How to


How to Successfully Clone a Cannabis Plant

There is ‘The One’…the perfect cannabis plant in your grow room. Your favorite plant exhibits vigorous growth with a healthy root system. After researching the strain, you know it has all of the qualities you are looking for in potency, flavour, and high production. So, how can you keep this exceptional cannabis phenotype for future plantings?

The best way to preserve the genetics of a distinctive cultivar is a process called cloning. This method involves cutting stems from the original ‘mother’ plant to produce multiple offspring which express the same genetic make-up. Although it is a simple act to take cuttings from a marijuana plant, keeping the young clones alive until roots appear can be challenging.

In this guide, you will learn how to successfully clone cannabis plants.

What is the Advantage of Cloning instead of Using Seeds?

When purchasing regular cannabis seeds from reputable seed companies such as MGS, a percentage of the seeds will be female. However, there is also a probability for male seedlings to be in the mix. Unfortunately, you must first grow the plant into the early pre-flower stage before the true gender is revealed. This can be a timely and expensive venture.

Taking cuts off an established female cannabis plant eliminates the guesswork, you know it will produce flowers. Cloning is also a huge time saver. By the time a tiny seed germinates and begins to build root shoots, a healthy clone will have established a vigorous root system, developing rapidly into vegetative growth.

Can you make clones from plants grown out of feminized seeds?

Only female cannabis plants produce cannabinoid-rich flowers as they mature. Male plants are primarily grown by breeders; the pollen produced from males used to cross two outstanding phenotypes. If your goal is to produce thick, luscious buds, you do not want male plants in your grow room.

Growing feminized cannabis seeds insures female genetics. As the plants mature into veg growth, clones taken from these moms produce identical characteristics and growth patterns. When you have found ‘The One’ perfect feminized seed, you can continue to replicate its genetic makeup for generations.

Healthy Mother Plants Produce Healthy Clones

Because of the identical genetic copy, clones taken from a female plant will express similar growth characteristics. If the original plant is healthy and vibrant with an energetic root system, your success in rooting the clones will be favourable. On the other hand, a sickly mother with little energy and slow growth will exhibit those same features in the clones.

A young, healthy plant in the vegetative stage, usually between two to three months old, typically produces vibrant clones. However, the age of the plant does not necessarily determine the rooting success of the clone.  Many experienced growers and commercial cannabis cultivators retain female plants indefinitely, producing multiple generations of offspring. The key is to take new clones from a happy, healthy mother stock.

Is it More Advantageous to Take Clones from the Top or the Bottom of the Mother Plant?

You can take cuttings from anywhere on the marijuana plant. However, rooting hormones naturally occurring in plants, called auxins, play an influential role in cannabis cloning success. Auxins promote cell division, stem, and root growth.

Clones taken from lower branches on your parent plant contain higher levels of auxins, accelerating success in clone root formation. While clones taken from the top of a plant are perfectly suitable, it often takes them longer to begin rooting.

Depending on whether you want to keep the mother plant for perpetual cloning or want to flip it into flower may also determine where you want to take cuts. Cannabis plants often thrive when pruned, shooting energy into new growth. When cutting a clone above two adjacent nodes, the result is the formation of two new stems. This technique can be advantageous when structuring your plant for multiple propagation practices or massive bud formation in the flowering stage.

Taking cuts near the bottom of the flowering plant not only produces auxin infused cuttings but also clears out unproductive foliage on bottom branches. Removing lower growth also allows for better airflow and promotes energy transfer throughout the plant. As the mother plant continues to age, bottom branches and stems often become woody. Cuttings taken from these thick stems may be harder to root.

Are Rooting Agents Beneficial When Cloning Cannabis?

Commercial rooting agents use auxins in their formulas. They come in rooting gels, powders, or liquid forms and generally contain the active ingredient Indole-3-Butyric Acid (IBA). Rooting compounds containing IBA act as a catalyst to promote rapid root development.

Rooting agents accelerate the expansion of a plant’s root system by working synergistically with naturally occurring auxins. This combination gives new plants a boost in root development. Dipping marijuana clones in a rooting compound also seals the exposed tissue, helping to eliminate pathogens from entering the open wound.

Do Cannabis Clones Need Nutrients?

