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The Home Grower’s Guide to Simple Cannabis Breeding

Cannabis propagation is a lengthy and complicated process that can take years to understand and decades to master. However, it doesn’t have to be, at least not for the home grower looking to get into breeding on a small scale. For some, breeding can be as simple as fortifying a small seed stock for next year’s crop, or even taking your favorite strain and keeping its pollen to cross with other desirable female genotypes or phenotypes in the future.

In this guide, we’ll review the basics of small-scale cannabis breeding techniques and illustrate the benefits these techniques may provide to those who want to create their very own unique cannabis seeds and strains.

Why Breed Cannabis at Home?

What’s the big deal about breeding cannabis at home, anyway? For starters, breeding cannabis affords a home grower access to new hybrid genetics while also acting as a conservation mechanism to preserve (and even strengthen) desired genetics for future use. If you have distinct strains and want to create hybrids, breeding on this scale is both easy and effective.

On the other hand, those who wish to carry seed stock through to the next season will find breeding to be a sustainable alternative to keep those genetics around. Not every grower can afford to go back to the nursery or seed company and purchase new genetics between every season. After all, in most states the cost of a single clone can exceed $20, while a dozen cannabis seeds could easily cost $100 or more. For many micro-budget home growers, breeding is the only way to keep genetics around.

What Are the Limitations of Breeding for Home Growers?

Breeding cannabis at home does not come without its own setbacks and limitations. Medical and recreational growers in legal states must first comply with all their local ordinances pertaining to home cultivation. These include everything from plant counts to canopy limits and more. Breeding on this scale becomes a matter of adapting to these spatial and quantifiable limitations.

For instance, a popular breeding practice involves propagating genotypes in large batches (sometimes hundreds of plants in number) to see the widest margin of genetic variation possible. This allows growers to select only the most desirable phenotypes to cultivate further. However, when you have a maximum household plant count of 12, this isn’t possible. Home breeders must work around these issues if they wish to both breed and propagate sinsemilla cannabis (without seed) as well.

A Simple Propagation Technique for Small-Batch Breeding

If, despite the potential roadblocks, you’re looking to tackle some small-batch breeding at home, here’s a simple propagation technique you can follow.

What You’ll Need:

  • One mature male cannabis plant, between 2-3 weeks into bloom phase (or collected male pollen)
  • One mature female cannabis plant, between 2-3 weeks into bloom phase
  • Isolated propagation chamber (e.g. a sealed grow tent or equivalent)
  • Gloves
  • Small paint brush
  • Plastic baggies and ties

Procedure:

1. Sanitize

First, you must work within a clean and sanitized environment. Begin by cleaning your isolation chamber in preparation of receiving the female plant. A clean space will both help to prevent cross-contamination and provide a safe and sanitary place for the plant to fully mature. Diluting a small concentration of bleach or isopropyl alcohol with water should do the trick. Don’t forget to sanitize any pollination tools, like your paint brush, as well.

Make sure that your isolation chamber does not contain any female plants that you do not wish to breed with. This will ensure the prevention of unwanted cross-pollination. However, if more than one female cannabis plant must mature within the same space, implementing the following selective pollination technique (which involves using plastic baggies and some ties to protect the pollinated colas) should still adequately protect your room.

2. Collect Pollen

Male cannabis plants will begin to show their pollen sacs within the first week or two into their bloom phase. Shortly after, these sacs will open and pollen will become abundantly available. Once a desirable male plant has been identified, remove it from any female plants and isolate it immediately. The goal is to collect the staminate pollen without accidentally open-pollinating any other female plant.

Keep the desired male plant in isolation throughout the pollen collection process, then terminate the male to be safe. By using a small paintbrush, you can carefully collect pollen into a plastic bag or glass jar.

Keep in mind that pollen is “alive” and that humidity can dramatically affect the viability of the pollen. For storage, keep male pollen sealed in an airtight container and store in a cold, dark space such as a freezer for long-term holding. If you plan to access your pollen more than a few times per year, it’s generally better to keep it in a refrigerator because the temperature swing from storage to room temperature is much lower. Properly stored pollen may last for over a year under ideal conditions.

3. Selectively Propagate

A female cannabis plant in bloom is mature enough to receive pollen once flowers begin to form hair-like stigma. Without complicating this process too much, the object of selective pollination is to place male pollen onto specific branches or colas from which the breeder wishes to produce seeds. Each cola can produce hundreds of seeds if pollinated properly.

Choosing which/how many branches to pollinate will come down to grower/breeder preference. A single cannabis bud that has been pollinated can easily yield 20-30 mature seeds.

