How to Clone Step by Step

How to Clone Step by Step

First let me start with what Cloning is. Cloning is the process of taking a cutting from a Plant, called the ‘Mother’ Plant. One takes a branch off the Mother and then allows it to “take root” and actually become it’s own self sustaining plant. Cloning has become more broadly used as Gardner’s look for ways to save money and or preserve a desired strain.

How to Clone:

This is surgery on your plant. Plants, like humans, require sterile tools otherwise like a human, a plant can contract an infection or virus. With that being stated One needs to make sure that their tools and area are clean. I use Alcohol as a disinfectant when Cloning.

Things you will need:

1. Alcohol
2. Razor Blade
3. Cloning Powder or gel (Matter of preference)
4. Ph Meter
5. Phosphoric Acid (Ph Down)
6. Bubbler (Superior, not necessary)
Or a Propagation Tray (Reversible Gro Smart-Tray by Grodan is Great pictured below)
7. Cloning Plug(s) or Peat Plug(s) or Rockwool (Rockwool is my favorite)

Reversible Smart Tray by Grodan

Reversible Tray


8. Pail or Bucket
9. Heating Pad
10.Spray Bottle

There are a few ways to Clone, the items above can be substituted and or omitted pending on the strain or species of the plant being cloned. For instance, if you are cloning a Tomato Plant it may be more ‘fussy’ then a vine from an indoor plant. I know there is no such thing as an indoor plant, per-say. However for clarity we will call it that. So if you were trying this with an indoor plant you could most likely get away with a non transparent cup, although you must let the stem get air. Be it emptied and left to sit in the air for 15 minutes a couple times a day. Yet for ease, I recommend Rockwool (it is a gift to the Horticulture industry due to is wicking cells). Rockwool allows air to get where the roots are growing and keeps humidity in too.

Grodan rockwool plugs

Grodan rockwool plugs

Also, there are now Cloning Bubblers found at Dept stores as cloning becomes more and more mainstream. Those have all you need in a kit. Except for the cloning powder or gel, knife or razor, alcohol, PH Meter, Alcohol and Phosphoric Acid or PH down. In other words the Bubbler will simply bring the medium to raise or incubate your clone.

With Cloning the idea is to create an optimum medium for a plant to grow roots. Roots grow best in no light and Ph H20 of about 5 to 6.PH That is what the Ph down or Acid is for along with a PH meter to measure the H20 or water. Roots do not like sunlight and actually the ‘feeder roots’ are destroyed on contact with sunlight. Maybe that is why they grow in the ground? Plants that do not bear Flowers or Fruit can be cloned anytime and are the easiest to clone. For plants that Flower or Fruit it is best to Clone them before they get into their Flowering stage. Although I stated roots grow in no light, you will provide dim light for the leaves above the root line.

Step 1. Prepare your medium(s) to soak in Ph balanced H20. This is where you will use your PH meter and acid or PH Down to balance the H20. If you are using Rockwool Cloning plugs they should be soaked 10 minutes in Ph Balanced H20 of 5-6 PH If you are using Peat Moss Plugs they need to be soaked for about 6 hours prior. If you are using the Bubbler it will come with instructions to follow. The Bubbler is one of the best ways to do Cloning because the Bubbler stimulates root growth superior to any plug(s). Your Plugs may take a few days longer to Root then with a Bubbler.
Nature has a way of wanting to survive. Whatever the case, it is important to use H20 that is brought down to 5-6 Ph. Most H20, be it City or Bottled; is usually around 7PH. That 1 points is equal to 100 times the proper or desired level of acidity.
Humidity is desired, so that Smart Tray is perfect as it allows the tray to sit in a plastic pan of water (do not use metal or aluminum) as the plant seeks out the water in the grooves of the tray.(Do not set your medium in the water of the tray, it is elevated above it slightly) As well as that tray is reversible and can be used for the bigger Rockwool cubes, if making bigger Clones. For instance one side is for small cubes and flip it over for large cubes. *Smart tray pictured above has that ‘reversible’ exclusive feature thus far.

Step 2. Now that you have your medium set, it is time to prepare you pail or bucket. Your pail or bucket should be filled with balanced H20. (*Important if using tap water allow it to be blown off the night before.) That is the process of letting water stand overnight to allow the Chlorine to dissipate. I like to use Reverse Osmosis H20 or Distilled H2o as there is nothing in it. Remember this is surgery.

