If you are too far away to practically get your clones from a dispensary or trusted grower, or you have a favorite strain that you want to grow over and over, making clones at home is a relatively simple process that can ensure that you keep that same quality bud growing time and time again.
What you will need
- A healthy mother plant to take clones from
- Sharp scissors or a razor
- Sterilizing solution (alcohol)
- Starter cubes for the cuttings ( or a hydro cloner, or clone incubator, optional)
- Cloning gel or powder
- CFL’s (sunlight is good too)
- (optional) heating mat
Where to start
The first step is to disinfect all your tools, particularly your cutting implements, and setting up your cloning area. Once you cut a clone, you don’t want to be scrambling around for what you need next. The process is time-sensitive.
Soak your starter cubes for a few minutes so they are primed to receive the cutting, and prep your cloning gel or powder according to package directions so you can apply it immediately.
Cuttings from a flowering plant
Make sure the plant you are taking your clones from is healthy, strong, and preferably in the vegetative stage. You can take clones up until a few weeks before harvest, but they must be monitored more closely and will have unusual growth characteristics.
Some growers actually want this, as they can produce plants that branch out like crazy! The technique is called monster cropping and is for advanced growers. One crazy trait is that leaves will grow smooth for a while, like this picture! If you choose to do this, make sure to pinch off any bud sites, so it doesn’t immediately go into flowering.
Making the cut
You want to get the strongest cutting you can, so choose where it comes from with care. You can get several cuttings from a mother plant if you take them from the right spots. Look for an area where there is new branching and a new top, preferably from the lower half of your plant. Cuttings from the lower half of the plant will have more rooting hormones than branches from the top, so they will grow roots faster.
Cut at a 45° degree angle, making sure your cutting is 5-10 inches long. Some growers will scrape the outside of the stem on the lowest inch or even split the stem to give more exposure to the cloning solution, and give a stronger root development area. (This is why it is good to have a razor.) Growers also tend to prefer a razor because of the squeeze that scissors can potentially cause.
*Immediately put you cutting in a glass of water to prevent any air bubbles from entering the stem! Think of it like an open vein, you don’t want air in your blood, it can kill!
Trimming and dipping
Next, you will want to clean up the cutting. eliminate large lower leaves, they will strain the small plant and divert nutrients away from root production during the crucial first weeks. Once it has been prepped it is ready for dipping.
You don’t necessarily have to use rooting gel or powder, but why not spend a few extra bucks to ensure maximum success. Some growers even use both, first dipping in the gel, then the powder, for optimal results. If you choose to take this step, then quickly go from you water to your dip, again avoiding letting air get to the cut area. Once this is done, it goes straight into the starter cube (or automatic cloner, or humidity dome, if you have one).
*Never reuse cloning gel! Improperly stored cloning solution can be contaminated with bacteria that will kill your clones before they even get started. Be safe and just buy new gel!
The reason many growers use humidity domes or automatic cloners is that they take the brunt of the work out of your hands. The ideal environment for rooting clones is 72°F to 76°F, with high humidity. Until the cuttings establish roots, all their water is absorbed through their leaves. If you don’t have a dome or automatic cloner, then mist them with a sprayer a few times a day. You can “dome it yourself” with a clear top (or clear plastic cups) like the picture above.
When it comes to light, you want the light to be weak for at least 10 days, or until roots are well established. Too strong of a light will divert from root growth, and over-tax the clones. You can go without light for the first couple days altogether, but most growers will simply use CFL’s for a weak lighting. Use a normal vegetative light schedule of 18 hours.
It is possible to use stronger lights, but treat the clones like seedlings, and keep the light 30 inches away or more, depending on strength.You don’t want to start them on 24 hour light during their first weeks, for the same reason you don’t want too strong of a light source.
Don’t stress out
You don’t want your plants stressed out, so don’t do it yourself. Virtually every cutting will root as long as you follow these steps. Some may take a few days, some a week, and some may take even two weeks or more to get going. As long as the environment is humid, they won’t dry out. If some cuttings are lagging behind more than you like, you can touch the bottoms in rooting solution again to give them a boost. Some growers will give the clones a boost with foliar feedings, using a compost tea. Others swear by specialized cloning nutrients.
Minimum nitrogen levels with higher levels of phosphorus are the right balance (basically flowering nutrient levels) but remember, keep the levels at half or less of what you would first start seedlings off with. You can also prep the mother plant with flowering nutrients for a couple weeks before taking cuttings to help them get off to a better start.
Do you use clones in your grow? Have you ever tried monster cropping? Share your experiences with us on social media or in the comments below.