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CLONING BUD PLANTS  INTRO

The process of cloning marijuana involves a female plant in the vegetative stage (Mother Plant), and the removal of fresh growth. You will need a healthy mother to start with, a cloning medium to place cuttings in, rooting hormone for best results, a cloning chamber to house your cuttings, and a grow light to keep the cuttings healthy. Cloning can be a very easy process to master and many experienced growers swear by it.

WHY CLONE YOUR PLANTS

The biggest advantage of cloning is that you can skip the entire process of germinating seeds and growing healthy seedlings by using living cuttings instead. You also have the advantage of making exact genetic copies from a plant or strain that you are particularly fond of. Cloning also takes male plants out of the equation so you don’t waste time growing plants that must be killed when you switch to the flowering cycle. Growers often start clones every month, or even every two weeks, to produce continuous harvests.

TAKING CUTTINGS

You will need a pair of sharp scissors, pruning shears, or a razor blade to take your cuttings. Sterilize your tool with rubbing alcohol to help prevent contamination. Snip off 6” – 8” cuttings from the mother plant. Some growers prefer the cuttings from the top of the mother plant while others swear that cuttings from lower branches root faster. Next take off the bottom set of leaves but be sure to keep 3 or 4 sets of leaves per cutting. This process should be done quickly and you will immediately want to place each cutting into water or rooting solution. With the cutting underwater, make another diagonal cut about ¼” from the base. This will prevent air from entering your cutting and allow more nutrients into the stem. Now your cuttings are ready to be rooted.

ROOTING CUTTINGS

Your cuttings will need a rooting hormone or rooting gel to speed the process along. Most growers agree the gel works best as it seals out air better than a liquid or powder hormone but this is really personal preference. The rooting gel is more expensive than the liquids or powders but it seems to produce the most consistent results. With your cutting snipped diagonally, use a sterile tool to dip into your gel and apply it generously to the base of the cutting and to the exposed sites where the lowest two leaves were removed. Using sterile gloves and keeping a clean work space helps to prevent contamination of the cuttings. You are now ready to place your cuttings into your grow medium.

GROW MEDIUMS

There are a wide variety of grow mediums that will work for cloning marijuana but the most successful medium is generally agreed to be 1” rockwool cubes, costing around $10 for 100. You will want to have your cloning chamber prepared ahead of time to ensure the best results. This means placing rockwool cubes in a shallow nutrient solution inside your clone chamber. Next, take the gel-covered cutting, carefully open up the center hole of the rockwool cube wide enough to accept your cutting without wiping away all the rooting gel, and place it about ½ to ¾ of the way in. The center holes of your 1” rockwool cubes should be carefully closed around the stem of the cutting to keep out air. You may need to very gently squeeze the rockwool cube for a few seconds to ensure full contact between the rockwool and the cutting on all sides in order to get rid of any air pockets that may remain. Secure your cutting and your rockwool cube back inside your chamber.

CLONING CHAMBERS

A cloning chamber, or humidity dome, is a plastic chamber that holds your cuttings in the nutrient solution needed for rooting. Many different types of chambers are available and some growers opt to make their own. The basic design requires a shallow base to hold the solution, with a taller, clear plastic top that rests evenly on the base. You can buy these from many garden stores or experiment with making your own at home but the concept is the same. By trapping moisture and humidity inside the chamber, the cuttings are better able to begin pushing new roots out through the rockwool cubes. Some clone chambers have small holes that open and close to allow a bit of fresh air into the chamber for a few minutes each day.

CARING FOR CUTTINGS

Your cuttings like a temperature range around 72 – 80 degrees. The cloning chamber keeps heat as well as humidity in to speed rooting. You will want to spray the cuttings with water or a very light nutrient solution to help stimulate root growth. The nutrient solution in your chamber can be changed or you can just add more as you see fit but the cuttings should not be fully submerged in the solution. It is better to not check your clones constantly for signs of rooting as the more you handle them, the more likely the risk of contamination becomes, so be patient.

BONSAI MOTHERS

The mother plant is where it all begins in cloning. The more clones you can take, the more you can grow. Enter the Bonsai. The Bonsai mother plant is essentially grown to maximize the number of cloning sites. Starting with a large clone (8” – 10”), or a healthy small plant, begin by cutting your lady about half way up the plant. This means cutting off the top part of the plant to allow two shoots to grow back in its place rather than one. Placed in soil, your bonsai mother will grow rapidly as the root system is used to handling a plant twice the size. Now where you have the two shoots growing; cut the tops of these again to allow two more new shoots at each site. Repeat this process over and over until your plant has a good number of branch arms all putting out small shoots. Transfer your bonsai mother into larger pots as needed. The idea here is to train the plant into growing a high number of auxiliary branches of about the same size. Once you are ready to take your cuttings, remove almost all the foliage from the entire plant, leaving only three or four small branches. At this point you will want to remove the bonsai from the container and cut back the root system to the point that it fits in the original size container your bonsai mother started out it. Repeat as needed for new generation of clones.

LIGHTING

Your cuttings will need a (18/6) or (20/4) vegetative light cycle and CFL or LED lights are recommended. Place the lights over your clone chamber but not to the point of overheating your cuttings. This can be done rather easily as the chamber will trap heat as well as moisture and humidity. Some growers opt for a window sill to take advantage of natural sunlight.

SEEDS VERSUS CLONES

Clones have the distinct advantage of producing all female plants so you do not have to worry about males in the grow room. Also by using clones you know the exact genetics of the plants. Clones can develop problems from successive generations such as reduced potency, slower growth rates, and they can transfer disease or insects. Seeds will start out a bit faster than clones usually and the overall growth of the plants seems to be more consistent versus clones. The main problem with seeds is that you may begin with ten plants and later find out that five are male. This means you have wasted time, nutrients, and potential grow space on half of your crop. Buying seeds from reputable seed banks will ensure you have quality genetics to start out with and many varieties are available in feminized versions to prevent males. Buying seeds can get quite pricey though, another drawback compared to the costs of cloning.

 

Until next time,

Keep it GREEN, keep it LOVING and full of LIGHT.

PEACE brothers & sisters!!

~Ryan