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Cloning the Cannabis Plant
Cloning is asexual reproduction. Cuttings are taken from a mother plant in vegatative growth, and rooted in hydroponic medium to be grown as a separate plant. The offspring will be plants that are identical to the parent plant.
Cloning preserves the character of your favorite plant. Cloning can make an ocean of green out of a single plant, so it is a powerful tool for growing large crops, and will fill a closet quickly with your favorite genetics. When you find the plant you want to be your "buddy" for the rest of your life, you can keep that plant genetic character alive for decades and pass it on to your childrens children. Propagate and share it with others, to keep a copy, should your own line die out. A clone can be taken from a clone at least 20 times, and probably more, so don not worry about myths of reduced vigor. Many reports indicate it is not a problem.
Cloning will open you to the risk of a fungus or pests wiping out the whole crop, so it is important to pick plants that exhibit great resistance to fungus and pests. Pick the plant you feel will be the most reliable to reproduce in large scale, based on health, growth rate, resistance to pests, and potency. The quality of the high, and the type of buzz you get will be a very important determining factor.
Take cuttings for clones before you move plants from vegetative grow area to the flowering area. Low branches are cut to increase air circulation under the green canopy. Rooted clones are moved to the vegetative growth area, and new clones are started in the cloning area using the low branch cuttings. Each cycle of growth will take from 4-8 weeks, so you can constantly be growing in 3 stages, and harvesting every 6-8 weeks.
Some types of plants are more difficult to clone than others. Big Bud is reported to not clone very well. One of my favorite plants, Mr. Kona, is the most amazing pot I ever smoked, but it is hard as hell to clone. What a challenge! I noticed other varieties that were rooting much quicker, but it was the stone I was after! Once you find the psychoactive, almost hallucinogenic properties of some Indica/Sativa hybrids, you never want to smoke a pure Indica again. Indica is however, great medicinally, so I like to grow a few pure strains too.
If a plant is harvested, you can sample it, and decide if you want to clone it. Pick your favorite 2 or 3 distinctly different types of plants to clone, based on trying the harvested plants. The plants you want to clone can be regenerated by putting them in constant light. In a few weeks, you will have many vegetative cuttings available for cloning and preserving your favorite plants. Always keep a mother plant in vegatative mode for any strain you want to keep alive. If you flower all your clones, you may end up killing off a strain if you don not have any plant devoted to being a mother. I killed off a sacred strain accidentally this way; my harvested plants failed to regenerate and the strain would have died completely had not previously igven it to friends to grow it as well. I was in luck, and a buddy set me up with another clone of this strain to grow as a mother plant for a new crop of clones.
After two months, any marijuana plant can be cloned. Flowering plants can be cloned, but the procedure may take considerably longer. Its best to wait, and regenerate vegetatively plants that have been harvested. A single regenerated/harvested plant can generate hundreds of cuttings. Before taking cuttings, starve the plant for nitrogen for a week at least, so that the plant is not extreamly green, as this will make rooting take longer. Take cuttings from the bottom 1/3 of the plant, when doing ordinary pruning. Cut young growth tips from a vegetative stage, mature plant 3-5 inches long with a stem diameter 1/5-1/10 inch. Cut with a sterile razor blade or X-acto knife (flamed) and immerse the cut end of the clone into a tub of distilled water mixed with 1/4 tspn Peters 5-50-17 per gallon. Next, cut the bottom .2 inch off the end while it is submerged, using a diagonal cut. Remove the clone from the tub and dip into a liquid cloning solution following instructions on the label. Dust with RootToneF and place in cloning tray or medium. Flowering plants can be cloned too, but may take longer, and may not have as high a success rate.
Cloning goes quickest with the liquid rooting solutions, in a warmed, aerated tray, with subdued lighting and high humidity. Placing cuttings into 1" rockwool cubes in a covered tray works great too. In a closet, you can make space above the grow area so that the heat of the lamp warms the tray (passive collecting) and spare the expense and hassle of the aquarium heater ($24) or agricultural heating pad w/ thermostat (pricey). A double 4" fluorescent lamp will be perfect. Leave lamps on for 24 hours a day. Cuttings should root in 2-3 weeks.
