Agricultural practices are constantly improving and evolving. The constant development, especially in alternative plant production strategies, widens the spectrum of choices in generating desired yields. Cannabis cloning, for example, is a quick and economical method with high return probability.
Cloning Cannabis Plants
There are two types of plant propagation: sexual and asexual. Sexual entails pollination, or the fusion of pollen from male plants with the females’ eggs, to produce seeds bearing both parents’ genetic code. On the other hand, asexual reproduction grows genetically identical plants from a single donor plant.
Cloning by taking cuttings from a vegetating mother to grow homogeneous offspring is a non-sexual approach. If this technique is to be put into action, make sure to select the healthiest donor from a batch of females. Likewise, only choose robust stalks to secure a strong start. Last but just as important, provide ample face time for a high survival rate and, therefore, more flowering clones.
A Look Back On Plant Cloning
Since the beginning of time, plants have been naturally ‘cloning’ itself. Forests and nature parks are proof of this act of self-propagation. Humans, on the other hand, discovered its advantage in 5000 BC when seeds from the best plants were used to improve corn crops. Then, in 1958, F.C. Steward grew whole carrot plants from carrot root cells, which promoted the belief that cloning from adult cells may be possible. From then on, different methods of cloning such as grafting, cutting, and layering have emerged.
Reasons For Cloning Cannabis
Today, cloning is widely employed in cannabis cultivation as its benefits in multiple cropping remain unmatched. Here are the advantages of applying the method both in personal grow setups as well as in large-scale settings:
- Guaranteed Gender. Cannabis floras exhibit genders during the pre-flowering stage, which appear around 3 to 6 weeks from when the seeds germinated. Because cuttings take the gender of the donor plant, this aspect is established early on, ridding of the need to wait. It also assures that the whole batch is of the same gender. However, there is still a possibility of growing hermaphrodites due to environmental stressors.
- Desired Traits. No altercation occurs in the stem cutting’s cell DNA after it is severed from the mother plant. Hence, the clones grow into the exact genetic duplicate of the mother plant. Thus, fragrance and flavor profile, bud potency, and yield size are usually the same.
- Mass Production. A single well-developed mother plant can generate up to 50 cuttings per week. Therefore, one donor can supply a big grow area with clones for a homogeneous batch growing.
- Low-Cost. The entire process, which includes growing the mother plant, procuring cuttings, and cultivating clones, requires minimal expenditure. It is cheaper than multiple cropping through sexual propagation as there is no need to obtain and germinate several often-costly seeds. Moreover, the growth period for clones is much faster at only 2 to 3 weeks, saving cost from electricity and supplements.
- No Need to Germinate. Apart from conserving a couple of days, cloning is without the uncertain growth rates of seed germination and the trouble of handling sensitive seeds.
- Excellent for SOG. The use of clones is preferred when growing in a Sea of Green (SOG) as it requires strict uniformity to maximize a small cultivation area. Moreover, because the method implements a quick vegetative phase to restrict the size of plants, it works perfectly with the cuttings’ rapid vegging growth.
- Earlier Flowering. A month-old rooted cutting behaves similarly to a four-month-old conventionally grown cannabis plant. Therefore, it can be triggered to start budding earlier, shortening the total growing time by a month. The best time to initiate fruiting is when the clones reach 12 inches which take about 2 to 3 weeks.
Cloning Cannabis At Home
Cannabis cultivation on a budget and in limited areas especially favor the use of cuttings. By growing clones, factors considered as disadvantages are no longer. As might be expected, though, achieving the desired outcome requires impeccable execution through and though.
Choose And Grow Mother Plant
Selecting donors for cloning is the cornerstone of successful replication. Only cannabis plants in excellent health condition and with the preferred attributes can provide fitting, top quality clones. To assess which flora makes great clone source, consider these two determinants:
- Genetic Profile and Inclination. Always take into account the candidates growth tendencies. Doing so provides a preview of the plant’s resistance to diseases, yield size, potency, and overall profile (scent, flavor, and effects) among others.
- Robustness. Cuttings are tiny and unrooted versions of the source plant. Therefore, only hardy mothers can deliver robust clones that can withstand different growing conditions. Choosing an unhealthy one, regardless if it has all the preferred features, will only bring forth problems.
Selection And Growing
- Germinate as many seeds as possible. It increases the chances of finding a high-quality mother. Moreover, it assures that the source is chosen from a pool of excellent candidates.
- Wait until the plants reach the vegetative stage and bear pre-flowers that display their gender. Afterward, set aside or discard the males and take cuttings from all the females. The clones must be labeled to know which source plant they came from.
- Allow the cuttings to reach the flowering stage and ensure that the mother plants stay in the vegetative phase. Also keep a record of the clones’ growth pattern.
- As the new plants blossom and become ready for harvest, check for specific characteristics like flavor profile, yield, scent, bud structure, and potency.
- Lastly, choose the clone that displayed the best attributes and provided the desired output. The corresponding source is the new mother plant.
Care is crucial in splitting a cutting from its mother plant. Ensuring precision in each step safeguards future plant development and a bountiful, top of the quality yield.
- Rooting Medium
- Rooting Hormone
- Stop fertilizing the mother plant. Before cutting, withhold fertilization to the plant source as it aids the exit of nitrogen from the leaves. Otherwise, the clones are tricked into proceeding with the vegetative phase instead of rooting.
- Sanitize grow room and tools. The use of sanitized tools and grow rooms ensures the prevention of microbial infection on severed ends. Otherwise, it introduces bacteria to both cuttings and mother plants that lead to diseases. Moreover, sterile environments reduce stress and agitation on both plants.
