Updated: Jan 20
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There’s something liberating about having the freedom to grow your own medicine from cannabis seeds. Cannabis, in particular, has huge therapeutic potential thanks to its many strain variations allowing for targeted therapeutic relief.
Of course, buying marijuana seeds is not as simple as purchasing a packet of tomato or marigold seeds. Quality cannabis seeds are more costly, harder to come by and may produce unwanted male plants come flower time. Not only that, cannabis seedlings and plants need more diligent attention to produce an optimum yield requiring the grower to be invested in both time and money for a successful grow. It is because of this that prudent cannabis seed selection is recommended.
Things to Consider When Purchasing Cannabis Seeds
First and foremost, it’s important to know which type of cannabis strain you’re interested in growing. This means determining whether you want to grow Indica's for pain relief and sleep disorders (which grow smaller and quicker making them ideal for indoor grows), Sativa's for anxiety issues and mental stimulation (which grow taller over a longer period suggesting they be grown outdoors), or hybrid strains which reside somewhere in the middle. Carefully consider your therapeutic goals and grow environment when making this decision.
Additionally, you need to consider which type of seed you want to start from. Specifically, you’ll need to decide whether to start your grow from regular seeds, feminized seeds or auto-flowering seeds. This decision can affect many aspects of your grow so consider your options carefully.
What’s the Difference between Traditional, Feminized and Auto-flowering Seeds?
On the surface, there is no distinguishable difference between traditional, feminized and auto-flowering seeds, but deep within them buried in their genetics are some major differences that can affect your grow – and your budget – in a few important ways.
Traditional Seeds: Traditional seeds are the same ones you’ll find in the bottom of a stash of green or on the discount shelf at your local dispensary. They are the product of a male plant pollinating a female and may produce either male or female pot plants at maturity (as a reminder, only female plants produce buds that will get you high). It is estimated that only a 66 percent of traditional seeds will be female and it’s virtually impossible to determine sex until the flowering phase. If you do find a boy amongst your girls at the dawn of the flower phase, act fast! Boys will pollinate girls quickly resulting in seedy weed.
Feminized Seeds: Feminized seeds are seeds that have been specially designed to produce female plants. Properly produced feminized seeds should net female plants roughly 95 percent of the time. They also tend to grow more quickly and are less finicky about their grow environments which significantly reduces the likelihood of seedy weed or hermaphroditic plants. Many different methods have been used to produce female seeds in the past, many of which involve the stressing of female plants to encourage pollen production. Though previous methods have increased the likelihood of hermaphroditic qualities being passed down through generations, new methods involving different types of silver have been effective at eliminating such outcome.
Auto-flowering Seeds: Auto-flowering seeds are a product of genetic manipulation, as well, but their goal is different: by cross-breeding various cannabis strains with cannabis ruderalis strains, breeders have been able to create cannabis strains that automatically flower after only three weeks. Of course, because of their ruderalis heritage, these plants grow much smaller than other strains (they usually top out at less than two feet, in fact) and fare well in outdoor environments where a variable light cycle will not affect them. Because they flower automatically, these strains can usually produce two full harvests within a single grow season. Clones cannot be taken from auto-flowering plants, however, so multiple seeds will be required for multiple harvests.
Auto-flower seeds cannot be cloned, choose feminized or traditional seeds if you want to clone your plants.
Is the increased price of specialty seeds worth it?
Yes, traditional seeds are relatively cheap – or free – but there are good reasons to spend the extra money for seeds that fit your situation. In order to determine if the price of specialty seeds is worth it, ask yourself the following questions:
How strict is the grow environment/timeframe? If you’re short on space, light or time, you may want to consider purchasing auto-flowering seeds to ensure your plants make it to harvest.
How much attention can realistically be given to a grow? Traditional seeds will require a lot of attention to keep them stress-free and on track. If you cannot provide them with the attention they need, consider auto-flowering or feminized seeds to protect your girls from turning Hermie.