Cuttings from mother plants guarantee identical female replicas ready to grow out into tasty trees. This easy guide will let you avoid the typical mistakes and pitfalls and help you succeed at the art of cloning. Story S photos by Jef Tek
You’ve germinated seeds. You’ve budded huge monsters outdoors as well as in. You can tell the sex of a cannabis plant from across a crowded growroom, as well as whether it’s sativa or indica. But the mere thought of cloning causes brain strain, giving you a tightness in your chest or that familiar sleepy feeling. Wake up! This is my own tried-and-true, personal-best method for taking clones from my favorite mother plants. Best of all, it’s cheap and super-simple: Anyone with a healthy plant and a little desire can turn that one mother into literally thousands of duplicate cuttings that will have the exact same genetics and behavior as the original mom.
Cloning is the current word for what your grandmother used to call “taking cuttings”—and just like her, the process hasn’t changed much over the years. Some wild plants can be rooted by sticking them into a glass of water or directly into moist soil; cannabis won’t root using this method, but the cuttings will survive for weeks in a glass of water until you’re ready to use them [just be sure to change the water from time to time].
From constant trial and error, I have found that pure water or even a mild hydroponic spray will keep the cutting so moist that rooting is actually delayed—i.e., too much of a good thing. Rockwool is designed to provide a roughly 50/50 water-to-air ratio if it’s not overwatered, and experience has shown me that keeping rockwool on the dry side is advantageous to explosive rooting. The only problem here is that you’re living on a razor’s edge: Hydroponic plants will immediately wilt and sometimes die if the rockwool is allowed to dry out (or even get a touch too dry), but if you overwater it, fungus gnats, mold and green algae will have a field day devouring the nutrients in competition with your new clones—to say nothing of their tender new roots.
WHAT TO DO?
First, forget about expensive, finicky and non-recyclable rockwool altogether: Ws itchy and bitchy when it comes to over- or underwatering. And forget those jiffy-style peat
pucks as well, the ones that come compressed and swell up in water—they work fine as far as it goes, but only offer 1.5 to 2 inches of contact area for roots to form from the newly cut stem. Also, both rockwool and peat pucks need a tray-and-dome setup, and those 10-by-20-inch plastic trays aren’t very durable. Sure, if you’re planning to grow for a little while and then quit, these minor expenses won’t be enough to make or break you (and no, I didn’t say “wake and bake”). But when you’ve been growing for a decade or more, you start to see areas where you can cut costs without cutting quality. And sometimes these cost-cutting and time-saving ideas will make for healthier, happier plants—more so, even, than the expensive ways.
Here’s one of them. Get yourself some 20-ounce plastic beer cups. They’re usually red, sometimes blue, and the staple ingredient of any successful keg party—plus they cost about five bucks for a few hundred, and they’re the key ingredient in this super-simple cloning method. Next, get yourself a bag or bale of Pro-Mix HP or any other peat-based soilless mix (like Sam’s Club potting soil). This is afl you’ll need—except for a razor blade or sharp scissors to make the final cut, and your favorite liquid nutrients.
Most rooting hormones, from Superthrive to willow bark, contain NAA (naphthylacetic acid), a hormone that regulates plant growth, while indole butyric acid (IBA) is the leading hormone used to promote the formation of roots in plants. Dip’N Grow utilizes both, and I’ve been using it exclusively for years. But it’s up to you to decide your needs and budget; this extra stuff is optional and not imperative at all.
The final choice you have to make is whether or not to poke holes in the bottom of your cups. If you don’t have a drill—or you just don’t feel like it—then don’t. Fuck it! ) said this method was super-simple, didn’t I?
First, fill your cups to the top with soilless mix. Then cut a long-stemmed clone from your mother plant, Take a whole lower branch—these are chronologically the oldest and will root the fastest. Trim off all the lower branches on a stem at least 6 inches long, but preferably 9 or more inches long. You can even use a 12-inch-long