Anyone growing marijuana frequently enough is likely to have run into a few weird mutations in their plants. Whether these are strange deviations from usual growing methods or even more mysterious patterns of growth, it will happen eventually. It is quite literally the law of nature that plants will mutate eventually.
These mutations range from dangerous and irritating to utterly dull and not even worth thinking about, but they are still always happening. For those just getting into growing your cannabis, learning to spot them and identify them can feel like an impossible challenge.
To help keep you prepared, here is a list of five of the very most common mutations with marijuana.
#1 – Leaves with Two Tones
This weird looking mutation is pretty rare, but especially gnarly in appearance if you are lucky, or unlucky, enough to find it. It usually only affects one or two leaves per plant; the leaf has a strangely two-phased color to it, with one half having a different color to the other.
This may be due to something called sectorial chimera, mainly the building blocks of this life originating from two identical sets of DNA, with subtle differences. It can even happen in animals and humans, wherein certain parts of the body belong to a different fetus, essentially meaning that you end up with a part of the animal that, in essence, belongs to a different animal.
Before you go and take your picture and move on, you should keep in mind that discoloration can arise as a result of nutrient deficiency. This means that you need to make sure that you are sure what you are seeing is not that. Two-toned leaves will usually be split straight down the middle, whereas nutrient deficiency will be in random splotches due to inadequate nutrient intake.
Of course, the best way to avoid nutrient deficiency is always to give your plant precisely what it needs before it has to struggle.
#2 – Double Plant from a Single Seed
This is a bit of a weird one because it isn’t so much of a mutation as it is a mistake in the seed’s germination. Instead of sprouting a single plant from the seed, two distinct and separate plants emerge from the seed, each with its own leaves and different growing habits.
Interestingly enough, this is the same thing as an animal giving birth to twins, only in plant form. If you want to preserve both plants, separate them at their root once the first leaves start forming, and plant them in separate containers to ensure they survive.
Keep in mind that they will likely grow slower than usual because they are working from the same limited reserve of nutrients. One seed can only provide so many nutrients for growth, after all.
#3 – Strange Leaf Shapes
Everyone is familiar with the infamous shape of a marijuana leaf. Imagining a cannabis plant with leaves of a different shape seems almost impossible, as it is practically ingrained into our public consciousness.
However, cannabis is a continually evolving, mutating, and changing plant, so changes in the leaf’s size and shape are bound to happen.
This is a pretty broad definition of a mutation, but cannabis leaves can be all sorts of shapes and sizes. For example, you might end up with a leaf (usually only a single leaf) with a split end, resulting in two tips. Or, you might get a leaf that grows a sort of weird tail or foot at its edge.
These are not harmful to the growth of the plant, nor do the leaves require removal. The only time you need to worry about the changing shapes of cannabis leaves is if the structural integrity of the leaf is inadequate.
If that happens, feel free to do some much needed trimming and simply cut off the leaf to make way for better growth.
#4 – Too Many (Or Too Few) Leaf Points
Carrying on from the idea that your cannabis leaves might be different shapes and sizes, you also might end up with too many, or too few, points on your leaves.
This again isn’t a problem, as this sort of mutation happens all the time. It is only a problem if it affects the plant negatively. For example, your plant might develop the habit of making far too many points per leaf, wasting valuable growing energy on making more and more leaves when it doesn’t need to. In that instance, you can just cut them off.
This is actually what happened to the wild clover plant. While everyone is familiar with finding a four-leafed clover as a symbol of rare luck, all clover plants used to have four leaves. However, over time and countless clover generations, the genetics shifted, and three-leaf varieties became more prevalent, relegating four-leafed clovers to rare status.
So, in a way, you might be blessed with good luck if you find fewer leaves on your plant! Plus, it’ll look pretty cool.
#5 – Three Leaf Seedlings
This last mutation is one of the most common ones to affect cannabis plants. Commonly known as a tri-leaf seed, this results in the seedling coming from seed with three leaves. This is weird because cannabis seedlings usually only ever have two leaves per set.
While not particularly mind-blowing, it is pretty cool to observe, especially for more experienced growers. They just look sort of ‘wrong’ and not what you expect them to be. Most plants with this mutation will tend to grow out of it, reverting to their regular number of leaves, but some will keep doing it throughout the plant’s life.
If you want to avoid it, just scrap the plant and try again with a new seedling.
There Are Lots of Other Cannabis Mutations out There
While this list of cannabis plant mutations contains some of the most common variations, there are still plenty of others not on this list.
Mutations in plants can be benign and annoying, or they may be harmful to the plant and your final yield. The best thing you can do to avoid a bad mutation ruining your crop is to know what to look for and understand what the norm is.
By gaining more experience and growing more plants, you will start to be more aware of what your cannabis plants should look like.
If you end up with a cool looking mutation, before you cut it off and cull it, make sure to take a picture.