Why clone cannabis?
Cloning has a number of benefits when it comes to growing cannabis. It allows you to preserve genetics by keeping mother plants and take cuttings from them whenever you need to. The rooted cuttings taken from the mother plant have the exact same DNA as the mother so it will grow to be a genetically identical copy of the mother plant, hence the name clone. Another benefit of cloning is that the growth rate of a clone is much faster than growing from seed, so you will have strong, healthy, and vigorous growth in a short space of time compared to if you germinated seed and grew that out. There are many different methods of cloning, here is a step by step guide to assist you through the cloning process. This is the method I use that has worked best for me.
What you will need?
- Pruning scissors
- Rooting gel/ powder
- Blade or Scalpel
- Rockwool cube or Jiffy plug
- Spray bottle
- Glass of water
Step 1: Preparing your growing media
For the cloning process, the most popular mediums to use are jiffy glue plugs, peat pellets, and rockwool cubes. Personally, I use the jiffy glue plug because they come pre-soaked and ph balanced so they are pretty quick and easy to work with. If you choose to use peat pellets or rockwool cubes then they will require pre-soaking in ph balanced water. Rockwool works well at a ph level of 5.5 and coco- peat 5.8, so ph your water accordingly. Once soaked make sure that the cube or pellet is drained of the excess water so they are not soaked but damp. Keep these aside till step 6.
Step 2: Selecting your cutting
When looking to take a cutting from a cannabis plant, try to take your cuts from strong, healthy top canopy growth as this part of the plant contains the most growth hormone which will give you the best chance of getting a successfully rooted clone. Taking your cuts from the top growth is also important because it’s usually free of pests and disease, which tend to show themselves on the lower parts of the plant.
Step 3: Taking your cuts
Once you have selected which cuttings you are going to take, it’s now time to cut them. Use a blade/scalpel or pruning scissors to do this. Just make sure its properly sterilized before you do this to make sure you don’t give your plant any sort of infection, it’s unlikely but better to be safe than sorry! The last thing you want is to lose a prized pheno to something that could have been avoided. Rubbing alcohol is perfect for sterilizing equipment, and is easily available. So back to taking your cuts, personally, I like to use pruning scissors for this part as it’s easier for me to take cuts without having to go into the canopy too much. Now take a cutting you have selected and clip it so that it is at least 10 cm-12 cm long with a couple of nodes on it. As soon as you do this take the fresh cutting and put it in the glass of water to prevent any air from getting into the cutting which will cause the stem to rot during the rooting process.
Step 4: Cleaning up your cutting
Now that you have taken the cuttings you need, it’s time to clean them up to aid them in rooting. So again, I choose to use the pruning scissors for this, basically what you need to do now is remove all the extra foliage on the cutting as you want it to concentrate all its energy towards making roots and not photosynthesizing. I cut off all the foliage up till the last two fan leaves, instead of clipping these off I cut off the tips of the leaves instead. This reduces transpiration and keeps the cutting healthier during the rooting process, a healthy cutting has a much better chance of rooting than an unhealthy one. Using a blade or scalpel make a 45 degree cut just below one of the nodes.
Step 5: Using rooting hormone
Using a blade or scalpel gently scrape about 2 cm of the stem, this will break the skin layer on the stem and will assist the rooting hormone in working more effectively. Now dip your cutting into your rooting hormone and swirl it around for about 20 seconds. Please note if you are using a rooting gel, pour it into a separate container and throw it away after use to avoid contaminating to the whole bottle. I have used many different rooting hormones, from clonex to dynaroot #2 powder, and most work just fine. Since it is extremely difficult to get clonex in South Africa at the moment I have a few alternatives if you want to go the rooting gel route, Cannapro Rooting Gel and Striker Gel are my top picks as I have had the most consistent results with these. If you want to use a rooting powder instead then Dynaroot#2 works well.
Step 6: Growing media
Once you have swirled the cut in the rooting hormone it is time to place it into the pre-soaked growing media you have selected. Since I use jiffy glue plugs, I don’t have to pre-soak anything as they already come pre-soaked and ph-balanced, so just push the cut straight into the plug till you feel it is secure. Do the same thing if you are using a peat pellet. However, if you are using rockwool, I prefer to push the cutting into the rockwool itself and not into the hole that the rockwool comes with as this hole will not hold the cutting flush and will most likely cause air to get in which will result in the cutting rotting.
Once you have all your cuttings in their plugs, pellets, or rockwool cubes it’s time to put them into the propagator. Mist the clones and the dome lid with plain water in the spray bottle and close the propagator.
Step 7: Lighting and light cycle
Place the propagator under a light source, please note that you do not need a strong light source as cuttings do not require much light. CFL or florescent lighting is more than sufficient. Have your light cycle set to 18 hours on and 6 hours off. This is what works best for me. But a lot of people use light cycles such as 20 hours on, 4 hours off, 16 hours on, 8 hours off or even just 24 hours on. All of these work, you just have to do what is suited to your needs.
Step 8: Maintaining cuttings through the rooting process
Misting your cuttings daily is essential to keeping up the humidity in the propagator and keeping your clones healthy. I recommend misting 3 times a day if possible throughout this whole process. For the first 3 days keep the vents on the dome lid closed, this is to keep the humidity as close to 100% as possible. Only open the propagator to mist the clones briefly. From day 4-6, slowly open up the vents each day till day 6 when they should be fully open. From day 7, take off the lid a couple times a day for 10 minutes to begin with and increase this till you no longer require the dome over the next couple days so the slowly get accustomed to the air and are no longer dependent on the environment inside the dome. This process is called hardening off. If there are any signs of wilting then put the dome back on to increase humidity and they will bounce back. Please note that the yellowing of fan leaves is completely normal during the rooting process, as long as the new growth is healthy you should not worry!
Step 9: Checking for roots
From around day 8 I would start checking for root development on my clones, as the plugs, pellets, or rockwool cubes you are using dry out it will force the plants that have successfully rooted to push their roots out through the medium in search of water. Once you have seen this then you have a successfully rooted clone that’s ready to be potted!