Cloning weed plants may sound difficult, but once learned, the technique is highly beneficial. When taking a clone or ‘cutting’ from a growing mother plant, you’re essentially making an exact copy or ‘daughter’ plant. The process of cloning is also known as vegetative propagation. Each clone grows roots of its own and carries the same genetics, characteristics and make-up of the mother plant, lending to plant reliability, consistency and seemingly perpetual harvests of the same strains. So why is cloning cannabis plants such a beneficial skill to learn? Find out why as we cover the basics of cloning, how to clone cannabis successfully and how it can help your growing operation.
Why Consider Clones?
Before we learn how to clone a weed plant, let’s answer an important question first: why should you consider cloning for your crops? Cloning is a common garden practice that’s ideal for perpetually propagating trusted cannabis genetics. Put simply, if you’ve had success with one strain for effects or growing, you can rely on the clone of the plant, too. That’s because it’s an exact replica of the mother plant and will grow with the same vigor and nature (unlike seeds, where gender or phenotype cannot be guaranteed).
Another advantage of clones is constantly having female plants in rotation. As long as you’re growing, you can be cloning for your next run or pull. Even better, cloning is highly cost-efficient. Other than a few supplies, taking cuts of your mother plant to make new copies is pretty much free. Not only that, but you can take multiple cuts from one plant, meaning you can make dozens of plants from just one over and over again.
What You’ll Need To Start Cloning
Now that you know why you should clone, let’s learn how to clone a cannabis plant. Again, a technique that might sound complex really only takes a few simple supplies. Of course, you can improve the process or your chances of success with additional supplements, like cloning gel or special mediums, which is why you’ll want to keep reading to ensure you’ve got your cloning basics covered before you get started. Here are the basic materials you’ll need and a few extras to consider.
- Mother plant. You may ask yourself, how old should a mother plant be before cloning? Your mother plant should be in its vegetative state, although you can take clones from flowering plants, too. You can keep mother plants in vegetative state seemingly forever, so as long as the plant is healthy with appropriately-sized stems for cutting, its exact age is not an issue.
- Lights (LED will do).
- A rooting medium. Pick between rockwool, starter cubes, water or soil methods (see below).
- Cloning gel. Rooting or cloning gels or powders will amplify your clone’s chances of taking root. Popular products like ‘Clonex’ are packed with nutrients and vitamins that feed the cutting to promote root growth.
- Humidity dome or a room with ideal conditions (see below).
Choose Your Rooting Medium
At this point, you might already be asking yourself this question: once you take the cut, what do you do with it? That’s where the rooting medium comes into play. With a variety of medium options to choose from, one basic requirement is ideal airflow. Since clones need oxygen for respiration, rockwool cubes are a popular choice due to their air and water flow capabilities. They are also ideal for transplanting for hydroponics, soil or coco grows. Other ‘non-soil’ options include starter cubes, or the use of a hydroponic cloner/propagator machine. With these methods, you’ll be able to see the roots growing prior to transplanting to their next stage.
You can also take a classic method, placing your clone directly into soil while ensuring that the soil is not too nutrient-packed and avoiding overwatering. Although this may seem like an overly easy way to go, don’t forget that you won’t be able to monitor root growth through the soil.
Lastly, there is a simple water method – the answer to how to clone cannabis without cloning gel. Once your clone is prepped, simply place it in water. You can watch as your roots take growth and transplant when ready.
Ideal Conditions For Cloning
Just like the vegetative or flowering stages of growing cannabis, cloning marijuana plants calls for fine-tuning the conditions or environments too. To properly root clones, humidity, temperature and light levels should be just right. A humidity dome is recommended for keeping humidity up and temperature levels between 72-75℉ or 22-24℃.
Steady, low-intensity light is the best light for clones, leaving them under light for up to 24 hours a day. This method promotes steady, consistent conditions that will help rooting take successfully. Some growers also recommend an 18/6 cycle, which can likewise help roots take. Keep in mind that more intense light won’t speed up the process. In fact, high-intensity lights can dehydrate the clones, so a 250W LED would be a good place to start. Too little light won’t activate the photosynthesis process, slowing the growth of the roots. If you do have to use your current lights, raise them in height to decrease their intensity.
To take care of your mother plant, a few special conditions should be put in place as well. Keep mother plants with the same amount of light 18-24 hours per day. You’ll want to keep the mother plant in the vegetative state and avoid flowering, which this light cycle will accomplish. Specific type of lights will assist the process; 1200 lumens of blue spectrum light is ideal, through HPM lamps or other types.
How To Clone A Cannabis Plant – The Step-By-Step Guide
Prepare your medium.
