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Cloning Cannabis: Best Methods for Success

Added 24 March 2022

dome on cannabis clones

You may have tried various cannabis strains before, but some strains just stick with you. 

Pretty soon, you'll begin to wonder when you can get your hands on those juicy buds again. If you're lucky, you can buy some more seeds and enjoy it again; however, you're in trouble if it's a rare strain you cant find anywhere. 

But, all hope's not lost. Fortunately, you can clone the plant. 

Cloning is essentially creating a genetically exact copy of a plant called the mother plant. The clone plants grow just like the mother plant, and the process is a surefire way to maintain the original flavor, potency, and health of plants.

The best part? You can get many clones for free! So it is a cheap way to begin your cannabis cultivation — as long as you have the right plant. However, there are various ways to clone the plants, and some are better than others. 

In this guide to cloning cannabis, you'll be more equipped to produce way more plants than you ever imagined. We show you several methods for cloning cannabis, including the mediums you can use to ensure the roots are established. Don't miss the step-by-step pictures to get you started!

Why Should One Clone Your Cannabis Plants?

cloning

Many growers use seedlings to grow their cannabis plants. Still, some prefer cloning because it's the ideal way to grow plants that you like without compromising on the desired attributes like potency, flavor, and strain dynamics.

But cloning offers other benefits, too, such as the following.

Speedy Growth

With cloning, the germination process is eliminated. You no longer have to wait weeks to germinate your plant. Instead, you get to choose clones that are as old as the mother plant. So, clones tend to grow a lot faster than seeded plants, especially in the first few weeks.

Top-Notch Quality

With seeds, you never know what you are going to get. The plant may grow as promised or grow into something that barely resembles cannabis. Likewise, the seeded plant's phenotypes are never guaranteed, and even plants of the same strains may have slight variations in flavor and quality. Of course, you will not run into these problems if you purchase seeds only from reputed seedbanks. Still, as mentioned already, the plants may differ if you grow some seeds. 

If your goal is to replicate the mother plant as much as possible, cloning is better. The cloned plant will be almost the same as the mother plant in terms of quality, health, potency, and flavor. Note that it's "almost" because there's nothing guaranteed, especially when growing plants. 

Cost-Effectiveness

Cloning is super cheap for novice growers who don't want to make significant investments. With a single mother plant (or clones from your friend's garden), you can produce hundreds of plants!

Multiple Harvests 

Similarly, you can get multiple harvests per year with cloned cannabis plants. Cloned plants grow quicker, so you can easily squeeze in one more harvest before winter (for outdoor plants) and a perpetual harvest cycle of cloned plants in indoor environments. 

Familiarity

Seeded cultivation can be daunting for beginners who don't know the nooks and crannies of growing cannabis. Not that cloning is insanely easy — you will need some experience to get the hang of it.  

However, each seed grows slightly different plants with different needs, and catering to those may be difficult.

Instead, you can grow cloned plants that are familiar and predictable, so they can perfect their growing methods before moving up the ladder.

Sex Guarantee

With cloned plants, you always know the gender of your plants because it will be a copy of the mother plant. Again, you can save money because you won't have to buy regular seeds and hope they are females. On a side note, try to avoid hermaphrodite plants for cloning projects because the resulting clones will also be the same. 

How to Clone Cannabis? 

Cloning cannabis is a simple process, but you need to be meticulous with various details to ensure healthy growth of the clones. Below is how you can clone cannabis the right way.

Step 1: Choosing the Mother Plant

Choose healthy mother plant

The first step is to choose the right mother plant. Do not choose a faulty or unhealthy plant as your clones will grow the same. This is because clones share the same genetic code as the parent plant. 

The mother plant can grow over 50 clones a week, but it must meet specific criteria to become an ideal option for cloning, such as the following:

  • The mother plant must be healthy and clean without any signs of stress, buds, nutrient deficiencies, etc.
  • The plant must be in its vegetative phase, as this is when it grows taller and bushier. If the clones are taken from a flowering plant, they may not root easily and are more likely to turn into hermies or hermaphrodites.
  • For the best results, choose a mother plant less than two months old. 
  • The plant must also not have any stigma or pistils — the reproductive structure of the female plant. If you see pistils popping up, it's too late to clone that plant. 
  • You must not fertilize the mother plant before the cutting as it flushes the plant of excess nitrogen, encouraging your plant to focus on rooting instead of vegging. 

