You have decided to choose clones for your next grow, whether from a trusted source or making them yourself. Once they are cut and in your grow space, you have the task of nurturing them into healthy, productive plants. Read on to learn what it takes to get the most out of your clones.
Outdoor early care
If you are going to be growing outdoors, it is a good idea to wait a few weeks longer than you normally would at the beginning of the season to put clones outdoors. In the earlier part of spring, daylight hours are still relatively short, and clones are far more susceptible to early flowering than seedlings.
If you would normally put seedlings outdoors in April, wait until at least mid-May, depending on how far from the equator you are. In the southern hemisphere, if you would normally start outdoors in October, wait until mid-November. Temperature is also critical. You want at least 72°F for your daytime temp. At night, a drop down to 65°F is about as far as you want, as the plants are still fragile.
Indoor early care
Just like seedlings, clones will not handle strong light right away. You want to keep them further away from strong lights, like High-Pressure Sodium or Metal Halide. 30 inches is a good starting point. For CFL’s, you will still want distance, but 8-12 inches will be okay, as long as the bulb isn’t very strong. LED’s can be really strong on new plants, so if your grow uses them, use a CFL until the clones are ready to join the group. Temperature needs to stay between 72°F – 76°F. Lights cause heat, so ensure adequate ventilation. Always start clones on 18-hour light cycle. A 24-hour cycle can be started after about 2-3 weeks if that is your preference.
Moisture is also key to clones survival. Early on, they should receive both root and foliar feeding and moisture for best results. After at least 10 days from rooting, you can slowly back off on foliar misting to let them adjust to normal humidity.
Unlike seeds, clones are already mature plants, albeit small ones. You can switch them to the flowering stage immediately after they establish a healthy root system if you want to keep you grow small. Seeds, on the other hand, even if started on a 12-12 cycle from the start, will not begin to flower for 3-4 weeks.
When taking clones from plants grown from seed, you will want to have labels on each one, so that as the originals are brought to harvest, you can dispose of clones that are from plants that turn out to be male, or are less stellar than you want.
Clones can progress to full nutrient levels at about 3 weeks after full rooting, as long as they are showing vigorous growth.
If you like to train the growth of your plants for maximum results, there are a few key differences when training clones you will want to know ahead of time.
- Low-Stress Training (LST): Because the clones are technically mature plants, they will respond well to LST, and you can begin as early if not earlier than with seedlings.
- FIMming and Topping: When it comes to higher stress techniques, clones may slow down their vigorous growth. FIM or top only when necessary for training. Some clones will naturally grow new growth tips in pairs. Some may grow out several nodes, and need topping.
- Main-lining or Manifolding: When main-lining a clone, it won’t have the perfectly symmetrical appearance that you get from a seedling, so cutting clones with an eye for symmetry ahead of time is key to getting the best results from this method. Clones taken from older mother plants are more likely to be asymmetrical.
To compensate for asymmetrical clones when main-lining, you need to balance the dominance of higher branches with lower ones on the same node. You can do this with a combination of pinching, bending, and pruning. Start with a spot that has a good pair of growth tips, or top the plant down to a set of close branches.
To balance the dominance, pinch and bend the higher branch down so it is on the same level as the lower one. This will balance the nutrient and energy spread between both sides. Once your first main-line is balanced, the following ones should be more even. If your higher branch is noticeably thicker, continue this retarding of growth until the lower branch has matched its thickness.
The greatest joy of using clones is keeping quality genetics crop after crop, so don’t forget to cut clones every time. Take more than you need, so you can choose the best ones to grow. When you are about to switch to the flowering stage, you want to direct the energy to the canopy, so trimming off lower branches and taking clones at the same time makes perfect sense. If you want to keep a mother plant for an endless supply of clones, just keep her in the vegetative stage with a long lighting cycle, and trim her back to avoid a behemoth plant. With a properly tended mother, you can take clones from anywhere on the plant, even the very top.
Once a clone is established, it will grow just like a plant from seed, only faster. Apart from the asymmetry, it will look just the same, unless it was taken from a plant during flowering, and even then, it will recover back into a normal looking plant with time.
Do you have a beautiful mother plant that keeps producing quality clones year after year? Are you running a perpetual harvest grow that runs like clockwork? Show off your pictures of success on social media or in the comments below.