Firstly, make sure that germinating cannabis seeds is legal in your location! Always make sure you understand and follow the law!
When starting your cannabis grow you have a choice to start using seeds or clones. Both have their advantages and disadvantages and both are suitable for a number of growing methods and techniques and are used for both commercial and personal grows alike.
In this article, we’ll cover all the options and explore the pros and cons of all methods, giving you the best information in order for you to decide what’s best suited for your next grow.
Seeds have been a popular and most commonly used starting materials for all plants, cannabis included. From the days before growers learned how to grow seedless cannabis or sensimillia and the days of the horrid brick weed, seeds have been a popular, available and reliable choice.
Not understanding how pollination impacts the quality of cannabis plants and not minding the seed material that could be used for the next harvests, growers used to grow their male plants along the females. Pollen from the males pollinated the females and the plants directed most of their energy in producing seeds and seeds were in abundance.
By separating the females from the males, growers learned that the quality of their harvest increased but they still had problems in recognizing and removing the males in time for them not to pollinate their crops. As growing cannabis has been mostly an outdoor venture, growers used to plant huge amounts of plants, to combat the police, thieves and the elements getting to them.
The large number of plants, various locations and strains that have been collected from different climates, that the strains have not been adjusted to, sometimes provided hermaphrodite plants. Most likely by chance and in some part good observation, growers learned that the seeds of hermaphrodite plants provided for exclusively female seeds. When a female plant would go hermaphrodite, meaning it would have both female and male flowers, it would pollinate itself and the seeds that it provided would be exclusively female.
That trait would allow for growers to plant their seeds and not have to worry about removing the males and about pollination but still, they relied on chance to get a female hermaphrodite. Various growers tried various methods and techniques in order to achieve that until finally a method involving spraying colloidal silver on female plants was discovered. By spraying colloidal silver on your plants during the flowering stage, the plants will develop pollen sacks that will be filled with female pollen, which when applied to female flowers will produce female only plants. By applying this method, commercial availability and sales of cannabis seeds went through the roof, having hundreds of strains sold in millions of seeds worldwide.
When a male plant pollinates the female plant, she starts to produce seeds in order to ensure for her survival. Seeds that are a product of normal pollination have 50/50 chances of being male or female plants. Male plants are usually used for breeding purposes only and aren’t usually welcomed in most gardens so they are usually, either brought somewhere where they won’t be a risk of pollination, or chucked away in the trash.
With regular seeds and seeds in general, the biggest advantage or disadvantage, depending on how you look at it, is exhibiting different phenotypes of the same strain. Most strains have at least 2 different phenotypes that are in some way different from one another. In some cases, those differences can be quite drastic so seeds can provide you with an extra special plant from time to time but can also provide you with a plant you would rather miss.
Feminized seeds will provide for 99.99% of female plants as there’s always a risk of contamination, especially in bigger seed banks and grow operations that have multiple grow rooms and plants in various stages of development. The ‘down side’ of feminized seeds is in order to get them, you need to pollinate your female plants with female pollen – that you got from a hermaphrodite plant.
That not only means that the strain/seed you got is second generation (first being the unpollinated female plant/strain) which means that it’s not the exact genetic match as the first but it means that, if not stabilized and bred completely and as it should, the plants that those seeds will provide could show signs of hermaphroditism too.
The biggest advantage of feminized seeds is their commercial value and usability – not having to remove and worry about the males is also a good choice for new and beginner growers.
Clones, or cuttings are a very popular choice when starting your grow. Each clone is an identical genetic copy of the mother plant, which means all the clones you took from your mother plant will have the same genetic makeup as the mother plant, or the plant you took cutting from. Meaning, if you expose them to the same environmental parameters, they will have the same cannabinoid and terpene profile as well as provide the same, or at least very similar yield, both in quality and quantity.
You can maintain your mother plants in vegetation indefinitely (in theory) allowing you to have the exact same quality of harvest for years. Generally, after some time, a clone is inbred in order to make for a new mother plant as the clone will lose their vigour with time but there are many examples of clone only strains that have been available for more than a decade.
Unlike seeds, that can provide both male and female plants and can have many different phenotypes, clones are stable and reliable genetic material and they are best utilized in bigger commercial grows as well as medicinal products that require the same quality of starting material in order to provide for the same and reliable medicine every time.
Unlike seeds, clones are exact copies of the plant the cutting has been taken from so strains can be made (commercially) available without prior stabilizing the strain or making a feminized version of it. Because of their extremely short vegetation phase and cloning issues autoflowering strains aren’t usually cloned and are available as seed only.
Plant tissue culture is nothing new in the agricultural industry, it’s been used for decades but its implementation in the cannabis industry, at least at a larger scale, is something relatively new. Tissue culture is basically a collection of techniques used to maintain or grow plant cells, tissues or organs in a sterile environment. Small pieces of plant tissue, even just a few cells, can be used to eventually produce hundreds of identical clones.
In many aspects, tissue culture is an improvement on both seeds and clones as a starting material for propagation. It’s quicker than seeds, provides better resistance to pests and disease and gives growers total control on their crops.
All tissue culture samples start off as a small cutting from the sample. The sample is then trimmed and goes through the sterilization, killing all pathogens in the process. Once cleaned, the sample goes in a dense nutrient culture, typically an agar gel containing a mixture of nutrients, hormones and sugars. Different hormon mixtures will trigger various stages of development – such as rooting, vegetative growth or even flowering.
The four stages of tissue culture are:
- Initiation – which is placing of the material in the sterile environment
- Multiplication – which is increasing the number of samples by cutting the existing ones into smaller pieces
- Rooting – which is just placing the samples in the rooting medium, that will stop multiplication and elongate and develop roots
- Acclimatization – which is just placing the samples from in vitro conditions into the real world
Main benefits of tissue culture are:
The ability to store your genetic libraries in clean and safe environments, much smaller in space, for extended periods of time, without the need to store and keep alive all those mother plants. Instead of having an entire room or grow area dedicated to keeping your genetics, tissue culture can store all that on one shelf.
Cleaning your genetic material of all and any pathogens such as viruses or bacteria that may have infected or contaminated your mother plants or clones during their growth.
Yield and plant production – obviously, if your plants are contaminated with various pathogens such as powdery mildew, root rot or mold, you’ll have to get rid of those parts, if not the whole plants. Having healthy and clean plants ensures not only that you don’t have to do that but the plants themselves don’t need to waste energy on battling various infections or diseases.
Tissue culture is not something used just for commercial grows and operations but for home growers and hobby breeders too. Small home kits exist that enable anyone at home to start producing new plants as well as store their genetic libraries. The key to tissue culture is sterilization, everything from the initial cutting to the plant coming out of it is thoroughly cleaned and sterilized during the whole process. Using tissue culture can even help with lower germination rate and increase the chances of germination of older seeds.
Why not head on over to The Vault Cannabis Seeds Store and pick up some cannabis seeds now, whilst taking advantage of the discount code FIRST10 for 10% off your order. Check out our discount cannabis seeds page for all the latest offers, promos and competitions!
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Remember: It is illegal to germinate cannabis seeds in many countries including the UK. It is our duty to inform you of this fact and to urge you to obey all of your local laws to the letter. The Vault only ever sells or sends out seeds for souvenir, collection or novelty purposes.