The Importance of Maintaining Your Mother Plant
A properly tended mother plant can successfully be kept alive for years, with many plants easily lasting 3 – 5 years and some legendary mothers that are claimed to have lived 15 – 20 years. And while keeping a plant alive for 20 years might be beyond the desire, and skills, of the average grower, a female who yields viable cuttings for cloning is nice to have and can be maintained for 3 – 5 years fairly easily.
Good mother plants are worth their weight in gold, as it were, and they offer many benefits. First and foremost is that you can cultivate a uniform, female crop in less time than it would take you to grow from seed and sort out the males, hermaphrodites and weak females that come with it. Second is that you’ll know what to expect from your crop on account of already having grown the mother plant.
To select a good mother plant, choose your strongest female with the best yield. Make sure that she isn’t afflicted by disease, bugs, nutrient problems or any other common grow problems, and set her up in your vegetative area for full-time vegetative growth.
A mother kept for clones can be kept under standard metal halide or high pressure sodium lights, but if you aren’t harvesting as many clones and you don’t want to constantly be trimming your plant, you can also leave established mothers under weaker fluorescent lights with good results.
Keep Your Mother Plant Healthy
To keep your mother plant in tip top shape (and remember, as the source of your clones and thus your future crops, your mother plant is a central pillar supporting your entire grow operation, so you really do want to treat her well) be sure to trim away any spent foliage or dead growth. Don’t let yellow, dying or brown and drying leaves linger on your mother.
Don’t sentence your mother plant to the edges of your grow room, either, where she’ll be neglected and may fall prey to temperature fluctuations, mold and bugs. Dedicate a comfortable grow space for your mother plant, allotting her sufficient light, and be sure to keep any particularly photosensitive strains (meaning those that kick into flowering easily) under an 18 hour a day lighting schedule to ensure that she doesn’t go to flower.
When growing your mother in a pot or soil medium, be sure to keep an eye on your root ball. Despite the trimming and pruning you carry out up top, the root ball continues to grow and your plant can become root bound, leading to sluggish growth and sometimes outright death.
As you take cuttings and clones from your mother plant, you can expect that she will grow more densely and bushier. To keep her in check and avoid having your mother plant grow out of control, prune regularly even when you aren’t taking cuttings for clones. If your mother plant starts to get really unmanageable after a few years of growth, you can retire her by taking one of the strongest clones as a new mother plant.