Understanding Rooting Mediums
The best rooting mediums for your clones may differ slightly based on your experience, your own preferences as a grower, and your environment (think about whether you’re growing in Washington state or British Columbia vs. growing in Arizona or New Mexico).
Budget and what your end goal are may also impact your decision of rooting medium. Most growers stick with the tried and true, preferring the reliability of rock wool, starter trays or peat pots, while others champion bubble buckets and deep water culture (DWC) hydroponic systems.
If you’re just starting out, or you’re looking for more information about different rooting mediums for your clones, here’s a review of the most popular cloning mediums.
- Rock wool cubes: these are an affordable rooting medium (generally you can get a hundred rock wool cubes for about $10 – $15) that can be coupled with a cheap tray to provide an affordable, reliable rooting medium for your cannabis clones. Aside from being cheap, rock wool cubes also reduce the need for aeration or water stones, and as long as you leave the cubes in ~ ¼ – ½ inch of nutrient solution and water they will continue to uptake water as needed, so they won’t dry out.
- Peat moss pots: the two chief problems with peat moss pots are that they dry out very easily, which results in the death of your new clones due to their fragile roots being unable to take the dehydration, and peat moss can be susceptible to mold and rot. Peat
moss is also prone to lowering the pH of your nutrient solution, so you may need to adjust your nutrients and pH slightly to account for this affect. Those issues aside, peat moss can be a great rooting medium and is both cheap and widely available.
- Soil in starter trays: tried and true, this method has been used for decades and with strains that root more easily it is often enough to just take your cutting and immediately plant it in moist soil. Keep your soil from drying out, but don’t waterlog your plants when you start in soil; overwatering can cause rot and suffocation. To maintain good drainage you can mix your topsoil with perlite or vermiculite (wear a mask for this).
- Aeroponic systems: you can build your own aeroponic system with anywhere from $15 – $50 of supplies, or you can purchase a premade aeroponic system such as the EZ Cloner system (~ $280) for up to 60 clones. For growers interested in a more economical aeroponic system, the Nutriculture PT100 (~ $100) is a smaller system designed for up to 20 clones. Aeroponic systems are generally renowned for exceptional results, producing roots on 90 – 100% of clones, and are especially good for cloning tougher strains.
For a novice grower, first-time cloner or the cannabis cultivator on a budget, rock wool and a nutrient tray are an affordable and generally quite reliable method of growing your first clones.