Pro-Tip #1: GET A CLONE
Don’t plant seeds unless you can’t get a clone. Don’t ever buy feminized seeds. Don’t pick them out of your bag to plant them. Don’t even get seeds from your grower buddy, because odds are if he’s giving you seeds to start with he doesn’t know wtf he’s doing in the first place, because if he did he’d give you a clone or clones.
Welcome to the world of marijuana horticulture, where everybody knows everything and nobody’s wrong.
Oh, wait, you actually want to know why I’m so against seeds? Or do you want to have a three month argument about it in the comments section? GFY. I’m not saying seeds are better than clones for everyone in every single situation, but the title on this page is Learn To Grow Weed not Learn Every Single Thing There Is To Know About Growing Weed. If you really need to know everything, there are hundreds of long as hell, and boring as shit books that will probably fuck you up with information overload.
But, I can tell you that the genetics you choose to flower with is one of the most important decisions you will make during this whole process. And making clones is one of the hardest parts for beginners, so I really go in depth in this cloning section. Here’s a chart to show you how to think of your grow in terms of what you need to focus your energy and time on to achieve maximum results with minimal effort(basically what it says is don’t spend extra money on nutrients because you will get similar results with any company’s full nutrient line):
For those who really want to know why clones are superior to seeds, especially for beginners:
If you buy seeds from a reputable dispensary or online, you will probably get a decent strain with fair quality, but after you’ve planted them you’ll have to sort through which ones are females to keep, and which are males to chop down. That’s a bunch of wasted time and space right there. Unless you think you’re so damn smart that your going to keep the males and get into breeding before you’ve even flowered a harvest…or perhaps you can just roll the dice on whether or not they fertilize your blooming females. I’m sure if they are in another room or outside they won’t pollinate anything, right? lol…. Maybe you are just nostalgic for brick weed from Mexico and miss those seeds in your weed, or possibly you are an aspiring hemp farmer and want males, idk any other reason why you would keep males. Not only are seeds an irritation, but they also lower potency a lot by using growth energy that could have been used for bud and trichome production.
The only way to be absolutely sure if a plant is male or female is to begin the flowering process and visually inspect the plants to see if they’ve grown male or female parts after a couple weeks of growth. Female plants will have hairs, one or two of them just like on your finished buds, spiking out at the nodes where new branches stem off like in the picture below.
But hey, since these plants were born from seed, just because they are female now doesn’t mean they might not turn into males later on if stressed. Marijuana plants tend to have sex change issues under bad environmental conditions or light timing disturbances. This isn’t just a problem for plants sprouted from seeds, clones can also turn to male under stressful environmental conditions or improper lighting schedules. But plants from seed have a higher likelihood of hermaphroditism, especially from feminized seeds.
If you are going to use seeds anyhow and just wanna be a know-it-all and learn the hard way, or you simply don’t have access to clones, please for the love of God don’t use feminized seeds. Always use regular, or non-feminized seeds as I’ve heard them called. Yes, by using feminized seeds you eliminate the time and energy waste of growing and destroying male plants, but the time saved comes with a caveat.
Feminizing seeds uses a technique that allows the female plant to fuck itself and make some inbred genetically disabled duplicate version of itself, with an hermaphrodite marker activated in it’s DNA, making it more likely to change it’s sex to male under stress and mess your whole grow up by filling your buds with seeds, which, ironically, will also be feminized because your plants fucked themselves again. I don’t have any scientific analysis or group consensus yet, but it always seems to me like feminized plants also have less resistance to pathogens like powdery mildew and pests like mites and aphids compared to a properly seeded plant.
If you find just a few seeds in weed you bought, they are almost always feminized. If it’s filled with them, they are usually regular seeds and it was grown outside, or the farmer was an idiot.
Standard seeds, or non-feminized, use a different mother and father to be propagated. This type of seed production is like sex the old fashioned way, and the process by which the parents are selected for traditional breeding is long and time consuming. And it’s far from an exact science. With two sets of genetics available to intermingle, the result is that every seed will produce a plant that is similar to, but genetically slightly different than each of it’s unique siblings. Just like you and your brothers and sisters, if you have any, not exactly the same but similar because two sets of DNA will always combine to form something unique with each fertilization, like a snowflake or something. Unless you are a twin! A clone is like an identical twin, where the egg splits in half, and two of the exact same sets of DNA grow side by side. With a clone you are guaranteed to get the exact same results time after time.
