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Seeds vs. Clones: Pros, Cons and Best Practices [Part Two: Clones]

June 14, 2016

To read Part One: Seeds, click here.

Clones are carbon copies of the genetics in your plant arsenal. If you are excited and knowledgeable about your mother stock, then you have a great system in place to take clones for yourself. Being able to supply your own garden with clones is a level of full control that makes you more money in the long run.

The foundation of success is to know your genetics and where they come from, and to limit outside, unknown forces from coming in. If you are unsure about your inventory, you can have a hard time or introduce problems. Clones should come from a known source and always be left in isolation for a few days before being added to your system.

In a professional operation, the mother room needs to be a separate and clean room. It will be filled with plants that are the highest genetic strength and variety. The room includes your spectrum of plants, genetics and types. A stable, clean mother room is the foundation to a successful commercial grow; it is your “bank.”

Unknown clone sources are the No. 1 cause of pests and disease—such as powdery mildew and mites—entering your grow. To mitigate this risk, isolate all new incoming clones in a “staging” area for a few days to a week and check them regularly with a handheld microscope or high-powered magnifying glass.


Clone root system

Clones create a fibrous root that lacks the taproot system. This difference can affect the size and strength of the plant and resulting flowers. The fibrous root system creates roots that are equal in size and spider out in a different way than from a seed—more like a spider’s web. This type of root does not mean clones are less effective, but they are less able to hold up weight and will need more staking and manipulating.

Clone roots and seed roots are different, but they both have the ability to offer a great plant. The clone root system is neither better nor worse than the seed root system, but it will affect your end results if you are unfamiliar with the genetics and mother plant’s history. To make a stronger clone, learn a few basic low-stress training techniques to help strengthen the water delivery system. These techniques can create a plant that overcomes the lack of a large taproot.

Cloning from plants that are clones themselves can start a genetic loss in potency, weight and profitability. These losses are manageable if you clone from plants that began as seeds. Avoid taking clones from clones, and keep the genetic pool secure and vigorous.

Cloning can be a rewarding and exciting day in the garden. The best clones come from plants that were planted as seeds and then sexed. Once you know the sex of your seed-started clones, you will have a stable stock in your garden.


Cloning pros and cons


  • Plentiful in most places
  • One mother plant can continue to offer stable and uniform offspring for a long time
  • Cloning is cheap if you have personal stock
  • You can have many types of female plants in one garden
  • You always know you have females



  • Clones can take time to establish positive growth
  • Clones are more susceptible to disease and bugs
  • Bringing in clones from unknown or untested sources can introduce problems
  • Cloning from clones can reduce potency and weight


Final analysis: seeds vs. clones

Growing cannabis is a time-consuming and costly business. Seeds give you control and genetic strength, while clones offer you a quick more voluminous option for the uniform indoor grow.

Seeds are natural and stronger, and give you bigger plants and a larger yield. Seeds take a little more time and increase the risk when it’s time to flower, because an unnoticed male plant in the garden can bring your entire season to seed. Pollen travels fast, far and wide. So, when in doubt, pull it out. Don’t risk pollinating a whole garden from one missed pollen sac.

On the other hand, clones give you piece of mind to know that all your plants are from one source and one gene pool. As a professional grower, you want uniformity and strength for each grow cycle. It is up to you to be diligent and ask questions before bringing clones in as your stock. Know your source or create your sources for clones and keep good records.


Here are some final tips:

  • The best practice in a professional setting is a blend of both seeds and clones. Having dedicated space for your mother room is a great path to success, since you can introduce seeds that have been vetted and started by your company.
  • Treat the mother room like a hospital operating room. Keep it as clean and sterile as possible, and limit entry to necessary personnel. Use clean-room procedures, such as wearing protective gear to keep from bringing in contaminants.
  • After you have established a clean mother room, keep a calendar and journal of all activity. This log can help you identify problems before they arise.


There is no right or wrong when it comes to seeds vs. clones in a professional setting. Your results will depend on how much you pay attention and how many notes you keep, as well as your overall growing style.


By Eric Stone

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