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Types of Root Systems

A Breakdown of Root Types & How They Contribute to Healthy Plant Growth

A plant’s root system is the main source where water and nutrients enter the plant.

The root system is the first organ of the plant to grow. This is because plants need a functional root system before it can absorb the necessary nutrients and water to develop a stem, leaves and subsequently, flowers.

There are predominately 2 main types of root systems: taproot and fibrous.

Dicots form a taproot system which consists of one main root, called the taproot. A taproot grows vertically into the growing medium and is usually deep-rooted. It is supported by smaller branch roots that grow from it.

Monocots form a fibrous root system and does not have a main root. The roots are thinner and grow closer to the surface of the growing medium.


Although cannabis plants are dicots, they can develop both root systems. When the plant is grown from seed, it will develop a taproot system. If the plant is a clone, then the roots resemble more of a fibrous root system.

Since taproots are typically stronger and grow more vigorously than fibrous roots, cannabis plants grown from seed are healthier and more resilient.

"The most important part of your crop starts from it’s roots. If they’re not clean and strong, your plants won’t reach their full genetic potential."


I’m totally using this as a bolstering point for autoflowering cannabis (typically only available in seed form.) :stuck_out_tongue:

Great read, thanks for the information!


Hi @Jordan, glad you enjoyed the read and are able to apply the information to your situation!

Happy Growing!


Great info, love the knowledge being shared!


All we need is a rooting solution that develops a tap root for clones! A boy can dream!


does some one have any evidence supporting the claim that clone is weaker than a plant that comes from seed?


For one thing, since a clone from a plant is a genetic copy, if the mother plant was sick or had issues, your clone likely will suffer those ailments.

Access to clones can be an issue for some people and then you get into quality issues (who did the breeding, where did the genetics come from, can they prove that, etc.)


same applies to seeds -
who did the breeding, where did the genetics come from, can they prove that, etc.

there is a common knowledge or theory and then there is evidence.
i am interested in evidence.


To some extent, sure. I’ve never got spider mites from seeds before though :grinning:

I understand what you’re saying though, maybe someone more versed in plant biology would be able to give a more definitive answer or insight.


resistance or tolerance to mites? if yes than its a strong claim!

did you have any clones in the same room at the same time?


Hi Braudo.

A little digging around and I found this nice .edu write-up on roots complete with references.

Of course, the article doesn’t seem to address cannabis plants, just roots in general. I hope it’s useful.



Regarding the clones being genetically weaker than the mum: This is something that my botanist friend told me. Of course, it’s incremental at first but he said it will be weaker than if started by seed. The question is when?

But I do find this interesting when considering a lot of the large growers like those in Canada’s legal program who are cloning the same mum hundreds of times. Those growers are finding it difficult to maintain strength, potency, things like phenotype for color etc. A landrace strain that was 25% THC a few months ago is now only 19%.



Hi Dan,
I know in general, cloning anything degrades for a variety of reasons. It’s pretty much the reason for sexual reproduction versus asexual reproduction. Here’s a decent farmer’s discussion on the topic:


This comment from CannaKings on that site has me thinking:

“I think the stress the plant is submitted to in each generation has more to do with degradation than the amount of times its been subsequently cloned.”

I’ve always thought that pruning was good for a plant but does having a dozen (or more) cutting off of a plant stress it? If she’s stressed multiple times, the stress could as cannakings says degrade the genetics each time cuttings are taken.

Very interesting thread. When I brought this up on another forum of growers, I was hit with rotten tomatoes :slight_smile:


I prefer to work with clones AFTER doing my own phenotype selection. This way I know what I am producing and have consistent yields. If you take your own clones pests and disease should not be an issue.

In some cases, you can even go as far as to use tissue culture to create healthy clones from a diseased plant. Additionally, seed can be a vector for diseases. Some nasty fungal ones love to travel on seed.

Overall vigor? I do think plants from seed tend to be a bit stronger and more resilient. The diverse genetics also help reduce the risk of loosing a crop to pest/disease. However, in and indoor grow we tend to provide an environment where this vigor is not necessary.

Just my 2 cents.

All that being said, I like seed because you never know what you are going to get and it can be a lot of fun to work with. I always quarantine plants grown from seed.

…I also have not experienced any genetic degradation due to cloning. I can understand how it might happen, buts its never affected me personally.


Taking many cuttings or pruning heavily does stress the plant significantly. The general rule of thumb is to never remove more than a third of the foliage at a time. After a recovery period it should be fine.


my opinion on the subject after working for few years with a mothers bank of more than 300 plants.

there is an affect to stress on the genetic make up some genes gets silenced others over expressed.
dont know if the stress is ocumilated over the cloning generations.
also dont know quantitivly the effect of change.

another opinion about the root type is that it plays no factor in a indoor soil-less medium where the volume of the root zone is constricted.

what i did find about the taproot benefits are some studies that where done on taproot plants and fibrous plants that survive a forest fire is that the taproot manage better.
also a study that showed a difference in enzymatic activity of the 2 types.

there are other studies on the matter of root system differences.

but! there is no study on the difference of a clone and a seed cannabis plant.
who would pick up the glove? :star_struck: :gloves:


Over the course of 9 years we have been cloning the same plants.From time to time we would get seeds from hermi plants. I have planted as many as I could get my hands on and can unequivocally say that the seeds grew plants that were far superior to their cloned parents. Clones are great and work better time wise, but its almost impossible to get the health and vigor you get from a tap rooted seed.
That being said, no one has the time to weed out males and wait the extra couple weeks to germinate in a commercial grow.


you could see difference in a what size potting volume? and during how long did you make the observation?


All 1 gal transplants to 7 gallon pots . I have done side by sides indoor and outdoor in over 7 different strains,about 8-9 times over the course of 9 years.
The seeds always took longer to germinate and establish, but they would soon out grow the clones and always yield more . Just something I’ve always noticed without intentionally trying .