You’ll have to work quickly when taking clones, so you’ll want to prepare your medium and supplies before getting to work. That includes preparing your medium with proper pH conditions. If you’re using rockwool or pellets, fill a bucket with water with a pH level of 5.5-5.8. Place the medium in the water and let it soak for up to 24 hours.
Choose which clones to take.
First, you’ll have to choose what cuttings you’ll take from the mother plant. Tops that are actively growing are preferred, since they contain more growth hormones than lower parts of the plant. You’ll want to choose a mature cut that has no more than 2-3 nodes. The cut should have 2-3 fan leaves and a sturdy stem of about ⅛ of inch in thickness.
Cut clones from a mother plant.
Once you’ve chosen the stems you’ll be taking, it’s time to cut. Be sure to sterilize the razor or blade you’re using to avoid any plant infections. Cut through the lowest node on the stem at a 45° angle, not too near the main branch. Taking the cut through the node is ideal due to the fact that hormones reside in high concentrations there. This will allow for quicker root growth for the clone overall. Cutting at an angle also increases clone success due to having a higher surface area that will help water absorption. If you’re taking multiple cuts, quickly place the cuttings in water to stay in until you place them into your medium. If left exposed to the air, issues can arise like air embolisms.
Apply rooting gel and place in chosen medium.
Before placing the clones into your medium, you’ll first trim the top fan leaves in half with sterilized scissors. This decreases transpiration so the new roots don’t have to support as much plant material. You can also remove smaller fan leaves or node points at the bottom of the stem if these are present. Reducing leaf presence to a minimum will help support root growth. If your medium does not have pre-cut holes, make one prior to putting the stem inside. Once the fan leaves are trimmed and a hole is made in your medium, you’ll dip the end of the stem into your rooting gel, powder or both. Upon completion, carefully place the stem inside the hole in the medium.
Place clones in your humidity dome or keep in an area with ideal conditions as previously discussed.
Prior to placing your clones in the dome, mist around the top for humidity. You can also mist the clones lightly after putting them in the dome. Misting clones allows the cuttings to absorb water through the leaves.
Keep cannabis clones under proper conditions.
Place your dome or tray under low light and over a heating mat if you’d like. Leave the clones in the dome for 3 days, lifting the dome once per day to allow new air in. Try to avoid checking for roots until after the 3 days, as the cuttings are delicate in nature. You’ll want them to establish healthy growth without disturbance for a stronger plant overall. After a few days, you’ll need to re-water your cubes or medium with properly pH-ed water. Do let them dry out slightly, however, as this will cause the roots to grow more vigorously due to them searching for water to absorb. Roots should exit the medium within 7-10 days. This is when to remove clones from humidity domes and prepare them for transplanting.
Transplanting Your Clones
Your cutting should show roots within 7-10 days, and they’ll be ready for transplanting into their initial growing pot or container within 1-3 weeks. You’ll know your clones are ready to be transplanted when you can remove the humidity dome for up to 2 hours without the plants wilting.
Transplanting clones is another process you’ll want to do quickly to avoid too much air becoming exposed to the roots. First, fill your container with the soil of your choice and create a small hole or dip in the soil to place your rooted clone in. At this point, some growers choose to support root growth with an anti-fungal like Mycorrhizae. You can sprinkle the nutrient or powder of your choice into the soil where the new clone will be placed.
Once you place the clone into your container, lightly pack the soil around the stem. Then, lightly water the plant immediately. From there, your transplanted clones can be placed in weak blue spectrum vegetative stage lighting and be fed nutrients, mostly nitrogen, also lightly. After 10-20 days, your clone will have a healthy developed root system and be ready for transplanting again if or when necessary.
Further Tips For Cloning Marijuana Plants
Clones are delicate in nature and should be carefully taken care of while they wait to take root. Here are a few tips to follow to ensure successful cloning:
- Keep the area clean and uncontaminated.
- Use a heating mat if you’re concerned about maintaining a warm temperature in your space.
- Take cuts from the upper part of the mother plant instead of the lower part if you’re in a time crunch. Some growers claim that this promotes faster rooting.
- Mist your clones with water and weak nutrient solutions several times a day to promote faster growth. Due to the lack of roots, nutrients and water will be absorbed through the leaves for better health.
Now that you know how to clone a weed plant properly, the possibilities for your garden are endless. Once you master the steps it takes to care for delicate clones, you’ll wonder why you didn’t start doing so earlier. Cloning weed allows for perpetual crops and harvesting of proven genetics you’ve had success with previously. Use these tips and attentive monitoring to continue cloning successfully for your garden’s perpetual gain.