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Learn How to Clone a Plant Like a Pro

By Jessica McKeil January 23, 2019

Cloning is a useful method of propagation for cultivators far outside of the cannabis world. While there are many benefits to producing cannabis plants from genetically identical clones, cloning plants like house plants, and soft-wooded trees can be just as rewarding.

The home gardener can exponentially increase yields, multiply a favorite house plant, or reproduce the stem of a rose bush, all in a few easy steps.

Cloning plants and trees is something even the beginner gardening can accomplish, no green thumb required.

You may be familiar with the simple technique of popping a spider plant baby into a glass of water but other cloning techniques require a bit more know-how. They aren’t overly complicated, but it’s worth reviewing the basics. The following is a detailed guide of cloning with Rockwool, water, peat moss, and even a cloning machine.

Successful cloning is partially about knowing the basics of propagation, and partially the requirements of the plants you wish to clone. Before getting started, do a little research on the plant you're cloning. What is the:

 - Optimum pH level

 - Preferred nutrient additives and rooting solution

 - Plant material required for cloning (root, stem, leaf, etc)

 - Optimum temperature and humidity during the rooting process

Here, we review how to clone plants and trees using stem cuttings only. While you’ll quickly see similarities between each method, there are essential differences should you settle on one for your own at-home propagation.




Cloning in Rockwool

In a hydroponic setup, one of the most common soilless growing mediums is Rockwool this is especially true for the cloning process. But it’s not just about taking snips from the mother plant and tucking it, cut end down, into the pre-poked Rockwool holes.

Successful Rockwool cloning requires a few additional steps.

Soak the Rockwool for five hours before use. This can be as simple as submerging the growing medium in a bucket of water, so long as the equipment is clean before dunking. The water must have a pH balance of 5.5 for cannabis, but this is the same process for other plants as well. Do a little research about the ideal pH level for your plant, and adjust the water as needed. There are solutions available which will increase or decrease the pH. Lime and wood ash increases pH levels, while sulfur and phosphoric acid will lower it.

 - Remove the Rockwool from the bath, and rinse thoroughly with water mixed with low levels of growth nutrients. The nutrients you choose will vary depending on the plant.

 - Test for pH once more, confirm its still at 5.5 for cannabis or another level as previously explored.

 - Cut trimmings from your parent plant, just above a node. A node is the “v” in the stem where the stem branches out into other leaves. Use sterile scissors or razor blade to perform this action.

 - Submerge the tip of the cutting into a water solution, again with a 5.5 pH value. With a sharp knife, make a new angled cut just above the original. This reduces the risk of contamination once more.

 - Immediately after cutting at an angle, submerge the tip of the cutting into a rooting solution following the instructions on the product.

 - Place the prepared cutting into the pre-cut holes in a block of Rockwool.

 - Spray the tray of clones with a foliar spray (especially for cannabis).

 - Place under a clone dome, which is a humidity capturing dome useful for controlling temperature and humidity for the baby plants.

 - Monitor the environment, and aim for roughly 80 percent humidity and 75 degrees Fahrenheit for cannabis. Houseplants, vegetables or fruit, may have different ideal conditions.

 - Once rooted, cut the clones from the rock wool carefully protecting the roots, and place in the final growing container.

Using a Plant Cloning Machine

For the cultivator who prefers a straightforward, almost hands-free approach to cloning, there are many different cloning machines on the market. Most cloning machines are simple tanks, with a water pump, and a specialized tray for the plant cuttings.

Turbo Klone is a go-to for many cultivars, but all cloning machines operate under the same premise. Some are aeroponic; many are Deep Water Culture hydroponic systems.

 - Assemble the Turbo Klone or other cloning machines following the instructions. Typically, you’ll need to assemble the water pump and fix into the tank; assemble the foam collars into the tray lid, and add water.

 - Add any cloning nutrients or microbes you wish to the tank, following the instructions for each product.

 - Adjust pH as needed for the specific clones you are trying to root.

 - Cut trimmings from your parent plant, just above a node. A node is the “v” in the stem where the stem branches out into other leaves. Use sterile scissors or razor blade to perform this action.

