How to Clone your Plants
This is Part 6 of an 8-part series on becoming a Hydro Pro:
- Part 1 – How to Choose Your Indoor Growing Setup
- Part 2 – How to Germinate Your Seeds
- Part 3 – How to Transfer Your Plants
- Part 4 – Know Your Plant's Nutrient Needs
- Part 5 – The Vegetative Stage
- Part 6 – [You are here] How to Clone your Plants
- Part 7 – The Flowering Stage
- Part 8 – The Harvesting Stage
Today we will discuss the intriguing topic of cloning. Some of you may have just heard this word today but don't sweat it, because we'll cover everything you need to know about cloning
So, let's start with the first question...
What is Cloning?
In biology, cloning is defined as the process of producing similar populations of genetically identical individuals that occurs in nature when organisms such as bacteria, insects or plants reproduce asexually.
In hydroponics, we will be making an exact replica of an existing plant. This practice started long before we got the idea of cloning a sheep.
Benefits of Cloning
In cloning, you are guaranteed of the plant’s attributes which includes health, strength, quality, and yield.
It also allows us to skip germinating (which can be time-consuming and frustrating at times).
The only drawback in cloning is cloned plants grow their roots in a lateral direction only and not as stabilized as germinated plants.
Moreover, cloned plants may have trouble finding water most especially in a soil set-up.
Important Things to Know in Cloning
Clones can be taken off from plants in any stage of growth..
...but it's important to keep in mind that clones taken during flowering stage onwards will take longer to have roots and eventually become productive plants hence it is highly recommended to have clones taken off during the vegetative stage.
Ways to Clone a Plant
You can maintain a mother plant, wherein a plant is perpetually kept in its vegetative stage and all the clones will be clip off from this plant.
Or you can clip off clones from all plants that are in its vegetative and get them started in an alternative system
Selecting a Mother Plant
In selecting a mother plant, we are looking for the best plant in the cycle. You would want to choose the strongest performing vegetative plant.
Look for the following characteristics:
- Nice green growth
- Robust and bushy
Now it is best to keep in mind that your plant should always have an ideal growing environment.
You may also want to keep your mother plant in soil even if you are growing hydroponically.
Keeping a plant in a perpetual vegetative stage requires a lot of maintenance so keeping it soil bound is a good idea.
The recommended lifespan for a mother plant is about a year. After this amount of time, the mother plant may become too unruly or may have outgrown its space or may have grown unwanted fungus, mold or pest infestation.
Steps in Cloning
Gather your supplies.
You will need the following:
- A sharp cutting instrument like scissors or razor blade
- Alcohol or hydrogen peroxide for sterilizing
- A cloning gel
- A growing medium
- A cloning system (You may want to check our super cloners!)
Sterilize your hands and equipment.
New clippings are extremely vulnerable to infection hence you must keep your supplies and hands clean at all times.
Condition your medium.
You will do this by conditioning your water then soaking your growing medium to the conditioned water.
For complete instruction, check our second episode in this series, How to Germinate your Plants.
Cut your clone clippings.
In cutting your clone clippings, remember the following:
- It will be best to cut from the top or near the top of the vegetative plant.
- Clip in a 45-degree angle below internodal growth.
- You would want at least 3 to 4 medium-sized leaves to absorb light.
- Also, make sure you have enough stem available to extend to your growing medium.
Dip your fresh clippings into the cloning gel.
The cloning gel coats the cut area in rooting hormones to facilitate root growth and it protects the cut area from problems such as embolisms or air bubbles that could cause the clone to fail.
Set your clones in your growing medium and secure them in place.
Set your clones in your cloning system.
Make sure the water level in your reservoir is close to or touching the bottom of the net cups. This is very important because newly cloned plants do not have a root system yet and have limited ability to absorb water.
At this stage of growth, we also recommend a foliar spray, since plants can absorb water and nutrients through their leaves.
You’d be surprised what a daily spray of nutrient-rich water solution can do your clones.
Ideal Growing Environment for Cloned Plants
The following are the ideal temperature ranges for your clones to grow successfully:
- Air temp: 80F to 85F
- Humidity: 75F to 85F
- Water temp: 70F to 75F
Clones do not have significant lighting requirements. CFL with cool blue light spectrum is ideal for cloned plants.
Sign of Successful Cloning
If you see these following signs then you have grown your clones successfully:
- Roots start to appear after 4 to 10 days or up to two weeks.
- New growth appears on top of your clones.
Now if you think cloning is exciting, wait until we discuss flowering!
Stay tuned for our next episode.