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Breeding Cannabis Plants

Growing Cannabis at Home: Your Guide

Paradise Seeds’ grow expert, Stoney Tark, gives tips on breeding cannabis plants at home and what to consider before starting your own project.

How to grow cannabis plants – breeding cannabis at home

The same way that professionals breed dogs, cats, orchids, and chilli plants, the same is done with Cannabis. Thanks to the genetic diversity of Cannabis, we are able to choose from indica, sativa, landrace, CBD rich or autoflowering plants’  lineage based on what is most practical for our individual purpose.

This means as a home grower, you get the luxury of an enormous choice of regular or feminized Cannabis seeds, created by professional breeders from all corners of the world.
Cannabis plant growing on a box

How are cannabis seeds produced through breeding?

Cannabis seeds are produced through different generations of offspring when the same male and female are crossed.

When considering how to grow cannabis plants, this happens in a breeding chamber where a male is grown with females,  generating pollen from pollen sacs which will pollinate the females (this can also be achieved artificially by collecting pollen from the male and dusting the females).

What does cannabis IBL mean?

The offspring are referred to as first generation, second generation, third generation, and the further you breed until the sixth or seventh generation.

This continuous breeding line is often referred to as an In-Bred Line ( for example White Widow IBL).

What does back crossing mean in cannabis breeding?

Another process, back crossing, is when the original parent line is crossed with the first-generation offspring, to allow for a higher stability rate and to help lock in the desired traits – such as grow performance or terpene profile – from the parental line.

The original parent used can be male or female and back crossing will allow for more homogenous characteristics to be genetically expressed.

What do the terms F1 and S1 mean in cannabis breeding?

Another method of pollination involves the use of a substance such as Silver Thiosulfate, which induces stress in a female plant and turns it male. Feminized cannabis seeds are classed as S1 meaning that the female clone was pollinated using Silver Thiosulfate with a female clone of the same mother.

If a different female clone was used to pollinate, then the offspring is classed as feminized first generation. Reversing a female clone to produce feminized pollen is much harder than using male and female plants.

  • Male and female parental plants produce F1, F2, F3, F4, F5, F6, F7, and IBL.
  • Back crossing (BX) is when the original parent is crossed with the F generation.
  • S1 stands for when two of the same female clones are reversed using S.T.S
  • Feminized F1 is when a female clone has been crossed with a different female.

Desirable Traits and Characteristics

In the same way people have different physical traits, Cannabis plants express themselves, and their new offspring through what is referred to as desirable traits. A breeder may plan in advance and decide which traits they wish to enhance or remove from the lineage.

Below are examples of all the different traits that should be considered when breeding Cannabis plants and some of the different directions you may decide to go in.

Plant height, Growth structure, Flowering time, Yield, Colour, Terpene profile, Resin production, Internodal space, Cannabinoid profile, Cloning ability, Insect resistance, Heat resistance, Wind resistance, Mold resistance, Cold resistance, Mildew resistance
Breeding Cannabis plant indoor with ligth

How to breed cannabis in a home grow room

Our grow expert, Stoney Tark, provides a simple, basic guide for how to grow cannabis plants, in relation to breeding, in a home grow setup:

    • First you will need to use regular seeds and number the pots of each one as a reference. The more seeds you start with will increase the total number of potential male and female candidates. For this process, how many cannabis plants can you grow? 10-20 seeds is a good start point for a beginner (although make sure you check how many cannabis plants you can grow legally in your country).
    • Allow the plants to flower under 12/12. After the first 10-14 days, you will notice the pre-flowers emerge. Male Cannabis plants will produce a small cluster of oval-shaped pods between each internode, and females will produce white hairs.
    • Once you decide which of the male and female plants you want to work with, simply pair them off and remove all of the other plants that did not make the final cut. The male will now pollinate the female from weeks 3-4 of 12/12.  If  you want to know how long cannabis plants take to grow, to help with planning, we always recommend checking individual strain descriptions.
    • When the female plant has been successfully pollinated, the female plant will now use all of her energy to produce seeds instead of buds. The calyx of the female will become swollen and by week 8 you will see the seeds bulging out of the calyx pods.
    • Harvest the female plant and allow it to dry out. This process won’t take long and will allow you to remove all of the mature seeds much easier than picking the seeds out fresh.
    • Now store the seeds away in a dry and cool environment and label them clearly with the male and female used based on the numbers of each one. For example ‘ Super Skunk #7 male x Hindu Kush #2 female F1 seeds ’.
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