Marijuana Clones: What You Should Know Before Buying Them

By selecting clones over seeds, cannabis cultivators can take advantage of growing plants that have reliable genetics and move from propagation to harvest faster, while avoiding other pitfalls that come when sprouting from seeds.

what-are-marijuana-clones

Fast and efficient with predictable genetics and growing patterns, marijuana clones are an excellent alternative to seeds for growers looking to make the cannabis growing process as simple and fast as possible. Unlike seeds, which house two sets of genetics, marijuana clones only have one as they are cuttings taken from an already established mature plant. 

What are Marijuana Clones?

Creating marijuana clones is a fairly straightforward and simple process. Cannabis cultivators frequently prune their crops throughout their lifecycle to improve airflow and expose more growth to light. Instead of simply throwing all these clippings away, by making the right cuts, the clippings can go forth and become plants of their own. 

To create a marijuana clone, all one needs to do is isolate a branch on a mature plant that’s at least 5 inches long. By making a diagonal cut below the growing node, undifferentiated cells are exposed to plant hormones, mostly auxins, that tell these cells to differentiate into root cells.

Because clones come from an already established plant, clones will largely have the exact same genetics as their mother plant — mutations can occur. This is nice because not only is it much easier to predicate how the clones will grow or how strong their health will be, but it helps us avoid males that can fertilize female crops and ruin an entire harvest.  

Benefits of Using Clones in Cannabis Cultivation

There are a few big reasons, more and more growers, both commercial and DIY, are switching to clones

Faster Growth

 Since they come from an already fully mature established plant, clones tend to grow faster than cannabis plants that start off as seeds. While the plant will enter a dormant period where vegetative growth comes to a halt, it doesn’t take long for roots to start appearing, especially if you’re using a rooting gel or powder. Seeds have to go through an entire germination and seedling stage before their growth really takes off. 

Genetic Consistency

Due to unrestricted breeding practices over many many years, both by professionals and not-so-professionals, cannabis plants’ genetics are all over the place. This results in various widths, heights, flowering times, rates of growth, cannabinoid ratios, flavors, aromas, and you get the picture. It also means you’ll find plants that handle fertilizers, intense lights, and pests like a champion, while others will scream for mercy. This makes growing from seed very unpredictable vs. clones that will mimic their moms. 

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Replicate Superior Genetics

Similar to above, not only does cloning make it easy to predict how the plants will grow, but it allows us to replicate a plant with genetics we have fallen in love with. 

Challenges and Considerations When Using Weed Clones

Hardiness

While cloning allows us to transfer superior genetics to another plant, in general, clones will not be as hardy as plants that sprouted from a seed due to lacking a taproot. If this was how the mother was propagated, you may notice her offspring aren’t as strong as her. 

Negative Traits

With the good comes the bad. Because there isn’t a second set of genetics to balance out weaker genetics, clones will carry all the same negative traits their mother has. This is why it’s so important you give the mother plant a month or two to establish herself, so you have plenty of time to assess whether she’s a good candidate for cloning or not. If buying them, that means going to a reputable nursery. 

Sensitive When Young

Because they lack a taproot, a clone will never be as strong as it could be if it was started as a seed — so make sure you are selecting clones from a healthy mother plant. However, clones are especially sensitive during the first few weeks until they can establish roots. They need even less light and water than seedlings which many growers are already overdoing. Lightly misting and low light levels around 5K lux will greatly help ensure your clones get off to a good start. 

Clones vs. Seeds: A Comparative Overview

Depending on your setup and budget, despite offering many advantages, you may still find sprouting your plants from seeds works best for you

I’m a big fan of cloning cannabis because it allows me to take a plant with the genetics I love and quickly recreate it. If you haven’t grown cannabis before, you’ll quickly come to find genetics that affect health, disease resistance, potency, and on are all over the place. But therein lies the problem with clones. While you can buy them, it’s likely you personally did not see how the mother plant grew. And that eliminates a lot of their advantages

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Unless you can find clones by someone who can give you the complete history of the mother plant, you may find seeds preferable if you are a new grower. Even then, if you’re a new gardener, you may still prefer seeds over young clones due to their more sensitive nature. However, whether cloned or not, cannabis is an incredibly hardy and easy-to-grow plant — it has the weed name for a reason. 

Seeds will take a little longer before they grow into fully mature plants, so make sure time isn’t of the essence. As well, I also recommend feminized seeds to eliminate the male issue. Once you’ve found a plant with genetics you like, feel free to start trying your hands at cloning. 

Our Final Thoughts

With the ability to deliver predictable health and growth patterns along with faster growth rates for a speedier harvest, there is little to not love about marijuana clones. If you are new to growing cannabis, you may prefer starting with seeds. However, you will eventually come across a plant whose genetics you love and want to reproduce. 

Thankfully, cloning cannabis is as simple as can be. You will already most likely be pruning your crops throughout their growth cycle. Many of these cuttings can easily be turned into new plants, if the former branch is long enough. Simply create a mini-grown room for them, and you’re good to go — all-in-one cloning kits make that very easy to do too. When looking to buy marijuana clones, please thoroughly research the strain, the history of the mother plant, and the brand’s reputation. Doing this will largely help restore the many benefits creating your own marijuana clones provides.

Nicholas McKenzie - Cannabis Research Specialist

Nicholas McKenzie - Cannabis Research Specialist

Nicholas has spent the last ten years teaching gardeners, businesses, and enthusiasts how to succeed in the exciting and ever-changing world of cannabis. Whether he’s in the field getting his hands dirty or in the lab studying cannabinoids and their uses, Nicholas is passionate about bringing well-researched, factual, and concise information to an industry that very much needs it.

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