Clones or Seeds: What is Better for Growing Cannabis?

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Added 26 April 2022

Do you want to earn the pleasure of growing a plant from scratch, or are you just aiming for big, bushy buds? Think about it carefully — your answer can help you solve the dilemma between cloning cannabis or growing it from a seed.

But, wait...before you go on a shopping spree for clones or seeds, remember that it's not so simple. There's a lot more to choosing between the two methods.

Cloning is the process of growing a plant that is a genetic copy of the mother plant. On the other hand, germinating seeds is about sowing a seed and waiting for the fruits of your labor, or flowers, in this case.  

The results of both the techniques are the same — you grow a plant and harvest the flowers, but the route is different. In addition, it depends on what you prefer. For instance, you may go for clones because they are fast, whereas others may prefer stronger plants and better yields may pick seeds. 

Both techniques have their benefits and downsides. Learn all about the difference between cloning and germinating seeds for growing cannabis in this article.

Growing Cannabis by Germinating Seeds

Cannabis seed germination

This technique is just what it sounds like — you germinate the seeds and grow the plant. 

Like any other flowering plant, cannabis produces seeds, too, which carry on a variation of genetics. The process begins with you giving the seed an ideal environment to sprout; once the seedling is tall enough with an adequate root system, you transplant it into your choice of growing medium.

Many growers consider germinating seeds as the pure way of growing cannabis (or any other plant). Plants that grow from seeds are typically more robust due to the taproots. On the other hand, clones don't have taproots. 

Moreover, watching your plant grow from a seed to a mature plant gives you a deep sense of satisfaction — we can't deny it.

But germinating seeds may not be the best for many growers, too. It takes a long time to germinate seeds, and you're often uncertain about the type of plant you will grow. 

Germination Process 

The germinating process for cannabis seeds according to your preferences. 

In short, you first have to activate the seeds using a medium. You'll need a glass of water, a moist towel, or Rockwool cubes. Some growers even germinate the seeds directly in the soil, like you'd grow any other plant. 

Once the seed has developed roots and a leaflet at the top, you can then transfer it into the growing medium of your choice. From there on, give the plant the right conditions, and it will grow into a healthy plant. 

Since there are many ways of germinating seeds, you also need to figure out the ideal germination method for you, depending on your location, climatic conditions, and investment.

Below are some of the benefits and downsides of germinating seeds.

Advantages of Germinating Seeds for Cannabis

Advantages of seeds

Here is why you should consider germinating seeds for your plant.

Seeds are Easy to Source

Whether you live next to a coffee shop or in a desert, you can easily get your hands on cannabis seeds. Much thanks to the internet! You can purchase seeds from numerous websites for quite a reasonable rate.

If ordering online is not your jam, you can even visit your nearest seed bank to get your seeds. There are seed banks in most major cities where cannabis is legalized.

Most importantly, breeders send seeds in discreet packaging, so you'll not have to worry about your snoppy neighbor. Plus, seeds are perfectly legal to buy or possess in most cities even if the law does not allow cannabis cultivation or consumption.

Stronger than clones

As mentioned above, plants growing from seeds have a distinct advantage over clones. Compared to clones, they grow bigger and better. Also, they fare better than clones when warding off pests and diseases.   

In addition, seeds give you a deep sense of satisfaction as you watch your baby (plant) grow from a seedling to a mature plant.

However, this benefit goes deeper. Germinating seeds allow you to start your cultivation from scratch, i.e., a fresh batch of genetics — unlike cloned plants. 

You Can Even Invent Your Strain

Forget Sour Diesel or Girl Scout Cookies. Imagine if you had a strain named after you! That's possible if you germinate seeds, as this technique allows you to create your own strains.

Essentially, you breed a female plant of your choice with a male plant of your choice and germinate their seeds. You will have hundreds of new strain seeds by the end of the growing cycle.

And you can always keep inventing until you hit the sweet spot of your preference, taste, and expected high.

Feminized Seeds are Guaranteed to be Female

There is no way to tell whether your plant is female or male until it's into the flowering stage. During this stage, the plant will grow sticky buds or pollen sacs, where the latter means it's a male plant.

Not only is this process of growing weed full of uncertainty and wasted efforts, but it can also compromise your crop as the male plant can start pollinating the female plants if you don't take it out on time.

In this case, you can simply order feminized seeds that guarantee the female sex of your plant. Such seeds can save you a lot of time and effort and eliminate the mental hassle of constantly looking out for pollen sacs on your plants.

Plus, most reputable seed banks offer feminized seeds for popular strains.

Variety of Options

Not only can you buy regular or feminized seeds, but germinating seeds also give you options in other ways. Thanks to many seed banks (both online and offline), you can buy seeds of whichever strain you desire.

You can also buy autoflowering seeds, where your plant will switch to flowering on its own. Autoflowering cannabis can help you grow your plants faster. Meanwhile, regular photoperiod plants require you to manually change the light cycle from 18/6 to 12/12 to push the plant into flowering.

