Just about any plant can be cloned. Aside from cannabis clones, I’ve purchased and grown healthy blueberry bushes from clones, and many avid gardeners have successfully cloned pepper, bean, and strawberry plants. However, marijuana clones are the most sought after. Clones are a godsend for the novice grower, or growers strapped for time or space.
They have a much shorter vegetative cycle, and they are genetically identical to their mother plants, so you always know what you’ll get. It’s also easy to clone cannabis plants, which explains why you can find clones for sale at almost any dispensary. Here’s a bit of insight as far as what clones are, and selecting and growing your clones.
What Are Plant Clones?
Cloning is the process of taking a small, but a healthy piece of a plant (called a cutting), any plant, and allowing it to grow its own roots using a hormonal artificial tissue culture, to create a plant genetically identical to the plant it was taken from. While this totally sounds like science fiction, it is definitely based in reality, and won’t hurt you, or modify your cutting in any negative way.
How Can I Clone Cannabis?
Simple enough to do at home with the right materials, cloning is becoming a go-to for a lot of growers. If you want to clone your plants, you’ll need some basic materials, including a small cloning container, a good substrate, like soil, coco, or rockwool, root hormones, and a healthy plant to take cuttings from.
- Fill your container with your substrate of choice
- Get it nice and damp, but not soaked
- Take your cutting from the healthy mother plant, and cut its new stem very slightly diagonally across the bottom.
- Dip the freshly cut ends into the root hormones
- Transfer to the pot and substrate you chose. Be sure the plant has about â..." of its stem underground.
- For dry places like Colorado, cover your cutting in plastic to keep the moisture in to allow her to gather her bearings as she produces her roots.
- Place the container in a warm place where she can get some sunlight. Fluorescent lights work fine, just be sure to not overdo it.
- Make sure her substrate stays damp. She needs all the water she can absorb as she grows new roots.
- After a few weeks, her new roots will be thriving, and she will be ready to go through veg!
Advantages and Disadvantages of Cloning Plants
Since cannabis can be difficult to grow from seed, cloning allows growers to produce plants in an easier and much more relaxed manner. If you really like a specific strain, cloning is definitely for you since all of your clones will be genetically identical to the plant they were cloned from.
This also takes away a lot of the guessing involved with starting from seed, as you will always be totally sure of the characteristics your clones will have. The problem with cloning has a lot to do with the lack of genetic variety, which means that one bug or disease your strain may be susceptible to can kill your entire grow room.
Selecting Healthy Clones
You can find clones for sale all over the place. Dispensaries, your neighbors probably, and even Craigslist. Buyer beware though. Clones always move, but they probably shouldn’t, at least not all the time. Healthy marijuana clones look a lot different from unhealthy clones, so it’s usually easy to tell if you should butt the clones or not.
Healthy plants should be green, perky, and sturdy. Her roots should be fully developed before anyone tries to sell her. She should look like she’s thriving. Disregard any plants that look underdeveloped or discolored. While these types of plants are still viable, they can be more difficult to get started, and the unnecessary stresses they’re experiencing at this stage could cause them to hermaphrodite.
You also want to look out for bugs. Look at the clones thoroughly. Look under the leaves, and disturb the topsoil a bit. You don’t want a gnat infestation to kick off your new grow and potentially damage your current grow. Bugs can carry other diseases that these clones can withstand, but your current grow room might not be able to.
Save the time and hassle. If you have to go down the street to pick up clones from a different dispensary, the 5 minutes it’ll take will be nothing compared to the troubles you’ll have to deal with if you bring home disease or a bug infestation.
It’s also a good idea to try some of the flower the mother plant produced. There’s no point in buying a clone from a strain you won’t enjoy when you harvest. So check around! Sample some strains, and then make your final purchase decision!
Growing Plant Clones
If you’re going to buy marijuana clones, keep in mind that there are a lot of pros and cons in regards to growing with clones. It’s imperative that you do your research and come to the conclusion that growing with clones will be better for you.
- Quick Vegetative stage. The Veg stage is much shorter with clones since they’ve had a jump start compared to seeds. They can be tricked into flowering almost immediately depending on when the cutting was taken.
- You know what you’re going to get since clones are genetically identical to the plant they were taken from
- If your mother plant was female, all of her clones will be female too.
- Clones can become mother plants to more clones if you need a constant surplus of new plants.
- Because they’re so quick to do their thing, your energy requirements for the vegetative stage will be much lower
- Harvest time is a lot faster with clones.
- If you are unable to actually speak with the grower, you may be inheriting plant clones that are susceptible to pests or viruses
- If you purchase a premature clone, there is a chance the plant will randomly die on you.
- Plant clones are more picky about light, water, and nutrients than plants started from seed
- If all you have are clones, you may begin experiencing issues related to the lack of genetic variation, such as a decrease in potency after you clone a clone a few times.
When you bring your clones home, be gentle with them. Less is more at this stage in regards to light and nutrient needs. She just grew a whole mess of roots, and she’s going to be a little finicky. Keep your veg lights a little further away from them at first, and only give her a little bit of water at a time.
Your clone will be more sensitive to light, heat, and nutrients than an established plant or even a seedling. The roots are young and tender. The stress from the ride home and the new environment will be hard on her.
During the first day, keep a close eye on her to make sure she doesn’t wilt or tip over. After she finds her groove and she starts taking off after a few days, you can feel free to bring her lights closer and give her full strength nutrients.
After that, it’s just like growing any other cannabis plant. Very easy!
By Nicole Flanigan