Growing from seed is one way to grow a Cannabis plant, however cloning is another way to preserve the genetics of a specific phenotype to keep for the future. Below is better explained how cloning works, the different methods and the advantages of growing with clones.
By Stoney Tark
What Is Cloning?
A way in which a grower can obtain an exact genetic replica of another Cannabis plant. By working with the same plant, the grower will know exactly how the new clone will grow, the characteristics associated with it and will have some data that they can resort back to. Cloning Cannabis is ideal for farmers who require a quick turnaround time, do not wish to work with seeds for practical reasons, or are simply following the culture and trend where they live.
Canada is a perfect example of a country that was forced to grow with clones, after legal disputes over the importation of seeds and the national sale of seeds. Only now are Canada getting used to the idea of growing from either seed or clone.
This is one reason why femenised seeds have also gained huge popularity and now dominate the Cannabis seed industry with over 90% of the marketplace across the world.
Why Would I Need To Clone Cannabis?
There are multiple scenarios where you may need to clone a variety of Cannabis. One reason may be that the strain is the best thing you have found out of a large pheno hunt, and you could be cloning several male or female keepers. Another reason could be growing on a commercial scale that is target driven and based on profits and margins. Usually these types of licensed operations will be very savvy when it comes to previously calculating how many grows can be achieved in a set time frame, which usually means large plant counts, short vegging times and very little hands on training.
Perhaps a large scale breeding project is about to commence and you are carefully preparing your stock in advance. A financial reason may be the fact that cloning is a simple and cheap process, that when done correctly with demand 14-21 days of your time and patience. Growers who have their selected mother plants will usually pull off between 100-250 clones off each plant per time every 90-100 days, meaning the initial investment for seeds is not necessary allowing a grower to spend their budget on other requirements.
Selecting A Mother Plant
A mother plant is the go to source whenever you need new clones. The idea behind the mother plant is that it is kept alive under 18/6 to allow the plant to remain in a vegetative state. Depending on the scale of the grow, it may be necessary to cut of 10-100 clones every time you have harvested one room. A general maintenance that takes place will produce a very thick, bushy canopy that is thriving with new growth shoots. Before selecting the mother plant that will be used for all future live stock, you should have firstly grown it out multiple times and have a true understanding of the Cannabis plants growth structure, resistance to pathogens, ability to clones, how long it can stay in a vegetative state without wanting to produce pre-flowers and many other smaller details that can assist you to select the best mother.
Once a clone is taken from the original plant from seed, the growth structure will actually be much different than when grown from seedling, often allowing a grower to have better results in clone form.
The Advantages Of Cloning
The main advantage of cloning Cannabis is that you already have a sexed plant, that has a track record when it comes to performance. It could be a well hyped clone that is circulating locally or on the forums, or it could be a clone from a regular or feminised seed. Another huge advantage is the preservation aspect that allows some growers to keep clones and mothers alive for over 20 years plus.
Many of the world famous varieties that we become a custom to are all kept alive somewhere, since the day they were first popped from seed. In Europe the cloning culture is non existant or at least kept well underground due to legality,, however in America for example, dispensaries and nurseries will offer patients clones. These clones will come with the expert knowledge of the staff and with enough information gathered, you can customise which clone may be better suited for you in terms of skill level, flavour profile, effect, your outdoor location and many other factors that can play a big role in the outcome of your crop.
Different Methods Of Cloning
Cannabis plants are very versalite in the way they can be cloned, meaning there are a number of different ways to clone plants and at different stages of their growth. Each method involves a certain skill set, time frame and amount of equipment.
This way of cloning Cannabis involves using a propagator, growth hormone, fresh cuttings and a growing medium such as a root riot cube, coco jiffy or rockwool. Once you have dipped your cuttings into the growth hormone and have placed inside the growing medium, you can now cover the propagator and keep the lids open slightly. It is most important to maintain a consistent temperature of 24 degrees Celsius, and to provide a relative humidity inside the propagator of 75%-90%. The light above the propagator should be on for 18-24 hours a day and should be kept at a distance that will not cause the temperature to rise above 24 degrees Celsius. After 14-21 days the clones will have produced roots and are now ready to be placed outside of the propagator to harden off.
This method involves using only water, an air stone and oxygen to provide a dark, wet environment for roots to grow. By submerging the stems of freshly cut clones directly into an aerated water source, the dissolved oxygen that is surrounding the stems, as well as oxygen between the water and the top of the tray will allow the stems to establish a callus and root. Lighting is kept on for 18-24 hours per day. As there is a constantly bubbling water source, the clones will root without the concern of anaerobic bacteria infecting the clones, turning them to a soft mush state. What is great about cloning this way is the cost is minimal and depending on the humidity present in the grow room. Using a lid to cover the clones is optional, however it is advised to use one especially if you are new to cloning this way. Again water temperature and the lighting source will play an important role so make sure you are meeting optimal temperatures.
This is the way that Bonsai trees are cloned and involve attaching a growing medium for the roots to grow into. This process is done whilst the plant is growing normally and by air layering, the selected branch will form roots as the rest of the plant is growing. As long as the growing medium that was placed around the chosen branch is kept moist and covered from direct sunlight, then with in 14-21 days, a visually rooted branch is now ready to be cut away from the plant and potted.
The advantages of air layering Cannabis is a grower can achieve very large sized, mature clones that do not require the air of a propagator, or an aeroponic cloner.
Deep Tissue Culture
Certainly the most advanced and clinical approach to when it comes to not only cloning, but the sterile material that is created. Deep tissue culture is performed in a lab using petri dishes and where a very strict rule set is followed. The advantages of working with deep tissue culture is the fact that only a tissue sample of the plant is required in order to create a fully growing plant with roots. Cultures can be cleaned and sterilised meaning the clone that develops will be pathogen free.