Cloning a cannabis plant means creating a genetic copy of an existing cannabis plant by trimming off a branch and planting it in new soil. If done correctly, this plant cutting will sprout roots, and grow into its very own cannabis plant.
The cloning process is straight forward, but requires precision, care, and the right tools. In this guide, you will learn everything you need to know to clone your cannabis plant easily and effectively. First, let’s examine a few reasons why you might want to clone your cannabis plant.
Why clone a cannabis plant:
There’s a few reasons why somebody would want to clone their cannabis plant. Commercial cannabis growers clone plants in order to create a fleet of cannabis plants with the same genetic properties. This allows them to produce large quantities of a single cannabis strain, ensuring that the flower produced by each plant contains identical cannabinoid ratios and terpene profiles. By contrast, if you try to grow a single strain by cultivating two cannabis plants from seed, they will surely have similar properties, but will not be identical.
Small scale home growers may also choose to clone their plants for a number of reasons. Like commercial growers, home growers may choose to clone a cannabis plant if they really like the flower it’s producing, and want to continue yielding that exact type of flower. Cloning also allows you to skip the germination/seedling phase of your plant’s life.
The ability to clone a cannabis plant is indefinite. In other words, if you come across cannabis flower you love, you could continue producing that same flower for the rest of your life.
What you need to clone a cannabis plant:
- A razor blade
- Clean water
- Rooting hormones (purchasable from your local gardening store)
- Rooting medium (i.e. soil, rockwool cube, or non-soil medium like Coco coir)
- Clone rooting solution.
- Cool, white fluorescent lights
- Heating pad (optional)
How to clone a weed plant:
The first step in cloning a cannabis plant is actually selecting a “mother plant” to take the clone from. This mother plant should be strong and healthy, and roughly two months into the vegetative stage of its growth cycle. While you can take cuttings from plants as young as
three-weeks, or younger, if you wait until your plant is about two months into its vegetative cycle, your cuttings will be more likely to root properly. It’s also important to make sure this mother plant is kept in a sterile environment.
Seven days before you are going to take a cutting from your mother plant, start leaching its soil with water. Use 7.6 L (2 gallons) of water for every 3.8L (1 gallon) of soil, and pour this into your soil every morning for seven days. While doing this, be sure that your soil has good drainage so that it doesn’t get over watered. You can also choose to mist the leaves of your plant with water for seven days before taking your cutting, if it’s easier.
Stop fertilizing your mother plant a few days before you plan to take your cutting. This is because you want your mother plant to rid itself of any nitrogen, so that when you take your cutting, it doesn’t contain any excess of nitrogen. The reason this is important is because if your cutting has too much nitrogen in it, rather than trying to grow roots, it will attempt to continue sprouting vegetation.
After seven days, you’re ready to take your cutting. But before you take your cutting, you need to sterilize your razor blade. The best way to sterilize your blade is with isopropyl alcohol. Once your blade is sterile, use it to make a 45° cut into the base of a strong branch (known as a node) that’s roughly 3 -6 mm thick (0.124 – 0.25 inches), and 5 – 10 cm tall (2 – 4 inches), to separate it from the mother plant. Immediately place this cutting into clean water (as if it were a bouquet of flowers) to prevent air-bubbles from growing in the stem, which could prove fatal to your clone.
Related: Cloning Tips That Improve Your Yield
Using a pair of scissors that have been sterilized with isopropyl alcohol, clip your fan leaves that are growing halfway down the stem of your cutting. Then, cut away any leaves and branches that are right at the bottom tip of your plant cutting. This is because you are going to be sticking this end of the cutting into a new growing medium to root, and you don’t want any branches or leaves touching the growing medium. When you’re done pruning your cutting, it should still have at least two sets of leaves at its top end. This pruning process will also help your clone to more efficiently absorb nutrients and water.
Now, it’s time to dip the end of your cutting’s stem in a rooting hormone. These hormones come in either liquid, powder, or gel form. Simply stick the cutting’s stem in the hormone so that it’s coated in the powder, gel, or liquid, then stick that stem into your growing medium. Your growing medium can be either a rockwool cube, soil, water, or a non-soil medium like Coco coir.
Once your cutting has been transferred to a new medium, it’s time to add clone rooting solution to the medium. You do this by mixing rooting solution and water according to the instructions on the package of your solution. You can find clone rooting solution at your local gardening store, hydroponics stores, head shops, or even order it online. If you have a rooting solution that wasn’t made specifically for cannabis, just follow the instructions on the package
for “softwood cuttings.” As you start watering your clone and feeding it rooting solution, just make sure not to overwater, as this could be fatal.
Put your clone in a low light area (other than the light you will put directly above your clone.) Put your fluorescent light 6-inches (15 cm) above your clone. Make sure your clone stays under this light for at least 18 hours a day. To optimize your clone’s chance of success, keep the temperature in the room between 72-75° Fahrenheit (22-24° Celsius). For the first two days, also make sure to maintain 90-100% humidity levels. Over the following four days, reduce the humidity levels in your room to 80 – 85%. The easiest way to control this humidity is by using a humidity dome or tent. Just make sure not to cover your plants completely, as your clones need airflow.
Step 8 (optional):
If possible, try to keep your growing medium at a temperature that is 5°F to 10°F warmer than the surrounding air. Do this by putting your heating pad underneath your clone. Just be sure not to allow your growing medium to surpass 85°F (29.4°C), as this may harm your plant.
At this point, it’s time to play the waiting game. Keep an eye on your clone, but don’t get discouraged if it starts to wilt or droop. It will take about a week before your clone is able to re-establish itself and begin to grow again. After a week’s time, if your clone still looks sickly, this may be an indication that your clone will not survive.
It takes roughly one to three weeks for your clone to root. If the tips of your clone’s leaves begin to yellow, this is a sign that your clone has rooted properly. You will also know that your clone has successfully rooted when it begins to grow again.
Keep an eye on the roots—once they begin to outgrow your medium, it’s time to transplant your clone to a larger pot. When transferring your clone to a larger pot, make sure you’re working in a sanitary environment, and you’ve made all the necessary preparations for a smooth and stressless transition. If you agitate your plant too much, you could give it “transplant shock”—so be gentle with your new clone!
Related: Create Your Own Pot Garden
How to create a temporary clone pot:
Before your cannabis cutting flourishes into a healthy clone, and before you transfer this clone into the larger pot where it will spend the majority of its life, your cutting will need a small, temporary home for the rooting process to take place.
While some growers like to use rockwool cubes, you can also create a temporary home for your clone out of a dixie cup. Simply cut slits into the bottom of a dixie cup to allow for drainage, then fill the cup with moist soil. Leave a little room—just an inch or two—between the top of the soil and the rim of the cup. You can now use this dixie cup of soil as a home for your new cannabis
cutting. Simply stick the end of the stem into the soil, and gently pack the soil around it so the cutting stays upright and in-place. It’s advised that you put this cup on top of a tray of some sorts so that when you water your clone, water doesn’t leak out of the bottom slits of your cup and onto your floor.
Rob Hoffman is an English and Spanish speaking writer, documentary filmmaker, and SEO specialist. Rob’s work has appeared in a number of major publications like Politico, ThinkProgress, Fusion, Herb, and DoubleBlind.