Seeds vs. Clones: Which is better?
If you asked a grower if they preferred seeds or clones, you probably wouldn’t get a straight answer. That’s because there is a divide between the community on which is better.
Cultivation methods are changing all the time. Both seeds and clones have the potential to grow into a beautiful and healthy plant. While each has its benefits compared to the other, both also have downsides that should make you question which option is best for you.
Long story short, if you are a new grower, clones are the way to go. Unlike seeds, clones come directly off of the plant, usually a lateral branch that is cut off of the mother plant.Taking a clone from one mother plant will result in a plant identical to the one you took from. However, clones don't come without risk.
If the mother plant has a disease that wasn’t caught before clones were cut, those clones will carry that disease. Clones will also be much more sensitive upon transplanting, and have an increased chance of transplant shock.
Transplanting alone can cause its own issues for an experienced grower. Newer growers should be wary of the attention a clone may need before sticking it in some soil and assuming it will grow with some water and light. It wouldn’t hurt to get advice from a master grower, which The Real Dirt Podcast has already done for you!
Cheap but not without risk
Clones overall are a cheap option, and sell for anywhere between $2 and $15 with the exception of the higher priced, more exclusive clones. The wide availability of clones has led to plenty of guides and information about growing individual strains. This means you can know what to expect of certain strains before you plant them.
An unfortunate downside to the wide availability of clones however, is just that; there are so many clones being sold and produced that mix-ups can happen. For example, a strain that is labeled one name could actually be another. Even worse is shoddy clone suppliers that lie about their product in order to sell more, claiming to be selling one clones but really selling another that is lesser quality.
If clones don’t seem all that enticing, seeds may be the better option for you!
Growing from seeds
Seeds are the start of life. In other words, seeds start from the beginning. While for a new grower this may seem very intimidating, the benefits and rewards may well be worth the extra effort.
If you're growing an annual plant, its life cycle isn’t meant to last more than a few months. Seeds start young and grow a full life-cycle. This gives seeds stronger, hearty roots and a firm tap root that a clone simply can’t achieve coming from a mother plant.
A fresh, mysterious start
One of the biggest benefits of seeds is that they avoid issues like mildew and bugs that a clone might inherit from its mother. They also have additional tolerances to wind and rain that make them much more vigorous and durable when growing outdoors. Clones on the other hand have to be grown inside or in a greenhouse initially otherwise they can't survive the conditions, similar to a seedling.
One of the downsides to seeds is the mystery. Unless you obtain feminized seeds which are bred to always grow female plants that produce flowers, you will not know the sex of your plant until a few weeks of taking care of it.
There’s also the mystery of how a seed will grow, and it can take time with multiple of the same seed to dial it in and figure out the growth patterns. However there are plenty of seed banks that keep track of their specific strains and phenotypes so you don’t have to worry as much.
Lastly, seeds can be expensive compared to clones. While some seeds can cost less than a clone, others can be outlandishly priced. There are plenty of affordable seed options for growers in different climates, but exclusive genetics that are limited in supply can charge a premium, sometimes in the hundreds of dollars for just five seeds.
Which will you choose?
Both seeds and clones have their pros and cons, and the choice of which to grow with is a matter of preference.
Seeds will give the full experience of planting to harvesting and all of the knowledge and complications that come with it. Clones give your grow a kickstart, so you don’t have to worry about germinating and all of the other early stage processes. But, you add the risk of inherited diseases and complications of dealing with a clone.
It all depends how involved you really want to be with your grow. Whether just at the beginning to make sure your clones take off, or there from the start to watch the seed you planted turn into a beautiful flowering plant.