Do you grow your own medical marijuana? Are you looking for ways to maximize your production, without breaking the bank? For home growers, “clones” have a number of benefits. Clones will hasten your growing cycles. They will predetermine the sex of each plant, while preserving your strain and saving you money. If you’re in a place where private growing is legal, all you have to do is learn how to cut and transplant the clones.
Creating Cuttings or Clones
Choose a “mother plant.” The first step in cloning your plants is to find a good “mother plant” for cutting or cloning. “Cutting” is when you take a portion of the original plant and encourage it to grow new roots and stalks, thus making a new plant or “clone.” Since the new plants are identical to the original, you need to choose well.
- Marijuana plants are sexed, and male plants do not produce buds. The mother plant must therefore be female. You’ll want to predetermine the sex of your plants early on, either by removing the males or by sourcing with a company that sells 100% female clones.
- Weed out the male plants before pollination. Pollination decreases the potency and quality of the crop.
- Note your potential mothers’ taste and aroma. You’ll also want the plant to be robust and healthy. Choose a plant that is more vigorous than others, if possible.
- Yield is another big consideration. You may want to choose a plant that has a high rather than a fine quality yield.
- Judging potency be hard without sampling the crop. However, you may be able to get some sense of it through the plant’s aroma.
Take cuttings. You’ll next want to take cuttings from the mother plant. Make sure that it is not flowering, as you may reduce the plant’s ability to support flowers and produce in the process. It should be healthy and have about 6 nodes (nodes are prominent bumps from which the plant’s fan leaves grow).
- Take a cutting tool like a razor blade, scalpel, or sharp scissors. Sterilize the tool beforehand with rubbing alcohol in order to prevent the spread of disease from plant to plant.
- Choose a soft, low branch on the mother plant and cut it about ¼ of an inch below a node, at a 45 degree angle. Do not choose a fan leaf.
- Try to reduce water loss as much as possible when cutting. Water the plant beforehand. If you cannot process your cuttings immediately, stand them in water or place them in a plastic bag with a damp paper towel, out of the sunlight.
Root your cuttings. The next key step in making clones is to encourage the cuttings to take root. This will allow them to grow, thrive, and begin to produce high quality harvests. You’ll need four basic things: low light, a support structure, moisture around the roots, and high humidity.
- One way to root the plants is to place each clone in several inches of water, like in a Dixie cup. You’ll then place a plastic baggie over each cup to retain moisture, changing the water every three days or so.
- Your clones will begin to sprout roots in 1 to 2 weeks. Once the roots are about 1 to 3 inches long, you can transplant the clones from water into soil.
- A more advisable way to root your clones is to use a rooting powder or gel and place them in a non-organic rooting medium, like rockwool cubes. Rooting powder contains hormones that stimulate root formation. It can be purchased at many home and garden stores.
- Once you have applied the gel or powder, poke a hole into your planting medium with a pencil and gently insert the clone. Close the hole with your fingertips.
Cultivating and Transplanting New Clones
Water and mist the plants regularly. Be kind to the clones and make sure that their environment will help them to thrive. Keep the cuttings well watered, ensure they have good lighting, and maintain high humidity.
- Once your cuttings are potted, water the stalks and mist the plants with a sprayer and repeat as needed. Since the clones do not have roots yet, they must absorb moisture through the leaves and stem. Watering and misting will prevent them from drying out.
- You can avoid too much transpiration by covering the clones with a lid, as well. Poke two or three holes in the cover for ventilation.
Use low levels of light. It’s important to place the clones in low lighting at this fragile stage. Too much can fry them and lead to excessive water loss, so be very careful of overexposure.
- Give the clones light from a florescent bulb, placed about 10 inches away. Then, gradually move the light source closer to the plants as they take root and grow.
- Alternately, try a full spectrum LED grow lamp. These fixtures are 2 to 4 times more efficient than other types of lighting and emit less heat than HID or florescent bulbs.
- If you don’t have a separate nursery and have to put the clones in your normal grow room, make sure that they are partially shaded.
Transplant into clean soil and correctly sized pots. At a certain point your clones will need more space for root growth. This is the time to transplant them into pots. You’ll know that they are ready when you start to see faster leaf growth and a hardening of the stem.
