Last updated: November 22, 2021

What Does Selfing Mean?

Selfing is the ability of a plant, or the intentional coordination of environment to achieve selfing, to produce seeds without being pollinated by another plant or requiring another plant for any part of seed production.

Plants that can “self” are hermaphroditic plants that self-pollinate. A selfed plant will produce male and female flowers, but its progeny may not be true to form or express all of the desired traits of the mother.

Without homozygous alleles, the offspring of a selfed plant will display a diversity of phenotypes based on the recessive or dominant nature of the genes.


Maximum Yield Explains Selfing

Plants that undergo selfing cannot produce male only plants; they create female only and hermaphroditic seeds. This makes the prospect of future crosses or hybridization problematic. The female plants resulting from selfing may also carry the hermaphroditic trait.

Selfing is generally only a helpful practice to breeders when the desired traits of the mother plant happen to be homozygous, otherwise, at best, 75 per cent of the wanted attributes will be present in the offspring’s phenotype.

A criticism of selfing as a propagation method is owed to its diminishing returns. Many growers claim a loss of vigor with successive generations of selfed plants.


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