Learning Basic Pot Clone Techniques
Proper harvesting and preparation of your cuttings is important to ensure successful rooting, and while there is no substitution for the hands-on experience you’ll get as a grower, there are some tips and suggestions you can follow to increase the survival rate of your new pot clones. To start with, you’ll select a healthy, robust female and take your cuttings during her vegetative cycle.
If you have several females and you aren’t sure which one you ultimately want to keep as a mother, then take a few clones from each female before putting them in to flower. Label the clones, and once you’ve flowered and harvested the mothers you can choose whether to keep or trash the clones you took from each plant accordingly.
Cuttings for cloning can be taken during regular pruning; you’ll want to target lower branches and growth that is still green, relatively new and between 4 – 6 inches long. Some growers will take larger cuttings of 8 – 10 inches, but without a rootstock to support the extra growth, larger clippings may take longer to root or simply die from lack of nutrients. Softer, newer growth is easier to clone than harder, woodier growth; take your cuttings just below a node on the limb.
Use a sterile razor blade or very sharp scissors / pruning shears to take your cutting, making a 45-degree or diagonal cut. Many growers make another cut underwater before actually rooting their cuttings, so if you plan on making a second cut, the angle of your first cut is less important.
When you take your cuttings for new clones, try to process them (trim, scrape and dip them in rooting hormone as you see fit) as fast as possible; the sooner your cuttings are put in their cloning tray or rock wool cubes, the more likely you are to get healthy root growth. Cutting your stems at a 45-degree or diagonal angle will expose more of the inner bark, known as the xylem and the cambium, to the rooting hormone and growing medium.
Additional Important Information
It’s important to expose the xylem and cambium because that is where the stem cells that will grow new roots are located. In softer, greener cuttings a simple diagonal cut will generally expose enough of this inner bark to produce roots.
If you’re having trouble getting a strain to clone or if you’re cloning with cuttings that are harder or woodier in texture, you can scrape the outer bark away with a razor blade (or a fingernail in some cases) for about ½ an inch around the base of your cutting. This will expose more of the xylem and inner bark, giving your clone more surface area to produce roots.
When you’re taking a lot of cuttings all at once, or you don’t have time to finish processing your cuttings the day you take them, store them in a bucket or vase of water with a light nutrient solution (use about 1/5th of your normal nutrient solution) and an air stone to keep them fresh. Storing your cuttings this way will prevent them from wilting due to dehydration, as well as help to avoid the chance of a lethal air bubble forming in the stem.