Plant Cloning 101: How to Clone

Plant Cloning 101: How to Clone

You found it. The one plant in your grow outperforming all the others. Now you’re wondering how to clone it.

What Is Cloning?

It isn’t as futuristic and sci-fi as you think. When it comes to plant reproduction, there are two options. Through breeding, i.e. male and female plants pollinating and producing seeds, or through asexual reproduction. Cloning is the latter.

By carefully removing smaller, youthful branches from your plant during its vegetative cycle, you can plant it and grow it into an exact genetic copy of the mother. Plant cloning can be stressful at first as the clones need to be carefully cut and sorted in a sterile and healthy environment.

Plant Cloning Essentials

Plant cloning is a much cheaper and simpler alternative to breeding seeds, as well as faster. After all the plant is already growing, you just need to replant a piece of it to grow another.

When it comes time to cut your clones, you’ll need a very sharp blade, like a scalpel or razor. Using scissors is risky because they can crush branches in the process of cutting and make rooting much more difficult. You’ll also need a rooting medium like rockwool or soil (there are other medium options as well), some water, and if you choose, a rooting hormone to aid in the rooting process.

How to Clone

When it comes time to actually cut your clones, it is relatively simple. The ideal time to cut your clones is about two months into the vegetative cycle, but clones can be taken as early as three weeks into growth, though this isn’t always recommended.

After ensuring that your environment is completely sterile, find the sturdy lower branches on your mother plant, as they are the most developed and usually the healthiest. You want your cuttings to be 8-10 inches with multiple nodes present, and cut with your razor or scalpel at a 45 degree angle to the plant’s base.

Cutting your clones at an angle gives them the most surface area for growth once placed into your medium. Before you do that though, you might want to dip your clone stem in some water. It is possible that after you cut your clone, air bubbles might get trapped in the stem. This can kill a plant, so dipping your stems in water before planting in your medium can help prevent them. Additionally, consider cutting a few smaller incisions on the stem of your clones to reduce the chances of air bubbles.

After you dip your stems in water, it’s time to give your leaves a haircut. By clipping the leaves of your clones about halfway down the stem (for this you can use trimming scissors) you help to promote photosynthesis and create a cleaner environment for rooting. You also don’t need any lower leaves that might end up coming in contact with your growing medium. Clipping this leaves helps with nutrient and water uptake, and also helps prevent any unnecessary contact between leaves.

Planting Your Clones

After all the necessary prep work, the time has come to plant your clones in their new medium. Maybe you chose rockwool, maybe a low nutrient soil, or maybe you even decided to grow your clones in nothing but water. Whatever medium you decide to use, you want to be gentle when you’re placing your clones into the medium.

You might consider using a rooting hormone when planting your clones. A rooting hormone gel will provide extra support for your clone’s roots as they develop, while promoting vegetative growth as well. Once your clones root into your rooting medium you will start to notice new vegetative growth. This means it’s time to transplant!

When you transplant your clones, it is essential that you care for them during the process. Monitor for any clones that might be affected by transplant shock, a common issue that occurs during cloning. A big factor in planting your clones is not over-exerting your plants. Along with a sanitary environment, stress on your plants is one of the most common causes of transplant shock. 

After a successful transplant, you now have a clone that is growing in its vegetative cycle just like the mother plant you cut it from. Continue to monitor your clones for any issues or stunted growth and with some practice you can create a self-sustaining growth model!

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