Hello Professor Lee,
I’ve been growing for over a year now and my genetic stock is very limited. I don’t have access to great genetics and I just can’t bring myself to buy seeds online. So I’ve been starting each crop from a grab bag of seeds I’ve saved from stuff I’ve smoked. My harvests are always different and occasionally I get a fun surprise. I keep getting told that I need to get into cuttings to step up my game. I know nothing about cloning. How does it make a plant better than growing it from seed?
Does cloning a plant make it better than growing it from seed? The answer is basically no. Taking a cutting from a seed-grown plant will not somehow make it better. You will simply get a copy of the seed plant and that’s about it.
I was in the same boat back in the day. In Texas in the mid 90s there weren’t any grow shops selling the latest strains and off the shelf cuttings. There still aren’t. All I had access to was Mexican brick weed and the occasional bit of fire bud that rarely had a viable seed in it. Marc Emery was selling in Vancouver, but the idea of ordering seeds to my crappy apartment back then seemed risky AF. So I raised crop after crop of sativa. After my first crop I happily discovered that homegrown was far superior to buds that had been dried in the sun, crushed in a trash compactor, and smuggled thousands of miles in a gas tank. This went on until I found one particularly stocky plant with heavier than usual buds. That’s when I got into cloning. After harvest I rejuvenated her, bought a better light and took a crash course in cloning. My next crop looked a lot like those sea of green centerfolds I had drooled over in books and magazines.
Cuttings are a powerful tool in the grower’s toolbox, and they are there for you if and when you decide to use them. Here are some of the pros and cons.
Cuttings allow you to reproduce premium plants on a vast scale.
Cuttings taken from female plants will always be female so you don’t waste time raising seedlings only to discover that half are male and you have to pull them out.
All the plants will mature at the same rate and produce very similar results depending on environmental factors.
Once rooted, cuttings have a vigorous head start on vegetative growth over seedlings.
After a crop or two a grower knows exactly what to expect and has a less surprises.
To have a dedicated cutting system a grower usually has to maintain a mother plants to harvest cuttings from. This mother requires a separate permanently vegetative garden. Some growers simply don’t have the space for this and need to make other concessions.
Genetic drift is a term used to describe the decreasing quality of cuttings taken from multiple generations of cuttings. Mistakes made by the grower get magnified over the years and the only solution is to get new stock from a healthy mother.
Any virus or disease a mother plant picks up is passed along to the cuttings and the only solution is to get a new healthy mother plant.
Cuttings equal consistency and consistency can equal boredom. Only use cuttings with strains you love because that’s all you going to get unless you invest in a new strain of mother. Once I got fully established in cloning I always had at least two different strains to keep things a bit interesting. It is possible to graft multiple stains onto the same mother plant(s) to keep things interesting.
Basically, cutting are great but there is nothing wrong with growing from seeds. If you love what you are doing keep at it. You could always try starting a few cuttings in your next crop and see if you like it.