 - Submerge the tip of the cutting into a water solution, again with a 5.5 pH value. With a sharp knife, make a new angled cut just above the original. This reduces the risk of contamination.

 - Immediately after cutting at an angle, submerge the tip of the cutting into a rooting solution following the instructions on the product.

 - Tuck cuttings into each collar, with the cut ends either touching the surface of the water or sitting immediately above it.

 - Place the lid on top of the tank, and plug in the water pump which agitates the water.

 - Check back every week for rooting updates.

 - Once a healthy root system has started, they are ready to replant.

Cloning in Water

One of the simplest ways to clone plants is one long used by house plant enthusiasts and their spider plants. While cloning cannabis might be a bit more challenging and require a more sterile environment, water propagation works well for ivy, houseplants woody ornamental plants, and certain types of softwood trees.

Really the only technical aspect to cloning in water is to confirm whether or not the specific plant will root. Do the research and then follow these easy steps.

 - Take one or more cuttings just above the node. A node is the “v” in the stem where the stem branches out into other leaves. Use sterile scissors or razor blade to perform this action.

 - Fill a mason jar, tall glass, or even a shot glass with spring water, or at the very least non-chlorinated water. So long as your cuttings are supported, the container doesn’t matter.

 - Place the cutting, cut side down, into the water.

 - Check regularly for signs of root development.

 - Once thoroughly rooted, the clone is ready to be planted in soil and placed on a  sunny window sill.

Cloning with Peat Moss

Peat moss pellets are another growing medium often used for cloning plants and trees. Cannabis growers tend to prefer other mediums, but there is nothing wrong with peat moss plugs for cloning. They are easy to root in, affordable, and store well. They are perfect for both the novice and professional cultivator alike.

 - Soak peat moss pellets before use, in an appropriate pH solution. At this stage, some cultivators like to place all the pellets in a large tray and add nutrients during the soaking. Others prefer to use the Rapid Rooter Tray system, as the set up is speedier and requires less labor.

 - After a few hours of soaking, test pH levels and adjust as needed. Ensure the tray has drained.

 - Take one or more cuttings just above the node. A node is the “v” in the stem where the stem branches out into other leaves. Use sterile scissors or razor blade to perform this action.

 - Submerge the tip of the cutting into a water solution, again always with appropriate pH value. With a sharp knife, make a new angled cut just above the original. This reduces the risk of contamination.

 - Immediately after cutting at an angle, submerge the tip of the cutting into a rooting solution following the instructions on the product.

 - Tuck the end of each cutting into each peat moss plug. Gentle as to not break or damage the sensitive clone.

 - Cover the tray with the Clone Dome, which regulates heat and humidity during the rooting process. Aim for roughly 80 percent humidity and 75 degrees Fahrenheit for cannabis. Houseplants, vegetables or fruit, may have different ideal conditions.

 - Monitor daily for root development, and once visible outside the peat moss netting, the clones are ready for transplant.

Are Clones or Seeds Better?

The age-old question, and one hotly debated among growers. There is not enough room in this cloning piece, nor likely enough space in online forums, to really come to a conclusion about which is better. Each method has benefits, each has challenges. It would be hard enough to reach a final conclusion about one species, let alone for many different kinds. The clones versus seeds debate the world of cannabis is one of the most hotly debated topics, maybe behind soil versus hydroponics.

As a cultivator, you’ll have to make your own decisions about cloning. As a quick overview, if you are new to the world of clones, here are the pros and cons to the method:

Pros:

 - Genetically identical to the mother

 - Reduces time to reach maturity

 - If done in house, it is cheaper than growing from seed

 - Better crop predictability

Cons:

 - Pests and diseases may be introduced from disreputable clone producers

 - Hinders the natural evolution of the plant

 - Reduces genetic diversity

 - More technically challenging, depending on the method

Cloning is hugely popular within the cannabis industry, and increasingly a useful tool for at-home gardeners, whether they are cloning their medical marijuana plants or their house plants. Learning the basics, including the importance of a sterile working environment, rooting solutions, and the best temperature/humidity settings -  is only the first step. The second step is getting started with your own propagation.

 

The best way to become a cloning pro is to give it a shot for yourself!

 


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