To complete this process:

  1. Make sure there is negative pressure in the isolation chamber before continuing.
  2. Prepare by collecting the baggie containing your male pollen, a paintbrush, and gloves.
  3. Gently collect a small amount of pollen from the collection baggie with your brush (a little goes a very, very long way).
  4. Run the brush gently across desired female flowers, making sure to only run the bristles across the tops of each stigma.
  5. Once a cola has been pollinated, you may seal the cola by covering it with a clean plastic baggie and tying it off to form an airtight seal (this will prevent cross-contamination). Note: this step is not necessary if (a) you intend to pollinate the entire plant in isolation, or (b) you do not have any issues with potentially finding a few seeds throughout the rest of your pollinated plant. (Pollen spreads easily, making this is a possibility.)
  6. To prevent any further contamination, keep your isolation chamber sealed throughout the maturation process.

This application process should repeat 1-3 times over the course of a week or two. After the fourth week of bloom, you may suspend your process. Should you need to reintroduce your pollenated female back into a room with other maturing female plants, you can rinse the plant down with clean water immediately following pollination to remove any excess pollen. This isn’t one hundred percent fail-proof, but when done carefully and correctly it can encourage the plant to breathe a little better.

4. Harvest and Collect Seeds

Your seeds should be fully mature once the plant has completed senescence. For ripe plants containing seed stock, it’s best to let the life cycle exacerbate fully before harvesting to give seeds their maximum time to mature.

After you harvest and dry your plants, it’s then time to collect seeds. Fully mature seeds are darker and often contain striped patterns covering their encasing. If executed correctly, you should yield a healthy quantity of seeds no matter how may colas you choose to pollinate. Congratulations, you’re now a certified home breeder!

Grow A Budsai, Your Own Cannabis Bonsai!

In this special blog, we have a look at a cannabis grow technique you don’t see every day… We give you the story of UkDam, a long-time cannabis fan and dedicated grower who’s not afraid to experiment. Ever heard of ‘budsai’? Well, sit back and prepare to be amazed, because we’re going to show you how to grow and train a budsai: your very own cannabis bonsai plant!

Budsai: Cannabis Grown The Bonsai Way

Most of us growers tend to look beyond the limits of our own cannabis hobby sometimes. If you are intrigued by the power of nature, and you like a bit of creativity too, them you’re probably heard about bonsai before. This ancient miniature plant-rearing technique, now popular among gardeners all over the world, first emerged in ancient China and Japan.

Classic bonsai tree

In Japanese, bonsai means ‘tray plant’. That’s because, as you may have guessed, bonsai trees are raised on trays rather than in large pots or in soil. The tray prevents main taproot of the tree from digging down deep. That’s why bonsai trees are miniature trees: their stunted taproot limits how tall they can grow. Combined with the right kind of pruning and trimming techniques – and an amazing supply of patience – bonsai training allows growers to ‘sculpt’ miniature trees.

Cannabis Bonsai: Why Grow Budsai?

If you like what you see so far, it’s time for some clarification. The purpose of bonsai – and budsai – is not growing for harvest. As you’ll find out, you won’t grow big fat buds on a budsai. In fact, you won’t grow miniature buds either. Bonsai was never intended to grow trees or fruit for production. It’s a thing of beauty, and a pastime that fosters patience and a deep, zen-like appreciation of nature. It’s almost meditation in that sense.

Budsai can really be your way to meditate on the nature of your favourite plant in the whole wide world. It can lift your growing philosophy to a whole new level. Just want to grow for superb harvests and the finest homegrown weed in the world? We got you: just pick any seeds from our webshop and follow our grow blogs for expert tips instructions! If you love weed, however, and you’re looking to take that love to a whole other level, then budsai may be just your kind of thing!

Budsai Is Growing Weed With A Twist

Some plants are more suited for bonsai training than others. You often see pine, acer, or oak used as raw materials; cannabis is definitely no likely candidate. People often look to tradition to choose their bonsai. Usually, they choose plants that tend to look aged after just a few years. No matter how you look at it though, a weed plant is no likely candidate. Still, our brave cannabis grower decided to give it a go one day.

From acer to weed: not that big a leap, really…

The First Budsai Cannabis Bonsai

UkDam recalls: “It all started some 15 years back. I’d been busy growing cannabis for some time when a friend asked me to look after his bonsai tree. Of course, I was like, sure, how hard can it be, and took it off his hands. I guess I just got the bug from there, because once I figured out how to keep this tiny guy alive, I wanted to give it a go myself. Soon, different species followed. Looking back, it was only a matter of time before my new bonsai passion and my old love for growing weed collided…”

Having kept the bonsai alive for his friend over several trips and holidays, our budsai gardener lost touch with his ‘guest tree’. Meanwhile, UkDam kept upping his ganja growing game, which he’d been dabbling in long before he met his first bonsai. He had evolved to the point where he operated a full year-round grow scheme. LED lighting and vertical growing were added to the mix and his yields kept getting better. On his trips to Amsterdam, UkDam had discovered Amsterdam Genetics seeds. After a series of grows, AG strains were definitely among his favourite genetics.

