Microcloning Cannabis: What Is It And How To Do It?

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Added 22 June 2023

Some growers are quite particular with the kind of plants they grow, so they conduct research, find the best breeders, and purchase seeds with impeccable genetics. 

Cannabis growers continuously try to increase their chances of getting the best buds dripping in resin. Some of the methods used to increase yields and the quality of buds include training techniques. 

And once they hit the magic spot, they try to clone the plants so the results are repeated. Now, there are several ways to clone your plant. But, some growers have such a deep level of understanding of the cannabis plant that they even try tissue culture to propagate their cultivars. 

Tissue culture isn’t new, but you may not have heard about it. And, before you assume that it’s magically going to produce gigantic plants with massive yields, understand that it comes with its own share of problems or limitations that can create problems in the future. 

If you want to preserve your favorite plant’s phenotype while trying to overcome the limitations of tissue culture, you can try propagating cannabis using microcloning. But wait, what is microcloning and how can you practice it? 

Learn all about microcloning in this short guide. 

What is Tissue Culture?

What is Tissue Culture?

As mentioned earlier, tissue culture isn’t a new technique. Also referred to as micropropagation, various scientists have perfected this art of growing plants; however, the concept primarily originated sometime during the 20th century. A botanist from Austria, Gottlieb Haberlandt, was the first one to propose this technique. He published his impressive work in 1902, which detailed the cultivation of plants with isolated cells.

Later, another physiologist, Frederick C. Steward, worked on Haberlandt’s concepts, helping the community make significant advances in tissue culture in the 40s and 50s. His idea was to grow tissues and cells using specific growth regulators and nutrient media. 

Ever since then, scores of scientists have expanded on the ideas provided by these two scientists, and the rest is history. From advanced lab practices and equipment to sophisticated nutrient formulations and an understanding of plants, we have come a long way. 

Plant tissue culture is widely used for various plants like strawberries and citrus. Now, cannabis growers have also started using it. Essentially, tissue culture helps growers to protect healthy plant specimens by archiving them in sterile conditions. 

Tissue culture is a technique used to propagate and cultivate plants in sterile lab settings. Typically, a sterile or aseptic culture of a part of the plant is used in a medium rich in nutrients. Then, it’s closely monitored while providing excellent environmental conditions, including humidity, temperature, and lighting. 

Note that any piece of plant tissue, including the stem, root, or leaf can be used in tissue culture. First, the organ is excised carefully and then sterilized in order to eliminate contaminants. Then, you place this sterile tissue into a medium containing all the essential nutrients. Typically the medium resembles a gel and contains sugars, hormones, vitamins, and other nutrients the plant needs for optimum development. As the growth regulators are formulated specifically for inducing a response from the cells, you can expect good results. 

If the plant has all the conditions it requires, the tissue will start to divide and form a callus which is nothing but a bunch of undifferentiated cells. Then, you can manipulate the callus more to trigger the formation of roots, leaves, shoots, and other organs of the plant. 

In recent years, interest in tissue culture has increased drastically due to the various benefits it offers. Here are some of the benefits tissue culture offers to cannabis growers:

  • Tissue culture is an efficient way to preserve a genetic library of your most desirable cannabis plants or phenotypes that you want to use in the future. 
  • Tissue culture is relatively straightforward to store and maintain. It can help you regrow plants that may have been lost to disease, pest infestations, or other unforeseen circumstances.
  • It allows you to preserve clean specimens of your plant’s phenotype with the help of true meristem tissue culture replication, which ensures your preserved cultivars are disease and virus free.

Essentially, tissue culture acts as insurance for your most-prized cannabis cultivars. For instance, if you lose your plants due to bad weather or disease, you can use your preserved tissue culture to regrow plants that express the same phenotype as the plants you lost. 

However, recent developments in the industry have revealed many limitations with plant tissue culture. Here are some of the limitations:

Given these limitations, there was a need for a new and improved solution to preserve cultivars. And one such way that experts have come up with is using microclones, which preserve the phenotypes for longer while avoiding somaclonal variations. 

