Cannabis seeds vs clones: what's best for you?

Cannabis seeds vs clones: what's best for you?
Steven Voser

Cannabis seeds and clones both have their advantages and disadvantages, however, seeds provide a more natural start to your plant's life cycle.

If you are new to cannabis growing and are planning your first grow, one of the questions you get is if you want to start with cannabis seeds or with clones. There are many factors that will go into making that decision. Understanding the fundamental differences between seeds and clones and how they will affect your finished product are key to making the right decision.


Cloning cannabis doesn't require a mad scientist or violations of international ethics laws. Cloning, while it sounds like it's from the future, is merely the duplication of a strain using a cutting from a mother plant. It's fast and it's easy but it comes with its share of drawbacks and limitations.

Clones have some advantageous features. As you are simply cutting from the source plant in order to grow an offspring, the genetics will be identical. If you are cutting from a female, you will get a female. There is also time savings involved. Using a clone speeds up your growing cycle by eliminating the germination, sprouting and initial growth phases. After the clones' root system stabilizes, they can be transplanted into larger pots for the veg stage.

While turning to clones might seem like a quick and easy way to repopulate your garden, they can be hard to manage and suffer from several major flaws. Don't get us wrong, you can certainly grow quality cannabis from a clone, and you can do it in a short amount of time. The issue is that if you are new to growing or simply looking to grow the heartiest and heaviest yields, there are better ways.

If you are a home grower and curious about how the new industrial grows are repopulating their stash, you can rest assured they are using clones most, if not all of the time. They are fast, easy, and can be pumped out on a strict schedule. Ultimately, if you understand cultivation, you know that you will never get the best quality weed out of an industrial sized commercial grow. This is because they employ techniques that are meant for mass production.

One problem with clones is that they require strict conditions to properly root. After the clone is cut from the mother plant, it is treated with a hormone that triggers root growth. The clone is then inserted into a foam block that will hold water and nutrients to feed the newly independent sprout. As the foam dries out, it forces the newly developing roots to stretch out, searching for nutrients.

In order to properly nurture clones, you need a room dedicated to the lighting, temperature and moisture levels necessary for their development. Clones require higher humidity levels, longer exposure to light and temperatures bordering the upper end of the scale.

One of the more challenging aspects of working with clones is trusting the source. The vast majority of mite infestations in large industrial grows comes from contaminated clones brought in from the outside. Bringing a clone purchased from a store or from a friend, you risk contamination of not only mites but fungi like powdery mildew.


Plants grow from seeds. I think we all pretty much get that. If you grew up having to sort through every bag of pot you bought to get all the seeds out, you are probably not alone. Those kind of seeds may have left a bad taste in our mouth, literally. Those seeds you found in your bag of dirt weed formed due to unwanted pollination of females from males growing nearby.

They are not good for cultivation and are more of an annoyance than anything else. In order to produce good seeds that you could grow at home, breeders take the utmost care in cultivating the highest quality male and female plants. They can then selectively crossbreed strains to acquire the traits they want in the offspring.



Trends in home growing have shifted over the past several years. The move toward a more natural garden has taken the market by storm. The reason for this is that plants tend to thrive better in more natural environments.

Germinating cannabis from seed is the first step in the development of a more natural garden. Cannabis is meant to grow, flower and ultimately die in a single growing season. It was never meant to be given eternal life in the form of a clone-producing mother plant.

There is some debate over the longevity of cloning and whether or not there are adverse results over time. It is hard to say but some say that after many generations of cloning, the overall quality starts to break down.

One of the distinct shortcoming of clones is the lack of what is known as hybrid vigor. Hybrid vigor refers to the biological advantage that plants bred from two different parents have. Seed-born strains from two varied parents tend to have greater ability to absorb nutrients, resist mold and pests, and tend to produce heavier, fuller yields.

Part of the reason for the increased durability and overall strength of seed-born plants is the root system. When you cut a clone and stimulate root growth with a hormone, the end result is a long stringy fibrous network of roots.

When you germinate a cannabis seed, what you eventually end up with is a far more thick and bulbous root structure. This denser root structure has a greater ability to uptake nutrients and can stretch out deep into the soil, if growing outdoors.

When it comes to acquiring quality seeds, buy them from a trustworthy seed bank. Seed banks specialize in growing and crossbreeding select strains to produce the best quality seeds around.

Buying from a seed bank also gives you more variety than you are going to find anywhere. Do you want indicas? Sativas? Or Hybrids? Seed banks are the professionals when it comes to cannabis varieties and you will never go wrong by using one.


Sometimes when starting your garden your options for acquiring cannabis to grow may seem limited. If your buddy grows, you are limited to taking clones of whatever strains they have. If you find a strain you like, you still run the risk of importing whatever problems your mate has into your garden.

While cloning cannabis is a quick and easy fix, it wont result in you maximizing the quality and yields of your harvest. Plants have grown from seeds since the dawn of time. Who are we to think we can improve upon the process?

Cannabis plants grown from seeds enjoy a more rugged and natural root system, which results in an overall better product. Turning to a reputable seed bank is the best decision you can make when getting your grow off the ground.

Steven Voser
Steven Voser

Steven is a long-time veteran of cannabis journalism, having delved into every aspect of the subject. His particular interests lie in cannabis culture, the emerging science of cannabis, and how it is shaping the legal landscape across the globe.