic match to the mother plant, you can pick out which plants you want to clone. By selecting a healthy mature plant, you avoid passing some of the parent’s defects and health issues onto the new cloned plant. Farmers usually pick the healthiest and highest-yielding plants.
When you use clones to grow your marijuana, you save time that you would have otherwise used waiting for the seeds to germinate. Although some growers let their clones' root system develop before planting them, you can also root your cutting directly and wait for it to grow.
Compared to seeds, clones have a head start. Since they are cuttings from a mature plant and have an established root system, they will grow faster. This also means you will harvest sooner.
Your plant’s gender is guaranteed. Clones are cuttings taken from a female marijuana plant, making them an exact copy of the parent plant. As long as the mother is female, marijuana growers have no chance of getting a male plant, which is a possibility with seeds.
A cloned marijuana plant matures faster. This is because the clone skips the germination and seedling stage of a plant life cycle, allowing you to get in more harvests per year. If you are growing your clones outdoors, you will be able to get several extra harvests per year before winter. However, if you are an indoor grower, you can harvest year-round.
When you have a reliable mother plant, you have a constant source of clones. Creating clones from a single plant is a lot cheaper than buying seeds every season. A single plant can produce multiple clones, and that clone can create more clones. This, in theory, could create an unlimited number of plants.
If you are looking to grow the cheapest way possible, consider growing and keeping a strong, healthy, and high-yielding mother plant. Then use cuttings from the mother plant to grow your marijuana.
Cons of Growing Clones
Harder to Find
Finding reliable, healthy, and high-yielding clones is a challenge. You must know a grower, or live in an area that sells starts, while seeds can be easily found via online seed banks.
Science is creating new methods such as micropropagation, but don't expect to find tissue culture clones for sale anytime soon. Until then, seeds are the best way to ensure a healthy marijuana plant.
Mother Plants Get Sick
Clones are susceptible to their parent’s health issues, which could include low immunity against pests, fungus, rotting of the roots, or even bacteria. If the mother plant had genetic issues such as low yields, pests, and any other disease, any new plants will as well. Tissue culture cloning helps prevent this problem; however, there aren't many tissue culture clones for sale to the average grower.
It's Harder to Grow Clones
Clones are fragile and should be handled with care. Freshly cut clones must be handled carefully and are sensitive to light and nutrients. If cloned incorrectly, your plants might die or remain in shock for a long time, rendering them useless.
Mother's Must be Strong
Clones have to work a little harder at the beginning, so they must come from a strong plant. If you use a clone from a mother plant that was not well established, your new plants may experience stunted growth, shock, or death.
Clones have many benefits, but marijuana plants are most often grown from seeds. This is the easiest and most natural method.
This is the easiest and most natural method.
Seeds are Easier to Grow
With the help of the internet, many seed banks can legally ship marijuana seeds to your mailbox. This makes it easy to find a wide variety of marijuana strains, as well as purchase feminized seeds. Feminized seeds remove the risk of seeds being male.
Plants grown from seed tend to be easier to grow, with sturdier root systems and branches. Healthier plants tend to produce higher yields. Seeds are also a good value. You can store seeds for years or fertilize your plants for an endless supply of marijuana seeds.
Of course, there is a chance that some of the seeds will not germinate, especially if they weren't stored properly. Seeds can also take longer to grow, meaning you cannot grow as many per year.
Seeds are the More Natural Route
Seeds are produced by the process of pollination. When pollen from male cannabis plants reaches a female plant, her flowers will include seeds. Unlike the flowers that are typically used for marijuana, these won’t form into large colas or have as many trichomes. The seeds are harvested from the flowers and used for growing new plants.
Unlike a clone, each seed is genetically unique. That means you will have a variety of marijuana plants with varying susceptibility to pests and diseases. If one plant doesn't perform well, another seed may do better. You can also breed plants to create your perfect plant.
Seeds are nature’s way of encouraging genetic diversity. Each seed represents a cross between a male and a female cannabis plant instead of a single plant. Seeds may be created at random, or carefully bred by growers.
Advantages of Growing Seeds
- Marijuana plants grown from seed have a taproot, which provides the plant with more support as it grows.
