What are natural/regular seeds?
Natural cannabis seeds, also known as regulars, are cannabis seeds that grow out to be both male and female plants. In the plant world this is known as being dioecious, where the plant population is composed of androecious (male) and gynoecious (female) individuals. Regular seeds have not undergone the feminization process (see following question) or any other additional, unnatural processes. These are the most common type of cannabis seed available on the market and are usually the best value.
When seeds are listed as being ‘regular’ or ‘natural’ one can expect both female and male plants from a seed pack. Nearly all of the seed brands that we carry offer natural seeds. See here, and here for some examples.
What are feminized seeds?
Feminized cannabis seeds are seeds that grow out to be all female (gynoecious). Plants grown from these seeds will bear only pistillate flowers (female cannabis buds). To accomplish this a breeder intentionally uses different chemical methods to coax a female plant into producing male pollen that is then used to pollinate other female plants. Since no male was used in the cross, no Y chromosomes enter into the mix, which results in all female seeds.
Since seed feminization requires additional processing steps, and because customers receive all female seeds in a pack that precludes having to sort through the males, feminized seeds warrant a higher cost on average than do natural seeds. Some notable fems (short for feminized seeds) are found here, and here.
Note: It’s a common misconception that feminized seeds are inherently more prone to show hermaphroditic flowers than regular seeds. The truth is that a great number of plant species on Earth are strictly hermpahroditic by nature. They reproduce by having both sex organs on the same plant, naturally. Some plant species will revert to it as a method of reproducing with oneself in order to keep the species going. This is not how cannabis prefers to reproduce, but it can and does happen to both regular and feminized seeds from time to time. Whether this occurs, or not, is mostly dependent on the recessive traits and the sexual-stability of the parents used in the crosses. It should also be noted that most cannabis plants can be stressed to the point of showing intersex traits.
What are auto-flowers?
Auto-flowering cannabis plants (autos) ‘automatically’ begin their flowering cycle based on age (the number of days since seed germination), as compared to the more prevalent photo-period cannabis plants that begin flowering based on the increasing amount of ‘dark hours.’ These plants are considered to be day-neutral and will flower under most any daylight cycle, but it’s most often recommended to run them with 18-20 hours of light each day.
Now embraced by European cultivators, auto-flowers are now stocked by the biggest seed banks in Europe. While not as popular in the US, we hope to change that conversation because autos offer one of the fastest seed-to-harvest growing cycles; some finishing in less than 70 days. We carry autos seeds bred by one of the most exciting and popular crew today: Mephisto Genetics. They regularly take their hybrids to the fourth or fifth filial generations and beyond to bring us these auto-flowering varieties in seed form today. Mephisto Genetics share its own cultivation best practices here. Not only do we have the most extensive collection of Mephisto’s cultivars of any seed bank in the US, we have them in stock today!
What are seed brands and what differentiates one from the other?
If there was only one path, there would only be one person. Huh?! (Look, Adam enjoys breeding for purple, while Miguel delights in limonene, linalool, myrcene, and all the other cannabis terpenoids.)
In plain speak, each and every seed brand (breeder & crew) pursue their own styles in their special gardens. The favored plants that they grow, and the different crosses they choose to make are matters of personal preference. The manners in which they test and trial their plants, package their seeds, and bring their product to market are all unique to them. Some have been working with their favorite plants for decades. That’s not to dismiss more recent brands because many of the breeders behind these newer seed companies have years of cultivation experience. Some focus solely on auto-flower or regulars seeds, while others might breed for taste alone. Some are big on popular/heavily hyped strains while others strive for color, or medicinal benefits, etc.
There is one thing they all share: a pure desire and zeal to bring to you and me what they have found to be even more effective healing cannabis plants. As an example, have a look at two different breeders’ crosses of a popular cannabis variety Grand Daddy Purple (or GDP) here, and here.
Sativa, Indica; what do these classifications mean, if they mean anything at all?
We turn the microphone over to Dr. Ethan Russo, “a board-certified neurologist, psychopharmacology researcher.” This paper is available at the National Institutes of Health database. (An enhanced PDF file of the same can be found here.)
For this question, we quote Dr. Russo’s relevant and significant response verbatim:
“There are biochemically distinct strains of Cannabis, but the sativa/indica distinction as commonly applied in lay literature is total nonsense and an exercise in futility. One cannot in any way currently guess the biochemical content of a given Cannabis plant based on its height, branching, or leaf morphology. The degree of interbreeding/hybridization is such that only a biochemical assay tells a potential customer or scientist what is really in the plant. It is essential that future commerce allows complete and accurate cannabinoid and terpenoid profiles to be available.”
We encourage a reading of the entire article in which Dr. Russo briefly discusses terpenoids (‘terpenes’), for example, the notable effects of myrcene. Some of our seed brands provide terpenoid profiles on specific hybrids here. Others prefer to share data on aroma, flavors, and/or observed effects (as in “when my back is killing me”) as this one here.