Photo courtesy of Rx Green Technologies
Cloning for the first time? Don’t waste your cuttings! Propagating healthy, thriving clones is easy. But, there are a few common blunders that can ruin your chances of success. If you’re hoping to transform one plant into many, avoid these five biggest cloning mistakes.
Growers often like to keep their plants under a constant 24 hours of light. When rooting clones, however, this constant light is unnecessary. Instead, most growers opt for 18 hours of light and six hours of darkness. Anything extra adds additional cost to your electric bill and risks stressing the plants.
A high-intensity light is not needed for clones. Opt for cool light that is placed far enough away from the cuttings to avoid heat stress. At this point in the cloning process, plants are delicate and any additional stress may impact the viability of the cuttings.
Fledgling clones like hot and humid environments. As such, humidity domes are used to maintain the optimum conditions for plants to take root. Humidity domes trap evaporating moisture and help maintain a constant temperature for your plants.
When using a humidity dome, however, several major problems can occur. First, while new cuttings love hot and humid environments, so do molds, fungus, and pathogens. For this reason, ventilation is necessary.
Small holes in the dome cover allow for increased airflow and allow oxygen to flow into the dome, reducing the chances that mold and infection will prosper in the enclosed environment. While opting for 80 percent humidity is useful, it is a common mistake to assume that new clones need 100 humidity to effectively root.
Minor ventilation in a humidity dome serves another purpose: temperature management. The roots and foliage of cannabis cuttings thrive in different temperature environments. Roots, which are naturally cooled underground and shaded from the sun, thrive in temperatures of 75 to 80℉ (24-27℃), while canopy temperatures often run hotter, up to 85℉ (29℃).
While your clones are rooting, it is best practice to check the temperature regularly and adjust ventilation as needed. Adjusting the proximity of your lighting source and increasing or decreasing ventilation is helpful for maintaining the proper temperature conditions for delicate plants.
Some of the biggest cloning mistakes occur during cloning. An unfortunate occurrence, since harvest mistakes can doom an otherwise healthy crop to failure. First, when selecting your cuttings, always choose clones from the healthiest and most vigorous mother plant.
“One specific example for mistakes made are taking cuttings from sick or diseased mother plants,” says Shara Ross, Field Scientist for RX Green Technologies, a company which makes high-quality nutrient solutions for all stages of the cannabis growth cycle
“This is how the disease spreads. It can easily be avoided if less than healthy mother plants are culled. Beautiful buds come from beautiful moms.”
Apart from making smart selections, however, there are a few additional things to look for when harvesting cuttings for cloning. These include:
Clones are sensitive. When taking your cuttings, use a very sharp pair of pruning shears and cut the stem of your plant at a 45° angle. Cutting at an angle rather than straight across creates a greater surface area, which allows for greater uptake of your rooting hormone, cloning nutrient solution, and water.
Don’t delay! Waiting too long to place your cuttings in water is one of the biggest cloning mistakes you can make. Place the stem of your cuttings in water immediately after cutting. If cuttings are not placed directly into a bowl of water, an air bubble may form in the stem. Air bubble formation not only blocks the uptake of water but will prevent your plant from properly forming roots.
Before placing your clone into your growing medium (coco fiber, Rockwool, et cetera), the cut end of cuttings needs to be coated with a rooting factor. The most common rooting factor is indole-3-butyric acid (IBA). Even with the help of IBA, however, the cutting clone preparation process can overstress the new plant.
As such, it may be worthwhile to choose rooting products that can support stress resilience after harvest. LIFE Cloning Gel from RX Green Technologies for example, not only contains the naturally-occurring growth hormone IBA but also includes vitamin B1 and thyme oil to enhance the fledgling clone’s tolerance to stress and protects the cutting from exposure to pathogens.
Cleanliness is one of the most underrated aspects of cutting and preparing clones. Since clones root best in warm, damp environments, pathogenic infections can easily devastate your nascent cuttings.
Of course, allow all of your clean materials to dry before use. Make sure to rinse materials thoroughly to ensure that no soap residue remains before cloning.
Cinnamon, aspirin, and other home ingredients are often used as simple rooting hormone stimulants. If you’re hoping to get strong, healthy, and viable clones, however, these DIY methods are not recommended.
For a consistent and reliable crop, it is recommended to purchase a high-quality rooting stimulant made from hormones that the plants themselves naturally produce, like IBA. Otherwise, you may find yourself without any clones at all.
Apart from rooting hormones, beginning growers also make mistakes when it comes to plant nutrition. Fertilizing right away can risk burning your clones. Add no nutrients to your growing medium at all, however, and you risk flimsy plants.
As such, soaking your growing medium in a nutrient solution that was specially formulated for delicate clones is recommended. Soak your coco fiber, Rockwool, or other propagation cubes in a solution like LIFE Cloning Solution to encourage healthy growth and root development over time.