There isn’t a straight forward answer to whether autoflowering cannabis plants can be cloned. Technically, yes – you can cut clones from any plant, autoflowering marijuana strains included. When done right, the clones will root and grow into new plants with identical genes to their parent.

Whether autoflowering strains can be cloned successfully is a different thing entirely. Cloning autoflowering weed is widely frowned upon as a very much not ideal thing to do.

In this post, we will go over why this is and which factors come into play. That being said, there are a few lone voices in the online crowd who swear it can, in fact, work out fine and we’ll look further into that theory as well.

Why does anyone grow cannabis?

When saying successfully I’m assuming we are on the same page about what success means.

Marijuana is typically grown for its harvest, not its decorative virtues as a houseplant. (Although, yes, I’d agree cannabis leaves are totally beautiful.) Things that positively impact the yield of your cannabis plant(s) a.k.a. increase it are good; things that do so negatively a.k.a. decrease it are not.

Cloning autoflowering marijuana strains

The problem with autoflowering strains is that their entire life cycle is dictated not by the light around them, but by the genetic code within them.

A clone will obey the same time-line as the mother plant. While it may have enough time to root and grow a little, there won’t be enough time for it to catch up size-wise before the flowering starts. As a result, clones of autoflowering cannabis strains tend to be small plants with disappointing yields.

Cannabis Ruderalis

We’re all pretty familiar with the terms Indica and Sativa. These cannabis types get the message to start flowering from the decreasing light around them. This is also why it is possible for them to be kept in a state of perpetual vegetation with appropriate light cycles, which gives you all the time in the world to clone.

When the days shorten and winter is on it’s way, Indica and Sativa strains in their natural habitats still have enough time left to compete their flowering stage.

There is a third and perhaps less known type of marijuana, Cannabis Ruderalis.

Genetically determined behavior

Cannabis Ruderalis, the main ancestor of all autoflowering strains, operates differently than any Indica or Sativa strains. Native to the cold North, it has found a way to brave the short growing season. Comes the end of summer, the temperatures simply drop too quickly to be favorable to an entire flowering phase starting at that time.

Ruderalis can’t afford to sit around and wait for days to get shorter, so instead, it depends on an internal clock to kick it into gear. Completely ignoring the surrounding light, genetically programmed to shoot up as fast as possible and jump into the flowering stage as soon as it’s big enough (typically 4-5 branches) – that’s the strategy Cannabis Ruderalis uses to survive & thrive.

A trait that has been eagerly welcomed by growers who appreciate their plants behaving in a way unrelated to the light. Different Ruderalis-type cannabis plants are originally from Russia and Mexico.

Cannabis seeds with Ruderalis ancestry

The seeds of autoflowering strains sold by seed banks are rarely pure Ruderalis, but they all have Ruderalis genes causing them to flower automatically.

Now as far as cloning is concerned, growers who claim to have good things happen when cloning autoflowering plants are few and far between.

There is a theory, though personally, I’ve found it hard to discern whether this really is a viable approach or some wishful thinking. For the sake of being thorough, it deserves to be included, so here it goes.

Cloning autoflowering strains: how it just might work out

The theory is that the top of the plant is first to get the signal that it is time to start flowering. It takes a few hours for the hormones transmitting this information to ‘trickle down’ to the lower branches.

During this brief window is when those lower branches should be cut to make clones. Right after you see the very first signs of the plant’s sex, but within mere hours from that moment. Clones should then be able to reach about 80% of the parent’s final size.

What I wonder about is why you have to cut it so close, though. It is obviously important to get those branches off before the hormones hit them, fair enough, but why wait until the very last minute?

Not everyone has the time to post up next to their plants with a magnifying glass. Is there something to be said about a less stressful approach, cutting those lower branches at an earlier moment?

Information about cloning autoflowering weed plants is minimally available – except for the notion that it makes little sense. Since the general consensus is “don’t waste your time”, forums are where the odd grower out turns to in hopes of finding support.

On autoflower.net there’s a forum thread with pictures that say more than the oh-so-classic thousand words. Marvel (and grin) at this:

Can you clone autoflowering weed? This is a mother and her little clone. Both are on the same genetically determined timeline.
Can you clone autoflowers - sure, if you like bonsai cannabis plants.

To the anonymous grower who posted these pics, thank you for sharing! They’re pretty self-explanatory. Can you clone autoflowers? Certainly, if you like canabis bonsai, go for it.

“Been there, done it,” he says. Oh, scratch that.

Someone on the THCfarmer forum (link below) starts a thread by saying he has followed the process described above, cutting clones right before the hormones make it to the lower parts. And done really good, allegedly! Only to add later:

“[…] I realized that the auto-flowering seeds that I’ve been working with weren’t Ruderalis at all, probably; they’re Indica’s that have been early-selected for several generations.”

I have to agree with the commenters in that this fact makes the whole debate sprawled out over three pages a bit of a moot point.

Bottom line: can you clone autoflowers?

The verdict on whether it is possible to clone autoflowering marijuana strains: “it’s complicated”. (Facebook doesn’t own the rights to that statement yet, do they?)

Why cloning autoflowering strains is not the best idea, even though it can be done.

It certainly comes with a lot of hassle and uncertainty. Assuming you’re not in the business of working with seeds/creating strains, it really doesn’t seem worth it if your end goal is the flower.

Why bother?

With cannabis started from feminized seeds, you can clone your heart out. Doesn’t it make a whole lot more sense to do so with a solid female plant of the photoperiod type? Complete control over the timeline, no race against the clock, missing the boat, or awkward surprises, all of which have the potential to seriously diminish your chances at a decent harvest.

I haven’t come across a single person (online or off) who has indeed and without a shadow of a doubt pulled this off. The theory as explained by Sensi Seeds is just that: all theory, no practical examples.

The grower on THCfarmer who claims to have put it into practice ends up having us doubt whether his ‘parent’ was even a true autoflowering plant.

With that said, perhaps the bottom line should be that if you’re down for a challenge and enjoy taking on the difficulties that come with trying to clone autoflowering strains, that’s as good a reason as any to give it a try.