Rooting Clones 101
When rooting clones there are several substances you can use to increase the chances of success. These include rooting gels, powders and other preparations designed to expose your cuttings to hormones that will promote the formation of new roots.
Rooting powders, such as the popular ‘Take Root’ powder available in many garden supply stores, and represent an economical option for the grower on a tight budget (seriously, one little can of common rooting powder will last a very long time). To use rooting powder, simply prepare your cutting and dip it in water, then roll or dip it in the powder and plant it.
As an alternative to rooting powders, rooting gels are very popular among growers of all skill levels. Rooting gels, such as Clonex rooting gel, or Dip ‘N Grow, can be used in conjunction with or as an alternative to standard rooting powders. In fact, the rooting gels available in stores like Home Depot and Lowes are generally quite sufficient for rooting cannabis.
Because the gel will surround your stem with moisture, you won’t have to worry so much about your cutting drying out. Unfortunately, especially in climates with high humidity, the use of cloning gel can sometimes cause your clippings to rot rather than take root.
Rooting Clones with Gel and Powder
Alternatively, you can also combine rooting powder and rooting gel. To combine the two, simply start by dipping your cutting into the rooting gel, then rolling it through the rooting powder before inserting it into your rock wool, peat moss or other rooting medium.
If you aren’t a fan of synthetic rooting hormones or other commercial products, an organic aid for rooting yours clones is willow cuttings. Taken from any willow and placed in water, a cutting of willow will release natural hormones (specifically auxin) that promote rooting. You can use this ‘willow water’ as part of your watering schedule for your clones and/or soak your rock wool or other growing medium in the willow water prior to placing your cuttings.
Cuttings taken for cloning purposes should be taken from healthy plants during their vegetative stage. While it’s not impossible to take cuttings for clones from a flowering plant, it is harder to do, and the clones will take longer to root because they have to kick back into vegetative cycle. Take your cuttings from newer growth on your plant, where the growth is green and soft.
Using very sharp scissors or a new razor blade, take your cuttings at a roughly 45 degree angle. With your rooting aid and growing medium already prepared, many growers will make a second cut to their cuttings, this time performed underwater. The reason for this is to avoid the chance of sucking an air bubble into the stem of your cutting.
When you cut the stem, the pressure naturally causes air to be sucked in, so by making another cut underwater and then immediately rooting your cutting, you can reduce the chance of getting a lethal air bubble (known as an air bubble aneurism or air bubble embolism) in the stem of your clone. Make your cut at roughly a 45 degree angle, in order to expose as much of the inner material of the stalk as you can. If you’re rooting woodier growth, you may also gently scrape away the tougher bark about ½ an inch around the base of your clone.