TABLE OF CONTENTS
Do you want to learn how to clone marijuana? Who wouldn't want to create an exact genetic copy of their favorite cannabis strain? It's never been easier to keep alive the genetic lineage of your home-grown cannabis. Here's how you can clone cannabis at home.
How to Clone Marijuana – The Essentials Needed
Cloning cannabis is relatively simple and easy if you have the right tools on hand.
- Mother plant: Starting with a healthy female cannabis plant in its vegetative stage is one of the most important aspects. Look for a plant that has vigorous growth.
- Scissors: A sharp and sanitized pair of scissors or pruning shears are necessary to cut the perfect branch from the mother plant at a 45-degree angle.
- Razor blade: A razor blade is helpful when scraping the cut-off end of your branch to increase surface area and apply the rooting hormone.
- Rooting solution: Available in a variety of forms, the rooting solution is applied to the cut-off end to stimulate root production.
- Gloves: Sterile rubber or surgical gloves can help prevent contamination when handling the cutting.
- Spray bottle: A spray bottle can be used for foliar feeding.
- Grow lights: Grow lights such as fluorescent, T5, or metal halide (MH) lights between 250 w and 600 w provide enough light for a developing clone.
- Grow medium: Growers can choose between soil and starter cubes, although we recommend starter cubes for easier rooting.
- Humidity tray/dome (optional): A humidity dome (at least 7 inches tall) enables growers to maintain optimal humidity and temperature levels for clones.
- Heating pad (optional): A heating pad can help growers maintain optimal temperatures by heating the tray and grow medium.
- Isopropyl alcohol: Rubbing alcohol is a necessity for disinfecting your tools.
Working in a Sterile Environment
A major part of cloning marijuana successfully is working in a clean and sterile environment. Everything from the room to your clothes to the equipment you use must be cleaned and sanitized before it comes in contact with a mother plant or cutting.
Before you start the cloning process and every time you interact with your plants, ensure your clothing and equipment are clean. Avoid wearing the same clothes you wear in your primary garden when cloning to reduce the risk of spreading any possible contamination.
Before making the cutting, ensure your trimming shears and razor blade are disinfected using isopropyl alcohol. Going above and beyond when disinfecting yourself and your tools can ensure your work pays off at the end.
When to Take a Cutting
It all starts with a healthy and vigorous mother plant in its vegetative stage. Taking a cutting from a mother plant that is infected with a disease or pests can risk spreading the infestation onto the clone and affect its health.
When is the right time to take a cutting? Mother plants are usually 5 weeks old from the germination phase when growers can take their cutting. Ensure the branch is firm and developed instead of soft and flimsy for better cloning success.
Some growers stop feeding their plants a few days up to the cutting to ensure the nitrogen is out of the leaves. In some cases, too much nitrogen in the stems and leaves can stimulate vegetative growth instead of the rooting the clone needs.
How to Take a Cutting to Clone Marijuana
Here is step-by-step breakdown on how you can successfully take a healthy cutting from your mother plant:
- Choose a branch with an alternating cluster of nodes.
- Cut the branch close to the main stem with a pair of sterile and sharp scissors or pruning shears. Make sure to make the cut at a 45-degree angle. The ideal cut length should be between 5 and 8 inches in length.
- Immediately after cutting the branch, submerge about a third of the cutting in a container of water. The water ensures that air bubbles do not enter the exposed part of the stem. If air bubbles enter the raw end of the cutting, it can cause an air bubble embolism that can essentially block off nutrient uptake.
- Some growers choose to prune off the excess leaves on the cutting to allow the clone to focus on root growth.
- Some growers also choose to make controlled cuttings to the raw and exposed end to increase surface area. Slice the tip of the cutting in a diagonal pattern to expose more of the inside and improve the efficiency of the rooting hormone.
After taking your cutting, you will need to place it in an optimal grow medium that has a good airflow and is able to retain moisture. When using soil or starter cubes, you will need to soak them in water for a few minutes. The water's pH level should be between 5.8 and 6. Soil amendments may be used to improve the soil structure.
- Starter cube: Starter cubes, typically made of Rockwool, coco, and peat moss are great for rooting clones. We recommend starter cubes about 2 inches by 2 inches in size. Invest in a tray insert for your cubes to catch the runoff water after watering them.
- Water: Growers can also root their cuttings in water and a nutrient mixture. Clones can be completely submerged in water or maintained using an automated aeroponic system, although these systems come at a greater expense.
- Soil: Cuttings can be placed in a healthy soil mixture with appropriate nutrient levels to not stress the plant. Starter cubes can be placed in soil after a couple of weeks of establishing a root system. They can be buried a couple of inches into the soil.
Rooting hormones are available in liquid, powder, or gel form. Rooting hormones are designed to stimulate root production and stalls the production of stems and leaves. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for the proper application of the rooting hormone. The entire tip of the cutting should be soaked or covered in the rooting hormone.
While rooting hormones are not necessary, most growers have seen great results by helping the plant with the rooting stimulant. Growers can also practice foliar feeding with a diluted nutrient solution to stimulate growth.
Clones require a certain humidity and temperature to stimulate root production and grow into big and healthy plants. Temperatures should be between 80º and 82º F. Humidity levels can be between 70 and 80% relative humidity (RH). Higher humidity levels can increase the risk of root rot. In colder climates, a heating mat may be used.
A humidity dome is perfect for beginners who want to create optimal conditions for their clones. Clones prefer wet and warm conditions. They absorb moisture through the leaves, so ensure you mist your plant with water a few times a day if you don't have a humidity dome.
Some growers keep their cuttings in a dark room for the first 24 hours or so. Clones can be gradually introduced to a new environment. Other growers immediately start them with light. We recommend weaker grow lights such as CFLs since clones do not need much light. Growers can leave the lights on for 18 hours with 6 hours of darkness.
High-intensity lighting can damage the plant and prevent rooting if it is introduced early. Avoid introducing high-intensity lights during the first few days up until day 10.
Fluorescent lights are an excellent option for cloning. Keep the lights at least 8 inches above the clones. If HID bulbs are used, keep them at least two feet away from the clone.
Growers can identify when the starter cube is ready to be transplanted to soil when the roots start to form. Roots can begin to form after 7 days on average. For some growers, it can take up to two weeks or more to start seeing strong root production.
Transplanting Your Clone
If you have done everything correctly, you can start to see significant growth at the 3- and 5-week mark. After a few inches of solid growth in the first few weeks, you can transplant the clone into a larger grow container for the rest of its life cycle.
When transplanting your clone, fill your pots with soil and gently compress it to remove any air pockets. Water the soil and allow it to completely drain. After it is drained, dig a hole to bury your clone roots. Your clones may begin to wilt after being transplanted, gradually introduce them to the new environment if necessary to reduce plant stress.
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Luis Cordova is a distinguished author, and renowned expert in cannabis cultivation, who possesses a Master's degree in Plant Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical Science. As a valued contributor to highly esteemed publications such as Cannabis Training University and Maximum Yield Magazine, Luis has emerged as a trusted source of guidance and knowledge in the cannabis industry. Having written thousands of informative articles, Luis is widely recognized for his comprehensive expertise on cultivating cannabis, both indoors and outdoors.