How To Grow a Tree
Recently Stoner Magazine asked me to talk about the difference between using clones or seeds outdoors. In this article I will try and explain the differences between each method. I prefer to start outdoors from seed. One benefit of seeds started outdoors early in the season, is that it is rare for them to start flowering early. Clones however will revert to flowering if placed outdoors too soon. This is made worse when a clone goes from indoors to early spring sun.
Seeds have many benefits; the most helpful is that they do not introduce pests or problems into a garden like clones can. Another benefit seedlings can provide is health and vigor, since sometimes clones can be old, tired, or even diseased without visibly showing it. When you start good hybrid cannabis seeds, you get to select taste and effect that is more customized to your needs and desires.
Clones offer a few benefits, one of the biggest being knowledge of the phenotype of the desired strain. Clones also offer the ability to maintain the same size and type for all your outdoor plants. Clones or cuttings also assure that all plants are female. One method that many growers use is to do their selection from seed and then use that mother plant to take cuttings off of. This can ensure uniformity among all the plants but sometimes variation can be a good thing.
Another issue with clones or cuttings is that it is hard to find pristine bug and pest free clones at most clubs I have been to. Generally clones at a dispensary are relegated to some corner with very little care or attention. Mites, thrips, aphids, and mildew are very common, and care must be taken not to bring infested cuttings into a garden.
When selecting seeds, do some homework online and find out what real medical growers are actually raising in their gardens and make sure you’re selecting based on grower feedback. While some seeds have an excellent reputation among medical growers, there are many talented breeders who not only care about their product but test extensively to ensure quality. Most are smaller breeders who cater to the medical community however.
The same thing however applies to clones or cuttings and research is needed when picking a clone supplier. Some reputable clone suppliers have a large variety and supply many of the shops throughout Oregon. I warn you though once at a club you must be vigilant and make sure they have not been contaminated at the dispensary itself.
I asked Old-E from Mendo Dope to explain his take on using seeds versus clones. They prefer to start from seed with the exception of a special clone of Vanilla Kush. Bleezy explained that it is all about that fat tap root plunging down with a un-topped plant, ” it’s all about the pheno hunt.” Known for growing massive trees from seed, when these guys talk about outdoor…. I listen.
Starting from seed is relatively easy as I explained in my last article. My favorite method is to place each seed into a Riot Rooter Cube. We like to start our seeds for outdoors on March 20 which is the vernal equinox. This is when the moon is maxed out and the plants reach for the sky while driving a deep tap root downward.
One common mistake many growers make with both clones and seeds outdoors is to top too early. I made the same mistake when I first grew outdoors in Cali but then Mendo Dope taught me otherwise. It is better to leave the plant un-topped until the plants are about 3 feet tall. This prevents the stem from splitting once the plant gets weight on it. When a plant is topped, the centre of growth control is located in the apical meristem or main shoot. The main shoot sends suppressive hormones down to the lower or axillary shoots which stops them from growing rapidly. This is called apical dominance. The main shoot also has other functions. It communicates with photosensitive pigments located in the leaves. The information that these pigments receive dictates the behavior of the plant. Once the plant reaches 3 feet and it is topped, the communication between the leaves and the main shoot ends, effectively canceling out the apical dominance. The result is that the plant assigns the next shoots in line to the job. This means that the smaller shoots on the branches beneath the cut start growing faster and gain size. Since there is no more apical dominance, the plant will grow into a bush because the newly appointed main shoots all have equal priority.
When starting seeds, I flip the cone-shaped rooting plugs upside down so they have more stability. They are made to fit into sectional trays, but that just adds cost and I try to keep things simple and low frill. Wash your hands well with a disinfecting soap to remove any oils or contaminants. Make a small hole with a poker and place the seed point side up into the plug about ½” into the rooter.
As you can probably tell I prefer seeds over clones for outdoor gardens. On March 20th, my seedlings for outdoors had already germinated. This year I selected Cuvee, Conspiracy Kush, and Marion Berry Kush based on their early maturity.
Don’t be so quick to take the easy way out. With passion and hard work, you can find many elite cuttings in non-feminized seeds, and the keeper plant will be more stable, easier to grow, and something special that you selected for your needs. It won’t be some watered down genetic copy created by someone interested in a quick buck instead of the best genetics and created by hard work and passion.
Remember, every elite, famous cutting that growers drool over, was started from a seed. They were then saved by some grower and passed on to the masses.