- Use new or cleaned pots to avoid contamination. Sterilize older, plastic pots with hydrogen peroxide to get rid of any pests or fungus. You can also dip the clones into a pest and fungus control product.
- Get the right sized pot. Your clones will need plenty of room to spread their roots and grow. At the same time, though, you don’t want too large a pot, which will waste water and soil nutrients. Choose a small to medium sized pot for now.
- Make the soil uniform and level in each pot and do not fill it to the top with soil. Leave some room for water absorption. Then, compact the soil slightly before planting the clone, but not so much as to hinder root growth.
- Remove each clone from its rooting medium and gently pot it. Compact the soil with your fingers and then water thoroughly.
Decide whether to invest. Hydroponic systems are capital and labor intensive, meaning you have to spend money to set one up and work to maintain it. However, they are also productive and can allow you to earn back your initial investment.
- Hydroponic systems are fairly simple in concept. They supply nutrients and water directly to the plant’s roots without soil, enabling you to grow larger and faster.
- Marijuana plants take 4 to 5 months in nature to mature. With time for drying and curing, you will be limited to a couple of crops per year with normal growth. However, hydroponics can speed your growth cycles to 4 or even 6 crops per year.
- Hydroponics can also be more efficient, saving costs on electricity and fertilizer per crop.
- On the other hand, the initial cost for a system is more than what you will normally spend on soil and nutrients. It is also harder to set up, needs constant maintenance, and sometimes needs a regular supply of electricity.
- Investing in a hydroponic system for your marijuana clones is a strategic business decision. Think carefully before acting.
Look for a hydroponic starter kit. Buying a ready-made hydroponics system will at least save you the trouble of setting one up yourself. A basic kit will have space for about six plants.
- Starter kits supply everything that you need to get started. They include planters, growing medium, reservoir space for nutrients and water, and pumps.
- Expect to pay $80 to $100 for a small sized kit. Larger 20 to 60 site systems will run in the range of $400 to $1000. There are even large commercial systems with more than 500 sites, but these cost over $10,000.
Make a simple passive system. If you decide to do it yourself, keep in mind that there are two basic kinds of hydroponic systems: active and passive. For both you’ll need at least a tray or growing chamber, a nutrient reservoir, planting medium, and a delivery system.
- For a passive system, find tray and nutrient reservoir that is the right size. The tray will fit above the reservoir and have holes for your plant pots. The size will depend on your plants, as well. Bigger plants need more room for root systems.
- Fill the reservoir with a nutrient solution. You can buy this at home and garden stores or online, but make sure that the pH level is mildly acidic, between 5.8 and 6.2 for best growth.
- Fill your pots with a non-soil substrate like rockwool, vermiculate, peat moss, or coco coir. Leave a wick hanging out of the bottom of the pot to transport nutrients into the substrate and to the plant.
- Pot your clones in the substrate and set the tray over the nutrient reservoir, with the wicks in the liquid. The system will passively transport nutrients directly to your plants via the wicks, keeping the substrate moist.
- Change the nutrient solution every two weeks or so, or if the reservoir dries up.
Make an ebb and flow system. An ebb and flow system is a simple active hydroponic system. The idea is the same as the passive system, but with timed and active delivery of nutrients.
- You’ll again need a tray for your plants, potted in substrate. However, you’ll also need two nutrient reservoirs (large Tupperware bins work), two drain fittings (one longer and one shorter), irrigation tubing, an aquarium air bubbler, a small pump, and a timer.
- For set up, cut two holes with a power drill into the bottom of the first reservoir. The holes should be sized to fit the two drains – the shorter for nutrient delivery and the longer for overflow. Cut two similar holes in the same location on top of the second reservoir.
- Drill two more holes into the top of the second reservoir. One should be at the end, for the pump plug and bubbler tubing. The other is to check water levels and add nutrients.
- Screw the two drain fittings to the bottom of the first reservoir. Then, place the first reservoir over the top of the second, connect the irrigation tubing to the water pump outlet, and join the tubing to the bottom of the short drain fitting.
- Place the water pump and bubbler into the lower reservoir. Put the pump plug and tubing through the cable hole and close the reservoir.
- With a timer, your system will periodically pump water/nutrient solution into the upper reservoir and water the plants. The larger drain will siphon off excess water, before the pump reverses and drains the solution.