How to Create Your Own Cannabis Strain: Top 10 Tips To Get You Started

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Added 13 February 2023

Are you tired of smoking the same old strains in the market? 

Perhaps you want to make something of your own — a strain that you have birthed with your hard work? 

Well, if that’s the case, you’re in luck!

The good news is that you can create your own cannabis strain even if you are not a professional breeder. But, yes, you will need some experience growing cannabis. This ain’t for absolute beginners!

However, the process of creating a unique strain is not as simple as cross-pollinating two different cannabis strains. That will only lead to a hybrid or a blend of sorts. And there is no guarantee about the kind of offspring the plant blend will produce in the future. It is a one-off and has some risks. 

But the worst part of crossing random strains? You may end up with a plant that lacks any of the desired traits you like from both parent plants.

The process of creating a strain whose offspring will also grow in the same manner requires patience, effort, and an understanding of genetics. 

But we’ve got your back. In this article, we will walk you through the process of becoming a cannabis strain breeder.

So, sit back, light up, and get ready. 

Why Should You Create Your Own Cannabis Strain?

Why Should You Create Your Own Cannabis Strain?

Despite the long process, there are many reasons why you would want to create your own strain. Growers choose to create their own strains for countless reasons — some want to experiment, some want to create a legacy, and others want to fine-tune their cannabis experience. The possibilities are endless.

Nonetheless, here are a few common reasons why creating your own cannabis can benefit you:

  • By breeding your own cannabis strain, you can tailor the strain to your liking — you can create a strain that combines your favorite flavor of one strain with the potency of the other
  • You can also create a strain that is a lot more potent than preexisting strains in your local market via selective breeding 
  • If you‘ve got your hands on something unique or rare, you can preserve that trait by growing your own strain that will carry on the trait 
  • Breeding new strains is a tedious process, but ultimately, it makes you a better cannabis grower 
  • Nothing beats the personal satisfaction you get from consuming something that you have created, not just grown — it is rewarding 
  • You can even introduce a new product to the market and help your brand stand out from the rest 
  • Lastly, new strains push the envelope of cannabis cultivation — you build a better strain, and when many other growers do the same, the community flourishes with improved cannabis strains 

So, here are a few tips on how to create your own cannabis strain. 

1. Be a Good Breeder First

Be a Good Breeder First

Creating a new strain is fantastic, but before you even start with the process, you need to set your mind in the right place and be a good breeder. Breeding is a long, meticulous process that lasts for a few years. And even after long hours of hard work, you may find yourself lost if the efforts don’t come to fruition.

So, it is essential that you are a good breeder.

One of the first things you need to understand is your expectation and the fact that there is no guarantee with the process. Not to dissuade you, but many things can go wrong. So, while you hope for the best, you must be prepared for the worst and set your expectations accordingly.

You also need to be acute with your senses — a lot of breeding depends on your eyes and attention to detail. You need to be able to assess your plants’ characteristics, including what you see, smell, or feel to touch. These things will help you filter out plants and pick the right offspring for further breeding. 

Next, you must be experienced enough with growing cannabis. Breeding a new strain of cannabis is highly technical and requires you to successfully manage multiple plants, and in the process, you might even end up growing over a hundred plants. This takes an immense amount of understanding. 

Of course, there’s no denying that any grower who can successfully grow a cannabis plant is already a good grower. But to become a breeder, you need to push your skills a lot farther. And if you do it right, the rewards are unparalleled.

2. Understand Cannabis Genetics

Understand Cannabis Genetics

Genetics is a deep topic, but just to get you started, we will get a brief look into the basics of genetics. Knowing these things will set you up for the process, but always remember to read and learn as much as you can about genetics — it all adds up in the end.

Here are some of the basics of genetics you must understand.

  • Dominant vs Recessive Traits

Your plant has various traits, which we will get into later in the article, but these traits include qualities like potency, color, size, growth cycle duration, aroma, flavor, etc. These traits depend on the genes of the plant, which always come in pairs. 

All plants and animals have two different versions of each gene — one from the mother and one from the father — and how they interact with each other can make a big difference in the plant’s traits. And of the pair, one is dominant and the other is recessive.

Dominant traits appear over recessive ones, and the latter stays hidden unless the gene pair contains two recessive traits or the dominant trait is missing entirely. 

For example, you grow offspring of two cannabis plants, and the offspring develops purple buds in most plants but one or two plants grow green buds — the purple buds are a dominant trait and the green buds are a recessive trait. 

So, if you want to grow cannabis with green buds, you’d have to specifically breed the plants with plants developing green buds since they are dominant in those particular plants. The offspring of the plant with green-dominant buds will likely grow green buds.

  • Complete Dominance

In plants, complete dominance occurs when the characteristics of the offspring only show one trait, without expressing a mix of traits from both parents. In other words, during complete dominance, the dominant trait completely masks the recessive trait. 

Let’s extend the same example from the previous section. When the plants are bred, the offspring only grows green buds. This phenomenon is complete dominance, where the green trait is completely masking purple buds. 

