Basics of Cloning Cannabis
As a first-time grower, you may have heard about a propagation technique for your marijuana known as cloning, and naturally you may wonder what all the fuss is about. Well, this is what all the fuss is about: successful cloning cannabis is the number one way to ensure you have an all-female crop that produces bud of consistent density, flavor and yield.
Cloning is also a great technique for immortalizing your favorite marijuana strain, for instance in the case of a new hybrid plant or when you’ve grown a particular female that produced amazing bud. The reason for this is because you clone plants from clippings that you take from a mother plant, which means that the genetics of the clone are identical to the mother.
The mother plant is a female that you’ll keep in a permanent vegetative state. Managed properly, most marijuana plants can be kept alive for up to five years or more in a vegetative state.
This requires regular pruning to keep the mother plant’s growth in check, but if you’re cloning regularly from her then you should be more than able to keep up with the pruning. Cloning is also an invaluable tool for cannabis cultivars who wish to reproduce a plant with a rare phenotype, as is the case with many CBD-rich cannabis strains.
When you grow from seed, even from well-bred and reputable seed, the results can vary and often include males. Some growers like the experience of experimenting with new seeds, but for those who like to ensure an entirely female, reasonably uniform crop cloning is an attractive alternative to growing from seed.
Choosing the Clone
To clone a plant you’ll want to use a female that is in the peak of her vegetative cycle. Try to avoid cloning from a plant that is already flowering; although it can be done, cloning from a flowering plant takes much longer because the clone has to kick back into vegetative mode after being cut from the mother, a process that takes additional time and slows down new root growth.
You’ll want to choose a branch from the female that is at least 1/8th of an inch thick and has two sets of nodes (the junctures of new branches) or more. Most growers will take a cutting from the plant that is a minimum of 3 inches, but preferably closer to the range of 4 – 7 inches long. Cuttings from the lower areas of the plant are preferred, since the lower growth is the newest.
When selecting a limb to use as a cutting, you’ll want to look for the newest growth, where the stalk of the cutting is still tender and green rather than tough and woody. You want the softer, fresh green growth from your plant because the woodier growth has a much harder time rooting.
Once you’ve selected the cutting you want to clone, you’ll harvest and prepare it properly. The precise method of preparation will vary slightly based on the rooting method you choose and the medium you use, such as rock wool, peat moss, soil or aeroponics and hydroponics systems.
Proper preparation will involve making another cut at a 45 degree angle, generally while underwater so as to avoid the possibility of an air bubble killing your clones. Balancing the pH of your rooting medium and trimming excess foliage from your cutting are a few of the next steps.
When cloning your cannabis plants, you’ll also need to pay special attention to the temperature and humidity of your cloning area. A good lighting schedule (typically 18/6 or 16/8) and the proper lights (cloning is one area of growing where you can benefit from the use of CFLs) will also help ensure that your clones take root and grow into glorious new plants in their own right.
Make sure to read: Caring for Your Marijuana Clones