Don’t let the word “cloning” (with all of the sci-fi themes it brings to mind) intimidate you. It’s actually quite simple. See, every cell in a cannabis plant contains all of the genetic information needed to grow the plant anew. This means you can take snipping of one plant and use them regrow a clone of itself in another location. So long as the conditions are right, you can create as many genetic copies of your favorite plant as you want.
This is one of two major methods used to grow cannabis (the first being typical sexual reproduction—when a male plant releases pollen to be carried off to a female’s flower). Cloning, since it does not involve fertilization of a female plant’s egg, is considered asexual reproduction. No intercourse occurs. This can save you a great deal of time and energy, and you wouldn’t have to take chances on new seeds anymore.
That’s one of the reasons why cloning is such a popular method for commercial and hobby growers—it just simplifies everything. Since your garden is genetically identical, you won’t need to meet each plant’s individual needs. This can save you a lot of time and money because once you find out what works best for one plant, you know that it will work for all of them. And you’ll never have to start a new seed again, hoping that it will turn a good yield.
How Do I Do It?
But enough about that—the benefits of cloning are many, that’s clear enough. How do you do it? It’s all very simple. You’ll just need a razor (the sharpest one you can find; this will help you slice the plant and not crush it with a dull blade, which makes it much harder for it to take root. That being said, don’t use scissors—they’re far too dull to slice), water, a rooting medium, and a rooting hormone (which we’ll cover later).
1. Find the Right Plant
The first stage is to find the right plant to clone. Of course, you’ll want it to be healthy and strong with great roots and yields. You’ll also want to make sure it’s the right age—aim for a plant that’s about two months into its vegetative state. If it’s already flowering, the clone will have a lot more trouble taking root, and it will die more often than not.
Finally, only use mother plants. You can distinguish males from females by looking at your plant’s pre-flowers: if you see small translucent “hairs” emerging from bulbs where the branches meet the stem, it’s a female; if instead you see a pollen sac, it’s a male. But don’t start snipping the moment you find a hairy bulb—a closer look might reveal that your plant has both female and male features. In this case, you’ve found a hermaphrodite! It’s best not to clone these ones.
2. Prepare and Cut the Plant
Once you find the right plant, you’ll have to make sure it’s in optimal shape to be cut. There are a few things you should take into consideration. First, make sure you haven’t fertilized it recently. Fertilizer can cause a buildup of nitrogen in the leaves, which will make your snipping try to grow vegetation instead of roots. Second, make sure your surroundings and tools are sterilized. You want to keep your plant as stress-free as possible, and that includes keeping foreign contaminants out of the picture. Third, find a strong, healthy branch. It’s best to use one nearer to the bottom of the plant. Aim for one that’s around eight inches long, and make sure it has plenty of bulbs on it (the female parts we mentioned earlier). Fourth, go ahead and cut it. Remember, you want to use a razor to avoid crushing it (so no scissors). The goal here is to have the widest possible base for rooting, so cut as close to the stem as possible with a slightly diagonal path. About forty-five degrees should do it. Fifth, put the snipping directly into a cup of water. This will keep air bubbles from forming in it, which can make it difficult for the clone to absorb water. Do this whole process a few times so you have a few snippings to work with.
3. Prepare Your Clone to Be Planted
Once you snipped your first few branches, you’ll want to get them ready for planting. First, you should trim their leaves—this will encourage successful rooting and help your plants better transport and store water and nutrients. Trim them about halfway down their stems (this time with scissors), and go ahead and snip off any leaves toward to the bottom of the clone as well, that way they won’t come in contact with the growing medium. (If you want to better your odds that rooting will occur, consider buying a rooting hormone, gel, or powder and apply it to your snippings.) Second, you’ll want to prepare your rooting medium. There are a few different options here—you can leave it in the cup of water until it sprouts roots, move it into soil and maintain a heavy amount of moisture, or move it into Rockwool. If you choose the soil route, make sure you don’t buy anything that’s loaded with fertilizer or nutrients. That will discourage rooting. Third, no matter what method you choose, give your clones eighteen hours of humidity and light.
4. Get Planting
Once you see signs of vegetative growth, your clones should be ready for the next step: to be moved into a bigger container. Just like before, you’ll want to make sure that your surroundings and tools are sterilized. This will help keep your clones as stress-free as possible during the move. If you don’t take the right precautions, your clones could go into shock and die, so be careful and keep both containers as similar as possible! If everything goes well, your clones should be well on their way to becoming as prosperous as their mother was.