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Seeds Or Clones: How To Choose?

Whether you are a beginner grower or an expert, before starting a new run, you’ll have to ask yourself the same question: Will I start with seeds or clones? The answer to that is of course: It depends. In this guide, we’ll weigh the pros and cons to help you choose the most suitable option for you.

Starting With Clones

At first glance, it looks easier to start with clones. You don’t have to go through the germination process and they are taller and more robust than a fragile little seedling right? Actually, it can be more complicated than starting with seeds. That is because clones are more prone to diseases and pests.

Pros:

  • Predictable. A cutting has the same genes as the plant it comes from. If the mother-plant is a pure female, the clone will also be 100% female.
  • More uniform than seeds. All clones from the same mother-plants will grow the same way under the same environment.
  • Allow for a quicker turnover. Clones grow faster than seeds at the beginning of the vegetative phase and can also bloom faster. Because they come from plants that are mature, clones have already reached their sexually maturity and they will therefore flower a bit faster.
  • Stretch less than plants grown from seeds. At the beginning of the flowering phase, a natural growth-spurt causes the stems to elongate. However, clones tend to remain shorter than the plants that directly come from a seed.
Seeds or Clones?

Cons:

  • Less vigorous than seeds. This is due to the fact that clones only produce fibrous roots but do not have a tap root.
  • Lower yields. Because they tend to be less vigorous, clones yield less than seeds.
  • Can bring pathogens and diseases to the grow room. Nowadays many clone nurseries sell clones which carry viroids such as the Hop Latent Viroid. Although the clones are often asymptomatic, it can significantly impact yields and quality. You should always quarantine your clones after you acquire them. It is also a good idea to  lab-test them to make sure they are “Clean”.
  • More vulnerable to pests and diseases. Clones are more prone to pests and diseases because they are less vigorous than seedlings. Also, the lack of genetic diversity means that if a clone is vulnerable to a particular pest or disease, all the other clones coming from the same mother-plant will have the same problem. 
  • Hard to obtain. In most countries, it is lot lot easier to buy seeds from a reputable breeder than it is to find great clones. Some growers sell hyped clones via social media for insane amounts of money. However, these clones with fancy names rarely live up to expectations.
  • Lack of information. When you purchase a clone, it is sometimes tricky to know where it comes from and how the selection was made. Sometimes clones are treated with chemical pesticides and there is no way to know. Likewise, the strain name is not always accurate.
  • Require more knowledge. Although not very complicated, cloning cannabis takes some gardening skills and you will need lots of tools.
  • Need to keep a mother plant alive. In order to grow the same clones over and over again, you will have to keep a mother plant alive and look after it.

Starting With Seeds

Some growers won’t start with seeds because they do not like the element of surprise. What if you popped 10 seeds and ended up with weak plants, hermaphrodites or a disappointing end product? This is definitely a risk. However, if the seeds come from a reputable breeder, the plants will be vigorous, similar to one another and you shouldn’t have any hermaphrodites.

Pros:

  • More vigorous. Because seeds develop a tap root, they can grow faster.
  • Higher Yielding. Seeds are younger than clones coming from a mature plant that may be getting old. On top of that their tap root allows seedlings to be more vigorous. These are the main reasons why seedlings generally produce more than clones.
  • Better resistant to diseases and pests. Thanks to a higher genetic diversity as well as a higher vigor, plants grown from seeds are naturally more resistant to pests and diseases. On top of that, seeds seldom carry viroids and pathogens unlike clones.
  • Full control. With seeds you can control the process from A to Z. Unlike some clones, seeds don’t have pesticide residue and are almost always virus free. In other words, you’ll be starting with a clean slate. As long as they come from a good breeder, you’ll know exactly what the strain is. There is no guesswork.
  • Freedom of choice. Seeds are easier to buy legally than clones and you also have a wider array of cultivars to choose from.
  • More discreet. It is much more low-key to ship or buy some tiny seeds than it is to buy cuttings.
  • Uniqueness. Starting with seeds allows you to pheno hunt and pick the very best plants in order to make a mother-plant out of it. Many growers work with the same clones, however, when starting with seeds, you can find an incredibly unique phenotype that has never been found before.
  • Better for outdoors. As they haven’t yet reached their sexual maturity, plants started from seeds do not go into flower in April as some clones do. Furthermore, their strong tap root allows them to be more drought-resistant than clones that have shallower roots.
Young Marijuana Seedling

Cons:

  • Trickier at the very beginning. It’s paramount to know how to store and how to germinate your beans so almost all of them can sprout. Then, you need to look after these fragile little babies so they can grow into strong healthy plants.
  • Slow at first. It takes time to wait for seeds to germinate. On top of that, seedlings grow slowly at first.
  • Sometimes more “stretchy”. Seedlings usually stretch more than clones at the beginning of the flowering phase.
  • Can be costly. Sometimes, seeds are relatively cheap but sometimes just one seed can cost up to 20 euros. More expensive doesn’t always mean better. Make sure that you are being seeds from a reputable source.
  • Not always feminized. Should you decide to buy regular seeds, you’ll have to look out for the male plants so as not to end up with seeded buds.

So... Seeds Or Clones?

Whether you decide to grow seeds or clones, there are benefits and drawbacks to both. That being said, you should easily be able to choose what’s best for your setup based on this thorough comparison. Still not sure? Why not try them both to see what suits your needs!? No matter what you choose, whether starting with seeds or clones, the number one success factor is the grower himself!