Which Cannabis Strains To Crossbreed
4 min

How Do You Know Which Cannabis Strains To Crossbreed?

4 min
Growing Seedshop

Looking to breed your own cannabis strains? In this article, we take a close look at crossbreeding, and share some advice on choosing the best strains for the job!

Crossbreeding is an exciting project for experienced and passionate growers. However, with so many strains out there, picking the right plants for breeding can be a challenge. In this article, we’ll try to make the task a little easier by showing you what to look for when crossbreeding cannabis.

Understanding The Basics Of Cannabis Crossbreeding

Before we get too specific, it’s important to cover the basics of how cannabis crossbreeding works. Basically, there are two main types of breeding. There is inbreeding, which involves crossing males and females of the exact same strain to create seeds that will closely replicate the parent plants. And then there is outbreeding, which involves crossing males and females of different strains to create a new hybrid that displays traits of both parents.

There are advantages and disadvantages to both of these techniques. Inbreeding, for example, produces very stable and predictable results. Outbreeding, on the other hand, produces extremely varied results, which can be either very exciting or very disappointing. For the purpose of this article, we’ll only focus on outbreeding.

At its core, breeding cannabis is pretty simple; it just involves growing male and female plants and sticking them in a room together come flowering time to create seeds. If you plan to progress as a breeder though, you’ll want to learn how to manipulate the genetics of different strains to produce specimens with the exact characteristics you’re looking for.

How To Know Which Strains To Start Breeding With


To kickstart your breeding project, you’ll need male and female cannabis plants. Ideally, you’ll want to grow these plants from seeds sourced from respected seedbanks like those featured at Zamnesia.

You can cross virtually any two strains of cannabis. Just keep in mind that the results can be pretty unpredictable when outbreeding. Even if you cross two top strains like OG Kush and White Widow, for example, there is no guarantee that the next generation of plants will be any good. As you continue experimenting, you’ll eventually learn to pick out the best traits of different plants, combine them, and then stabilise those new genetics.

How To Pick Which Phenotypes To Cross


Once you’ve bought and successfully crossed your first batch of seeds, you’ll end up with a new batch of seeds. Each seed will contain different genetics, and despite coming from the same parent strains, will grow into unique phenotypes.

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Your goal as a breeder is to identify advantageous traits in your next generation of seeds and selectively breed them over the coming generations. To do this, you’ll first need to decide which traits you want to keep breeding. This can include the size and structure of your plant, its yield, particular aromas, flowering time, colour, and resistance to pests and mould.

Understanding Dominant And Recessive Cannabis Genetics

Whether a trait is dominant or recessive is quite easy to work out; dominant traits will be expressed more often across your offspring than recessive traits. To keep track of what traits are recessive and dominant over various generations of plants, it helps to use a [1]Punnett square.


A Punnett square will make it very easy to see which genetic traits of your plants are dominant and recessive. Remember, even if a specific trait isn’t passed down from your parent plants to the next generation of offspring, that doesn’t mean the trait has now disappeared from the gene pool. It’s still there, but is likely just a recessive trait. If you continue breeding, however, you might find that trait coming out in future generations.

What Traits Are Worth Breeding For?


Exactly what traits you breed for is completely up to you. However, there are some traits that, in general, are more prized by growers and breeders than others. Below are some you may want to keep an eye out for.

1. Short flowering time

Most growers and breeders prefer plants with shorter flowering times because they mature faster and can be harvested earlier. In fact, strains with short flowering times (6–8 weeks) can be harvested up to 3 or 4 times a year indoors, providing growers with a steady flow of cannabis.

2. Small stature

Because cannabis is still illegal in most parts of the world, many opt to grow indoors. And for indoor grow rooms, small plants are a godsend. Tall, stretchy sativas, on the other hand, can be extremely hard to manage in small indoor spaces. If you’re an indoor grower, it’s a good idea to breed smaller strains.

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3. Autoflowering

Autoflowering cannabis strains don’t rely on photoperiod changes to start flowering. If you live in a region with short summers, or are limited when it comes to space and money, breeding and growing autoflowers can be a great alternative.

4. Indica bud structure

Indicas naturally produce denser buds that have a lot more bag appeal than their more loose, wispy sativa counterparts. If you want to produce the kind of bud you’d find on the shelves of a dispensary or coffeeshop, consider breeding plants with indica genetics.

5. Colour

Cannabis plants can produce orange, red, or even purple buds in addition to the classic green. Look for these traits in your offspring, and breed the ones you like most.


Today’s cannabis strains have been fortified with unique and delectable flavours courtesy of different terpene profiles. Here too you can use breeding to bring out specific aromas and flavour notes.

7. Yield

Duh! Choosing phenotypes with great production potential can boost the yield of subsequent generations of hybrids.

8. Potency

This can be tricky unless you have the instruments to measure THC and/or CBD content. Still, you can certainly select the most potent and/or balanced versions of a strain to feature the cannabinoid profile you most desire.

9. Pest and mould resistance

Some cannabis strains are naturally predisposed to repelling or resisting pests, mould, disease, and more. Selecting specific phenotypes for their hardiness and resilience can be especially advantageous for growers in less-than-ideal climates.

Backcrossing: The Easiest Way To Stabilise Genetics


Once you’ve found a phenotype you’re happy with, you’ll want to stabilise its genetics. The easiest way to do so is to pollinate it with pollen from its parent. You’ll then want to grow this new batch of seeds, pick the phenotype you like the most, and once again backcross it using pollen from its parent. This will help stabilise the new phenotype's genetics, and when done repeatedly, helps produce homozygous seeds with few genetic variations.

Cannabis Crossbreeding: Create Your Own Strains At Home


Crossbreeding cannabis might seem overwhelming, but it can be done. It just takes some time, experience, and patience. If you’re interested in trying to breed your own cannabis strains at home, remember to use this as an introductory guide, and keep checking out our blog for more information on growing and breeding cannabis.

Steven Voser

Written by: Steven Voser
Steven Voser is an Emmy Award Nominated freelance journalist with a lot of experience under his belt. Thanks to a passion for all things cannabis, he now dedicates a lot of his times exploring the world of weed.

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We are not making medical claims. This article has been written for informational purposes only, and is based on research published by other externals sources.

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