The genetic variance between different seeds of a specific strain of cannabis is called a phenotype of a particular strain of cannabis. Usually standard fertilization produces child plants that have a mix of it’s parents traits. But it’s not as simple as that, however, because if the genetics of either of the parents are not stabilized by cross breeding the healthiest male and female plants from each set of seeds for several generations to find the strongest, healthiest, and best quality, high-yielding plants, and eliminating weak traits like susceptibility to pests or mold, the resulting seeds will possibly have what’s called a recessive gene that isn’t apparent or dominant until those plants bear seeds themselves. Simple, right? Are your really still reading this? Just go out and get some clones already. You don’t need to know why, just trust me ’cause I’m tired of explaining and we’ll only fall further down the rabbit hole if I keep writing about it. Basically the whole point of growing from seeds is to find that ‘special’ plant that you keep forever…by cloning it. Make sense now?
Arguments against clones:
- Eventually, like years and years in the future, the DNA in your clones will degenerate and the plants won’t grow as well as they used to.
- Cloning is a form of genetic modification, and stops the evolution of cannabis DNA.
BULL-SHIT MY STRAINS ARE 18+ YEARS OLD
Did you read any of the above about seeds? The things they are doing with feminized seeds are disgusting. Breeders don’t care that only 5% of the strains on this earth are still true Indica, Sativa, or Ruderalis varieties. There are already too many cannabis strains on the market as it stands now, without proper scientific method being applied during the breeding process for the majority. Cloning is the only way to ensure these base strains found growing naturally in the wild that created everything we smoke today aren’t lost over time. By the way, almost every fruit and vegetable on the shelf at your local grocery store is a clone…even at the ripoff spots like Whole Foods, Sprouts, Vitamin Cottage, and every farmer’s market across the country.
Pro-Tip #2: MAKE YOUR OWN CLONES
IF YOU ARE SUPER LAZY, JUST READ THIS AND THEN SKIP AHEAD TO GROWING:
“CUT SOME BRANCHES OFF YOUR WEED PLANT, STICK THEM IN GLASSES OF WATER ON YOUR WINDOWSILL or under FLUORESCENT lights. PLANT IN CHOSEN GROWING MEDIUM WHEN ROOTS APPEAR in 2-3 weeks.”
Hopefully you’ve got a clone or a plant of any size from someone or somewhere, so now you need to make more clones. Unless you want to just grow weed one time and check that off your bucket list, you are going to need more plants for when you’ve finished flowering this first batch. If you can set up a second area to grow plants while flowering them in another separate room, it will save you the time of having to grow the plants before you can flower them in the same room.
Things to Know Before You Start Cloning:
You can take as many clones as you want off any healthy marijuana plant as long as you leave a few branches left on the mother plant that you take cuttings from. If your plant is not big enough yet, read the growing section while you grow the plant for a while and come back to this cloning section when it’s bigger.
Each cutting should have 4-6 nodes from the top at your cut point, and be about 3 to 6 inches long for optimal survival rates, but in reality I’ve cut them much longer and shorter with 100% survival rates. Realistically, the clone will probably be fine wherever you cut it unless it’s too tall to fit in the dome, or so short that the leaves touch the growing surface and get wet, otherwise don’t stress the numbers given here and cut them anywhere you please. It may just take a little longer to produce roots, but it’s safe to assume more plants will survive and create roots by following these instructions precisely.
Things You’ll Need:
- Cloning Tray, Dome, Heating Mat and Plug Insert
If you live in a warm and humid climate, you probably won’t need the heating mat or the dome included in the above kit, so perhaps you should just buy the tray separately.
- I think the kit above comes with cloning gel but if not here are some good options:
- Now, if you have a vegetative growth room already set up, or you are planning to set one up at the time of cloning, you can just use the light from that room to root your clones. But if you need a separate light just for the clones, one reason why might be to keep their light on for 24 hours a day which will create roots quicker than under lights set at 18 hours on and 6 hours off light that most people use during the growth phase. Both will work, but the less light time the clones get, the longer it will take, so here are some options for lighting a clone dome:
The light used for cloning can’t be too bright and the room must stay around 80 degrees Fahrenheit and between 50 and 80 percent humidity for small plants and cuttings, so the purchase of a clone light might be a necessity if you are using high powered Metal Halide lights in your veg(Vegetative Growth) room. If you want to save some money, just grab some CFL or LED bulbs from anywhere, but try to get a color that is white looking, less “warm” white that most bulbs are designed to create. The bulb color, if labeled, will be specified in degrees K. Optimum for cloning and veg is around 6500K, warm white is around the 3000K range, and this is also typically the range of color used in flowering plants of all types.
