What is a cannabis clone?
A clone is a piece of the original plant, typically the tip of a branch, that is then grown to create progeny. A clone has the same genetic profile (genetic makeup) as the plant it came from, which is called a mother plant.
A typical clone is about six inches in length and after cutting it off the mother plant, the clone is put into a rooting medium such as a rooting cube — something that encourages root growth.
After plants grow their roots, they are then transplanted into a pot or the ground, where they will grow like any weed plant.
Why clone cannabis plants?
If you don’t want to play around with seeds, clones are a great option for starting a marijuana plant. Weeding from a clone will save you time, even though they need to roots before the transplant. The process is faster than planting seeds, which can shave off a month or so of the growing process.
Clones will also save space in your garden—with seeds, you have to grow many and then sex them out identify and get rid of the males. It is also possible for some seeds to remain dormant and not germinate. You’ll need plenty of space for all your seeds, but they might not germinate and turn into full plants.
If you want to create a clone from an existing plant, the process is relatively free! If you want to work from home, you will need some basic supplies. You can purchase clones from a dispensary if you want.
One of the greatest perks of clones is that they are perfect genetic replicas of their mother plant. Compared to the cannabis plants that are sold commercially, a plant from home (grown with clones) can be grown ad infinitum.
There is some speculation that clones can be subject to environmental stressors and other factors, leading many to believe they could degrade over time.
What is a cannabis mother plant?
A mother plant is any marijuana you take a clone from. Mothers of cloned plants should be healthy and sturdy, as they will pass their genetics on to the clones.
Sewn plants always stay in the vegetative stage, since clones are clipped off. Flowering weed plants should not be cut, as this causes the clone to become a hermaphrodite and may also damage the flowering plant.
Some growers keep a dedicated mother plant only for taking cuttings and that takes up a lot of room. It also doubles the materials needed to grow as you would need to take care of your mother plant but it can’t produce any buds because it will always stay in the vegetative stage. Certain growers find it difficult to allocate time, energy, and space for plants that won’t produce buds. As such, this might not be the best setup if you grow space is limited.
Some cannabis growers take cuttings off a plant before it flowers, then keeps the mother plant in the vegetative stage. The next generation of clones is ready and will be turned into cuttings before getting flipped to flower. The first steps are to wait for them to grow, and then cuttings will be taken from those which have grown big enough. Because cloned organisms are genetically identical, each generation will be an exact copy of the first-generation mother and all subsequent mothers.
Cannabis mothers ensure genetic consistency, so the new generations of clones taken will have the same taste, flavor, effects, and other characteristics. Clones grow at the same rate as their mother, produce a similar product, and show no divergence in vigor.
Clones will always be females, so you don’t have to waste time with breeding, sexing your plants, and throwing away males.
What to look for in a mother plant
The genetic makeup of mothers is the same as their clones. A wild plant, or one that doesn’t produce good buds, won’t make a good mother.
What do you need to clone cannabis?
Cloning cannabis is a fairly simple process, and some equipment you might already have on hand can do the trick.
- Scissors (for taking cuttings off the mother plant)
- Razor (for trimming up cuttings)
- Rooting setup (tray/tray-cell insert/dome/root cubes/heat mat, or an auto-cloner)
- Rooting hormone
- Choose a rooting medium and setup
Rooting cubes, rock wool or peat, and foam may be used as a preliminary planting medium for many plants. Rockwool fiber is spun rock that has been heated and stretches, making it perfect for providing increased airflow as well as moisture retention.
You will need a tray, an insert for the tray, and a dome to go over the insert and transport your cubes. The paper cubs will form cube cells, the cube cells will fill a tray at the bottom of an aquarium tank that is covered with water. To keep in humidity, use a dome over your tray and you may even want to use a heat mat.
One option is to use an auto-cloner. A key item to have when cloning is the auto-cloner, but it is expensive. Unless you plan on cloning frequently, there may not be a need for such an investment. Automated cloning machines reduce the need for manual labor when caring for clones. Geared with aeroponics, these machines give your cuttings a light misting of nutrient water every few hours to promote root growth.
Experiment and find the work setting that works best for you. Make sure your clones get enough amount of light and humidity.
How to take a cutting from a cannabis plant
When selecting a mother plant for cloning, look for plants that are healthy, strong, and in the vegetative stage. Don’t take clones from flowers off live plants.
It’s best not to fertilize mother plants for a few days leading up to cutting cuttings. This allows nitrogen to escape the leaves. When you take cuttings from a plant, if it is too nitrogenous in leaves and stems, the clone will attempt to grow vegetation instead of diverting energy towards rooting. When you have a cold or infection, be sure to disinfect scissors and razors before using them.
To take a cutting:
Look for branches that are sturdy and healthy. You should have at least two cuttings on the final branch, so pick a healthy and long enough branch. The more sturdy the clone is made, the stronger and healthier it will be.
Cut the stem of the clone from the mother plant, above any nodes. Here, you can cut the stems with scissors; it may be difficult to manage a razor in the middle of these long-stemmed plants.
Use a razor blade to trim 45° below the bottom node of your fresh cutting. This will promote faster growth because more surface area is available for the root to grow through.
For any plants you are rooting, immediately use a rooting hormone to ensure growth. Rooted cuttings should be placed in a cube-shaped container with drainage holes. If using an auto-cloner, place the pot containing the cuttings inside the cloner and apply rooting hormone to the bottom of it.
Once you’ve cut the stem, remove any leaves protruding from the bottom and clip off the tip of a few fan leaves on top. This supports photosynthesis, which helps your clones take in nutrients and water.
Transplanting your weed clones
Check the level of water in a cloning tray or automated system to make sure that clone plants have enough water. To raise the humidity inside your house, you can use a spray bottle to apply water to the leaves of plants that are indoors. If any clones die, discard them so they don’t cause mold in the rest of the clones and also give more space to the remaining clone.
The time to transplant clones varies depending on the kind of clone. Some clones will be ready to move into the soil in 10-14 days, some will root out quicker, and others longer.