- Seeds are naturally resistant to pests and diseases; plants grown from a seedling do not have any inherited diseases or pests.
- Compared to clones, which are limited to the available mature plants in your area, there are many varieties of seeds to choose from, either online or in stores.
- Seeds can be stored for a long time (as long as the temperatures are right). Clones must be used, or they will die.
Disadvantages of Growing Seeds
- Seeds are delicate while germinating and can be crushed easily. It takes some practice to get used to handling germinated seeds.
- For the first six weeks, the grower will likely need to pay more attention to their plants than with clones. They will need to determine the sex of their plants and remove any males if they intend to grow non-feminized sinsemilla.
- Unlike clones, seeds take time to germinate and reach the same height as cloned plants.
- Germinating marijuana seeds can be tricky if you are new to it.
Should you grow with seeds if marijuana growing is just a hobby?
Seeds are the best option for a hobby grower because they are easy to find and produce stronger plants (which can lead to higher yields). They’re also a good idea because there are more options. It is fairly easy to find a strain that grows well in your area, fits a particular growing space, or is suitable for first-time growers. Plus, since growing is a hobby, you can be patient as the seeds take time to sprout.
The most challenging aspect of growing from seed—determining the sex of your plants—is remedied by using feminized seeds. These types of seeds are guaranteed to be female and therefore produce sinsemilla weed.
Your yield will also be better with seeds simply because a cloned plant is older. Marijuana is an annual plant that lasts for a little less than a year. If your plant is a clone, it’s already lived to maturity when it was part of its parent plant. However, once you flower your clone, it has only lived as long as a seedling and will produce limited yields. As a result, clones vs seeds yield is a big reason why many people prefer seeds.
It is also gratifying to know that you have nurtured your marijuana plant from seed to harvest.
Where you are going to grow should also be a consideration. When you look at seeds vs. clones, outdoor growing tends to be a bit challenging for clones. With lowered defenses such as the lack of a taproot, and other built-in seedling benefits, outdoor-grown clones need a lot of support to avoid shock and environmental attack.
Related Article: Grow Weed Starting From Seed 🌱
If You are Growing Commercially, Clones are King
If you are growing marijuana commercially, compared to seeds, clones are the best. The main reason is that they take less time to mature since they are cuttings from mature plants. Clones skip the seedling stage and jump straight to the vegetative stage. However, their yields are less than that of seeds.
Clones are also better because you can get several plants from a single mature plant. You can also reproduce the desired qualities of one plant in hundreds of clones. You’ll need to have some experience growing marijuana if you’d like to create your own clones; however, it is very economical if you are concerned about the bottom line.
Creating Clones from Seed Plants
If you are planning to grow marijuana for a few years, it is a good idea to learn how to create clones. Even if you initially start with seeds, you may end up growing a plant that you absolutely love and would like to grow again. Luckily, taking clones from feminized seeds is a straightforward process.
First of all, let’s start with a clarification. You can’t technically clone seeds; you can clone the plants grown from feminized seeds, and there are very few reasons not to do so. Of course, when you look at clones vs seeds yield, you will find that the yields of a cloned plant will be smaller but, the cloned plant does not lose its potency. It also inherits all the best qualities of its mother plant.
However, the downside is that some clones might produce “hermie plants.” Hermie is another name for hermaphrodite, meaning that the clone will produce both male and female parts. If this happens, do not clone using that mother plant again.
That’s why the hardest part of cloning is choosing a good “mother” plant. The best plant should be at least four weeks old, three months at most. It’s a good idea to stop any fertilization (especially any nitrogen) at least a week before obtaining your cutting; this ensures that the clones have better root development.
Before you do any cutting, ensure that the mother plant does not have any pests, bacteria, or signs of diseases. Make sure to check the soil pH and temperature and make the necessary adjustments before planting your clone.
Remember, your clone will be the same age as the mother plant, so you must take your cuttings when the mother plant is in its vegetative stage. Clones obtained from branches develop roots faster and are sturdy enough to support the plant.
How to Clone a Marijuana Plant
- Obtain a cutting from a mother plant. Use a sharp and clean blade or scissors to cut your chosen branch at a 45-degree angle. Ensure that there are about three to four nodes above the cut.
