How to Clone Your Plants like a Pro
Learning how to clone your plants correctly is important for many reasons. Cloning allows you to keep the same genetics in your garden for as long as you desire and by utilizing the cloning techniques in this guide, you will be able to turn one plant into an entire garden full of lush and healthy clones.
Cloning is not exclusive to plant life and anytime you have an organism reproduce itself without the introduction of additional DNA, it is considered cloning. The word "clone" comes from the ancient Greek word "Klon" which means twig and until the twentieth century, the word "clone" was actually written and spelled "clon". In fact, there are some strains of European grapes that have been continuously cloned for over two millennia, demonstrating the extreme longevity of this style of gardening.
In the case of plants, this offers unlimited opportunity for the savvy grower to increase the quality of the genetics in their garden. Cloning delivers an exact replica of the plant you originally cloned; this means you eliminate the chance of having male plants in your garden when you transition from a seed-based to a clone-based garden.
The upside is huge to cloning. You can clone the best of your garden. This will allow you to zero in on the perfect crop for your grow space. You get a virtually unlimited supply of plants, restricted only by the number of clones you can cut from your mother plant. Because the genetics are exactly alike, it's very easy to dial in the exact nutrients your plant's desires to grow healthy. Clones will also share the same harvest period, with only a slight variation in the exact date between plants.
The downside to cloning is the fact that if you do it incorrectly you can lose your clones and your mother plant. If you cut your clones wrong, they will die and if you cut too many clones off of your mother plant she will go into shock and suffer as well.
In addition, clones are much more susceptible to disease and pest infestations. For example, let's say you notice your garden is starting to get infested with spider mites. If all of your plants have the exact same genetics, you are basically serving the exact same meal to all the spider mites in your garden. In turn, they will get a taste for your strain and their population will explode. Whereas if you had diverse genetics in your garden, the spider mites would focus on the type of plant they liked most. This is the same with other inflictions such as bud mold. If one of your cloned plants starts to mold, you can bet the others are going to follow quickly.
Choosing the Right Mother
It's very important that you choose a mother plant that is well suited for your grow space and environment. You need to consider a number of important factors. How Big is Your Grow Space? Marijuana comes in all different sizes and depending upon the area of your grow space, you may not have room for Indica strains or plants designed to grow taller. For the majority of indoor gardeners, a strain that can be switched to flowering in less than 2 months is ideal. For smaller gardens, bushy growing strains are considered ideal and should be coupled with LST techniques.
Know the Flowering Period for your Genetics
What is The Humidity of Your Garden?
Why Your mother Needs to be Started from Seed
Everything You Need To Take the Perfect Clone
Cloning is easy once you understand the basics and before you take any clones from your mother, you need to make sure you have access to everything you need to guarantee success. These items listed below are what you will need to turn your mother plant into a garden.
Cup of Water
Choosing the Perfect Clone
It is critically important that you choose the right stem to clone. Your clone will need to be at least 4" long and the tops are always going to make the best clones in terms of rooting time. You may not want to snip your tops if you are planning to flower the plant you are cloning. In this scenario, you are going to want to take your clones from the lower stems of your plant. Stems that show signs of new growth are usually great candidates from cloning. It is OK if your clone has offshoots growing from it, as these will be removed during your preparations.
How to Make the Perfect Cut
Now that you have selected your mother and narrowed your clone selection down to a single stem, you are ready to start cutting. The first thing you need to do is to clean up the under areas of your potential clone. This means you need to remove anything that is not going to be part of the canopy of your plant. Ideally, your clones should look similar to palm trees in as far as not having any smaller stems protruding from their stalk.
Once your clones stem has been cleaned up, you are ready to make the main cut. This cut needs to be made approximately 1.5" above the closest node below it. This cut will need to be made swiftly and at a 45-degree angle. By cutting the stem at 45 degrees you give your clone more stem area to absorb nutrients from and you reduce the chances of an air embolism occurring.
As soon as you cut your clone, it should be placed with the stem downwards into a cup of water. This will allow you to cut more clones without risk of air getting into your stems. It is very important that you use a razor for your final cut, as scissors are not sharp enough to slice through your plant stem without compressing the vein that runs up the center of it.
Disposable razors can dull quickly and once you use one to cut clones you expose it to enough moisture to start the decaying process. This is why you need to use a new razor when you cut clones.
Time for a Dip
Once you have cut all of the clones you need, you are ready to start taking your clones from your cup of water and putting them into their cloning plugs. Before you can do this you need to dip each one into your cloning gel. Cloning gel is packed full of all the nutrients your plant needs to turn a stem into a root. It is possible to clone without using a cloning gel but you are going to see a reduced success rate and longer rooting times. You only need to dip your clone into the gel for about a second to make sure the entire bottom of your clone's stem is covered in gel.
Now you are finally ready to place your clone into your plug. Cloning plugs are a "must have" because they allow you to move your clones around with ease and they give your clone's roots a solid foundation to grow in. Another advantage of using cloning plugs is, you can easily transfer your plant to any other medium you desire and in most scenarios, plugs are simply used in the cloning process and the rest of the plant's growth is in soil or other forms of medium.
One More Snip
Now that your clone is in its medium, you need to make one more trim. Cut your clones leaves tips off until the complete width of your clone’s canopy is approximately the size of a 3" circle. These cuts will allow your clones to breathe easier and in turn, they are more likely to produce roots quicker.
Caring for Your Clones
Clones thrive in high humidity environments with no breeze at all. Cloning chambers can be one of the best ways to keep your clones healthy and happy. A cloning chamber is composed of a see-through dome, a reservoir, and an air pump. The bubbles from the water burst on the bottom of your cloning plug creating a fine layer of mist between your clones and the top of your reservoir. This mist is much easier for your plants to absorb, so they root quicker.
Easy on the Nutrients
Clones don't need any nutrient's, so don't add anything to the reservoir or you may cause your clones to die. The only exception to this would be cloning specific nutrients or Thrive Alive. Thrive Alive has special hormones that help your plant make the transition to root growth.
How to Clone Your Plants Like a Pro - Final Thoughts
Now that you know how to clone like a pro, you are ready to take your garden to the next level. Cloning is easy and fun and the best part is, once you get good at it, you are guaranteed a well-controlled harvest every time. The next time you get lucky and find a seed in some amazing strain, you will now have the ability to turn that single seed into your future harvest for years to come.
In the end, the hardest part about cloning isn't the actual process but rather the lack of self-esteem many people feel toward the procedure. Remember, cannabis is a weed and it is going to do everything within its power to flourish and be fruitful. You just need to give it a few nudges here and there to help it along its journey.
- David Hamilton