On the other hand, you can only get clones if you have access to a healthy mother plant (and if the grower is willing to give you a cut out of it for cloning).

Disadvantages of Germinating Seeds

Disadvantages of seeds

Despite the advantages, germinating seeds may also be the wrong choice for many growers. Here are some of the downsides of germinating seeds.

Seeds May Not Always Germinate

Even though the most reputable seed banks offer seeds with high germination rates, all the seeds may not always germinate. And no matter how perfect the growth conditions are, some seeds are just duds.

This is also why we always recommend growers to start with multiple seeds even if they only want to grow a single cannabis plant.

Seeds Carry Genetic Variations

Thanks to Darwin, we know that seeds always carry a genetic variation — the DNA contains slight variations that make your plant grow slightly different from the parent plant.

In other words, plants growing from seeds will have variations in flavor, yield, color, height, etc., from their sister plants. 

Seeds are Slower to Start

Since seeds take a couple of weeks to germinate and be ready to transplant into the growing medium, germinating seeds is a time-consuming process. This may not seem long, but germinating seeds may not be the right approach if you want to grow cannabis plants faster.

Cloning Cannabis from Cuttings

Cannabis clone

If germinating seeds do not fit your bill for the reasons mentioned above, you can clone cannabis plants. Clones are also great for perpetual harvests

Cloning is a method of growing plants where you take a cutting from a live mother plant, give it the ideal conditions to grow roots, and transplant it into your choice of growing medium.

This method is popular because it lets you grow an identical genetic copy of the mother plant, ensuring you get the same levels of potency, flavor, height, and health. However, remember that these qualities may vary depending on your growing conditions.

And clones are quick and cheap to grow. They can cut down a few weeks of the growing cycle.

Cloning Process Explained


The cloning process is more meticulous than germinating seeds. The process begins with finding the right mother plant.

The mother plant must meet specific criteria if you want to grow a healthy cannabis plant, such as the following:

  • It must be healthy without any signs of stress, diseases, or nutrient deficiencies.
  • It must be in its vegetative stage yet less than two months old.
  • It must not have any pistils (reproductive structure of the female plant). If it does, it is already too late.

Once you find the right plant, you have to cut a branch off it. Try to cut from the lower tiers of the plant since they have higher rooting hormone levels.

Then, place the cutting immediately in water to avoid air from getting into the sensitive capillaries of the plant. Then, cut the larger fan leaves.

Next, dunk the cut portion into the rooting hormone to encourage root growth and let it grow roots and leaves.

Finally, you can transplant the clone into a growing medium of your choice once it has grown adequate roots and stem mass.

Advantages of Cloning Cannabis

Advantages of clones

Clones offer many benefits to growers of all kinds, such as the following.

Clones are Guaranteed to be Female

Unlike regular, unfeminized seeds, clones are guaranteed to be female because clones are identical copies of the mother plant. Therefore, if your clone is cut from a female mother plant, it will grow into a female plant only.

On the other hand, seeds have a 50/50 chance of being female plants. And even feminized seeds have a slight margin where they might grow into a male plant.

Clones Grow Faster

You don't need to wait multiple weeks for the seeds to germinate and grow into a seedling with enough mass and root. Instead, clones allow you to skip the germination stage altogether. 

Fresh clones are as old as the mother plant, and within a few days, they are ready to grow like a healthy cannabis plant.

You Know What to Expect

Whether you like the mother plant's flavor or potency, you can be sure you will get exactly that with a cloned plant. Your clone will deliver what you want about the mother plant since clones carry all traits like height, flavor, potency, etc.

Again, remember that these traits might vary depending on the growth conditions you give your plant.

Disadvantages of Cloning Cannabis

Disadvantages of clones

These benefits of cloning cannabis come with a few downsides, too. Here are some of them.

Finding Clones is Difficult

Finding clones is relatively difficult than visiting your nearest seed bank to buy seeds. You must cut clones from an active, healthy mother plant in its vegetative state — which is difficult to find on its own.

Also, you need to take a cutting from it, which many growers may not agree to. And we are still far from simply ordering clone cuttings off the internet.

Instead, it would help if you found a local grower who is willing to give you a cutting from their plant to start your cannabis culture. Then, you can join your local growers' community to get in touch with them. 

Just ask politely, and you will be surprised how many people would be willing to help you get started.

Clones are Delicate

Seeds are resilient and grow even in some challenging conditions. For this reason, many growers toss the seeds into the soil instead of properly germinating them. 

On the other hand, clones must be treated with care. Any shock, stress, or harsh handling can kill your clone cutting.

Plus, clones need particular growth conditions to grow roots, which include optimal relative humidity, temperature, light conditions, setup, etc. You also need an individual setup to root your clone cuttings.

Clones Carry All the Bad Traits Too

Clone cuttings carry the genetics of the mother plant, which also includes the bad traits. So if the mother plant has an underlying fault or if it is suffering from pest, mildew, disease, etc., your clone cutting will get them too.