Lastly, the mother plant must be something you like — the flavor, potency, aroma, strain, etc. — otherwise, what's the point of cloning them?

Step 2: Getting Things Ready

Get equipment ready

Once you have chosen your mother plant, the next step is to prepare the tools for cloning. Here are the things you'll need:

  • Sharp razors or spring-loaded scissors. Avoid using blunt scissors as they may damage the clones.
  • Gloves to keep the clones sterile and clean.
  • Rooting medium depending on your preference (discussed in detail below) and a tray to hold them.
  • Rooting hormone that stimulates root growth on fresh clones.
  • Grow lights with mild intensity. Find lights specific to cloning for the best results.
  • Humidity dome to maintain the right relative humidity for the clones to grow (optional). 

Step 3: Taking the Clone Cutting

Take a cutting

Now, you have to cut the clone branches off the mother plant. For this, use the following tips to choose the right branches:

  • Choose branches situated at the lower tiers of the plant as they have more rooting hormones for faster growth. 
  • Ensure the branches are sturdy, healthy, and have no signs of stress.  
  • Look for two nodes on the mother plant as you must cut the clone right below the node. Nodes look like joints on stems holding buds and leaves. 

Use a sharp razor or scissors to cut the branch at a 45-degree angle for the biggest rooting zone. The clone must be at least five inches long.

Once you have the clone, place it immediately in water to avoid the air from getting into the branches, slowing down the capillary functions. Store the clone in a dark place to encourage the rooting process.

You can even trim the larger fan leaves to prevent the clone from being over-excited by light and producing more food for itself. Doing so would encourage the clone to focus on the roots. Do this carefully while keeping the cut region submerged in water to avoid aeration.

Step 4: Rooting the Clone

Rooting the clone

Now, take the clone out and immediately dip it into a rooting hormone of your choice, powder, or gel (discussed further below). Apply the rooting hormone only on the cut.

The rooting hormone encourages root growth by providing the right compounds to the clone while preventing aeration. Just ensure that the rooting hormone is sterile, as any impurities can hamper the clone's development.

Next, place the clone in the rooting medium of your choice. The medium must have passive aeration since clones can't breathe properly in the first weeks. This is because they don't have a robust, well-established root system. 

Clones prefer warm and wet conditions, so try to maintain temperature levels between 72°F - 75°F (22°C - 24°C) and humidity at 90% RH.

Whether you are using Rockwool cubes, peat, soil, or water, place the rooting medium with the clone under a plastic dome to lower transpiration levels and keep the clone well-hydrated. 

The rooting medium and the clone must be healthy and moist, so spray water (with mild nutrients) on the clones a few times a day and expose the clones to mild light for at least 12 hours a day. 

Use fluorescent or CFL lights for the best results as they are not too powerful. For watering, spray water on the plants as there are no roots to absorb the water. The clone will get what it needs by absorbing water through the leaves.

cannabis roots

You will see a big ball of roots growing under the clones at the end. This is a sign that it is ready for transplantation.

Step 5: Transplanting the Clones

Transplant the clones

You must check the clones every day to ensure they are growing properly. If you notice any clones dying, discard them to prevent mold infestation on the rest of the healthy clones.

Most clones would be ready for transplantation within a couple of weeks, although this time may vary depending on the strain and environmental factors. The plant would be ready for harvest once they have a ball of root or roots a few inches in length.

Next, prepare the growing medium of your choice and water it so it does not move around too much. Let the water drain and dig a hole deep enough for the roots to bury in. For outdoor cultivation, you can dig a 1x1 feet hole into the ground; for indoor plants, a small hole that's 1 to 2 inches deep would suffice.

Get your gloves on to transplant the clones. Here, you must be careful to not give your clones transplant shock, which can hinder their growth in the next phases. Also, avoid exposing the roots to air for too long as they are still delicate.