- You can get away without using any fertilizers or additives to water your clones and just use cloning gel and PH 5.5 tap water, but I get much better results using a cloning solution like one of these:
- Either way, you need to adjust any water or mixture with additives for clones to 5.5 ph. Here are some suggested options for adjusting and measuring your PH levels:
- A clean razor blaze or scalpel, or any sharp scissors or blade cleaned with alcohol and rinsed thoroughly. Be careful, new razor blades from somewhere like a hardware store usually come with an oil coating on them that I always clean off with alcohol.
- The clone tray also needs to be filled with a growing medium, of which there are two options: peat moss plugs and grodan spun rockwool cubes. I find the brown peat moss plugs give better results, but the grodan cubes are cheaper. Here are some options:
- Step one is to soak whatever your clone plugs in your 5.5 ph water or solution for a while. I like to wait at least a couple hours. I’ve heard people rant 24 hours for grodan products but I’ve never had a problem.
- Take the soaked plugs and insert them in the tray. Try not to drain out as much of the moisture as possible.
- Open and prepare your cloning gel. If you want to save gel for later, scoop some out of it’s container with something sterile and store the remainder sealed in your refrigerator to get more as needed. (once you dip stems in the container, it’s biologically tainted and likely to go bad much quicker, that’s why I always scoop out of the original container unless I know I’m going to use all of it.)
- Now we are finally ready to take some cuttings. You want to make the cut from your mother plant between 5 to 8 nodes from the top of any of it’s branches, though branches closest to the lights will generally root quicker than those at the bottom near the ground. Here is a diagram of nodes:So we’ll call the top of the branch node zero, or the last set of leaves at the end. Count new nodes from there, even if there is no stem and there is just a leaf or a few leaves, and once you’ve hit at least 5 nodes down the branch, you are in a great place to make the cut. Going further than 8 is not recommended. Honestly if the environmental conditions are right during cloning, your cuttings will make roots if cut at any number of nodes, and most people don’t count the nodes at all and go by the overall length of the cutting, which should be long enough that the leaves won’t rest on the growing medium when inserted, and shorter enough to fit the clone dome on top(if needed). This is usually like 3 to 6 inches in total length. But for optimal results I suggest counting nodes. Some people say cut at a 45 degree angle, some say cut and then slice down the middle, some say cut and then rough-up the bottom of the stem by scraping the blade against the sides of the stem. I say just cut the damn thing and who cares about any of that BS.
- The most important thing is to make contact with rooting hormone(rooting gel) as soon as the cut is taken from the mother. The moment that cut is made dip it right into the gel, because the plant sends out distress signals to cauterize the wound, and as slow as it may take for the plant to respond, we don’t want to trigger that response at all. So by applying the appropriate hormones, we trick the plant into starting anew with roots instead of trying to cauterize it’s only point of entry for ground moisture.
- Remove all but 3 or 4 of the nodes from the cutting so the plant won’t have to feed all those leaves with no roots. Some people also like to trim the tips off of each leaf s so they won’t droop or touch other clones in the tray.
- Insert cutting into growing medium(clone plug).
- Repeat process until desired number of clones are produced. If this is your first time, expect a 50% loss so make extra.(I don’t wan’t to scare you with this but you might actually get 0%, it happens…)
- Place dome on tray covering cuttings to control humidity if necessary.
- Plug in heating mat if in cold climate or on concrete floor and place tray on top of it. Temperature should be around 80 degrees Fahrenheit in the tray, and if it’s too hot you can put a towel or something between the heat mat and the tray to lessen the heat, or optionally buy one of these to control the heat perfectly:
- Remove dome to check moisture levels daily, and add 5.5 PH water or clone solution mixture as needed. Do not drown the plants, but allowing them to dry to wilting even once is like a death sentence to un-rooted cuttings. Depending on temperature, humidity, and lighting, you may see roots in as little as 7 days, but if temperature and humidity are less than ideal, it will take weeks to see roots coming out of any of your plugs.
- When removing plugs to inspect for roots or for transplanting, don’t just pull on the stem to remove the plug. If you do, you risk ripping the stem out of the plug and breaking whatever roots it might have had off in the plug. I use something like a sharpie or my pinky finger to push the plugs out from the bottom, however with this method you also risk breaking the roots protruding from the cloning plug.
- Don’t spray them, ever. Several companies make a cloning mist, which would probably be okay, but I’ve heard of many people opening the dome every day and spraying all the plants with water, which will only block the plant surface from being able to absorb humidity through the air, which is the only way it works. Spraying wilting plants is like a death sentence because none of the leaf surface can perform photosynthesis because it’s covered in water, and the water also intensifies the heat from light thus increasing phytotoxicity in the plant.