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What Causes Cloning? Sweet Cells That Create Cash Crops

  • Written by  Casey Jones Fraser
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Here’s all the info you need about cloning plants in your grow room. Here’s all the info you need about cloning plants in your grow room.

For many indoor gardeners, everything starts with cuttings (aka clones). If you can’t get rooted plants, you will never have a functioning garden. So how do we get stem cuttings that will root quickly and thoroughly? And how does a plant stem generate roots in the first place?

The stems of herbaceous plants contain various cells, mainly pith (provides structure), xylem (transports water), phloem (transports food) and the vascular cambium. That last one is the complicated part that allows us to grow new plants from stem cuttings. Think of the vascular cambium layer as the equivalent of stem cells in animals. Stem cells can help regenerate nerve cells and other tissues in animals, while the vascular cambium layer can develop into roots or branches for plants.

This ability is a perfect example of natural selection. A plant might lose a branch due to weather or animal interaction. Some species of plants have the ability to generate roots on the stem of a severed branch. This is a survival trait, and survival of the fittest over millions of years has left us with plants that can be cloned. Hooray! We growers can speed up that process with moisture and stimulants, but the cambium layers makes this all possible.

To get the best cuttings, you will need stem sections with the biggest supply of vascular cambium. This is represented by soft, flexible green stems. If stems are hard and woody, the epidermis has been replaced with cork, and the cambium layer has changed. Hard, cork-covered stems are less likely to root.

When caring for mother plants, you should occasionally remove woody stems, even if they are connected to softer, younger branches. Removing these bark and cork covered branches will encourage new shoots of soft-tissued stems and branches to grow from lower portions of the mother plant. Unpruned mother plants become tall and woody, making them bulkier and less suited to generating cuttings. When you prune back the woody growth on a regular basis, the plant will produce soft-tissue stems fast enough to provide you with hundreds of new plants.

Another key to this process is hydroponics. In my experience, mother plants grown in soil become woody faster. Loose, inert hydroponic growing mediums with a steady water supply will encourage the soft tissue you’ll need for cuttings that root quickly. Mild feeding, as opposed to higher doses, will also help with this function.

When you make a 45° angled cut, you expose tissues including the cambium layer. Before you did that, the cambium was concealed by the plant’s epidermis, or outer skin. You can expose even more cambium by scraping the surface of the stem on the lowest 1/4” of the cutting. Be careful! If you scratch too far below the surface, you can remove those localized cambium cells altogether, and that will deter rooting. Just use the sharp edge of your clean precision shears and barely stroke the base of the stem — just once. That one light scrape is all you need to remove the waxy epidermis. Any more than that and you run the risk of damage. If the base of this stem becomes bent, crushed or otherwise weakened, the cambium layer will be damaged and rooting will be difficult.

Obviously, rooting gels, liquid stimulants, cloning machines and starter plugs are all helpful in the rooting process. However, these are all man-made inventions to further a natural plant function. Once you understand the source of rooting, you can use these hydroponic accessories to speed up the process. Good luck and get cloning!

More Clues for Cloning

1. Take cuttings that are 5-6 inches in length.
2. Remove excess foliage.
3. Cut the stem just below a node, preferably underwater.
4. Use a high-quality rooting gel.
5. Take cuttings in starter plugs and place them into a humidity dome or cloning machine.

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Clones? Is this is the soundtrack to hydroponic growing?
Last modified on Friday, 29 June 2012 16:47

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