Gently place the clone roots into the medium and cover them with the medium. Your clone should start flowing within 2 to 3 months.

What are Some Good Rooting Mediums for Cloning Cannabis?

You can choose from various rooting mediums for your clones — it depends on your preferences. Here are some of the most popular rooting mediums and methods you cannot go wrong with.

Rockwool Cubes

Rockwool

Image credit - Randyb4

Rockwool is a terrific non-soil equivalent for rooting cannabis clones. The grower JR1992 has used Rockwool cubes and placed the clones in a humidity box, as seen in the image above. Rockwool cubes are made from molten volcanic rocks spun into threads and turned into cubes. They have excellent air and moisture retention, perfect for growing roots. 

Rockwool cubes are also pH neutral, but it's best to balance the pH to be safe. Pre soak them in 5.5 pH water for a few hours before placing the clones in them. This is because cannabis likes slightly acidic mediums to grow properly.

Once the cubes are soaked and ready, dip the clones in the rooting hormone and place them into the cubes. Then, place the cubes in a grow tray and use a plastic dome to maintain ideal conditions for root development.

In Rockwool cubes, the roots can grow within a couple of weeks. Then, all you need to do is transplant the cubes into the growing medium.

Water

If Rockwool cubes sound like too much effort for your first plant, you can use a glass of water instead. Water is the cheapest and easiest way to grow roots in your fresh clones.

Add water and mild nutrients to a 16-ounce bottle (it has a narrow neck to hold the plant up well). Ensure the water and nutrients are pH-balanced at 5.8.

Next, place the clone in the bottle and let it grow from there. Store the bottle in a dark place with no direct sunlight to prevent algae in the water. Algae can clog up the clones' capillaries, hampering root development.

We also recommend changing the water every few days to keep it fresh and prevent algae. However, if you see algae in the water, don't worry. Just change the water immediately.

In the end, you will see a root ball after a couple of weeks — this is when your clone is ready for transplanting.

Soil 

The third option for rooting your clones is using soil — it's a simple method tried and tested for generations.

All you need is some pH-balanced gardening soil. Water the soil first to ensure it is compact enough to hold the plant up and let the excess water drain.

Then, cut the clone, dip it into the rooting hormone, and place it in the soil. Compact the soil around the clone to ensure it stays upright.

Use CFL lights to ensure adequate light for photosynthesis. First, irrigate the clone with plain water whenever necessary to keep it hydrated. Then, feed the plants with diluted nutrient solution at least once a week but do not go overboard because you don't want complications. 

After a couple of weeks, you can transplant the clones into the growing medium or soil.

Auto Cloner

If you don't mind spending some money and want to take the stress off your shoulders, you can get yourself an auto cloner. The initial investment is worth it if you plan to clone hundreds of cannabis plants.

The auto cloner uses the aeroponics principle to mist the cut on the clones with nutrients and water at preset intervals, promoting root growth. Then, all you have to do is strap the clones into the instrument, and the cloner will take care of the rest.

What is the Best Rooting Hormone?

Rooting hormones encourage root development on the clones' cut, but what are they? They contain vital vitamins and enzymes, and the right rooting hormone contains the right auxins:cytokinins ratio.

These hormones ensure rapid root development by helping the cut turn from stem-cell production to root-cell production. Cloners often refer to rooting hormones as root juice for this reason.

You can choose from various types of rooting hormones, based on your preference, such as the following:

Powder Rooting Hormone

If you're growing multiple clones, a powder-based rooting hormone is your best bet. They have a long shelf-life, and you don't need more than a pinch for each clone to encourage root growth.

To use these hormones, you have to first soak the powder slightly, dip the cut into it, and place it into the rooting medium of your choice. The most popular powder rooting hormones are Clonex and Hormex — you can find these at your nearest gardening supply store.

Liquid Rooting Hormone

On the other hand, if you are looking for versatility, you can choose cloning liquid. You can modify this liquid as you like. Growers also prefer this hormone over powder because your plant can easily absorb the liquid into the capillaries, ensuring broader coverage.

To use cloning liquid, you can go about it in two ways.