  • Incomplete Dominance

On the other hand, incomplete dominance occurs when the offspring does not show only one dominant trait; instead, two traits are expressed in a blend. So, if the traits undergo incomplete dominance, the offspring plants will grow a mix of both green and purple buds — considering the same example from earlier. 

  • Zygosity

Zygosity is the degree of similarity of genes in a particular plant strain. And there are two categories of zygosity — homozygosity and heterozygosity.

Homozygosity occurs when the gene pair in a chromosome are identical. This means the gene is fixed and there will be very little to zero chances of genetic variations in the offspring. 

On the other hand, heterozygosity is when the genes are not identical— some are dominant and others are recessive. This leads to higher chances of genetic variation in the offspring. 

3. Select the Right Traits

Select the Right Traits

Once you’re equipped with enough knowledge of genetics, you can move to the first stage of creating a new cannabis strain — selecting the right traits. In other words, you need to figure out the kind of traits you want your new strain to have and select preexisting strains with these traits. 

And be prepared — there can be millions of combinations you can try to get unique blends. And it is easy to get lost in the process because the possibilities are virtually endless. This is why it is crucial you know your goals at this stage.

Here are some of the traits you can choose from in three categories:

Growth patterns

  • Tall or short
  • Bushy or thin canopy
  • Growth period length 
  • Yield

Plant’s hardiness and vigor

  • Growth speed
  • Pest and disease resistance
  • Hot or cold weather resistance 
  • The overall structural strength of the plant


  • Aroma
  • Flavor
  • Color
  • Effects
  • Cannabinoid content 
  • THC: CBD ratio
  • Remember, these are just some of the traits you can choose from and there are hundreds of other traits cannabis offers. 

And when choosing two parent plants for breeding a new strain, you need to pick different traits for each plant. For example, if you desire a fast-growing cannabis plant with a subtle aroma, choose one strain that is known for its subtle aroma and the other for its fast growth. 

But you must also consider other traits that are not desirable. If you pick a strain with a subtle aroma but it has a long growth cycle, it may dominate the other parent plant with fast growth. It’s a delicate balance that you need to strike. 

For autoflowering cannabis, the breeding process is the same. However, you shouldn’t pick a photoperiod parent plant. Instead, both the plants must be autoflowering or one can be Ruderalis. 

4. Test the Phenotypes

Test the Phenotypes

Phenotypes are nothing but one gene combination out of various traits a specific cannabis strain can express. And the phenotype a plant expresses is influenced by both genetics and growing conditions. 

For example, if you grow the same strain indoors and outdoors, the indoor plant may express different phenotypes (or traits) compared to its outdoor counterpart. Some of the environmental factors that come into play here are temperature, relative humidity, nutrients, lighting conditions, and irrigation routine. 

And if the line of plant is not stabilized, the offspring can display multiple phenotypes in the following generations. On the other hand, a stabilized strain will, in most cases, express the same phenotypes. 

While this is normal, you must still test the phenotype of the parent plants you are choosing in your growing conditions. If you skip this step, your fast-flowering cannabis plant may end up growing really slowly if the genetics or environmental conditions are not favorable.

5. Stabilize the Two Parent Strains

Stabilize the Two Parent Strains

Once you have narrowed down two strains that will act as parents for your new strain, you need to breed them. But you shouldn’t directly jump to breeding them. First, you need to stabilize the line until each parent grows plants with the same phenotype.

And you can use two techniques here — backcrossing and selfing.

  • Backcrossing

Backcrossing is a breeding technique where you cross an offspring plant with its parent plant. Doing this in multiple cycles stabilizes the line, and after a couple of cycles, the offspring or the next generation will only express the desired genotype. 

  • Selfing

On the other hand, selfing is a technique where you can stabilize a strain line using only one female mother plant and its clones. To self a specific strain, take a clone from the mother plant, reverse its sex by forcing it to undergo hermaphroditism, and use the pollen to pollinate the mother plant. 

But do note that selfed offsprings have higher chances of turning into hermaphrodites, so it is recommended to use backcrossing unless you are out of that option entirely.

6. Selecting the Parent Plants 

Selecting the Parent Plants 

Now, with the stabilized strains, you can start growing multiple offsprings of each strain — isolated from the other strain so they don’t cross-pollinate accidentally. And from the generation of offspring, you need to pick the plants with the most prominent desired phenotype.

Here, you need to choose one female and one male plant. And doing the former is a lot easier. Simply see how the female plant grows and pick the one you like the most. 

Selecting a male plant is a little tricky because they don’t grow buds, making it difficult to assess its bud quality. They may carry “silenced” traits that may show up in the female offspring. So, to pick the male plant, you need to breed it with other female plants and see how it influences the next generation. 

It is recommended that you keep a detailed record or journal of all the plants you work with, so you always have an easy reference at hand and won’t have to rely on guesswork. 

