While it might sound like something out of a stoner sci-fi film, cloning cannabis is actually a lot simpler than the process’ name suggests. Cannabis cloning is simply one of two ways growers breed their plants. Cloning is the asexual method of reproduction. Put simply, a cannabis clone is a small piece of the plant, or a cutting, that has been removed from its parent plant and allowed to root itself. Because the rooted cutting is basically a small copy of the parent plant, it shares its exact genetics.
How to Do It
There are several ways to clone a cannabis plant, but simply speaking, it is a matter of selecting a branch from a healthy parent plant, cutting it, letting it develop roots, and transplanting it in a growing medium.
The best branches to select are those close to the bottom since they would have to be trimmed anyway. However, if you want clones that will flower quickly, you might also want to cut top branches. Make sure to cut about 7 inches from each branch you’ve selected for cloning. Also, it’s important to slant cut the branch to maximize the surface area from which the roots can sprout. To ensure that another branch grows from the cut branch, leave at least one pair of leaves behind.
Prepare the clones for transplant by cutting off the side branches to promote growth, and trim leaves to prevent too much evaporation. To avoid ripping the leaves, make sure that you have a sharp knife.
You can place the clone in a variety of growing mediums that encourage it to root. You can dip the cutting’s stem into rooting powder or gel and then stick it in a rockwool cube. Then place the clone under a CFL light. Keep the temperature somewhere close to 72 degrees F and the humidity close to 90 percent. In 8-12 days, you should see some roots.
You can also place the rooting powder/gel-covered stem into very damp potting soil following the rest of the steps from above.
Finally, you can place the stem in water. Simply cover a small cup of water with PH 5.8 with some duck tape, create a small hole for the stem, and place the rooting gel-covered stem into the water. Roots should appear in 5 to 10 days.
Once roots appear, the plant is ready for transplant.
The Best Preconditions for Cloning
Although it’s simple in theory, cloning can go wrong. There are a few variables you want to consider before you start the process. For one, think about the status of your grow space. If you are an outdoor grower, you will have the best growing results if you clone in a climate with a long growing season. This is because clones will be shorter than their parent plant. The more time you give your clones to grow, the taller they will be (which usually means the greater your yield).
The most important variable to consider when preparing to clone is the health of the mother plant. Since the clones will be genetically identical to the parent, you want to opt for the best. Ideally, the parent plant will be a fast grower with a healthy root system, bountiful yields, and potent and flavorful buds. It’s also best to choose a female parent plant that sprouted from a regular seed rather than a feminized seed. Cannabis seeds can be feminized when put under stress. However, too much stress can actually cause the seed to become a hermaphrodite.
Make sure that the time is right for the parent plant before cutting your first clone. While some growers try to maximize their harvest by cloning during the flowering stage, this is a dangerous strategy. It is much more difficult for a clone’s roots to take hold during the flowering stage which elevates the already high likelihood that the clone will not survive. Therefore, the best time to cut your clone is about two to three months into its vegetative stage. This time frame best sets the clone up to take root.
Finally, to give the clone the highest chance of survival, reduce the parent plant’s nitrogen by about 10 percent in the week or two prior to cutting its clone. This will make it easier for the clone’s roots to take hold.