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Seeds vs. Clones: Pros, cons and best practices [part one: seeds]

June 10, 2016


When you choose to grow cannabis on a professional scale, one of the first decisions you will encounter is whether to select clones or seeds. There is a time and place for both.

  • Seeds give you a great controlled start that will carry over all the way to sale.
  • Clones are a great way to continue the genetics that produce the best crop most efficiently for you.


The choice can seem like an easy one, since clones are popular, plentiful and available from your local dispensary, recreational shop or your own crop. Clones have both negatives and positives, as do seeds. This is the first of two parts exploring the pros and cons of seeds and clones.

Regardless of how you start, keep careful notes and calendars so that you have productive, sustained grows. This diligence will provide a history from one grow cycle to the next and let you benefit from your experience. Being able to review your notes for the last five or six cycles will help you add size, vigor and weight each year.


Why seeds?

Seeds can be the most natural and genetically stable choice. Many purists grow only from seeds.

The art of producing seeds is a genetic cross, or blending, of a mother and a father plant. Hopefully, your seed stock supplier has taken the time to cross the strongest males with the most influential females to pass on these strengths. Although seeds grow faster than clones once rooted, when you plant seeds it can take a little more time to get to harvest time than clones.


Outdoors: If you are growing outdoors, choose seeds from a breeder that is suitable to your area, based on how much sunlight you get and for how long your outdoor flowering season lasts. Ideally, you want enough time so that the seed-grown plant can reach 9 feet or higher before flowering season starts. Seeds are preferable for this purpose because they product taproots, which are important to supporting tall plants.

A seed bank purchase includes a history of the plant’s lineage. A reputable seed company will offer thorough notes and recommendations from the breeders and testers. This information lets you know how long the average plant takes to finish, and how much weight you can expect from an optimal grow.

If you talk directly to the breeder, ask them how the seeds were crossed and what the grower/breeder notes indicate. Ask questions such as: What pests and diseases are their strains more or less susceptible to, and why? How do they handle stress? Has this genetic line been known to create hermaphrodites often?

Take the time to research the seed bank, look at the online reviews, talk to the growers and breeders, and ask questions. A good seed bank has documented everything about the plant. This documentation is your foundation for your garden to succeed.

For the grower going from seed to the outdoor plot, a basic knowledge of climate, latitude and longitude, and sunlight schedule is a must. Trying to grow a field of sativa too far north will end with premature buds, since there will not be enough time to finish outdoors with high success. A Farmers’ Almanac can be used to gather information on the area you choose to farm and what you might expect from climate and sun cycles.

The ability to know how to sex plants from seed is also crucial if you start from seed. Sexing the plants as soon as possible can stop an entire garden from becoming pollinated. You also can choose feminized seeds; they remove much of the guesswork by manipulating the seeds to greatly increase the likelihood that they will flower as a female. But feminized seeds are expensive as a long-term professional solution. You may need to buy and plant new ones each grow cycle. Based on costs, this probably isn’t an option for the grower trying to produce many large, sturdy plants each season. Using 100 feminized seeds at a time adds to an already expensive endeavor.


Indoors: Growing from seeds indoors gives you more control in stopping vegetative growth and moving to flowering. When you have germinated your seeds and gotten them into soil, keeping them in a humid environment is paramount to a healthy beginning.

“Less is more” when you are growing seedlings. Do not use full strength nutrients or overwater; these are common beginner mistakes. For a professional grow, great losses will be devastating to the overall time from seed to sale.

The old saying goes, “the bigger the root, the larger the fruit.” This rule is particularly accurate for cannabis growers. Knowing what you want from your root can dictate if you choose clones or seeds. Seeds start with a taproot, which is a vertical root with side shoots for collecting water and nutrients. The taproot system can go deeper and carry more water and nutrients to the flower.

Carrots are considered a taproot, and that’s why they get so thick and can become so deeply embedded in the soil. Transfer this carrot thickness taproot to cannabis and you will get larger, denser flowers. The taproot system can speed up growing and, in the end, leave you with higher test results for THC, CBD and CBG, among other things.


By Eric Stone

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