And the problems are not often apparent until you have grown a few clones that develop the same problem.

Clones or Seeds: What's Better for You?

clones or seeds

The points mentioned above can only make it easier for you to choose between clones and seeds, but the final decision depends on other factors.

The first of such factors is your skillset. Seeds take time and patience to germinate properly and grow into healthy seedlings. This requires some level of experience with growing plants from scratch.

Additionally, both require different types of setups. For example, you can germinate seeds in a glass of water, but you need specific conditions to root the clone cuttings.

Seeds are also a better option for a hobby grower. They are easier to find everywhere, and they can fit any growing space. And since you are growing cannabis as a hobby, you can even take your time growing the plant.

A common problem hobby growers face is with identifying the sex of the plant, which can be overcome by simply choosing feminized seeds.

On the other hand, clones are suitable for long-term or commercial growers. This is because they require less time to mature since they start from the vegetative phase and not the seedling phase. Plus, you can grow many plants from a single mother plant while keeping the flavor, potency, and other qualities intact.

And suppose you are planning to grow cannabis for many years. In that case, you can start cloning your favorite plant because it takes the hassle out of constantly ordering new seeds, rejecting the dud seeds, and ensuring the resulting plants are female. 

Clones will produce clones almost all the time and are sure to be female. However, the plants may not be the same as the first generation if you clone too many times. It's best to start from fresh mother plants frequently. 

Tissue Culture Propagation

Cannabis tissue culture

Germinating seeds and cloning cannabis are the two traditional methods for growing cannabis plants, but a new method is gaining a lot of momentum. It's called tissue culture propagation.

Here, you take a small cutting from the mother plant (like you would while cloning cannabis), but you place it in a sterile container instead of rooting it. 

This container contains a preservative mixture, which is usually agar gel that feeds the cutting the right hormones and nutrients to root and sprout properly.

Once the cutting is tall enough, you have to take it out of the container, cut it into several pieces, and place it in a rooting hormone that encourages root growth.

When the roots have started growing properly, you can transfer the sliced cutting into the growing medium to grow as a regular cannabis plant.

Advantages of Tissue Culture Propagation

Advantages of Tissue culture

Here are some of the benefits of tissue culture propagation.

Tissue Culture Clones are Disease Resistant

Plants grown with tissue culture carry the sex and genetics of the mother plant, but thanks to the preservation mixture, it becomes more resistant to diseases. In addition, the same process ensures it does not carry on any diseases, pests, mold, etc., from the mother plant.

Many Tissue Culture clones

A single sample of cutting from the mother plant can let you produce many tissue culture clones. So, if you get your hands on one clone from a healthy mother plant, you can use tissue culture to grow not one but many clones!

Guaranteed Female Plants

And since tissue culture clones are genetically identical to the mother plant, they also carry the same sex. So, there are no chances of your tissue culture clones growing out to be males. 

Superior Plants

Thanks to disease resistance and intact genetics, tissue culture clones tend to grow superior plants as they are more vigorous while growing.

Disadvantages of Tissue Culture Propagation

Disadvantages of tissue culture

But not everything is positive with this new method. Here are some of the downsides of tissue culture propagation.


Cloning cannabis using this method requires specific preservatives with the right hormones and nutrients, special growing space for preservation, and some basic equipment. This can drive up the cultivation cost significantly.

Require a Sterile Room and Equipment

Even a minor interference can send the clones into a shock. So, you need to make your growing space and equipment used for propagation sterile to keep the cutting safe from external elements.

Longer Growing Cycle

Since you have to preserve the cutting before rooting it, it can add many days to your plant's growth cycle. In some cases, the entire propagation process can take up to a month before the clones are ready to be transplanted.

Summary: Clones or Seeds: What is Better for Growing Cannabis?

You can choose between cloning or germinating seeds to grow cannabis or step into the future with tissue culture propagation.

Germinating seeds is the more traditional approach, and it comes with a deep sense of satisfaction as you grow the plant from scratch. Plus, you can experiment with various strains to create your own strain.

On the other hand, cloning is a quick, easy way to grow cannabis while keeping the desired flavor profile and potency intact. It's the best method to grow if you have one favorite plant.

And tissue culture propagation is still a new method but it is touted to be the future of cannabis cultivation. With a single clone cutting, you can grow many cannabis plants that keep the flavor profile intact while being resistant to diseases and pests that the mother plant may have suffered from. 

You will notice that we haven't touched on the costs of procuring clones or seeds because it really depends on the genetics you choose. For example, seeds are available for as little as $2, but that doesn't mean they will grow into big plants. On the other hand, clones can be cheap, depending on where you're sourcing. Therefore, the costs depend on your preference and the genetics. 

But whichever method you choose, choose the one that suits your preferences, growth style, and budget. Each of the three ways offers distinct benefits that others do not, and what works for you may not work for others.

Find out what works for you and get started. Remember, the road you take is different, but the destination is the same — big, bushy buds!



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