- Immediately after cutting, place it in a cup of water. Leaving it exposed even for a few seconds can result in damage to the clone.
- Trim the cutting to remove the leaves. Trim the stems between the cut and the leaves at the top.
- Plant the stem in a small pot with growing medium. When planting, cover it with enough soil. Make sure to include some of the trimmed nodes as it speeds up the rooting and growing process.
- (optional) Add plant hormones such as rooting powder to encourage root growth
- Cover the cutting with clear plastic to preserve moisture and keep it warm
- After a few weeks, look for developing roots
That is the traditional method of cloning. You may want to plant several starts to improve the chances of a successful clone, in case some do not develop.
Now, science and technology have led to newer and better ways to grow marijuana. Many believe that tissue culture propagation, a different type of cloning, is the future of marijuana cultivation.
👉Related: The Ultimate Guide to Harvesting Cannabis
Tissue Culture Propagation
Tissue Culture Propagation is the process of taking a small cutting from a mother plant and placing it in a sterile environment. That environment is typically a jar containing a plant preservative mixture composition (agar gel). The mixture provides the cutting with the right nutrients and hormones necessary for healthy root and sprout development. Once developed, it is transplanted into a medium that can accommodate its growth.
Here's a more detailed look into how to clone plants using tissue culture.
Tissue culture uses small pieces of the mother plant to make clones. These tiny pieces are washed and sterilized. They are then placed in a jelly-like substance rich in nutrients and hormones. The hormones stimulate the division of the plant tissue cells leading to the formation of many cells, which form a shapeless mass referred to as callus.
Next, the callus is transferred into another jar containing another substance with plant hormones. These hormones stimulate root development. The callus with roots is then transferred to another jar with jelly containing different hormones, stimulating sprout development.
Formation of Sprouts
The cannabis tissue culture lab clones now have roots, and the sprout is separated into many tiny cannabis plants.
Once the plantlets are hardened enough, they are then transplanted into the growing medium. During the hardening process, the seedlings are grown under low light and high humidity. Hardening cannabis tissue culture lab clones makes it easier for them to survive in harsh weather conditions.
Related Article: Ultimate Guide to Cloning Weed
How Tissue Culture Differs from Clones
Unlike seeds and clones, tissue culture lets the grower preserve a living specimen by using a small piece of plant tissue. They then use that sample to produce several identical plants.
Cannabis tissue culture for clones is not the same as a clone; it is better than clones. It is a little slower, but it grows faster than seed and has more disease-resistant than a clone. Like a clone, cannabis tissue culture for clones shares its mother's gender, so there is no chance of males.
The life of a tissue culture starts from the cutting of the mother plant. The cutting is first trimmed and sterilized, then placed in a jar containing nutrient cultures, including nutrients, hormones, and sugar mixture. The dense tissue culture controls the plant cutting.
The sample remains in the culture mixture as long as the grower deems it necessary. The introduction of nutrients and hormones triggers the growth and root development of the clone. When the tissue culture clone is tall enough and ready to be multiplied, it is cut into several individually cloned tissues.
The diced pieces are then taken through the same process of washing and sterilizing. They are then placed in jars with a different hormone to encourage root development. The samples are developed until they are hardened well enough to be in the growing environment. The new tissue culture clones have identical genetics with the mother plants but are disease and pest-free.
If you are well organized, a small sample can help you produce hundreds of tissue culture clones, all without contamination from the mother plant.
Point to Note: All cultures should be maintained at 24 ̊C, and you should use fluorescent lighting with 16-hour light exposure.
👉Related: How To Grow Cannabis Using LED Lights
Pros of Growing Tissue Culture Clones
Growing clones from tissue culture let the grower preserve the plant's genetics while eliminating the effects of pests and diseases. Tissue culture plants are more vigorous than a traditionally derived clone.
Growing clones from tissue cultures are more efficient and high-yielding. This helps growers save money and increase revenue.
Tissue culture can produce superior plants at a better value, but it is not for everyone. The process of cloning using tissue culture is neither short nor easy. This means it may be a while before things like hemp tissue culture clones are readily available for purchase.