While the whole idea of successful cloning is developing the root system, the newly cut stem does require nourishment. However, dosages should be a 1/8 – 1/4 of nutrient solution recommendations for vegetative growth. Furthermore, nutrient formulas containing secondary and trace elements help encourage both root and plant development.

Because soilless and hydroponic systems do not hold nutrients in the medium, they require supplementation. Feed the young plants in small daily doses to encourage both root and plant development. Clones growing in light soil with precharged minimal nutrients do not need fertilizer additives until the plant begins to grow.

Hydroponic vs Substrate

For marijuana clones to produce roots, they need a growing medium. Many cannabis growers have experimented and achieved success with just putting the clone in a cup of water. However, it takes a long time for the plant to begin rooting and requires frequent water changes to keep oxygen flowing.

Commercial hydroponic set-ups generally produce roots quite rapidly. Clones nestled in small cubes in a pre-cut frame hold the stem upright. The base of the cloner contains water while a small circulating pump sprays a fine mist throughout the reservoir. The frame is then placed over the basin and topped with a lid.

Another option is placing new cuttings in a substrate. Popular mediums include Rockwool cubes, peat plugs, and soil. Generally, these require a prefabbed tray to cradle the substrate. Depending on the temperature and relative humidity levels in the clone room, a humidity dome is recommended to ensure root success. Small vents on the side of the clear covering open and close to regulate airflow and moisture levels.

Growing cannabis clones successfully depends on a variety of factors.

Environmental Controls for Clone Success

Humidity is a distinctive factor in root development. If there is not enough in the environment, the young clone struggles to produce roots. On the other hand, if there is too much moisture in the air, the newly cut stem will wither and wilt from lack of oxygen. Mould easily forms with excess humidity levels, especially in a closed environment.

Marijuana clones like it warm and moist.  They thrive in 22-25⁰C (72-77⁰F) and prefer high humidity levels between 75 – 90%. Keeping the environment within those thresholds will eliminate the need for covering the clones with a dome or hydro lid. If that is not achievable, or if there are temperature and humidity fluctuations in the clone room, it is advisable to keep them undercover as you monitor their progress.

Young clones do need some fresh air but don’t give them too much in the first few days unless the clone environment is stable. Oxygen is necessary for root development. As the plant begins building its root system, it will require additional airflow throughout the day. When root strands emerge, the clone is ready to grow.

Light is a simple environmental control for cloning practices. It is minimal compared to future grow light requirements as the plant matures. Because their energy focuses on root growth instead of growing leaves, newly cut stems do not require bright light. They grow well under T5’s or CFL’s on an 18 – 6 light cycle.

Prepare Ahead for the Procedure

Before cutting the first clone from your prized cannabis plant, make sure you have all the equipment, tools, and products required for the process. Whether you are taking a few cuts or several hundred, preparing your cloning set-up in advance will make the whole procedure much easier and more efficient.

Undoubtedly, the most crucial practice when propagating marijuana clones is sterilization. Cutting into fresh tissue with dirty tools and working on filthy surfaces increases the chance of contagion. Often, clone success rates are minimal due to unsanitary conditions. Keep all tools and surface areas clean and sanitized.

Additionally, make sure all pruning shears, scalpels, and razors are sharp. Dull cutting edges crush soft tissue on tender clone stalks, often resulting in minimal root development. Cuts should be swift and clean to reduce trauma on both the clone and the mother plant.

Taking the Cut

When deciding which clone to cut from the mother plant, look for a stem that is standing tall with several nodes. Always leave at least two nodes on the stalk for future growth. Cut the stem at a 45-degree angle to maximize surface area. Trim away bottom nodes and fan leaves, leaving 12 – 15 cm (5 – 6 inches) on the stem. Immediately dip the clone in a rooting agent and stick it in your preferred medium. If you have created a favourable atmosphere for the young clones, you should see root development within 10 -14 days.

Monitor the Clone Environment Daily

To achieve cannabis cloning success, keep a watchful eye on young plants for signs of distress. It doesn’t take long for a marijuana clone to give up due to unpleasant circumstances. As the newly cut clone learns to grow, your assistance in creating a pleasing environment will elevate your chances of root growth.

Post author
Charle Thibodeau
Charle’ Thibodeau is a freelance writer with almost a decade´s experience, specializing in cannabis content for the past two years. A strong motivation to educate, inform, and promote the culture surrounding this miraculous plant is her earnest mission.
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