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How to Clone Cannabis

Image source: wikimedia

Medical Marijuana Posted May 8 2020

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. So what is cloning? The technical term is "vegetative propagation." 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 one 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!

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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. Cannabis clones make it simple (and practically free) to expand your collection of psychoactive flora. 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.
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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 device
  • Spray bottle with water to maintain moisture levels

How to Clone a Marijuana Plant

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 the alcohol. Fresh cuts are very sensitive to microorganisms, dirt and bacteria and especially prone to infection and disease.

Control the pH

Take your rockwool cubes (or other plant starter 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.

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 a humidity over 90%. Roots should begin to appear in about a week.

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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.

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