What is Microcloning Cannabis?

What is Microcloning Cannabis?

Microcloning is a type of tissue culture where small tissue samples of the plants are cultivated in a sterile environment. The purpose of microcloning is to produce genetically identical clones of the mother plant, which is made using a leaf, node, or stem. With the help of microcloning, you can propagate large numbers of clones while maintaining consistency in your garden. 

Microcloning offers various advantages over traditional tissue culture processes. For example, microcloning can reduce the time it takes to propagate cannabis plants by a couple of weeks, although this can vary depending on the strain you grow. Microcloning is also much faster than meristem tissue culture!

Additionally, you can use tissue culture to produce healthy mother plants, from which you can microclone further specimens for storage. Thanks to this, you can get rid of infections, diseases, and unwanted phenotypes while ensuring your culture can be stored for many years. 

What is the Difference Between Microcloning and Tissue Culture?



Microcloning is an uncomplicated and extensively utilized approach to propagate plants. It includes taking a tiny area of a fully grown plant, commonly a stem or shoot, and providing appropriate conditions for the root to develop. The cutting is typically treated with rooting hormonal agents to promote root development. As soon as the roots are established, the cutting is transplanted right into a growing medium, such as soil or a hydroponic system, to develop into a brand-new plant.

Microcloning is preferred for its simplicity and effectiveness in generating genetically similar plants. Typically, many commercial cultivators use this technique to replicate plants quickly. However, even home growers can take advantage of it. 

It does not need customized lab centers or devices, making it a cost-efficient and sensible alternative for smaller-scale propagation. In addition, microcloning permits you to develop fully-grown plants a lot more quickly, in contrast to various other breeding techniques, such as growing with seeds.

After all, you’ve learned cloning all by yourself, so this shouldn’t be all that difficult. Microcloning is specifically valuable if you want to preserve the genetics and other qualities of the mother plant. 

Tissue Culture

Tissue Culture

On the other hand, tissue culture is intricate and complicated. You need to use an aseptic part of the plant and put it in a medium rich in nutrients. The procedure happens in a research laboratory setup where specific tools and sterile equipment are available. 

Tissue culture enables a quick reproduction of plants using tiny parts. The callus is manipulated to grow shoots, roots, and even entire plants. Tissue culture is primarily used by major commercial businesses as it can produce a lot of plants. 

Coming to the disadvantages, tissue culture needs specialized lab centers, devices, and experience, making it a very resource-intensive and expensive affair in contrast to microcloning. The procedure is taxing, as it includes several phases consisting of initiation, multiplication, and acclimatization.

So, basically, microcloning is an easy and accessible technique of plant breeding where cuttings are taken straight from a fully grown plant. Everyone can employ this technique. Tissue culture is a much more advanced method carried out in a research laboratory and is not accesible to everyone. 

How to Microclone Cannabis?

How to Microclone Cannabis?

Microcloning cannabis is relatively easy; you start with the traditional tissue culture method and then extend it further with a few steps for microcloning. Let’s take a look at the traditional tissue culture process followed by the microcloning process. 

Traditional Tissue Culture Process

Generally, the traditional tissue culture process takes around 10 weeks. The culture itself needs a couple of weeks and rooting takes another couple of weeks. The growth time takes around 5 to 6 weeks, and you need to give it one more week to acclimatize. 

Follow these steps for the traditional tissue culture process:

  1. From your mother plant, take a sample of the meristem tissue. The meristem is nothing but the tip of the plant that divides pretty fast. Remember topping where you cut it off? That’s what you need here. 
  2. Root the sample like you would root any other cannabis clone.
  3. Let the clone grow up to 6 to 8 inches after it has produced roots. 
  4. Later, let it harden off and acclimatize.
  5. If you want to replicate or continue the process, you can take new tissue culture and repeat this process multiple times.