Then, at some random moment, a magazine caught UkDam’s eye. A bonsai magazine, to be sure. Having developed his weed grow techniques and his green touch over the years, he decided to give bonsai another go, only this time, he’d do it with a twist. How about combining that ancient eastern tradition with his number one favourite plant? At that moment, the concept of ‘budsai’ was born.

Growing Mini Trees out Of Weed

Now, at first glance, weed plants are not like traditional bonsai trees at all. To begin with, they’re not trees; they’re flowering herbs. They also have quite large fan leaves that can make a miniature plant look unrealistic according to some. What’s more, cannabis is an annual, while bonsai usually take years and years to grow, making only perennials likely candidates for the lengthy bonsai training process. Thankfully, our grower figured out a way to tackle that: revegged mother plants.

Revegging mother plants gets you fresh budsai cuttings.

UkDam’s past ganja grows had taught him a few things about genetics. He had discovered that one particular strain, our very own Strawberry Glue, was the perfect girl for the job. She was a tough, robust plant that could take some stress. Furthermore, her stout sativa build and fast growing habits made her great potential budsai material. When he inquired, his contacts at Amsterdam Genetics forwarded some prime seeds.

Strawberry Glue under normal conditions.

Fittingly, UkDam named his brand new budsai mother plant after his own mother, who had sadly passed away a few years earlier. The Strawberry Glue genetics worked like a charm. The great thing about revegging a mother plant is the fact that you can reset the annual cycle time and time again. That means you can keep that mother plant alive for years, allowing you to use fresh cuttings to start your new budsai or other projects! As the pictures show, growing a budsai bonsai from the right type of cannabis is certainly worth a try!

Amsterdam Genetics budsai in progress!

Tips From The Budsai Boss

So how do you go about it when you want to train and grow a budsai of your own? Here’s some pro tips from the man himself to help you along:

Genetics

Always get quality seeds. If you’re going to create a mother plant and want her to remain in the vegetative phase of her life, you’d better get yourself some solid, tough genes to work with. Try different strains if you like, but look for fast growers with high stress tolerance. Sativa-dominant hybrids tend to do well, but go and see what works for you. Oh yes, to prevent disappointment: as you’re letting your budsai reveg, it can’t go into the flowering stage. That means no bud for you to harvest. Grow some extra weed beside your budsai if you want bud!

Be Gentle; Go Slow

Let your plant grow before you start to manipulate it into shape. Use your fingers to train it; tweezers and wire will easily damage it. Just don’t start twisting it too soon; let it grow firm first. Wait until you have at least two or three sets of leaves sprout from the stem before you start to work. Only then should you slowly start to bend the plant into the shape you prefer for your budsai.

Start easy – save the complex stuff for later!

The Right Kind Of Budsai Pot For Your Cannabis Bonsai

No, not pot pot; I mean flower pots. Make sure your pot is big enough to support your budsai. Now, don’t worry: you’ll be able to switch to a larger pot when the time comes, but the important thing here is root space. Make sure your budsai pot gives your plant’s roots enough room or it’ll go rootbound. That’s when the pot becomes crammed with roots only, rather than roots in soil. Rootbound plants don’t develop as they would in nature, so check whether your budsai pot leaves enough room for roots.

Control Your Grow

You can really slow down your budsai’s growth if you switch to flowering for a day or two. When you switch back, the plant will revert to the veg phase afterwards. That will really slow its growing pace. Experiment to figure out the best timing here.

Love & Patience

Lastly, but perhaps most importantly: growing budsai has little to do with growing your own bud. If you want harvest, grow your ganja the proper way. If you’re interested in learning more about how your favourite plants actually work, and you’re up for a challenge, then why not give budsai a go? Keep in mind that there’s no rush here. This great twist on growing cannabis the usual way is intended exclusively for two groups of people: those with loads of patience, and those with NO patience who want to LEARN patience…

If you’re one of the two, we wish you all the best on your new budsai project! UkDam will return soon with a step-by-step budsai grow guide to explain how you can grow your very own weed bonsai at home.

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The germination of cannabis seeds is illegal in most countries. Amsterdam Genetics cannabis seeds are exclusively sold as collectable souvenirs to customers living in countries where the cultivation of cannabis is illegal. All information on this website is intended for educational purposes only and is not meant to incentivize people to engage in illegal activities.