An Introduction to Cloning
When you start growing, one of the first things you may be asked about is whether you are growing from a seed or clone. If you’re completely new to cannabis and hydroponics, you may be thinking what exactly is a clone, why wouldn’t I just grow from a seed? The process of cloning and growing from a clone is a little different from seeds because your plant starts out as a “replica” of a mother plant, as opposed to a brand-new plant. Essentially a sturdy, healthy branch is removed from a mother plant, and replanted with rooting hormone in a smaller container to grow its own roots, and eventually be transplanted to grow as a full plant. Cloning allows you to grow additional plants of strains you enjoy, without having to go through the whole process of growing from seed. It seems simple enough, but it can be a little tricky if you’re not careful.
So why choose clones over seedlings? There are a variety of benefits that come from both ways of starting a new plant, ultimately it just comes down to your personal preference and what you feel comfortable with as a grower. The main benefits people seek from using cuttings is that they are faster and less expensive to grow and can replicate a phenotype that you really like. By eliminating the germination stage and beginning with a new growth you save potentially weeks of growing time, thereby allowing you to grow more plants in less time. Saving the expense of purchasing seeds is also an attractive benefit to many growers, especially for those with big crops. Another pro of growing from a clone is that it allows you to grow exactly what you want, and there is no risk involved if you know the source of the clone. Having an exact replica of your best plants means they are guaranteed to be female, and you know the genetics of what you’ll be growing. If you are a new grower, it is worthwhile to note that clones can be a little more forgiving in the beginning stages than growing from seed. Sometimes getting the conditions just right for seedlings to germinate can be tough, where clones are already out of their most delicate stage and ready to grow new roots!
How is it done?
The good thing about cloning is that it doesn’t require a ton of materials, and once you get the hang of it you may find it simple to do! You’ll need a sustainable medium such as rockwool cubes, coco coir, or soil with good drainage. A propagation tray and dome will also help ensure a high relative humidity is kept inside the environment. You’ll also need sharp trimming shears or razor, pH balanced water, a grow light or source of light, and a rooting hormone. Pick your mother plant based on your strongest, healthiest plant - they should be young, about 2 months into veg. Before you start the cutting process make sure everything is clean and sanitized, including your shears, hands and workspace. One of the downfalls of growing from clones is that pests may already exist on the plant, so you don’t want to risk any further contamination.
Pick branches that are lower down, sturdy, and already have new growth starting on them. Cut as close to the new growth as possible to allow for branches 6-8” in length. The removal of mature fan leaves is recommended and will offer a better chance at survival as the plant will no longer focus on supporting these leaves. Cut at a 45-degree angle (think flowers in a vase) to allow maximum water absorption and immediately place your cutting in water before planting to prevent air pockets from forming in the stem (make sure it’s properly pH balanced). Dip the plant into a rooting hormone if you choose to help promote active and healthy growth in new roots, and then plant in either your medium or grow cubes.
To care for the cuttings after planting, make sure they have lots of light (18/6 schedule) and high humidity (70-80%). If you’re growing in a dome keep the lid on for the first few days to increase humidity but be sure to periodically remove it to foliar spray the leaves and allow new air to enter. Keep an eye on them throughout the day and mist the plants with water several times daily. When you start to see new vegetative growth on the clones, that’s when it’s time to transplant into a bigger container. If you have a plant that you love and want to grow more of, consider making some clones! Everything you need to get started, is available on our online shop including grow cubes, clone machines, pH pens, and rooting hormone.