7. Create the First Generation of Your New Strain

Create the First Generation of Your New Strain

This is where things get exciting. Once you have selected the male and female plants of two different stabilized strains, you can cross them. The resulting offspring will be the first generation or F1 hybrids

When you cross two completely different and unrelated plants, especially the ones that have been backcrossed, the first generation will likely feature hybrid vigor or heterosis — a very desirable trait as it boots yield, growth, and uniformity in plants. But when you breed these F1 hybrids, they will lose the hybrid vigor within a couple of generations. 

A workaround for this is to still keep growing the parent plants and use them to produce F1 seeds. All the offspring will benefit from hybrid vigor if you do this. 

8. Selecting the Most Desired Phenotype in F1 Hybrids

Selecting the Most Desired Phenotype in F1 Hybrids

Get your journal and a pen ready — it’s time to experiment a little. F1 hybrids may still express varying phenotypes. So, you need to start growing a lot of F1 hybrids in varying environmental conditions to see how they fare. 

With this technique, you will get an idea of the various possible traits your F1 hybrids can express. This is valuable information for you as well as any other grower you sell the seeds to. 

During this time, you will also identify various negative phenotypes or any phenotypes that may have been “silenced” in the parent plants. You can further breed the plants to remove these phenotypes. 

And no, you are still quite a long way from creating a new strain. This is one of the major milestones, but you must use this stage to collect as much data as possible and continue breeding your F1 hybrids. The next step is to stabilize your new strain. 

9. Stabilizing the New Strain

Stabilizing the New Strain

You need to stabilize the line so that the following generations of your new strain grow with consistent phenotype. And this is a crucial step and must not be overlooked. Messing up here may compromise your new strain, requiring you to start all over, or at least set you back a few steps. 

Once you have selected F1 hybrids with the most desired traits or phenotypes, you need to start breeding them. Here, you can use a male or female plant and backcross it or choose a female plant for selfing. Doing so will reinforce the desired phenotype of your strain, reducing the chances of mutations or genetic variability. 

And remember to grow as many plants as possible. You might even come across breeders that grow over 100 plants just for this step. While you don’t need to go to such an extent, it is still a good idea to push your limits by growing as many plants as you can. 

Breeding F1 hybrids will result in more generations, which are referred to as F2, F3, F4, and so on. And you must continue this process of backcrossing or selfing the most desired phenotype plants until you no longer see any variation in the following generation. 

Additionally, remember to maintain an ideal growth environment for your plant. Provide the right nutrients, temperature, humidity, and light to each plant so you can get clear results and samples. Otherwise, the samples may be uneven. And always keep a track of everything. 

Factors to Keep in Mind when Stabilizing Your New Strain

To stabilize your new strain, you should consider the following factors to get the best results:

  • Inbreeding Depression

When you are stabilizing your new strain via inbreeding, the offspring generations may experience inbreeding depression, where the plants lose vigor or fitness. This is a result of recessive deleterious genes expressing themselves. 

  • Increasing Homozygosity

If you want to increase the homozygosity of your new strain, you can self-pollinate your plant with the desired phenotype. The offspring will be more consistent and likely won’t express undesired phenotype. This is recommended for commercial purposes.

  • Selecting the Most Important Traits

During phenotype selection, always choose plants that express phenotypes that are most desired by you. For instance, if you want to grow colorful buds, choose plants that consistently produce colorful buds. This will help make your new strain’s line more homozygous. 

10. Preserving Your New Strain

Preserving Your New Strain

Congratulations! You are almost there. Once you have stabilized your new strain’s line, you need to evaluate the last generation’s plants and select the best samples of the lot. The plant you select here must express the desired phenotype, whether it is high THC levels, purple buds, or small stature. 

You can then preserve the selected plant in two ways — cloning or harvesting and storing the seeds. 

If you want to clone, you have to take a cutting from the selected plant and root it. This will grow a clone of the mother plant — genetically identical. On the other hand, growing seeds is easier if you want to start selling your new seeds. Just remember to let your plant fully mature and the seeds ripen before harvesting, drying, and storing them. 

It is also recommended that you keep a detailed record of all processes before and during this stage. A detailed record will help you replicate your strain if the need ever arises. 

Summary: How to Create Your Own Cannabis Strain: Top 10 Tips To Get You Started

Breeding a new strain that grows offspring with identical phenotypes is not an easy task. Sure, it’s not rocket science, but it does require a lot of time and patience. But ask any strain breeder and they will tell you, the process is so worth it!

It will take a few years, you will have to grow many plants meticulously. But if you play your cards right, the result will astonish you, whether you are only experimenting or wanting to create a business out of it.

And once you have gained enough experience in breeding new strains, who knows, maybe you will end up creating the next strain that reaches cult status in the cannabis community. Here’s to hoping for that — new strains that build upon the legacy of current strains. 


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S1s aren’t inherently likely to produce intersex progeny.. they just reinforce traits in a compound manner. So if there was any evidence of intersex/herm in the selfed plants genes - it can come out and rear it’s ugly head much easier in the offspring.. But the great thing is it can do the same with desired traits.. boost them thru the roof in some scenarios..