Selecting breeding stock

My question concerns seedling selection for breeding purposes. I bought a packet of Power Plant seeds from Dutch Passion. Seven sprouted. Five are perfect specimens and two are deformed at the first set of leaves. They are growing slower than the rest. My intention is to let the males pollinate the females for a seed crop, to retain the Power Plant genetics for future breeding and bud.
My question is this: should I use all of the seedlings for seed-making, or just the healthiest ones? My friends have given me two contradictory sets of advice. One says, use all the seedlings; their appearance (the withered leaves) simply represent the phenotype, whereas the Power Plant genotype is there even in the shabbier plants and unaffected by the phenotypic expression. Another friend says to use only the healthiest seedlings and discard the rest. What would you do?

Charlottesville, Virginia

I presume that all of the plants are growing under similar conditions. If so, what would cause the expression of deformity in some of the plants but not in others? Since it isn’t the environment, it must be the genetics. The two plants are probably deformed as a result of a genetic variation. Another possibility is that they are infected with a virus, though that is unlikely. In either case, in a rigorous breeding program, these plants would be eliminated since they are unsuitable.

Before I chose the plants to use for breeding I would mature them; that is, let them complete budding to see which ones have the most desirable qualities. Let’s say you wind up with three females and one of them is considerably better than the rest. Why would you use the other two? Wouldn’t you want your breeding program to start with the best?

The males should also be carefully examined for desirable qualities. After all, they provide half of the genetic material and play a vital role in determining the qualities of the next generation.

Is there a specific reason that you are breeding these plants for seed? You could maintain the genetics by cloning. Let’s say you get one fine female. You can reproduce it using clones rather than seeds. Because a clone is an exact genetic replica of the plant from which it was taken, you know the quality of your plant before you grow it.

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