Beginning Cultivator’s Guide to Cloning Cannabis
If you’re anything like I was before I earned my green thumb, you hear the word “clone” and picture some futuristic procedure straight out of a science fiction novel.
But, lucky for us, clones are simply what regular gardeners call “cuttings.” You know the ones grandma used to leave sitting around in glasses of water? Well, grandma wasn’t as eccentric as you think. She was making new plants from her favorite specimens and saving money in the process.
While it’s possible to use grandma’s technique to clone cannabis, you’ll increase your chances of success if you follow the procedures of the ganja-growing pros.
Why Clone Cannabis?
Cloning cannabis ensures that you’ll get an exact replica of your heartiest plants. You’ll be able to reproduce your favorite buds, and you can be sure that 100% of your new babies will be female.
Even feminized seeds aren’t entirely guaranteed to produce all females. Depending on the process used to produce them, some feminized seeds yield a high percentage of hermaphrodite plants.
Hermaphrodites, also called “hermies,” have both male and female reproductive organs. Hermies can pollinate themselves and the rest of your crop. You’ll end up with weak, seedy cannabis and a whole lot of wasted effort.
Other advantages to using clones include:
- Saving money on expensive seeds
- Skipping the lengthy germination and seedling stages
- Harvesting more frequently
Preparing the Mother Plant
There are three distinct schools of thought with regards to preparing mother plants for cloning:
- Flush the nitrogen from your mother plant before cloning. The theory is that too much nitrogen in your clones will encourage them to continue producing leaves instead of concentrating on root development. If you choose to go this route, stop adding nutrients to your mother plant’s water five days before you plan to take cuttings.
- Add more potassium and phosphorus to your nutrient mix before cloning. These two nutrients encourage plants to grow new roots and strengthen existing root structures.
- Keep feeding the mother plant as usual. Proponents of this approach claim that changing your feeding routine places too much stress on the mother plant.
You’ll have to experiment to find out what works for you. In all cases, mist the mother plant with water the day before and the morning you clone.
Procedure for Cloning Cannabis
Before you begin cloning, you’ll need to gather the following materials:
- A clean razor blade or sharp sheers
- Cloning hormone (gel or powder)
- pH testing kit or digital pH meter and up/down solutions
- Starter cubes or small containers with growing medium (Many growers prefer rockwool or jiffy pellets, but you can use any growing medium you prefer, including soil.)
- A growing light (20 to 40-watt compact fluorescents work best.)
- Humidity dome with waterproof tray (optional)
- Spray bottle (for misting clones)
- Wet your growing medium using water with a pH between 6.0 and 6.5. If you’re using rockwool as a medium, soak the cubes the night before you clone.
- Wash your hands and sterilize your razor or scissors with an alcohol swab. This practice will keep your mother plant and clones from becoming contaminated.
- Choose a spot on the lower portion of your mother plant that shows new growth. The lower branches of the plant contain hormones that encourage clones to root.
- Cut each clone at a 45-degree angle about 4 inches from the tip of the branch.
- Scrape the bottom of the clone. Cutting at an angle and scraping the bottom allows the clone to absorb more nutrients.
- Remove all lower leaves from the clones and cut the upper leaves about 50%. Removing excess foliage will encourage the clones to focus on root growth. (See photo above.)
- Dip the bottom of the clone in rooting gel or powder.
- Plant your clones in individual containers. Press down gently around the clones to secure them in the growing medium.
- Put your clones on a waterproof tray and place them under the light. Make sure you leave enough space between the clones and the light source to prevent burning. Keeping proper distance is especially important if you’re using halogen or metal halide bulbs, which emit more heat. An 18-hour light cycle is ideal for rooting clones.
- If you have them, you can use a humidity dome and a heating pad to enhance the rooting environment.
- Mist your clones lightly once a day.
- Your clones should produce thick, white roots in around 7–10 days and will be ready to transplant for the vegetative stage of growth.
So, now you know how to clone cannabis. It wasn’t that hard, was it?
If you’re still waiting for growing cannabis to be legalized in your area, you can practice your cloning techniques with some of your favorite culinary herbs.