Cannabis genetics, cloning and breeding definitions for beginners

Published Mar 4, 2019 12:01 p.m. ET

Growing marijuana is a relatively simple endeavor until you start trying to perfect your operation by expanding beyond a small handful of plants. Cannabis genetics can be difficult to understand on their own, you’ll never get anywhere if you don’t learn what some of the most basic terms related to cloning and breeding translate into. If you are just getting started and are stuck on questions like “what is an F1 hybrid” or “what does IBL stand for”, then you will likely benefit from learning some of the definitions we have laid out for you below.


AKA Backcrosses or backcrossing refers to the action of breeding a hybrid cannabis strain with its female parent plant. When this is done, it will hybridize, and the results are a strain that maintains the cannabis genetics of the mother plant so long as the parent plant is kept in a vegetative stage. Taking clones from a plant that has been backcrossed with produce babies that hold characteristics of their mother parent plant.


Selfing is a term that is used to describe the time when a mother cannabis plant has been pollinated by herself. Growers often use specialty chemicals that are designed to inflict stress on a plant which forces the plant to grow male flowers or buds. Those buds will produce pollen that can be used to fertilize other marijuana plants that share a parent with it. These motions result in seeds that are called S1 or selfed. Usually, this method is performed to preserve the cannabis genetics of a specific plant or to feminize seeds which will guarantee female offspring.


A poly-hybrid cannabis strain is the result of combining two hybrids. The offspring of the two hybrid strains are then called poly-hybrids and hold the cannabis genetics of all four different strains of marijuana.



The term F1 means that a cannabis plant is a first generation hybrid. When strains that contain two different genotypes are bred the results are an F1. When two F1 hybrids are bred together from the same group of offspring (sibling plants) than it creates an F2. The process can be repeated over and over, and the term number will change each time which means you could have an F1, then an F2, then an F4, etc.


IBL is a term used to refer to true breed cannabis strains. IBL’s or true breed strains will consistently produce offspring that all contain the same dominant phenotype. IBL strains are most often used to obtain one specific quality of a strain that a breeder wants to utilize because no matter how many times they are bred with themselves the results will be the same, even generations later.  


Types of marijuana that are varieties of landrace will originate from areas where the species had flourished for hundreds and sometimes thousands of years in the wild untouched and unchanged. Landrace varieties are often used as a boost in cannabis genetics that provides a stable genetic line that is more likely to produce a homogeneous strain. Familiarizing yourself with Landrace strains from one particular region is helpful to growers because most types from the same area will show the same characteristics like size, average growing time, and overall potency.  



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