Microcloning Process

Once you have carried out the traditional tissue culture process, you need to follow the next steps for microcloning. But before we proceed, let’s consider the timeline it will take for microcloning. 

Generally, during the microcloning process, the rooting can take up to 10 days. Next, it may take another month to grow until it can be planted, and propagation takes another month. Lastly, hardening off and acclimating takes another week. 

Follow these steps to microclone cannabis:

  1. While following the tissue culture steps listed above, designate some clones for storage in case you run into some problems while microcloning — this is your insurance. 
  2. Now, sterilize the mother plant and its growing space using UVC sterilization lighting or hydrogen peroxide (ensure it is active and at ultra-low level).
  3. Take microclones from the mother plant and ensure they are around half an inch — take as many as you want; some growers even take up to 800 microclones from a single canopy.
  4. When microcloning, remember to test all your plants for any signs of mold, infections, or other problems. 
  5. You can harvest the microclones every couple of weeks or whenever you want 
  6. Once your clones grow up to 8 inches in height, you can let them harden off and acclimate them to their growing environment 

How to Store Cannabis Microclones?

While traditional tissue culture and microcloning may vary, the storage requirements are largely the same for both methods. The only difference is that with microcloning, you will be producing a lot more clones, so you will need some additional supplies. 

Start with gathering the essentials like rooting media trays, metal racks, LED lights, humidity domes, etc. Even if you have a relatively smaller space, you can fit thousands of microclones in there. The only thing that may hamper your microclone culture is the size of your propagation cubes. And as your microclones develop, they will occupy the same space as traditionally larger clones, but by this time, they will be ready for vegging. 

You may also need something to filter the air so that pathogens or bacteria don’t end up in your culture — they can wreak havoc in your tissue culture. You should also get a flow hood to prevent contaminants from falling onto your tissue culture. 

It is recommended that you sterilize your equipment and containers. For this, you can use an autoclave or steam sterilizer that can work well on everything from containers to razor blades and many other tools. If you don’t want to cut any corners, we also recommend getting a microscope and a bead sterilizer. 

As mentioned earlier, you will also need UVC lighting to sterilize the environment between every crop cycle. Yes, UVC lighting does have its limitations since the light needs to fall directly on the surface to work, and so deep corners and crevices can be a little difficult to sterilize. In that case, you can use hydrogen peroxide sterilization technology to get to such difficult-to-reach places. 

Get Yourself a Microcloning Tissue Culture Kit

All of this may sound like too much, but if you are a beginner, don’t sweat it just yet. You can get yourself a microcloning tissue culture kit that can make the entire process easier for you. There are many microcloning tissue culture gifts available in the market, ranging from budget-friendly ones to expensive ones. 

These microcloning tissue culture kits are easy to use and don’t require you to invest in a lot of other peripherals. And these kits generally include all the basic essentials like culture vials, culture tubes, a tray, multiplying mediums, rooting mediums, cleaning solutions, a scalpel, blades, forceps, sealing tape, a pH test kit, and much more. 

Do note that these microcloning kits come in a variety and can vary a lot in terms of features and use cases. So, always remember to refer to the owner’s manual to optimize your experience and get the best results. 

Once you get the hang of microcloning, you can start a full-fledged operation with dedicated hardware, but until then, a basic microcloning kit can work wonders to get you started. 

Summary: Microcloning Cannabis: What Is It And How To Do It?

Microcloning and tissue culture are often used interchangeably, but there is a difference between the two. Tissue culture aims to preserve the meristem tissue of a desirable mother plant, but that can take up a lot of space and can run into undesirable mutations over the years. 

This is why the ideal approach to preserve your plant is to use microcloning. This innovative tissue culture method helps you preserve microclones of your plant on a massive scale — we’re talking thousands of microclones from a single plant — and when you are ready, you can simply transplant them and let them grow into bigger plants. 

So, what are you waiting for? Get yourself a microcloning tissue culture kit, and get started!


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