I found only one liquid rooting hormone solution that was not over $10. (Olivia Gel was $12 for a 1.6 ounce bottle. Geez, what is this stuff, gold?) I found some dipNgrow for $9, considered myself lucky, and got a tray and clear cover for $7. A clear tray cover or greenhouse encloser is needed to bring up humidity to 90% (greenhouse levels). Liquid rooting hormone seems to be much more effective than powders. Some types available are Olivia, Woods, and dipNgrow.
Mix a weak cloning solution of high P plant food (such as Peter 5-50-17), trace elements, and epsom salts and then dip plants in rooting solution per instructions on label. All of the above nutrients should be added in extremely small amounts, 25% of what would normally be used on growing plants. Or use a premade solution such as Olivia Rooting Solution. Corn syrup has been reported to supplement the sugars needed by the plant during cloning, since it consists of plant sugars.
Use a powder fungicide too, like RoottoneF to be sure you don not spoil the clones with fungus. This is important, since clones and fungus like the conditions you will be creating for good rooting:
mild light, 72-80 degrees, high humidity
In rockwool, there is no need for airating the solution, just keep the cubes in 1/4" of solution so they wick and stay moist at all times. Try to keep clones evenly spaced, and spray them with water once a day to keep them moist and fresh. Pull out clones if they are diseased and dying, to keep them away from healthy starts.
Another method is to float cutings in a tray full of solution on polystyrene disposable plates, or styrene sheets (shipping/packing material) with holes punched, so the tops and leaves are out of the water. Take off all large leaves, leaving only smaller top leaves to reduce demand on the new rooting stalk. Aerate the tray solution with an air pump and bubble stone. Keep solution at 72-80 degrees for best results. Change the solution daily if not using an air stone and pump, so that oxygen is always available to the cuttings. A week later, clip yellowing leaves from cuttings to reduce water demands as the cuttings start to root.
Buy a tray with a clear cover made for rooting at an indoor gardening supply house. You must keep humidity very high for the clones. Put cuttings in an ice chest with cellophane over the top and a light shining down if you don not want to pay for the grow tray and cover.
It is also possible to directly place a dipped cutting in a moist block of floral foam with holes punched, or vermiculite in a cup; be sure to root cuttings in a constantly moist medium. Jiffy peat cubes are not recommended, as published reports indicate results were not good for rooting clones. Place starter cubes in tray of solution. Check twice a day to be sure cubes are moist, not drenched, and not dry. After about 2-3 weeks, rootlets will appear at the bottom of the pods. Transplant at this point to growing area, taking care not to disturb any exposed roots.
One grower writes us:
I have had virtually all attempted clones root with the following scheme:
0. Prep cutting by removing large leaves on tip to be cut, allow to heal.
1. While holding underwater, take final diagonal cut on stem to be rooted.
2. Dip in Rootone, then spear stem about 2" deep in 16 oz. cups of 1/2 vermiculite, 1/2 perlite, which are kept in a stryrofoam cooler. 3. Spray cuttings with a VERY mild complete fert. soln.
4. Cover top of cooler with Saran Wrap, then punch holes for ventilation.
5. Keep cooler in relatively mild temps, low light, and spray cuttings daily.
6. Cuttings should root in about 3 weeks.
Cloning is not as easy as starting from seed. With seeds, you can have 18" tall plants in 6 weeks or less. With clones, it may take 6 weeks for the plant to sprout roots and new growth. Seeds are easily twice as fast if you have empty indoor space being wasted that needs to be put to use quickly. Always breed a few buds for seeds, even if you expect to be cloning most of the time, you could get wiped out, and have nothing but your seeds left to start over.
Cloning in rockwool seems to work great, and no airpump is needed. I paid $9 for 98 rockwool starter cubes. A plastic tray is available ($.95) that holds 77 cubes in pockets allowing the cubes to be held in a tray of nutrient solution. They are easily removed and placed in a larger rockwool growing cube when rooted.