Cloning, Why and how

Plants are just like people! Even when two people “breed” the offspring’s genetic traits aren’t consistent. By cloning we can assure the least amount of genetic “drift.”

If you’re considering taking some clones from a friend please see, IPM: Preventative Measures (Specifically bulletin #2 Trust no one.) We emphasize this because pests and pathogens often get transferred from another grower’s garden to yours. You’ve been warned!

Pros

    • By cloning you can assure that you’re growing only the best genetics. You can also use selective breeding to better a plants’ genetics over time naturally.
    • Cloning also allows us to choose which sex of a plant we want to reproduce.
    • Free Plants! I mean come on, who can argue that.
    • Mono-cropping or running the same genetics will make you a better grower faster.

Cons 

  • The major difference between a clone and a germinated seed is that germinated seeds have a tap root. This will affect your yield. However for indoor growing it will not be a make or break difference. Especially if you are a new grower.
  • Nodal spacing is not as symmetrical like you would find on a germinated seed.
  • Most people get pests or powdery mildew by accepting a friends’ clone.

Before we get into the process of cloning we really, really want to emphasize one thing.

Cleanliness is the key to cloning.

Even if you buy the fanciest cloning machine on the market if you do not take cleanliness seriously you wont get good results cloning. This is the difference between 2/10 (20% success rate) rooting clones and 8/10 (80% success rate) when rooting clones.

This stands for any type of cloning, soil, hydro, aeroponic systems, any.

 

Information posted here was taken from our most recent (free) grow class Propagation 101.

To see when this free grow class is available again check our class schedule.

How To Clone, Step by Step

Step 1: Prep Work –  Disinfect

Disinfect anything will make contact with the clone…anything. This is arguably the most important step.

          • Cutting implement, other tools
          • Humidity Dome/Tray
          • Your Hands
          • The area you are cloning (we just put down clean paper towels)
          • Ideally use R/O filtered water.

  Not sure how to Disinfect? 

  1. Wash component with warm water and soap.
  2. Dry completely with clean cloth (or what we do, just let it air dry.)
  3. Apply isopropyl alcohol with a spray bottle and allow to air dry. 

 

 Step 2: Prep Work – Set the Stage

We do this so we are prepared to make our clones and get those clones into their media ASAP.  Keeping the time in between (from plant to media) to a minimum is important because the longer the “open wound” is exposed to an environment, the more likely it is going to be contaminated. 

This is why it is so important to disinfect everything prior to setting your workstation.

 

#GrowFamProTip: Use a spoon for your cloning solution and microbes. This way if your clone is contaminated, you won’t be contaminating all of your cloning gel and potentially all the future clones you will propagate with that gel.

 

 Step 3: Prep Work, Choosing your “Mother plant”

You’ve probably seen it yourself, some plants simply just don’t grow as well as their brothers and sisters. Runts of the litter or genetically inferior, whatever you want to call it, they are not the plants we want to reproduce (or grow). As a beginner these are the traits (generally speaking) you want to look for during your growing process in anticipation of cloning.

  • Foliage with the deepest or “richest” shade of forest green.
  • Short nodal spacing (the spacing in between the nodes, the shorter or “tighter” the better)
  • Stress resistance traits would be as follows,
    • If you missed watering and noticed one plant didn’t seem to mind as much as the others.
    • If you did plant training and noticed one didn’t get as slowed down as the others.
    • If all but one plant got mold in your environment, you know that one plant is mold resistant

Step 4: Clone = Cut, cup, prune, swirl, dip, dip, media

Cut suckers or the newer growth on the end of a branch. You’re looking for roughly 7 inches.

    Suckers and new growth are pre-genetically inclined to root faster. With tomatoes, suckers should be pruned anyway.

    1. Cut with the sharpest (sterilized) knife you can find on a 45 degree angle.

    At this angle the largest amount of cell membrane (space the new roots will grow from) is exposed. Make the cut in one swift motionThe worst thing you can do is “saw” the knife back and forth, this results in torn cell membrane not cut. Torn membrane won’t grow roots.

    2. Place the new cut clone immediately in a cup of pH balanced water

    Special shout out to Matt Carroll Imagery for shooting this month’s class video (and making us that cool intro) 

    3. Prune, If there are 7 leafs on the branch, you’ll want to remove 3 of them depending on preference maybe even more. The extra foliage will require nutrients and water to keep alive. By removing them instead of keeping them the clone will not be wasting nutrients growing foliage. It will use the energy instead to grow new roots faster.

    With the remaining foliage left on the clone, cut the tips off. this will stop the clone from growing the foliage and focus on growing roots instead.

    4. Swirl the clone in the cup before you remove it from the water

    This knocks off any air bubbles that could have gotten caught in the cell membrane, which would inhibit roots from growing. This is why we put it in the water in the first place.

    . Dip into rooting hormone

    5.  Dip into microbe product (mycorrhizae)

    This will greatly increase root growth, decreasing overall cloning time.

    6.Place into media 

    Media can be soil, rock wool, peat, coco fiber, whatever floats your boat.

    Now all you need to do is keep those clones moist and not wet, just like germinating seeds. Having a high humidity is vital inside the clone dome.If you want to give them a boost you can do so by applying foliage sprays with very low amount of nutrients (under 200 PPM). This helps because without roots, foliage is the only way the clones can absorb nutrients. Typically we use water on the cuts for the first days (using a spray bottle to keep the media/dome moist) then when roots start to grow we add nutrients.

    It can take anywhere from 6-12 days for a clone to start growing new roots depending on the genetics, your skill level, and if you’re using an aeroponic cloner or not.

    Follow our social media outlets for more information about our free classes and other tips and tricks

     

    If you would like to contribute to this #Learn2GROW blog post about germinating seeds with tried and trued methods (#Growfam Pro-tips) please contact doug@shoregrow.com or comment below (and thank you)