Cons of Growing Tissue Culture Clones
More Expensive Process
Tissue culture can be of great value in the long run; however, the process to set up and develop hemp tissue culture clones is expensive. The process requires very skilled cannabis growers, and there still aren't many in the current job market.
Require Clean Rooms and Equipment
Tissue culture cloning also requires both clean rooms and expensive equipment to filter the air and minimize the chances of contamination, both of which are costly to build and acquire.
Longer Growing Cycle
Growing from culture can also take longer than clones. Tissue culture clones mature slower than cuttings, taking close to a month before they can be transplanted. Traditional clones take about two weeks to be transplanted.
👉Related: How to Dry and Cure Weed Fast & Easy
The Future of Cloning?
Tissue culture cultivation is the latest in marijuana growing tech and is considered the future of marijuana cultivation.
Compared to seeds or a cutting, a tissue culture clone is more viable. It has distinct advantages, such as the ability to eliminate pests and diseases while maintaining the mother plant's genetic composition. Add to that a capacity to produce hundreds of pants from tiny pieces of the mother plant is also another reason why tissue culture clones seem like the answer to many problems.
However, the process of creating tissue culture is expensive. You'll need a sterile environment, a specialist to create the cultures and costly equipment. Even though the process is utilized right now, it definitely feels futuristic to the average grower nowadays.
Frequently Asked Questions
Many people have questions when trying to determine whether they should use seeds or clones. Here are a few of those questions:
Are clones quicker than seed?
Clones take less time because they are cut from a grown plant and already have a head start on root development. Seeds also need to germinate before going through the vegetative and flowering stage, adding weeks to their development. The fact that clones grow faster also means there is a lower yield.
Are dispensaries allowed to sell clones or seeds?
Yes, many dispensaries sell clones or seeds to either licensed or recreational growers. This depends on the laws in your area. Clones cannot be shipped via mail like seeds, so they must be purchased or obtained from individuals or stores.
Just like you would online, research where you plan to buy your clones so that you can ensure healthy and potent plants with good yields.
Are plants grown from seeds of clones identical to parents?
Typically, No. Any plant grown from seed will have the genetic makeup of both the male and female parents. If your female clone develops seeds, it has been pollinated by a male. Clone seeds, therefore, will have both the male and female plant’s characteristics.
However, the process of selfing can induce a female clone to produce a male flower. The pollen from that flower is used to self-fertilize the female flower on the same plant. The fertilized female flower then produces feminized clone seeds. These seeds will produce identical plants because the clone pollinated itself.
Can you make feminized seeds from clone?
Yes, you can make feminized seeds from clones. This is because it does not matter if the plant is from clones or seeds. The important thing is getting the clone to produce seeds, and then following the same process to feminize those seeds. As long as the clone is female, you can fertilize it using any other male plant.
Are weed clones weaker than seeds?
Yes. This is because clones are branches without roots, and the first thing they develop after being planted is a root system. Compared to seedlings, clones are weaker because they do not have a taproot that travels deeper into the soil, offering support, and reaching water and nutrients located deep within.
Clones also develop a single node, meaning a single branch per node, while cannabis plants from seeds develop two-sided nodes, meaning that they develop twice the number of branches per plant, yielding more than the clones.
Can auto grow seeds be cloned?
Although it is quite challenging to clone auto-flowering strains of marijuana, it is not impossible. Some growers claim to have done it successfully but were not rewarded in terms of yields. Therefore, if you are doing it on an experimental basis, give it a try; however, it is hardly ever recommended.
Whether you choose seeds or clones, you’ll want to give your plants their best possible start. a Pot for Pot’s Complete Grow Kit has everything you need to grow marijuana outdoors – from the pot and the soil, to the watering can and trimming scissors.
What is tissue culture propagation?
Tissue Culture Propagation is the process of taking a small cutting from a mother plant and placing it in a sterile environment.
Why would someone opt to clone their marijuana plant?
There are two reasons why growers opt to clone; one being a lack of access to quality seeds, and two being a preference of using clones over seeds.
At What Temperatures Should Cultures Be Maintained At?
All cultures should be maintained at 24 ̊C, and you should use fluorescent lighting with 16-hour light exposure.