Cloning plants produces fast results from a reliable genetic source. It’s one of the easiest ways to guarantee consistent quality. Plus, it’s cheaper than buying seeds.
There are a few different ways to go about cloning, and for this guide, we will focus on cloning with traditional pots and soil along with using a cloning system. These two methods vary in terms of ease and price.
First, lets talk about how to select a mother plant, and how to actually cut your clones off her.
Selecting a mother plant for cloning
Choosing the best mother plant in your garden is essential for a high success rate.
Think about it.
You are taking a plants entire genetic makeup, and duplicating it. So if you choose a mother plant that is showing slow growth, sickly foliage, and is prone to pests and diseases, you are setting yourself up for failure.
Find the strongest, healthiest female plant in your grow room. If you are growing a strain you have harvested before, you may have noticed you love the taste, potency, and effects of this particular plant. This would make it a perfect candidate for cloning.
You can evaluate the root zone, stems, and foliage for signs of whether the mother is healthy or not. Once you have decided on a mother plant, you need to watch for signs she is ready to have cuttings stripped from her.
How can you tell when a mother plant is ready to be cloned?
You want to take cuttings from the mother when she is well into vegetative growth, around 4-8 weeks to be exact.
Watch for shoots of growth with at least 6 nodes on them. This is a good indication the mother plant is ready to be stripped.
Also watch for branches on the mother plant to start alternating as they grow.
Once you notice these signs and start preparing, withhold feeding for a few days.
This flush will squeeze excess nitrogen from the plant, which is very important.
Without any nitrogen in our cuttings, they can focus all their energy on rooting, instead of vegging.
Once you have chosen your mother plant and given her a quick flush, you are ready to take your cuttings.
Pay attention closely to the next steps, as they are crucial to success.
How To Actually Cut A Clone From The Mother Plant
I know you are excited to start duplicating your favorite plant, but let's pump the brakes. Preparation is incredibly important, and you need to get a few things in order.
First, we will explain how to clone a plant without a cloning system. Then, we will describe the steps you take if you do have one.
Prepare your plant cloning supplies
Your clones are going to be very delicate, and will require very specific environmental conditions. Clones do best with raised temperatures and humidity, with low intensity light. You should set up a specific cloning area separate from that of your mature plants.
The most important things you will need, regardless of how you clone a plant, are:
- A clean pair of scissors
- A cloning gel or root enhancer
- Small pots for initial rooting or a cloning tray and dome
- Starter cubes or other grow media
- Grow lights for propagation
- Heat mat (optional)
If you want to make this process easier, just use a complete plant cloning kit. These include everything you need, including a small grow tent, to cultivate healthy clones with a high success rate.
Once you have your supplies in place, you are ready to start taking cuttings.
Cut your clones at a 45 degree angle
Cut a branch from the lower part of the plant if possible. Any branch can technically turn into a clone, but lower branches tend to have stronger concentrations of nutrients due to their proximity to the grow media. You can cut top branches too, if necessary.
The cut must be at a 45 degree angle, and with a clean pair of scissors or knife. This will prevent introducing disease or contaminants into the plant. Afterwards, branches should be immediately dipped into water and coated with cloning gel or root enhancer.
Why use a cloning gel or root enhancer?
Clones are very fragile, and any boost you can give them helps ensure a healthy, mature plant.
Cloning gels provide a way to seal the area where your clone was cut from the mother plant, and trigger the clones to start a healthy root system in an area of the plant that was previously not a root zone.
Many provide hormones to stimulate growth as well as provide antifungal and antibacterial elements to protect new roots.
Check out all our Cloning Gels & Root Enhancers
Once adequately coated in rooting gel, the cutting should be placed into your starter plug or the grow media. We recommend rooting plugs for their ease of use.
Pruning your clones
Once you transplant your clones into their initial growing medium, you should remove any large fan leaves. This will prevent the clone from trying to undergo photosynthesis when it should be focusing on root development.
Don't go too crazy, however, as the clone does needs some foliage.
How long do clones take to root?
After a 7-14 days, new root development should start to emerge from the stem. This root growth is very fragile and should not be disturbed.
Once roots are about 2" inches long or protruding through the rockwool, it is time to transplant the new plants into their final vegetative media.
It can be tough to be patient during this two week period, but you should try and keep your hands off your plants as much as possible.
Just let nature run its course, and check for signs your clones are ready for transplant.
Now, let's explain why you might want to consider a cloning system.
Using a cloning system to clone plants
Compared to cloning with root-plugs or pellets, cloning machines provide a higher success rate and avoid many of the pitfalls of the cloning procedure such as over or under watering.
Seedlings and cuttings are especially prone to failure due to their under developed root structures. Cloning systems focus on root care and nurture healthy, dense roots.
To clone with a cloning machine, you will follow the exact same steps as traditional cloning. Once you have your cutting dipped in rooting gel, you will put it in a neoprene insert, and place it in the system.
Cloning systems provide ideal conditions for rooting
Young plants require elevated levels of humidity, often around 70%.
Many cloning systems also include a heating pad to elevate air and grow media temperature.
Warmer air can hold more water vapor, and elevated grow media temperature nurtures moisture uptake and root development.
Air movement is also important to cut down on mildew or rot under such humid conditions.
Young plants do not need as much light as mature plants so it is important to size your light and proximity to the plant canopy correctly for maximum benefit.
New plants need careful monitoring and cloning machines offer a higher rate of success as well as an added level of automation.
Feeding your clones
A common question from those new to cloning is how you feed your clones? Generally, during the first few weeks, plain water is fine. Plants have low nutrient requirements at this point.
If you'd like, you can use a low strength formulation, and just dip your clones in it (provided they are still in a starter plug or rockwool cube).
Using a cloning and rooting solution with your cloning system
Rooting solutions work to strengthen and enhance the roots of your plants. They reduce mineral build-up as well in your system, and reduce the likelihood for harmful root toxins and plant pathogens.
The Clonex Clone Solution is a very popular product for use in cloning systems. This will act as the "nutrients" you feed your plants in the first few weeks of growth, before moving to a full strength nutrient package for vegging.
We also highly recommend UC Roots from Cultured Solutions. It can also be used to sterilize grow media such as clay pebbles or grow stones before or after a grow cycle. UC Roots will work with any brand of nutrient products and makes an excellent addition to any grow cycle.
Questions? Call our experts at 888-815-9763 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.