Clones and Mother Plants

Marijuana Grow Basics by Jorge Cervantes

Making clones is the most efficient and productive means of cannabis propagation for most growers. A clone is a branch tip cut from a (female) mother marijuana plant that has been planted and has grown roots. Female clones can be induced to flower as soon as they have a strong root system and are 6-18 inches tall. A crop of clone can be harvested in about three months. When planted from seed, crops take four to five months to mature. And unless you planted feminized seeds, about half of the plants will be undesirable males. Clones are not available by mail order. you must grow them yourself or get them from a grower or a medical marijuana cooperative.

Induce clones to flower when they are 6-18 inches tall to make most efficient use of HID light. Short crops of clones in small containers are much easier to move and maintain than big plants in big containers.

Well-illuminted, strong clones grow fast and have less chance of being affected by pests and diseases. Fast-growing clones develop more quickly than spide mites can reproduce. by the time a spider mite infestation is noticed and sprayed, the plants are a few weeks from harvest. Clones are also easy to submerge in a miticide when small.

Mother Plants

Any plant can be cloned, regardless of age or growth stage. Take clones from mother plants that are at least two months old. Plants cloned before they are two months old may develop unevenly and grow slowly. Clones taken from flowering plants root quickly and require a month or longer to revert back to vegetative growth. Such rejuvenated clones occasionally flower prematurely, and buds are more prone to pests and diseases.

Keep several vegetative mother plants for a consistent source of cloning stock. Start new mothers from seed every year. give mother plants 18-24 hours of light per day to maintain fast growth. For best results, give mothers about ten percent less nitrogen, because less nitrogen promotes rooting in clones.

A female plant will reproduce 100 percent female, all exactly like the mother. When grown in exact same environment, clones from the same mother look alike. but the same clones subjected to distinct environments in different grow rooms will often look different.

Get Ready to Take Clones

Clones go through an enormous transformation when they change from a severed growing tip to a rooted plant, their entire chemistry changes. The stem that once grew leaves must now grow roots to survive. Clones are at their most vulnerable point when they are cut from the mother and forced to grow roots.

While rooting, clones require a minimum of nitrogen and increased levels of phosphorous to promote root growth. Avoid spraying during rooting because it creates extra stress. With good instruction and a little experience, you can achieve a consistent 100 percent clone survival rate. large cuttings with large stems grow roots slower than small clones with small stems, and are more prone to diseases. thin-stemmed small clones with few leaves root faster than big leafy cuttings because there are no roots to absorb water and supply moisture to foliage. A small amount of leaf space is all that is necessary to supply enough energy for root growth.

Some cuttings may wilt but regain rigidity in a few days. Older leaves may turn light green; growth slows as nitrogen is used and carbohydrates build. Carbohydrate and (rooting) hormonal content is highest in lower, older, more mature branches. A rigid branch that folds over quickly when bent is a good sign of high carbohydrate content.

Always make sure there is plenty of air in the rooting medium to stimulate root growth. Do not overwater clones. Keep the rooting medium evenly moist. Do not let it get soggy. Any kind of stress disrupts hormones and slows rapid growth.

Disinfect all tools and working surfaces to kill bacteria, fungi, viruses, and other diseases already present. use sharp scissors, razor, or razor blade dipped in alcohol, vinegar, or bleach (five to ten percent solution). Wash your hands thoroughly beforehand. get all cloning supplies ready before you start to take clones.

Make sure to have all cloning supplies within arm’s reach – rooting cubes, hormone, razor or scissors, humidity dome, etc. – before you start to take clones.<

Rooting Mediums

Set cut stems in rockwool, Jiffy (peat), Oasis root cubes, or fine soilless mix. All cubes are convenient and easy to transplant. Some growers report rockwool cubes stay too wet to make clones. Other growers love them. You can also use small containers or nursery flats full of coarse washed sand, fine vermiculite, soilless mix, or, if nothing else is available, fine potting soil.

Fill rockwool tray with water, pH 5-6.

The growing medium must drain very well to withstand heavy leaching without becoming waterlogged.

Rooting Hormones

Rooting hormones help initiate roots and are available in liquid, gel, or powder form. Use only products that are approved for human consumption and use before expiration date. As soon as cuttings are taken, clones start sending natural rooting hormones to the wound and arrive in full force in about a week. The artificial rooting hormone fills the need until natural hormones take over. Apply any rooting hormone containing Indolebutyric Acid (IBA) only once. If exceeded in concentration or duration, IBA applications impair root formation.

Liquid rooting hormones penetrate stems evenly and are the most versatile and consistent. They can be mixed in different concentrations. Always mix the most dilute concentration for softwood cannabis cuttings.

Gels are easy to use and practical. Gels keep root-inducing hormones evenly distributed along the subterranean stem. Insoluble gels hold and stay with the stem longer than liquids or powders.

Powdered rooting hormones do not stick to stems evenly, penetrate poorly, encourage uneven rot growth, and yield a lower survival rate.


Transplant clones before they are too big for their containers so they can continue rapid growth. Restrained cramped root systems grow sickly, stunted, rootbound plants. Signs of rootbound plants include slow, weak growth and branches that develop with more distance between limbs. Severely rootbound plants tend to grow straight up with few branches that stretch beyond the sides of the pot.

To check for a restricted root zone, carefully remove the root ball from its pot to see if roots are deeply matted on the bottom or ringing the container. A somewhat dry root ball is usually easy to remove from the pot. The more rootbound the plant, the easier it is to remove. Plants must be sufficiently rooted to withstand being yanked out of the pot!

When growing short plants that reach full maturity in 90 days, there is little need for containers larger than three gallons (11L). A large mother plant will need a large pot if it will be kept for more than a few months.

Water the clones until water freely flows from the drain holes. next, fill containers full of growing medium and saturate with water.

Carefully turn each container upside down and tenderly shake the intact root ball into your hand.

Carefully place the rot ball into a pre-made hole in the growing medium inside the larger container.

Gingerly pack more potting soil around the wet root ball and water the transplanted seedlings heavily with a fertilizer solution containing vitamin B1 which will easy transplant shock.

Add a little more growing medium if necessary. Use a screen to diffuse light if plants are in a small room. It will take them one to four days to recover from transplant shock. Start fertilizing with a mild fertilizer mix two or three days after transplanting. Keep the soil moist but not soggy. If transplanting rockwool cubes into soil, do not let the cube stay too wet or roots will not grow into soil. Keep the humidity around 70-80 percent and the little ladies should perk right up and show signs of growth in a few days.

Once the first clone is transplanted and watered, move to the next clone and repeat the process. After you get good at each step, you complete tasks in batches. Move the transpalnts to the perimeter of the HID garden for a day or two until they recover and show signs f growth.

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