Some growers swear that clones make the best plants, while others will only use germinated seeds in the garden. From propagation to breeding to just growing plants, the battle between using seeds and cloning rages on. Here we'll be going over the benefits and challenges of growing from seeds and growing using clones. From starting to what you'll face once those saplings become full-grown plants, we're going over what you need to know about raising plants from seeds and clones.
Growing with Seeds
A seed has a root, stem, and couple tiny leaves in them to start with, so it’s up to you as a grower to get those seeds to germinate before any growth can begin. Like we always mention, it’s important to do a little research on how your plant will germinate (i.e. when it will start to grow out of its seed). Some seeds can be planted directly into the ground, lightly watered, and gently lit so their root can pop out. Other types of seeds will begin germination better when laid out on a damp towel, covered, and left in a warm area until their roots pop out.
Challenges from Growing Seeds
Popping seeds is challenging because if you don’t do it correctly your plant won’t grow. If your plant’s seeds do better popping with a paper towel, chances are planting it directly in the ground won’t do much. On the flip side, you don’t want to let your root get too moist and stay out for too long, so if seeds that can spring up from the ground it’s best to plant them an inch or so deep, water, and let them grow. Seeds carry a little bit of nutrition in them to carry through the first parts of sprouting, so usually, nutrients aren’t needed this early on, or if they are it’s at a very low concentration. Though there is a bit of trial and error when popping seeds and growing them into plants, once you do you’ll notice something lots of seed growers notice: strong plants in the long run. One of the other drawbacks to seed growing is that you don’t know the outcome of the plant until it’s beginning to fully grow. If knowing the sex of your plant is something you need to worry about, then you’ll need to keep a close eye on your plants because you don't want any unnecessary pollination. Of course, not all plants are affected by male and females mingling, so it all depends on what type of plant you’re growing.
Advantages Using Seeds
If there is one thing seeds are great for it’s a quality plant. Whether you plan on growing it and getting rid of it after harvest, or you decide to keep it around and growing so you can keep cloning off of this plant, there’s no denying the quality of a plant grown from seed. The stems and leaves tend to grow stronger than those on a clone, and its fruit that it will bear (if it’s a fruit-bearing plant) will be tastier and more aromatic. That is because with seeds you receive a full-plant from the start, whereas clones are a part of a plant that will try to survive on its own by generating an entire plant from one clipping. While clones are great for getting lots of plants, it’s seeds that will guarantee a strong plant. Another great feature of seed growth is its reliability to be a mother plant. Most “mothering” plants (plants you can continuously take clones from) come from seeds and guarantee lots of clippings when maintained. Now you can’t keep it growing and producing clones forever, but the quality of the clones and the longevity of the mothering plant will be better than with a clone.
Cloning is becoming more and more popular choices among big scale growers and agriculturists. Sure, seeds are great but they’re not guaranteed to pop every time. Clones assure that those plants are ready to grow. Clones come from clippings of a plant, and the clipping you take essentially tries to grow a whole new plant from itself. By nature, clones are essentially plants trying to survive, which gives them a little bit of scrawniness compared to seedlings. But with clones the objective is to make sure you get a good plant, whether you purchase clones or clip them off a plant (its “mother” plant) clones make the germination process a whole lot easier. Try popping seeds in less than a day- that’s not going to happen. Clones need humidity, light, and airflow to live. That’s why you use some sort of dome when cloning: to trap in humidity. That’s where it gets a little challenging because with too much humidity you can overwhelm your clones; too little and your clones will dry out fast. Compared to a seed the result may not be as strong, but it will still be a great quality plant. And unlike seeds, if you happen to accidentally let one or more clones die, you can either use some cloning gel for a new clipping (that will grow within 7 days) or buy a new clone. Now, just because they don’t come from seeds doesn’t mean cloning won’t give you a quality plant, or even become a good mothering plant- they will. They’re a whole lot simpler to start and are guaranteed to be what you want more often than seeds. But before you think about throwing those seeds away, consider this:
Challenges to Cloning
Like we’ve mentioned, clones are a clipping of a larger plant. When you clip from the plant and put it in cloning solution your plant will eventually start to grow roots. They are forming roots because it needs to survive, and when a plant is in survival mode they tend to need a little more care to toughen up- they’re delicate. That’s why you never want to give small clones too much wind, and why they’re so easily shocked if you move them outside without properly “hardening” them (that’s when you move your plants outside for short periods to get it used to outdoor conditions). It’s also good to get an idea of the history on the clone you’re getting. Clones will decrease in quality the further out from the original plant it is, so if you’re unsure of where the clone comes from it may not yield what you want. Moreover, if you have good mothering plants you can get lots of clones and start a big garden instead of hoping your seeds pop, and then struggling to keep them alive. That will ensure your clones aren’t clipped from other clones for a few generations.