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Hydroponics Cloning: Your Generic Step by Step Guide

Hydroponics cloning gives you financial and genetic rewards Hydroponics cloning gives you financial and genetic rewards

Hydroponics cloning is a fundamental skill when you want to get more serious about your hydroponics gardening.

Cloning gives you the ability to duplicate your favorite genetics by making smaller but identical copies of a larger female plant, known as the motherplant.

Of course, you want a motherplant that has the qualities you most desire in your hydroponics gardening. Selecting and maintaining motherplants is an art and a science, and you can use the search function on Rosebudmag.com, as well as look at Rosebud print magazine, to see articles on selecting and maintaining motherplants.

Other than the fact that clones maintain identical genetic copies of plants you love, the other main benefit of cloning is that the clones are the same age as the motherplant, which means you can get them flowering as soon as they’re rooted and thriving.

For example if you’re growing from seed, you need to give your plants at least a month of growing, if not more, so they have the maturity and structure to support a bloom phase.

But when you learn how to supercharge your clones using the latest techniques, machinery and feeding, you can shift clones into bloom phase within 2-3 weeks of taking the cuttings, and those clones will flower faster than seed-grown plants that are mature and ready for bloom phase.

Cloning is a technical, hands-on process and you may have to practice it, take classes and otherwise rely on trial and error to get it right. Some people get near 100% success rate the first time they take cuttings, and every time after that.

Others struggle with different methods and materials and it takes them several rounds before they get reliable hydroponics cloning success.

Here are some generic steps for taking clones:

  1. Prep your motherplants by feeding them a high-value diet and giving them optimum conditions, with the addition of a foliar feeding with an organic Vitamin B and kelp formula for a week before you intend to take clones. Avoid high-nitrogen feeding. If your motherplant is storing a lot of nitrogen, the clones will go for vertical growth instead of going for root growth.
  2. You need an X-acto knife or similar tool for taking cuttings. You also need pre-treated rooting pucks or cubes, unless you are using a true aeroponics cloning system, in which case your cuttings will be placed in a collar and the cut end will dangle in nutrient-misted air and water vapor. Please note that there are at least a dozen different cloning methods as relates to what you do after you have taken the cutting and where you place it. There’s no way to explain them all here. Go to a hydroponics store and look at all the different methods. These methods are pre-dated by the long-used method of taking the cutting, treating the cut end, and then sticking it into a cube or puck. This traditional method is what I will focus on here.
  3. It’s best to take cuttings from a motherplant that’s been through one harvest cycle and revegetated. When the motherplant has lots of healthy new growth on it, usually about 6 weeks after you harvested it and put it back into grow phase, you have good material for cuttings.
  4. Pre-treat your rooting pucks or cubes with a very weak nutrients solution (the type that’s specially made for cloning) balanced to 5-8-6.2 pH. Adding a tiny amount of House & Garden Roots Excelurator (and then following the bottle instructions after your clones are in place and rooting) will give you much faster and more voluminous rooting. You can also pre-treat your pucks or cubes with liquid beneficial microbes. Many growers favor Jiffy Preforma rooting cubes.
  5. Sterilize your X-Acto knife, hands and all nearby bench and other materials before cloning, using rubbing alcohol. Keep everything sterile as you take cuttings.
  6. Get a powerful and proven rooting gel or rooting hormone powder and have it ready. Don’t re-use gel or powder after your cutting session; get a new container unless you use a container that has a squeeze top.
  7. Select terminal stems from the middle of your motherplant...not the topmost set of stems or the stems at the very bottom. Select the most vigorous terminal stems. You will be cutting a portion that’s about four inches long. Before you cut the stem from off the plant, remove the bottom sets of leaves. You don’t want leaves touching your root zone material or apparatus. Then carefully and gently make a 45 degree angle cut just below the bottommost leaf node. Immediately dip the cut end into your gel or powder, and then into your rooting media.
  8. After you have taken all your cuttings and they’re in your cubes or pucks, give them a more humid than average environment, enough water/nutrients solution to keep the cubes moist but not dripping wet, and 18 hours per day of T-5 fluorescent light. If you give your plants too much humidity, too much light, too strong nutrients or too much water, you will likely kill them. If you don’t give them enough light, humidity, nutrients or water, you will also likely kill them.
  9. Feeding cuttings involves careful use of cutting-specific formulas, along with anti-shock materials like organic Vitamin B complex, as well as Roots Excelurator.
  10. Monitor your cuttings carefully. It can take them 1-10 days to root. If they go yellow or brown or droop and don’t recover, they’re likely dead and you need to remove them. When you see a healthy ball of roots on all sides of your cube or puck, and your cuttings are green and leaves are upright, you’re ready to transplant them.

This is as generic a cutting instruction list as I can give you. You’ll find that hydroponics growers have lots of opinions and special techniques for cloning, and I encourage everyone to use our comments section to share their cloning wisdom with all hydroponics growers.

Cloning is not as easy as it sounds, and as with seed germination and other hydroponics techniques, you want to take notes, carefully study your results, network with other growers, and always work to improve your cloning technique and success rate.

One thing to be aware of is that more and more hydroponics growers are using true aeroponics cloners because they find that those cloners give them faster-rooting and more vigorous clones. These benefits apparently derive from the higher-oxygenation and better nutrients absorption that true aeroponics units deliver to cuttings. Take a look at aeroponics cloners at hydroponics stores, and read our rosebudmag.com and Rosebud Magazine articles about aeroponics cloners, to get a better idea about these.

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Last modified on Thursday, 21 October 2010 21:57

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