Pros and Cons of Seeds vs. Clones

Mar 15, 2022 | Blog, News

With springtime and planting season almost here, it’s time to start getting your plants ready. Some growers have strong opinions about whether it is better to grow from seed or from clones. In reality, there are tradeoffs for both, and the best answer will likely depend on a number of factors. Let’s review and compare the benefits and drawbacks of seeds versus clones.

Seeds can be stored and remain viable for years under the right conditions, which means they may be available in situations when clones are not. It is also much easier to transport seeds, which can be carried in your pocket, than to transport clones. However, some seeds might not be viable, and will never germinate. Even in well-controlled commercial settings, seed failure can exceed 10 percent.

Clones also tend to cost more to purchase than seeds — if you need to buy a lot of plants, the expense can add up quickly. You can perhaps reduce those costs if you produce your own clones, but you will need space and labor, which are not free. However, you might have to spend a lot more time germinating seeds and culling out undesirable plants like males.

When you grow from seed, there is an opportunity to discover desirable new phenotypes, whereas a clone will have the exact same traits as the plant it was cloned from. On the other hand, a seed also has the potential to grow into an undesirable phenotype, or a male plant, that has no value.

With pros and cons for each option, your decision should be informed by your ultimate goals. If your main goal is producing a consistent medicine, the predictability of clones is most likely your best option. If maximizing your yield in an outdoor crop is your top priority, then seed plants with taproots might be a better route, as plants grown from seed tend to exhibit far more vigorous growth, and more environmental stress resistance, all of which bodes well for your quality and yield.

A graphic comparing seeds to clones.

If you’d like to learn more, check out our new Elective “Getting Started.” In this self-paced virtual course we discuss how you can grow cannabis safely and remain compliant with state and local regulations. We introduce the foundations of cannabis botany, the process of growing from seeds or clones, and how light and nutrients affect the development of the cannabis plant during the vegetative stage.

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