First, dilute a few ml of liquid in 6.0 pH water and dunk the clone into it, followed by planting it in your rooting medium.

Second, you can dunk the clone directly into the liquid for a few seconds and plant it in the rooting medium.

Rooting Gel

Lastly, you can use the rooting gel if you're only growing a few clones in grow room. Rooting gel is easiest for novice growers as it sticks better than liquid to the clones, and you don't have to worry about the mess it can create, unlike powder rooting hormones.

Simply dip the cannabis cutting into the gel and place the clone in your rooting medium.

Natural Rooting Hormones

You can even use other natural rooting hormones that many growers claim to be safer for the plants. Regardless, these are easy and almost free to use, so why not?

The best natural rooting hormones include cinnamon, honey, or willow water. 

Regardless of what rooting hormone you choose, choose cannabis-specific rooting hormones as they don't contain unnecessary chemicals that other off-the-shelf rooting hormones may contain.

Should You Clean Fresh Cannabis Clones?

If you have got fresh clones home, you need to take a few steps to ensure they remain healthy while protecting your other plants from getting contaminated.

So, we recommend cleaning the fresh clones with an IPM (Integrated Pest Management) solution of your choice before transplanting them into their rooting medium and grow room. In short, use a safe pesticide to clean the clones. Once that's done, quarantine them for a week before introducing them into your grow room.

This way, if the clones develop a disease or infestation of any kind, you'll protect your other plants from the same.

What About Viral Infections Post Cloning?

Sometimes, your clones may suffer from viral infections post cloning. Clones go through this because they have to adapt to a new environment even though they are capable of fending infections.

With every generation of new clones, the chances of a viral infection increase. So, you can either check the original mother plant's quality or simply cycle your clones. Cycling is where you grow new clones and replace the original mother plant with one of its fully-grown clones.

How Can One Continue Cloning?

cannabis clones

If you want to continue cloning in the future, you can do so in two ways.

One, you can choose a perpetual mother plant. Next, keep the mother plant in the vegetative stage or the 18/6 light cycle to keep it from producing any buds. 

Second, you can cycle the clones as mentioned in the previous section. To do so, flip the mother plant into flowering and replace it with a newer clone plant to act as the mother plant and repeat the cycle when needed.

The first method works well for many growers, but it does require a lot of time, space, and energy. If it does not work for you, you can choose the second method.

If you don't want any of that effort, you can simply participate in your local cloning community. Many cloners sell or trade clones off their plant, which you can procure. Plus, doing so will improve your knowledge of cloning and give you access to other strains.

Summary: Cloning Cannabis: Best Methods for Success

Cloning cannabis is quite a rewarding experience as it lets you cultivate many plants with genetics that you enjoy, which you can either keep for yourself or sell to your clients. However, to get the best results, keep these tips in mind:

  • Always work in a sterile environment with a sharp razor or scissors and wear gloves to protect your delicate clones.
  • Maintain the ideal temperature and relative humidity for healthy growth.
  • Choose sturdy, healthy branches that have at least two nodes.
  • Use an adequate rooting hormone and the right rooting medium. 
  • Use properly stored rooting hormones that don't contain any contaminants.
  • Keep the leaves of fresh clones gently moist since they don't have roots to absorb water just yet.
  • Always cut more clones than you need — some clones may never root.

Use the methods and tips discussed above, and you will grow many cannabis clones that maintain the mother plant's flavor, potency, and other attributes you like. Happy growing!








Comments

JuanHaze_Arg
JuanHaze_Arg

:four_leaf_clover::evergreen_tree::deciduous_tree:

Chucky324
Chucky324

Hello.
My only comment is- the lights need to be on 24 hours for the first week. The plants store energy in their roots. Enough for a 6 hour sleep when they in the veg stage. But fresh cuttings that don't have roots don't have that little bit of stored energy to draw from for overnight or lights out. If your clippings taking to long to root or are wilting too much it's because they don't have that extra energy to draw from and are using up what they have. They only get energy when the lights are on. I find it's better to give light energy to the plants 24 hours a day for the first week. They root faster and don't wilt very much. I found the rest of this article very helpful and accurate. Chuck.