The word “cloning” may conjure up images of science fiction films or dystopian novels. But when it comes to growing cannabis, cloning is a down-to-earth process that can save you time and space while taking some of the guesswork out of the growing process.
Whether you’re a new or experienced grower, you may benefit from learning how to clone cannabis plants. This article describes the basics you need to know.
What is cannabis cloning?
A cannabis clone is an exact genetic copy of an established cannabis plant called the “mother plant.” That means that if you have a plant that you prefer – whether it’s because of its size, smell, or the effects it produces – you can take cuttings of it to replicate it over and over again.
The mother plant should be healthy and sturdy since its genetics will pass on to the clones. Before you decide which plant to use as a mother, ensure you know the quality of the buds the plant supplies.
Here are some other factors in selecting the mother plant:
- Be sure the plant is a female plant. The simplest way to determine the plant’s sex is to examine the nodes between its branches and stalk. Female plants have long hairy structures known as “stigma.” On the other hand, male plants have sacs of pollen. (Hermaphrodites will have both stigma and sacs.)
- Wait for the plant to have gone through a flowering cycle so that you can test the quality and potency of the buds.
- Do not clone a plant grown from feminized seeds. These plants are less stress-resistant than other plants.
- Avoid cloning a plant showing any mold, pests, or nutrient deficiencies.
- Allow the plant to go through a flowering cycle so that you are able to test the quality and potency of the bud it produces.
Some cannabis growers who have a lot of space have dedicated mother plants. In other words, they use these plants only for cuttings. However, this setup may not be your best option if your space is tight.
What are the advantages of cloning?
You may be wondering why someone would take the time and trouble finding the right mother plant and taking cuttings from it for cloning. Isn’t it better to use quality seeds?
The answer is that there are many advantages to cloning cannabis plants. First, clones are more reliable than seeds.
Since a clone is an exact copy of the mother plant, a grower knows what to expect in terms of its sex, appearance, growing pattern, smell, taste, and potency.
Another plus is that clones are less expensive to use than seeds. Instead of purchasing seeds that may or may not germinate, you can take free cuttings from a mother plant.
And since clones don’t have to go through the germination or seedling stage, they save you significant time and effort.
LEARN MORE: Growing Cannabis from Seed vs. Cloning
Steps for cloning cannabis plants
First, it’s critical to sterilize your workspace, your hands, and your tools. Now let’s take a look at how you clip your mother plant and care for your cuttings.
1. Take the cuttings when the mother is in the vegetative stage. This stage begins when the plant is three to four weeks old and lasts for up to 16 weeks before the plant starts blooming. Ideally, your mother plant is at least five weeks old and has multiple side shoots.
2. Select straight branches with a minimum of three nodes each. Cuttings from the bottom of the plant are a good idea since they have a higher level of rooting hormones.
3. Using a sharp knife or a razor blade, cut each branch at a 45° angle just below the third node. Remove any leaves near the node closest to the bottom of the cutting.
4. Place your cuttings immediately into a jar of clean filtered water to keep them hydrated and to keep air bubbles from forming inside the stem. Keep the cuttings in the water while you get other cuttings.
5. Dip the ends of the cuttings in the rooting hormone. This step encourages the plant to produce root cells rather than green plant cells. Avoid getting the hormone on the leaves as it can damage them.
6. After misting your rooting medium with water, dig small holes just deep and wide enough to hold the cutting straight up in your growing tray. Place the cutting in the hole and gently push the soil around the base to keep it firmly in place. Lightly mist the cuttings.
7. Enclose the cuttings in a plastic humidity dome for 48 hours. Then remove the dome.
8. Keep these plants under low-level fluorescent lighting for 18 hours a day. The lights should be about 30 inches away from the plants for best results. Keep the temperature of the room in the mid-70s Fahrenheit and use a heating pad if necessary.
9. Most clones are rooted and ready to plant within two weeks. When tiny white hairs begin to sprout, it’s time to transplant into pots that are filled with a soilless peat- or sphagnum-based potting medium. Water the medium and press down on the soil to prevent overflow.
10. Dig holes in the pot that accommodate the size of the clone and their roots. If necessary, add more soil to keep the roots covered.
11. Water thoroughly after transplanting and make sure the soil remains moist.
12. Keep the transplanted clones away from the rest of your plants for about a week as you observe their health. After a week, if the clones are thriving, you can move them near your other plants if you like.
Plan for trial and error
Don’t be surprised if a few of your first cloning attempts are unsuccessful. Even experienced cloners can lose some of their clones from the mother plant. Keep in mind that the more cuttings you take, the better your chances for success.
Clones need humidity, but mold thrives in humid environments. Powdery mildew is a common disease found on clones, but these mold spores can transfer to other plants. It’s critical to keep an eye out for white powder on stems and leaves and to remove plants that show these signs as quickly as you can.
Cloning is a satisfying way to propagate your favorite cannabis plants. By following the above steps, you can save time and money and be able to focus on cultivating the strains you like the best.
Outfit Your Grow Operation with GrowHigher
Whether you decide to grow from seed or from clones, GrowHigher can provide what you need to get your commercial grow operation functioning at peak efficiency. Check out some of our products and educational materials.
- Cloning Rack Systems
- Mobile Vertical Grow Racks
- Static Vertical Grow Racks
- Grow Benches and Bench Systems
- Grow Room Humidifiers
- Grow Room Dehumidifiers
Related Glossary Terms
Continue learning with these related glossary terms:
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