Growing from seed vs clone
Depending on what your objectives are, you can find arguments in favor or against growing from either clone or seed.
Regarding pure performance, growing from a good known mother plant and taking clones is bar none the most productive method. But this is not necessarily your best option.
People take clones from a mother plant. This guarantees every clone has the exact same genetic make-up to each other. To select a mother, you first need to decide which plant to keep. You select by choosing your favorite of the bunch, be it by taste, smell, yield, time of harvest, by mold resistance, vigor of growth, all of the above… You isolate that specimen and keep it in vegetative phase and allowing it to grow. Your mission is to keep this mother alive at all costs, as death of a mother plant can mean years of hard work down the drain as well as significant impact for years to come.
Every strain will have a bunch of different phenotypes, various expressions of the same genes. When you select a cannabis plant and clone it, you are quite literally copy/pasting that phenotype into a whole new plant. This has both things in favor and against. For example, if you clone a mother plant that has a dormant virus or a tendency for a particular subtype of hermaphroditism, you could lose an entire crop due to a simple abrupt weather change or a temporary blackout.
On the other hand, when you do manage to isolate a great genetic line, the quality and quantity of your harvest will be nothing short from amazing.
In either case, it all starts by growing cannabis from seed.
If you have access to a trustworthy source of professionally raised clones, then you are truly blessed. It can take years to find the perfect pheno, and the logistics surrounding it are quite intense. That is why buying high-quality clones is so expensive and quite difficult to source.
You are left with two options. Either embark on the wonderful journey of phenotype hunting, or you just keep cracking seeds crop after crop.
If you decide to take clones yourself, first you need to isolate a phenotype. Here is a nutshell rundown of what you need to do – and this is by no means the best or most scientifically accurate – it is just for you to have a sense of what it entails.
You start by sowing a bunch seeds. Three-quarters of your way into the vegetative phase, before flipping the light schedule to flowering, you need to take a bunch of clones off of each plant. So if you are raising six plants, take at least four to six clones from each original plant. The reason is… cloning is as simple and easy as it can be excruciatingly difficult. A great pheno may not necessarily root easily. So you need a few extra clones just in case a couple do not propagate.
So let’s say you take only four cuts from the six mothers, all of a sudden you have 24 individual new plants to take care of. You then need to either flower the mothers and keep the clones, or wait another 4 to 6 weeks and raise the clones.
In either case, you need to keep either the clones or the mothers in vegetative state while you flower the others. You still do not know which plant will be the best. Within the same strain, some phenotypes can finish two weeks earlier and produce more biomass. Some phenos may be skunky while other sweet and floral. And the taste and high? That, you can only tell after they have been cut and dried.
In the meantime, in the other room, you are still left with six distinct versions of the same strain. These 24 individual plants will have grown considerably by now.
As you can see, things can quickly become quite hectic. Not to mention you need two completely separate rooms for this operation.
From here on, you will start repeating this process until you are satisfied you have found your killer weed, keep cloning and be tending to the mother plant(s) like your most valued treasure.
To take things even a little deeper, some of the best phenotypes are recessive. This means that it can take a few hundred seeds to find just the right one. Can you imagine how long it would take you to find it?
Like the blue pistil pheno of Malawi Gold, a landrace from central Africa, one of the rarest and most difficult strains to grow out of its natural habitat. One could argue it would take a lifetime to find this pheno.
It is no wonder then that some clones can have a price tag of $1000 and $200 a seed, like the Oracle. People went nuts over this strain, and its reported 40-45% THC content. Unfortunately, this strain turned out to be a scam, as was established by The Werk Shop laboratories in California. Oracle has the exact genetics of the AC/DC strain, and this strain does not produce 45% THC.
Or the limited run of Fruity Pebbles seeds by Alien Genetics in 2012. Some people reported buying a pack for as much as $1500. If you look at pictures the bud, you will understand why.
So as you see, there is a pot of gold at the bottom of the phenotype-hunting rainbow of adventure. Is it worth your trouble? Certainly, once you find your golden egg goose, you will be blessed with consistency and quality. The best is to select your best phenotype for yourself by growing from seed. If you plan on buying clones, just be absolutely sure you find a credible source. On the other hand, you may think this is way too much to handle. You may be right! In that case, nothing beats the ease and simplicity of just sowing seeds.