How is cannabis grown from seeds and mother plants?
Did you know that our dried flower comes from the buds of the female cannabis plant? While cannabinoids such as THC are present in both male and female plants, only females produce the rich cannabinoid-containing cannabis flowers or buds used for human consumption.
Most licensed producers (LPs) grow plants from seeds or mother plants, which are potent female cannabis plants.
Growing from seed involves sexual reproduction, when a male plant pollinates a female plant to produce new seeds. Each plant is a genetic hybrid of the two parents and may be more similar to one parent than the other—this is how new strains (cultivars) are created.
When both male and female cannabis plants grow in the same garden, the pollen-containing pods on male plants open and pollinate female plants. As a result, the female plants contain seeds and continue to reproduce flowers. The flowers – or buds - created as a result of male pollination may be usable, but they are not ideal for consumption. For this reason, male plants are isolated from female plants.
When female plants are not pollinated by male plants, their flowers grow larger, denser, and without seeds. A term growers often use to refer to this type of flower is “sensemilla”, which comes from the Spanish phrase for “without seeds”. These are the cannabis plants that are prized for their cannabinoid-rich buds.
In order to only grow female plants of a specific strain (or cultivar), LPs often opt to grow from clones (cuttings). These cuttings are taken from a ‘mother’ plant and are genetically identical to each other. Strong, healthy, potent female plants are used as ‘mother’ plants. These plants are exposed to light for longer than average periods of time (on average 18 to 24 hours per day) so that they remain in their vegetative state, during which time they do not produce flowers. The tips of their branches are clipped, planted, and referred to as ‘clones.’
Cloning by cuttings is a popular method among growers because it makes it possible to replicate specific plants.