Knowing how to clone cannabis can help save money spent on seeds, as well as maintain plant genetics. There are many benefits of cloning cannabis plants versus growing them from seed. Growing from seed means the seeds have to be bought, germinated, then have their sex assessed all before a full crop can be harvested.
Seeds are produced through sexual reproduction between a male and a female marijuana plant. When pollination happens, the female plant then produces seeds. The seed is a hybrid of male and female plants.
In contrast with growing from seeds is cloning plants, or asexual reproduction. The cloning process starts from a cutting taken from a mother plant. It will be identical genetically as the plant that it is taken from. Cloning offers a grower the chance to start a new crop of plants that are identical to those they have had the best success with. The plants can have the same flavor, cannabinoids, grow time, height etc., allowing for profitable harvests that will have the best characteristics.
How to Clone Cannabis Step by Step
When a grower is going to begin cloning, they need a few basic tools. First, they’ll need scissors for taking the cuttings from the mother plant, and a razor for trimming the cuttings properly. Along with these, there needs to be a rooting set up which includes the tray, dome and whatever medium of root cubes are going to be used. There is also the optional item of a rooting hormone.
Rooting Medium and Setup
There are various rooting mediums that work with a cloned plant. They can be rockwool, rooting cubes or peat and foam. Rockwool is a medium that has great airflow and holds moisture well, which is helpful when plants are starting. Most of these mediums are easy to find at either grow stores or gardening centers.
Along with various mediums, a grower needs to have a set up that the clones will be put in while they begin. There is a need for a tray, an insert that has cells for the cubes in it, and a dome that fits on top of the tray. The clones are put into the cubes and then the insert holds the cubes in place. The tray can hold water, or the cubes watered from the top but either way, it will stop the water from spilling. The dome will be used over the tray to retain humidity and temperature. Some growers will use a heat mat as well but that is optional.
A second option for cloning is using an auto-cloner. These are good as it cuts back on the labor that is needed to both feed and take care of the new clones. These items use aeroponics to spray the bottom of the clones with water that has nutrients. They go off at specific intervals, so they promote good root growth. While they have a higher price than the tray/dome/cube process, they are easier to use. Both processes need proper light set for 18 hours and humidity as well.
Cutting the First Clones
After getting set up, the next step is to choose a mother plant that the clones are going to be taken from. It should be sturdy, healthy and be at least 8 weeks into the vegetation stage, so it is well established. Cloning should not be done with plants in the bloom stage.
Once the cloning setup and mother plant are set, then it is time to take to cutting.
- Do not use nutrients (fertilizer) on mother plants for at least 3 days before doing the cutting. This helps in making sure that nitrogen has worked its way out of the leaves. If you take cuttings and there is nitrogen in the plant, it will make your clone think it needs to grow leaves when it should be using the energy for new roots.
- Do the cutting in an environment that is sterile. Make sure to use gloves and clean disinfected razors and scissors.
- Choose branches that are strong and healthy. They should have no less than 2 nodes on the cut, meaning the branch needs to be not only healthy but long. A sturdy cone will ensure a strong new plant.
- Make sure to cut above the node when cutting the clone from the mother. The grower can use scissors at this point as a razor may be awkward.
- Once the main piece has been cut off the mother plant, then use a razor to make a cut under the node at a 45° angle to the branch. This allows a bigger surface area for rooting and helps with faster growth.
- Put the new cutting into a rooting hormone immediately and then right into the root cube. If the grower has decided to use an auto cloner, then put the rooting hormone in the cloner once the cuttings are all done.
- Remove all leaves that are not necessary and are on the bottom of the cutting. Trim the tips of the fan leaves that are left. This helps halt photosynthesis and puts the energy to root growth.
Once clones are set in their tray, it is critical to monitor their water every day. Keeping humidity high can be done by spraying the leaves with water. Discard any clones that die so they do not cause mold issues in the healthier clones. It will also give growing clones extra space.
Clones should be set to transplant into their growing medium between 10-14 days. This can vary depending on their environment. It will be obvious when their white roots are at least 1-2” in length.
As with cutting the clones, transplanting should be done in a sterile environment as well. Growers do not want the clones to have transplant shock, so gloves are always needed. To transplant clones, follow these steps:
- Get the soil or other growing medium ready. Rockwool should be soaked for 5.5 pH and soil should be pre-watered.
- Once a medium has drained a bit, then make sure there are holes that are 1-2” deep so all roots will be buried and covered.
- Put clone in the hole and cover depending on the medium.
How to clone cannabis is the first question to ask if you plan to grow for personal or commercial use. It saves the grower money and time and also makes sure crops will be consistent. Follow a phase by phase guide and there should be no issues in growing strong, healthy, high-yield plants.