I have a secret to share with you. We do not keep mother plants!
Mother plants count in total plant numbers, use up electricity while being kept in the vegetative state, and take up valuable space as they get bigger. Long ago we realized we could do away with mother plants by becoming efficient in cloning.
Since we have multiple growing areas running different lighting schedules, before mature plants are budded by flipping the lights to a 12/12 schedule, cuttings are taken from these plants before the timer is changed. These new cuttings are placed in 18/6 light to root. This gives us small, healthy duplicate plants with vigorous growth instead of older barky stems to try and root from. We never take clones from old tired plants with barky stems.
I have read up genetic shift and I simply believe it does not apply when taking cuttings from healthy plants. Sure, if you clone some old tired root-bound mother with woody stems who knows what could happen, but as long as the cutting is make up of healthy cells we have never encountered a problem.
Sometimes this is easier said than done, as many growers struggle with cloning.
When I first started growing it was the one aspect of the hobby that eluded me. I went through every device and product on the market until I figured out it really comes down to two basic conditions: Temperature and Humidity! These are the main factors that determine rooting time. If these factors are controlled, cuttings will root very fast and be completely healthy and ready to transplant. If these factors are not controlled, rooting can take longer and the cuttings can become stunted and never really take off, even after they finally root. Aim for a constant temperature between 74-78 Degrees. While people root outside these parameters, we have the best success using this range.
See the gallery on Flickr
I recommend using Rapid Rooters. These are small plant-based plugs pretreated and ready for cuttings. I disregard their plastic trays and just flip the triangle-shaped cubes upside down for support and make a new hole with a pen or nail. I have used soil in cups and rockwool cubes but Rapid Rooters are really the best choice – and they seem to hold just the right amount of moisture without suffocating the plant. As long as you don’t let Rapid Rooters dry out you will have great success.
Clone from only fresh green shoots. Older parts of the plant will have an thin bark-like surface and cuts taken from this area will not root as easy and may not contain 100% healthy cells. I like to prepare all my materials first before I take any cuttings.
Make sure you cut the clone and a sharp angle like a spear. While a new, clean razor blade works best, I just use clean, sharp scissors that I trim with.
Cut off the long fan leaves about half way; this will prevent water loss. I use a plastic pen to make a hole in the rooter and hold it open with my fingers as I pull out the pen. I stick the label in at this point before placing the cutting in.
I gently find the hole and slide the cutting down, never forcing it. Be careful not to squeeze the cutting as you press it into the Rapid Rooter. I keep repeating these steps until all the plants on the list are checked off, list are important they keep us from forgetting so take the time to write things down.
I see people wasting coin on all kinds of contraptions designed only to take your hard earned dollars out of your pocket.
You think cloning is important now? You bet on it! It’s the key to mastering the art of Fine cannabis production.
Post edited for clarity on Oct 22, 2009.