How Do You Clone Plants?

Cloning can be daunting, but it doesn't have to be. Here are some tips and how-tos.

There’s no such thing as too much of a good thing. So naturally, cloning one of your best marijuana plants is a thing that’s become common practice amongst growers. In addition to getting more of what you already know and love, you can better maintain a level canopy, helping you ensure that your grows are consistent.

Cloning can seem daunting, but it’s much easier than you might expect if you’ve never done it before. So let’s go over what you, a Novice Plant Cloner, need to pay attention to when it comes to cloning your first plant.

What is Cloning Anyway?

What’s cloning, you ask? Perhaps you really are this green of a grower. Don’t worry—we got you.

You see, there are two ways in which you can “breed” cannabis. As with most things that are alive, one of the ways through which cannabis breeds is through sexual reproduction. This is when you cross pollinate a male plant with a female plant and create seeds. Just like how humans work, those seeds carry genetics from both male and female plants. The second method is through cloning. This is also known as asexual reproduction.

Clones require rooted cuttings from a mother plant, which are planted. This means that the plant that’s grown from the mother plant carries identical genetic material as the mother clone—otherwise known as a “clone.”

Some believe that it’s a much more sustainable way to yield new growth, and it’s much more economical than purchasing new mother plants. Beyond that, though, you are guaranteed a new plant that’s an exact replica of a plant of which you already know all of the characteristics. If there’s a cannabis plant that you love, cloning is one of the best ways to grow more of that same plant.

Well, What Do I Need?

First thing’s first: your plant needs to be at least five weeks old. We understand that you might want to clone as soon as possible, but it’s crucial to ensure that your plant has well established roots, side branches, and shoots. Both newer shoots that feel tender and older shoots that are woodier in texture can be cloned. The important thing is that these structures are sturdy enough to be cut for cloning.

When it comes to which part you take from your mother plant, this is still largely disputed. Some believe taking from the top of your mother’s plant new growth will yield clones that root quickly; others swear by taking from the base of a mother plant. Both camps believe their method will produce fast-growing roots, but the most important thing is that you have success. Just make sure your cuttings must have some leaves and at least one internode. (Learn more about the parts of your plant here.)

Do keep in mind that you don’t want to overdo it. Your mother plant is precious, and you don’t want to take too much away from her. Be sure that your mother plant is your priority, and take care of it so you can raise it healthy enough to produce as many healthy clones as possible, without cutting down too much. Don’t clip off too much at once, or else you’ll be left with a sad mother plant with only a few shoots and a stem.

Similar to a lot of plants that are propagating, your clones need to be in a space that’s warm and wet. If your space is too cool, your clones may have a tough time rooting. Humidity should be at least 70%, and most growers have found that a temperature that hovers around 75°F is most effective.

Since you want your clones to grow, it’s useful to have a larger space for them in which to grow, especially if your clones are a bit more mature. Think about it this way: if you don’t provide them with a big enough space (especially in height), you may end up with some very cramped cloned plants that end up rotting because they can’t help but touch the condensation around the sides and roof of your propagator.

Rooting cubes are usually used for cloning, which allow the roots to become pruned by air as they slowly grow and extend through the medium. They also help your clones maintain the optimal moisture level.

What Should I Expect?

Well, quite frankly, a lot of things can happen—and yes, a lot of things can go wrong. But here are some fairly common things that can happen. Don’t worry too much about them, as we’re holding your hand along the way.

If you’re noticing little white bumps around the base of your cutting, that’s because roots are happening! It means that your cutting is developing roots, and becoming its own independent plant. Your plant is quite delicate at this stage, so be careful. Eventually, these nubs will become strong roots. Roots may take up to 10 days to emerge, so be patient.

Some bad things can occur, too. Mold, for example, might happen. Since you have to keep a humidity dome on to force rooting, the condensation that builds may cause molding, and your plant might feel a bit soggy. Unfortunately, there’s nothing to do about plants that have been overtaken by mold. The best thing to do is to remove your dome, air out your plants, and immediately remove and discard the infected clones. Through introducing fresh air to your plants, you will be able to reduce the likelihood of mold developing. To prevent this from happening altogether, you should aim to lift the humidity dome for about 30 seconds to a minute every day to provide some fresh air for your plants. Creating a small hole in the dome can provide the same effect.

When it’s finally time to take your new babies out of their humidity dome, you may notice that they’ll start wilting. Don’t worry, this is normal—it’s called the hardening-off process. It just takes a little while for them to adjust to new life, with fresh air and all. Give them light and give them fresh air to help them better adjust.

Let’s say it’s been over two weeks and your clones still haven’t rooted. It’s likely that something went wrong. Give your clones a visual inspection: it’s possible that your wooden stem has now decayed and rotted. Put your clones into new medium and adjust your temperature and humidity to prevent the same thing from happening. You may be back to square one, but at least you’ll be able to grow some healthier clones.

Now that your clones are a good size and they’ve hardened off, it’s time to prep the grow medium in which you want to grow your clones. Give them space so the roots and grow and insert themselves into the medium, and avoid overwatering. This will encourage your roots to push out, since they’ll be looking for moisture and available nutrients.

Cloning isn’t something that you can necessarily perfect overnight, and it can be very overwhelming, especially for new growers. Luckily, we’re here for you. In addition to providing some of the best indoor growing equipment in the industry, BCNL also offers support from our Grow Specialists, available at your disposal seven days a week.