Step 3. Make sure your razor or shears are sterilized, hence the Alcohol. This is a bit tricky and important, because One must make the cut underwater to make sure the Clone does not get an embolism or air bubble in it’s stem. Not to worry, I will walk you through it. It is best to cut your cuttings low from the Mother Plant. This is because there is not as much fiber built up and rooting takes easier. When Cutting from the Mother, take the cuttings with thin branches or nodes, preferably ones with two small nodes or branches on it. The reason for this is because in step 5 you will cut a 45 degree angle at the bottom branch and leave the other one so it can do it’s photosynthesis.

Step 4. Toss your clippings in the bucket or pail. I recommend grabbing a half dozen or so, since you have set up this surgery and want success, rarely is there a 100% success rate when Cloning.

Step 5. Now that you have your cuttings it is time to make sure they do not have an air bubble in their vein or stalk. Hold your cutting under water and make your cut at the first node or branch at a 45 degree angle. That 45 degree angle is where your roots are going to take. so a nice wide birth is preferred.

Step 6. Take you fresh cut Clone and dip it into your Cloning gel or powder. Directions are on the side of the bottle.

Step 7. Insert your clone into it’s selected medium, plug, Rockwool or Bubbler. Kinda squeeze the medium around the damp cube or medium. If using the Bubbler it will have instructions too. Set your cubes in your propagation tray, which should have about 1/4 inch of ph balanced H2o in the bottom.(Remember not so much water that your Medium or Rockwool is soaking in it). If you have a cover for it (recommended) that will help increase your ‘take’ percentages. However not necessary as the heating pad and closed controlled area should give enough humidity not to mention your 3 time daily spritzing.

Heating pad for cloning

Heating pad for cloning

Step 8. Now take your shears or scissors, that are sanitized and cut your leaves in half, cross ways. This is to promote Root growth. This sends a signal to that plant that to keep vegetating, is not under good conditions and to survive it should start growing at the other end. Roots that is.

Step 9. Place your clones into a dimly lit area as you do not want your plant to keep vegging or growing leaves, you want roots.
I recommend a minimum of 12 hours of light up to 20 hours if using artificial light. It is also important, if you can to allow the Medium to be a few degrees warmer then the ambient temperature. One can use a heating pad for this set on low; watch out for water and electricity areas, obviously.

When I Clone I have a dedicated area, this way I have control over the light and temperature. I use a 18 watt fluorescent light. White in color, with a 5000 Color. Just enough light to keep it going and not enough to promote vegetation. In about 5-7 days you should have signs of roots.
Oddly enough the plant likes air along with water to root.
That is why the Bubbler is optimum, however the plugs can be let to being almost dried out, then add a little water to the tray to moisten them. Do not let them dry out completely just close to it. That same balanced water you use to water, can be loaded into a spray bottle to hydrate the leaves.
Do not go in there and spray them more then two to three times a day. Although they want a humid area, you do not want then to become dependent on you coming in there and foliar watering them. You want roots and want that cutting to seek out water in the tray hence just a little spraying and watering via a small amount of water poured into that tray (about 1/4 inch in the bottom of tray) so the cutting has to actually seek out water.
Usually when buying your tray there is a clear lid next to it.(as pictured above) This allows Humidity to build as mentioned prior and allows light to come in too. NO FOOD whatsoever, plants do not want Nitrogen when rooting.
After you see a full growth of roots, your clipping is ready to transplant, you can feed them as the leaves will be yellow. But use 1/4 strength to 1/2 strength if you feed them to start till your new leaves appear and are green. If you are going to transfer your rooted clones into soil I recommend putting them in Pete or Sphagnum at first as that will have nutrition in it for the first couple of weeks.
*Note: You will transplant the whole plug into the Pete moss or Sphagnum. Wait until you have an ample amount of roots before doing so.

We at Plantstay wish you success. If you have any questions email us and we will do our best to get back to you in a timely fashion and will try and answer your questions as clearly as possible. In no time, you should have an exact duplicate or Clone growing and ready to Vegetate and or ready to Flower much quicker then starting from a seed as well as cheaper then buying another plant. The supplies recommended to buy are something any Gardener should have in their arsenal anyways. So the start up cost may seem like a bit much at first, however I assure you will be using them all the time.

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