Many cannabis users appreciate that it is a natural product made from a plant, though not everyone realizes they can grow marijauna from the comfort of their very own home or garden. You can grow plants from a “clone” or seedling, but if you really want to go DIY then the best place to start is growing from cannabis seeds. If it is legal to grow marijauna in your state, you can buy seeds at your local dispensary, or even purchase them from online seed banks.
Marijuana is an annual plant, meaning it germinates, grows, blooms, flowers, and dies (R.I.P.) within one calendar year (save for autoflowering plants, but more on that later). Marijuana is a dioecious species, meaning there are both “female” and “male” cannabis plants. Only female plants bear buds, whereas male plants are used for pollination and species development. Within the umbrella of cannabis plants, there are three types: the widely known Indica and Sativa, and the lesser known but equally worthy Ruderalis. To go a little deeper, there are then three types of cannabis seeds: Regular, Autoflowering, and Feminized. If your interest is piqued and you’d like to learn more about what kind of seed is right for your needs, then read on for the salient details.
What are the different types of cannabis seeds?
When you’re looking to purchase cannabis seeds, it can be overwhelming to choose a strain or even know where to start. Before you decide what strain to buy, you first have to decide whether you will get regular seeds, feminized seeds, or autoflower seeds. Let’s learn about what makes each type of seed unique.
We already know that cannabis plants are either female (ovule bearing) or male (pollen producing). When you purchase the regular variety of cannabis seeds, you’re quite literally getting a mixed bag. Though regular seeds are the most inexpensive option, there is always a 50% chance that the seed will be male. This is because regular seeds are the closest variety to the unaltered cannabis plant found in nature. Since most people are growing marijuana to yield buds (found on female plants), male plants are only desirable if you are interested in collecting pollen, want to experiment with selective breeding, or want to create new strains.
Regular cannabis seeds are also “photoperiod” seeds, meaning that light cycles need to be manipulated to push the plant through the various stages of growth – from vegetation to flowering.
Feminized seeds are pretty much exactly what they sound like: seeds that are almost 100% guaranteed to produce female marijauna plants. Feminized seeds are collected from a female plant that has been engineered to produce pollen, through “stressful” conditions such as intense heat or light, underwatering, or lack of access to male plants. Growers can take advantage of this naturally occurring phenomenon in order to create a seed that will grow into a plant that self-pollinates. These self-pollinating plants are basically guaranteed to produce only female seeds, which are then sold as feminized seeds. These seeds tend to be a little costlier, though if you want a straightforward route they are an excellent choice, especially for first-time or novice growers.
These special seeds hail from areas of Europe that experience long winters (like Russia), and produce what is known as the ruderalis strain of cannabis. Since these regions have very short springs and summers, the plants adapted to survive in the harsh environment and are not dependent on light requirements to germinate and flower. This ability to germinate and flower sans light cycle is what earned them the moniker autoflower seeds.
Why should you choose one type of seed over the other?
Now that you are familiar with the three types of cannabis seeds, you may be wondering which one is best for you.
If you are looking to try out growing for the first time and aren’t sure if you’re ready to commit to the long haul, then opt for regular seeds. They come in a variety of strains (sativa dominant, indica dominant, or hybrid), are the least expensive, and are easy to find– so if you make any rookie mistakes you can easily start over. Since they produce both male and female plants, they are also an excellent choice for more advanced growers who are interested in selective breeding and other experiments. It takes 3-4 weeks to determine the gender of your seedlings, so if you are in a rush to produce then regular is not for you.
If the thought of having to sort through your seedlings to determine which are male and which are female is daunting, then a better choice for you is definitely feminized seeds. These seeds are a little more pricey and less widely available, but they take the guess-work out of determining the gender of your plants. If you want to get straight to the point and don’t mind paying a little extra, then this is the choice for you.
Both regular and feminized seeds are photoperiod strains of cannabis, meaning they flower when their exposure to light diminishes. This happens in late summer, or is artificially triggered with the use of grow lights. If artificially triggering flowering in your plants seems daunting to you, then autoflower seeds are an excellent choice, as they flower automatically after 3-4 weeks. This makes them a very popular choice for first time growers with indoor set-ups.
All three types of cannabis seeds come in many varieties, from indica-dominant, to sativa-dominant, to hybrid. If you are interested in the therapeutic benefits of CBD and don’t want to experience any of the mind-altering effects of THC, then you may find yourself looking for CBD seeds. You can find CBD-focused strains in both autoflower and photoperiod plants, but there is no CBD seeds category per say, unless you look for hemp seeds.
Differences in growing
Like any living thing, cannabis plants need tending to. Some types of seeds require more attention and experience than others, and will thrive best in certain conditions. With any choice, if you chose to grow indoors (link to “Growing Marijuana Indoors vs. Outdoors” article) then be prepared for overhead costs. Since you are creating and maintaining the growing environment, you’ll need to purchase equipment to regulate everything from light, water, temperature, and humidity, and even CO2 levels, pH balance of the soil, and the ever-important ventilation. Growing outdoors has a much lower cost, but means that your crop is at the mercy of the elements and you run the risk of animal/insect interference or even theft.
If planted outside, regular seeds will adapt to the annual harvest cycle of the hemisphere you live in. If grown indoors, they can be planted at any time of year as you will be controlling the environment, and you can expect flowering between 45-90 days, depending on the strain and on your manipulation of the grow lights. You have to be extremely diligent about removing male plants from your grow area, as the pollination from even one male plant can pollinate your entire collection of female plants, causing them all to go to seed rather than produce the desired bud.
Feminized seeds have similar needs to regular seeds, though you don’t have to worry about seperating male plants from female plants because these seeds will only grow female plants. Many of the most popular weed strains come from feminized seeds, such as Girl Scout Cookie, Haze, and Skunk. Like regular seeds, these seeds will produce large yields that thrive both indoors and outdoors. With both regular and feminized seeds there is a wide variety of strains and hybrids to choose from.
Autoflower seeds are quite unique and produce smaller plants that flower quickly, with a total life cycle of 2-3 months (unlike the annual cycle of regular and feminized seeds). Since the germination of these seeds happens automatically in 3-4 weeks, they require a little less equipment than photoperiod strains, whose flowering needs to be triggered by lights. The quick grow time of autoflower plants results in a short stature that is a bonus if you live in an area that has height limits for cannabis plants.
What’s the best kind of cannabis seed?
Still wondering which of the three types of cannabis seeds is best for you? Well, it totally depends on what your needs, budget, and goals are, as well as whether you want to grow indoors or outdoors. If you are just starting out, go with regular seeds and see how the process goes. If sorting the plants by gender is too much commitment for you, invest in feminized seeds. If you want plants that will flower automatically, then autoflower seeds are the choice for you.
It all depends on how much disposable time and money you have available, and on what is most valuable to you. Don’t feel shy about choosing more expensive seeds if it’ll make the process smoother for you. If you have a green thumb then experiment with regular seeds and create your perfect plant. Happy gardening!