Asexual propagation, also known as cloning, is the replication of a single parent plant outside the means of sexual reproduction. Cannabis clones typically start with a cutting of a stable mother plant, which is likely to grow into a genetically similar plant under the right growth conditions.
A clone’s central purpose is to reproduce and preserve the genetic identity of a cannabis plant. When grown under the exact same environmental conditions as the mother plant, a clone is infinitely more likely than a plant grown from seed to exhibit the mother plant’s physical traits, as well as its cannabinoid and terpene profile. It should also mirror the mother’s ability to take in nutrients and resist pests or fungi.
Because they’re not exposed to the genetics of multiple plants — instead of receiving the same genetic code as the mother plant — clones stand a far better chance of preserving the desired characteristics of the mother.
Plants grown from clones also allow growers to determine which environmental conditions will maintain those ideal genetics and determine optimal feeding schedules, flowering times, and nutrient recipes.
Lack of genetic diversity is a good thing for growers, but it can also have catastrophic consequences. If plants are exposed to adverse environmental conditions for which they have no genetic defense, an entire crop can be wiped out.
Cannabis seeds, formed when pollen fertilizes the female plant, are ready to plant and grow as soon as they successfully germinate, or once the root has broken through the seed.
While you can plant your seeds directly into the ground, it’s recommended to germinate them in a moist paper towel before planting. Home cultivators often start with feminized seeds to ensure that the adult plant is a flowering female.
Propagation through seeds is commonly known as sexual propagation and is an often preferred method for outdoor cannabis cultivation because it makes for a more durable plant. Not only do sexually propagated crops have a greater yield potential than clones, but they’re also more resistant to pests, illnesses, and diseases.
The most frequently cited disadvantage of growing plants from seeds is inconsistency. Plants propagated by seeds do not maintain the exact phenotype, or observable physical characteristics and chemical traits, of the parent plant. This causes variances and inconsistencies in the cannabinoids and terpenes that growers and consumers may find undesirable.
While most growers want uniform plants, occasionally growers will grow a large number of plants from seeds so they can choose plants that produce unique physical and aromatic characteristics. This practice is commonly referred to as pheno hunting and is practiced by most nurseries.