Cannabis plants can grow from seeds and pass down genetics to their offspring through seeds. Learn more about seeds from Leafly. Seeds of the same strain can produce different looking plants. These are called phenotypes, and to solve the problem, you must pheno-hunt. We show you how.
Why Does My Weed Have So Many Seeds
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Cannabis plants can grow from seeds and pass down genetics to their offspring through seeds. Cannabis is also dioecious, meaning it has both male and female plants. Typically pollen from a male plant is needed for a female plant to produce seeds, however, hermaphroditic plants do occur, which are able to produce seeds on their own without another plant. Regular, feminized, or autoflower cannabis seeds are available.
“How many seeds are you going to pop?”
“I found a seed in my eighth.”
Info on marijuana seeds
A few days after a seed is planted in soil it will germinate, or sprout. The delicate seeds carry genetics from their parents, however, each seed does not carry identical genetics. Each seed from the same plant is a unique phenotype, carrying its own mix of genetics from the mother and father, much like siblings.
Through a process called “pheno-hunting,” growers will grow a handful of seeds from one plant and select the plant with the most desirable traits. This plant will serve as a mother plant and be used for mass production—clones will be taken from this plant to produce identical plants for consumption or for breeding to create new strains.
What’s the difference between regular, feminized, and autoflower seeds?
As cannabis is dioecious, when you grow regular seeds some will turn out to be male and some female. If you’re just growing for buds, you’ll need to identify the sex of the plants and discard the males—if even one male grows with a group of females, it will pollinate them and cause them to grow seeds. Sexing out plants is time consuming and takes up extra space in your grow, but the genetics are stronger.
A lot of beginning growers choose feminized cannabis seeds—these seeds are guaranteed to be female, so you can skip the process of sexing seeds out and just start growing for buds.
Feminized seeds only contain one set of genes and should not be used for breeding.
Marijuana seeds can also be autoflowering. Coming from Cannabis ruderalis, which originally grew in harsh northern climates with little sun, these seeds automatically flower and start producing buds when a plant is a certain age—the flowering cycle isn’t dependent on the amount of light it receives, as other seeds are. Autoflower seeds can be great for beginners or people who don’t have a lot of time or space to devote to growing weed, but they are known for being less potent than other seeds.
Why Seeds of the same Strain produce Different looking plants
Did you pop a bunch of seeds of the same strain, and yet every single one was different? Did you wonder if you did something wrong, or maybe the seed bank ripped you off?
Most likely, the truth is that you did nothing wrong, and the seed bank did not rip you off. Instead, you are looking at the phenotypic variety that can be expressed by the cannabis strain you selected.
What is phenotypic variety? Well in this article, we will explain how there can be variances among plants of the same strain. Before you select and maintain a mother for cloning, you must first ensure you have selected the right phenotype.
Growing from Seed can result in a lot of variation among your plants.
In this section, we will discuss how seeds produce different phenotypes. Later will discuss how to apply pheno hunting to your growing practices.
Seeds are the Children of Mother and Father plants
The act of breeding cannabis involves taking pollen from a male and fertilizing the female plant. This sexual conception will yield offspring that share traits of both the mother and the father. This is how new strain varieties are created.
The offspring of two plants should represent the traits of those two plants. But will it represent those traits equally? Or will it be dominated by traits of the father? Or the mother?
If there are multiple offspring, will they all share these traits equally?
Each Seed is a different Phenotype of the same Cultivar, Strain Variety
The concept of phenotypic variety is easy to understand when you consider that most brothers and sisters are both alike but different.
Your mom and dad had kids, and their kids were all different. Sure, there are similarities among all of them, but they are all different in one way or another.
Sometimes the differences among offspring can be stark. And sometimes, two parents had a group of kids, and they are turned out pretty similar. That happens too.
And the same thing happens with cannabis. Every seed from a cannabis plant represents both the parent strain as well as its own unique identity.
Genotype vs. Phenotype
If we are to take the scientific language of biology and translate into cannabis, it goes a little something like this:
- Genotype is the strain itself.
- Phenotype is one individual version of the strain.
The genotype is the family name, say the “Smith Family.” John Smith and Pocahontas came together and formed the Smith family. The descendants that come thereafter will share the name “Smith” and will be members of the “Smith family,” but each will be a different phenotype with his or her own unique differences, along with shared similarities.
Why are there so many differences between phenotypes
There are several reasons why phenotypes can express differently. The first point we have already covered. The seeds of a cannabis plant are like children, and they will all have unique individual differences while sharing general similarities. There are other reasons, though.
One is that newer strains tend to have greater variation. This is because the breeder could have put the strain out even though it was a first generation.
Strains become more stable when they are replicated for many generations, but this takes years.
When a breeder crosses a male and female, and gets seeds, that is merely one generation. The seeds from this cross would be considered F1.
If the breeder were to pop those seeds, select a male and a female, and cross those two phenos, then we would have an F2. That is because we took seeds of the same strain, and crossed them again.
Anything less than an F1 will have great variation. But an F2 will not be as stable as an F3, and so on.
How Phenotyping applies to Cannabis Cultivation
At Smokey Okies, we popped a couple dozen seeds of Banana Cake. This strain was created by In-House Genetics, and crossed Seed Junky’s Wedding Cake with Banana OG.
We had a lot of phenos but we only kept two. Banana Cake #1 is a funky green pheno, and Banana Cake #2 is a deep, dark purple pheno with a sweeter nose.
Two seeds from the same parents and the outcomes are wildly different. See below for a picture of each pheno.
Another example is California Dream. See the side by side of these two phenos. One was an ugly plant that had massive yields. The other pheno was lighter on the yields, yet had a darker hue, with a nice contrast between purple and the orange pistils.
how to implement phenotyping into your growing practices. Until then, rest assured that you did nothing wrong to create this outcome of wildly different plants. It is a part of the nature of the plant.
However, if you are wanting to seize greater control over the outcome – what farmer doesn’t? – then you must implement phenotyping and pheno hunting.