- Find the right branches. Cuttings of 8-10 inches with several nodes are ideal for most cases. The healthier ones are commonly located at the lower limbs of a plant. However, when using a rockwool medium, match the stem’s length with the cube’s rooting hole for the right fit.
- Take cuttings properly. Common practices use a razor to cut at a 45-degree angle to the branch for taking clippings. It increases the surface area that is ideal for rooting and encourages quicker root growth.
- Introduce the cutting to water immediately. Otherwise, bubbles form in and clog the stem that prevents sufficient water absorption. It will cause the immediate death of the clone.
- Clip the leaves. Clipping the leaves improves photosynthesis. Remove those that are near the bottom of the stem to prevent them from taking crucial water and nutrients.
- Use a rooting hormone. Although not mandatory, fresh stems may be dipped in hormone solutions to boost rooting and growth.
Put Cuttings Into Rooting Medium
There are three main rooting mediums for rooting cannabis cuttings:
- Water. H2O is the most widely employed and convenient rooting media, as it does not require the use of hormones. Simply submerge the stems in just-enough water levels and wait for the roots and new vegetative growth to sprout.
- Soil. Transplanting rooted cannabis causes stress to young plants. To avoid such situation, some just root their cuttings in the soil container they will finish in. Just maintain the pH range between 5.5 to 6.5 and do not over or underwater.
- Rockwool. Using rockwool as a clone rooting medium is ideal due to its moisture retention and airflow. The material has typically high pH levels, though, so make sure to soak it first in water with a 4 to 4.5 pH range.
While genetics play a massive part in the growth of cannabis, clone survival and growth is also largely determined by environmental factors. Make sure to provide these setting essentials:
- Ample Heat and Humidity. Cuttings thrive in warm and wet conditions. To ensure a steady moist, maintain the humidity around 60%+ and place the clones in a humidity dome or mist pure water several times a day. Also secure a temperature that plays around 22-25 °C. If growing in colder conditions, heating mats should do the trick.
- Mild Light. Clones won’t need light for the first few days. After that period, put it under 18/6 light schedule and employ grow lights especially used for clones and seedlings or a cool white CFL, LED, or Metal Halides.
Transplant Rooted Clone
Rooted clones may experience a ‘transplant shock’ when transferred into bigger containers. To reduce or avoid causing stress, introduce the plants to a moist, well-watered medium with good drainage.
Prepare The Growing Medium
Before moving the clones to a growing medium, adequate preparation of the substrates gives the plants a suitable welcome. When transporting to an inert medium, it must be preloaded with nutrition through nutrient solutions available in gardening shops. For peat moss, merely water the substrate until it is saturated with the fertilizer mix. Another tip is to add seaweed extract which contains natural plant growth regulators or hormones for reducing plant stress.
Approach With Proper Timing
Plants experience lesser stress when transitioned at the perfect time. It is usually done when the roots are fully hardened. To check for transplant readiness, gently squeeze the edges of the pot, so the plants come out with the least effort. As soon as the roots are visible on the edge of the container but have not begun to circle fully, the plant is ready to go. Otherwise, when the growing medium falls apart without many visible roots, it still needs to stay a little longer in its current abode.
Provide Optimal Growing Conditions
Much like while rooting, new transplants thrive in warm and moist conditions. They also need ample airflow, but too much breeze will increase plant stress as it forces more than necessary transpiration. Maintain humidity levels at 70-80% and gradually wean the plants to 60%. Besides, temperatures should not exceed heats of 24°C (75°F) or go below 21°C (70°F).
Care For The Clones
Even when the clones are already established in their new medium, the challenges do not halt. The plants, similar to others, are still vulnerable to harsh conditions and predators. Aside from maintaining temperatures, humidity, pH levels, and others, it is also critical to keep a keen eye on these elements:
Early Signs Of Diseases
With the sensitivity of clones to new environments, they become more prone to various diseases. Several telltale signs of a sick stalk may include limping and discoloration of the leaves. Plants may give off a mild yellow hue as they root, but other pigmentations suggest infections and diseases. For instance, white powder on stem leaves signal mold and mildew.
To improve the younglings’ resistance to diseases, provide correct nutrition ratio and follow feeding schedules. Also keep in mind that not all ailments can be remedied by adjusting pH levels, temperatures, and humidity levels. Ergo, always conduct ample research and/or consult with cultivation experts before performing any remedial actions.
Possible Pest Attacks
Several visual cues indicate potential pest infestation that may hinder optimal plant growth or even kill the flora. Bite marks on leaves suggest the presence of insects like spider mite. Meanwhile, larvae or root maggots on the soil is a clear sign of fungus gnat habitation. To prevent or stop such attacks, maintain proper air circulation and a clean grow area, among others. Also thoroughly inspect the plants daily.
Measure Stem Width
When a cutting’s stem is thin and narrow, it is most probably a clipping of a weak mother plant. As expected, poor-quality clones are more susceptible to diseases and parasitic disturbances. More importantly, rooting and vegetation growth is impeded given the poor health. On the other hand, thick stems are apparent visual signs of a vigorous and thriving plant.
Nature continues to amaze with its responses to alternative methods of reproduction. Despite skipping the germination stage, plants still resume development and yield production through the asexual process of cloning. Clippings grow roots for continued survival, especially in the presence of adequate rooting, transferring, and growing conditions. But, most importantly, the success rate is strongly determined by the quality of mother plants as clones are replicas of their sources.
Cloning holds many leverages over seed growing. Automatic resumption of plant maturity shortens the total duration of the clone’s life cycle. In addition, the technique secures uniformity in growth and yield. Lastly, a single mother plant can supply dozens of cuttings every week, thereby dramatically increasing total plant count and, in turn, harvest size.