Seeds or cuttings? Which is best?

One of the first decisions to make before setting up

There’s lots of decisions to make before starting your first grow, and one of those is how you are going to get your first plants. Either you can start fresh plants off from seed, or you can obtain cuttings from a plant. There are pros and cons to each method, so lets have a look at each way to help decide which will be the best way for you.

Starting off with seeds

Nice selection of seeds

Buying seeds usually gives you a wide choice from all the different varieties of plant that are out there. You can browse through all the different characteristics of each variety and pick the one that suits you the best. You don’t need to find someone who already has that variety and take cuttings. Also, seeds are easier to transport than cuttings and can easily go through the mailing system.

For example, lets take tomato plants. There are varieties of tomato plant that grow tall, some that grow short. Some are big yielders, others excel in taste, and others are particularly hardy and disease resistant. You can buy the seeds that best describe what you want in your plant and you’ll have a good general idea of what you are going to get.

There are some disadvantages to seeds. Firstly, they must be babied through their seedling stage and it can take a while before they are mature enough to bear fruit or flowers. Also, no two plants are identical, even if they have the same parents. You might have to grow out several plants to find that special one that is an exceptional representation of that species.

If you don’t take cuttings then annual plants will need to be started off from seed at the beginning of each growing season. This means you will have to go through the process of selection all over again or accept that you will have a group of plants with some variation in them.

Starting off with cuttings

Rooted cuttings

So, you know someone who has an exceptional plant. You like the shape, size and speed that it grows, you like the taste and amount of the fruits or flowers that it gives, and you are happy with the other aspects of how it grows (such as it’s disease resistance etc.). You can then take cuttings and grow your own plants, called clones, that are just like it. As long as you look after it and don’t subject it to stress, your plant(s) will be exactly the same as your friend’s.

Of course, one initial problem may be finding someone who has a nice example of the plant that you want to grow. Plus you can’t really take cuttings from a plant once it has gone into fruit or flower so that plant will need to be in the vegetative stage.

However, once you the plant that you like, barring a disaster, you will be able to keep those genetics going pretty much indefinitely. This can be done by either growing the clone into a plant and taking more cuttings from it before putting it into fruit or flower. Or, it can be propagated by keeping a mother plant which is kept in a permanent vegetative state. Cuttings can be taken from this whenever it has recovered and grown back after taking the last round of cuttings.

We’ll be writing soon about how to take cuttings and then successfully root them and turn them into clones.