How to Clone Cannabis
Published on 5/8/20
Updated Apr 13, 2022
Cloning might have accumulated a bit of a mystique over the years thanks to Hollywood sci-fi blockbusters and battles in galaxies far, far away, but in reality, it is a common practice in the world of horticulture that simply means to make an exact replica of an already living plant. Cloning plants isn't just for tomatoes, zucchinis, and cucumbers, however. It's a common occurrence when it comes to cannabis plants as well!
That's why we here at Where's Weed are here to break down exactly what cloning is when it comes to cannabis plants, break down exactly how to clone cannabis plants and how it's done, and dig deep into the benefits, supplies you'll need, and provide some quick tips to remember when trying to get the most out of your clones. So without too much further ado, let's get right into it!
What is Cloning?
So what exactly is cloning? Well firstly, let's get the scientific terms out of the way up top. The technical term for what we're talking about here is "vegetative propagation," or cloning for short. And while the cloning of humans could be central to a twisted plot of a science fiction film, plant cloning has been done safely and successfully for well over 1,000 years. Common foods like carrots, mint, tomatoes, apples, garlic, and blueberries are regularly cloned; in fact, most of the fruit and vegetables that are available in grocery stores come from clones!
In the world of cannabis, cloning is a fast and cheap way for growers to make new cannabis plants. The fact that the clone will have the same genetics as the parent, and therefore identical characteristics like taste, smell, and strength, is a boon for growers who want to maintain strong harvests with plants that maintain the same properties and traits. Cloning is, in theory, the great equalizer when it comes to cannabis. A small grower can produce the same cannabis strains as top-notch growers as long as they have access to the clones, and can even breed new strains that can propel those small growers into the mainstream. Whether you're looking for a powerful THC-heavy strain, one with tons of terpenes and flavor, and even low-THC strains that allow other cannabinoids like CBD to take the lead. Cannabis clones make it simple (and practically free) to expand your collection of psychoactive flora, especially for those who can legally home grow plants of their own! So, if you've got a green thumb and want to attempt cloning your own plants, continue reading to find out how!
The Benefits of Cloning Cannabis
- Any of the plant's desirable traits can be replicated.
- Clones already have a root system so they will reproduce much faster than if starting with seeds. The frustration of trying to work with seeds that won't germinate is eliminated.
- You know what you are getting with clones. A clone is a genetic match to its mother plant; it will grow the same way as its mother in the same environmental conditions.
- Clones will be the same sex as the parent plant. There is no need to wait for the plant to show its sex to know if it is female and will produce flowers.
- Invaluable resistance to pests can be reproduced. A strong mother that has shown resistance to disease and infection will pass that trait on to its clones.
- Favorite strains can be reproduced almost indefinitely.
Necessary Supplies to Clone Cannabis
To clone a marijuana plant, you will need the following supplies:
- A mature "Mother" plant that is strong, healthy, and in the growth phase
- Razor, scissors, or scalpel
- Starter cubes such as Rockwool cubes (available at hardware stores, gardening centers, or online)
- Cloning gel and powder
- Reliable soft light source (low wattage grow light or specialized clone light)
- Disinfecting alcohol
- Plastic dome or other covering devices
- Spray bottle with water to maintain moisture levels
How to Clone a Marijuana Plant
Now that we've broken down exactly what cloning is, why it's so great for home growers and small cannabis brands, and what you'll need to get some clones in the first palace, let's go in-depth on how to actually do it! The following are some helpful steps you'll need to take to clone your plants. Let's get into it!
Check Your Plant
The first step in learning how to clone cannabis is to determine if your cannabis plant is ready to be cloned! The easiest way to tell is when the branches on the plant begin to alternate as they grow. The plant will be ready when branches are growing from different spots on the stem.
Sterilize Your Workspace
Clean and disinfect your tools and workspace with alcohol. Fresh cuts are very sensitive to microorganisms, dirt, and bacteria and are especially prone to infection and disease. The best way to protect your clones and make sure you're getting the best out of them is to make sure you're being clean.
Control the pH
Take your Rockwool cubes (or other plant starters grow plugs) and soak in water for up to two hours to bring the pH level down to a more approachable spot for your cuttings. A pH of around 5.5 is preferable and will be the best thing for your plants both in the short and long term.
Take a Cutting
Take a cutting from new branching that has a new topping of small leaves. Slice the growth at a 45-degree angle. The cutting should be at least four inches long. Note that growth from the lower half of the mother plant will grow roots faster than cuttings taken from the top. Put the new clone cutting in a glass of water to prevent air bubbles from getting into the stem. Remove any large fan leaves from the lower part of the stem to allow the cutting to focus its energy on establishing new roots instead of wasting energy on established growth.
Use Cloning Gel and/or Powder
Dip the area of the stem where the cut was originally made in the cloning gel to seal it off. Dip enough of the clone in the gel so that all of the clone that will be planted in the starter cube will be covered with gel. If you are also using powder, apply it after applying the gel.
Move Clone into Storage Area
Carefully place the clone into the starter cube. Slightly press the bottom of the cube to make sure that everything is packed tightly and well-sealed.
Place the clone inside your storage area. This can be something as fancy as a humidity dome or mini greenhouse, but it can also be something as simple as a large sandwich bag. Whatever you use, make sure it keeps the moisture trapped around the clones. The moisture in the air is essential for root growth.
Try to maintain a temperature around the clones of between 70 F and 78 F and humidity over 90 percent. Roots should begin to appear in about a week.
Quick Tips to Remember When Cloning Marijuana
- Sterilize your tools and hands with alcohol before you begin.
- Choose a 4" to 7" growing tip of your plant with at least one leaf internode.
- Choose a mother plant that is healthy with the characteristics you like and want to replicate when learning how to grow plants from cuttings.
- Keep one mother plant! This is very important. You will always have a plant with known genetics that you can use to grow new plants.
- Use distilled water.
- Water the mother plant for three days prior to cutting to remove the nitrogen that can inhibit new plants to root.
Do you have any experience cloning cannabis or working with cannabis clones? Leave a note in the comments section below about your involvement with cannabis cloning and any ups or downs you may have encountered along the way.