How To Determine The Best Phenotype Of A Weed Strain

By Lydia Kariuki, The Fresh Toast on

Published in Cannabis Daily

A phenotype refers to the physical traits that are passed on from the parents to their offspring. These traits may include the appearance of the flowers in terms of color and bud structure.

If you have grown cannabis before you might have observed this confusing trend. You can plant your favorite strain in the first attempt and get all the desired features and effects that you were looking for. You give yourself a tap on the back, well deserved!

You do this again and it becomes a complete disaster in spite of replicating the growing formula. The plants may look and even taste a little bit different from the first batch. Your desired indica traits may be closer to sativa than indica. There is only one explanation to this: different phenotypes. The Age of Cannabis Hybridization Cannabis hybrids have now become a popular thing. When done properly this represents the best of both worlds (sativa and indica) brought together in one strain. This is also an opportunity to harness the best phenotypes and propagate them.

For a long time cannabis growers were mixed up when choosing cannabis seeds to propagate. While indicas are desirable for the short flowering time and resin coated features, sativas offer the best in terms of cerebral buzz which is loved by consumers.

These two varieties of cannabis are on opposing ends of the spectrum when you consider their phenotypic expression. With hybrids it is possible to get a balance between the two, which is why it is easy to find a sativa that exhibits indica-like phenotypes and vice versa. What Are Cannabis Phenotypes? Cannabis, as well as other plants, are influenced by two factors: genetics and environmental factors. The genotype mostly refers to the genomic composition of the plant. This hidden genetic make-up gives birth to the external features that we can observe in the plant. It forms the basis for the expression of physical characteristics which make up the phenotype. It is easy to mistake the two but they are different.

The external environment helps to draw out the genotype so that it is expressed in the phenotype. If environmental conditions are not consistent, plants with similar genetic make-up may express their phenotypes differently. These differences will be expressed in terms of color, bud shape and density, aroma, and resin production.


Hence cannabis phenotypes have evolved consistently over the years through natural and man-made efforts.

For some growers, having different phenotypes in their grow is desirable as this will provide a range of desirable features. For others, consistency is key. However, most commercial growers would favor consistency over variety and this is why cloning and phenotyping is important. Environmental Factors That Affect Cannabis Phenotypes Cannabis genotypes produce certain traits based on environmental conditions. For example, purple hues are only expressed when cooler temperatures are present during the flowering phase of growth. Environmental factors will also affect the aroma, resin production, yields, and overall quality of the cannabis. You could have a high yielding variety of cannabis, but with fluctuating environmental conditions the high yield will not be achieved. If you take the same cannabis clone and subject it to two different environmental conditions the resulting plants will have different physical traits aka phenotypes.

The same applies when you take identical clones and give them to two different cannabis growers, the plant that they come up with will have the same genotype but may express different phenotypes. Even slight differences in growing conditions will affect the plant growth and end result. Factors such as temperature, humidity, and lighting conditions play a role in determining the physical traits of a strain.

Development of Phenotypes in Cannabis Plants


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