Cloning is one of the keys to a successful garden. Mastering the art of cloning gives you the power to individualize your garden—not only are you able to pick and choose varieties you want to grow, but you also have the ability to grow your favorite varieties infinitely.
You also reduce the chance of infecting your garden with diseases, bugs and other unwanted annoyances because you are taking clones from your own healthy plants.
Cloning also saves you money by allowing you to create multiple plants out of one single plant, eliminating the cost of buying plants season after season.
Being able to clone is not easy, but it also doesn’t take a rocket scientist either and like anything worth doing, practice makes perfect. Try and try again, and soon you will be a clone master, passing on your favorite plant genetics for decades to come. Follow these tips to ensure success in your plant nursery.
Cloning Sanitation Practices
Before you begin cloning, ensure everything you are going to use is sanitized. Diseases can spread easily when cloning, so make sure your tools, tables and equipment are thoroughly sterilized. You should also sterilize the cuttings from your mother plant.
To sterilize your cuttings, use a disinfectant like mild, soapy water or isopropyl alcohol (at a concentration of 5-8%). Give them a quick dunk upside down (just the stalk and leaves), being careful not to submerge the entire plant.
How to Choose the Best Mother Plant
There are many things to consider when choosing your mother plants for clones. First and foremost, decide what varieties you want to grow and choose your mother plant accordingly. Your choice of mother plant should be based on yield, flavor, plant quality, aroma and any other characteristics you feel are important.
Make sure your mother plant is sanitary—the plant should be healthy with no signs of bugs, disease, stress or curling leaves, and must also be a good size and a nice color.
Taking Cuttings for Clones
If you have no experience with cloning, if you can, get some help from a person with more experience. When taking your cuttings, use a brand-new blade or sterilize your used blade. Look for a branch or sub-branch that is strong and healthy with no discoloration, toxicities or deficiencies. The ideal clone should be about 5-in. long.
Make the cut right after the node at a 45-degree angle. It is also important to clean the stem by trimming away extra leaves and removing excess nodes so you are left with 1-2 terminal nodes at the top of the stalk.
The last step is scoring your cuts. Take up to 1 in. off the stem by scraping plant tissue away from the bottom of the stem, where the cloning gel will be applied. This will help promote faster rooting and help roots grow from all directions on the stalk.
Using Cloning Products
If you are not putting your clones in a cloning tray right away, it is important to preserve the plant by putting the fresh cuttings in sealed bags and keeping them in the refrigerator. Do not keep your cuttings in the fridge for more than 48 hours. This is not a recommended practice, but sometimes it is necessary.
When you are ready to move your clones to the cloning tray, dip the end of the cutting (the bottom of your stalk that is going to be stuck in the media) in a cloning gel to stimulate the rooting. Keep the end of the cutting in the gel for a few seconds.
Once your clones are dipped in the cloning gel, they need to be placed into a cloning medium or automated cloning system. Your growing media should be soaked in a special nutrient solution for clones.
Cloning media includes coco and peat plugs and 1-in. stonewool cubes, which will need to be filled with this cloning nutrient solution. Automated cloning machines have a pump that mists a nutrition solution onto the bottom of the cuttings.
Mix the cloning solution with water and adjust your pH level to 5.5 using either a potassium hydroxide pH product to raise the pH level or a phosphoric acid product to lower the pH. There are several suitable products on the market; ask an employee at your local indoor gardening store for some recommendations.
Avoid pH-adjusting products that are derived from potassium silicate or potassium carbonate, as they can cause nutrient lockout. Check your pH levels at least once a day to ensure proper levels are being maintained, and keep the temperature between 65 and 70°F to avoid bacterial growth.
What is a Plant Cloning Machine?
Using an aeroponic system when cloning is a good idea for two main reasons. An aeroponic cloner helps to avoid immersion of your clones in water, as this has the potential to create root disease problems. An aeroponic cloner also provides oxygen to the root system.