Do’s and Don’ts of Plant Cloning

Here’s a quick guide for what you should and shouldn’t do for plant cloning.

What not to do: cloning plants

Cloning plants is exciting. It can be hard not to ‘jump right in.’ So, if you’re the eager type, here’s a rundown on things you should not do when cloning plants.

  • Extreme temperatures – don’t let it get too hot or cold. Extreme temperatures can stress cuttings and prevent them from properly rooting.
  • Intense light – all plants need light, but rooting plants need gentle light. Avoid keeping lights on 24/7 and using intense grow lights.
  • Dirty tools – one of the fastest ways to kill a cutting is by transferring pathogens to it. Always use sterile tools and medium to root cuttings.
  • Arid environments – clones need plenty of humidity to root. Try to maintain at least 70 to 85% humidity.
  • Drown plants – if your grow media is too moist or warm, roots won’t get enough oxygen. Keep medium at a mild temperature and avoid over-saturating it.
  • Poor stock – do not use a sick or stressed plant to cut for cloning. Like breeds like, and nobody wants an unhealthy clone.
  • Big clones – don’t overdo it on your cutting size. Choosing the biggest stem with the most leaves will only make it harder for the cutting to survive. Cuttings do not have the root system to support a huge, leafy branch.

What to do: cloning plants

Now you know the basic things you should not do for plant cloning. But what about the things you need to do to clone plants for hydroponics? Things like temperature, lighting, humidity, and everything else are different when you are trying to clone a plant. How so? Let’s take a look at what it takes to clone a plant. We’ll look at how to make plant clones soon. First though, you need to make sure you can provide the right environment.

Temperature

It’s no secret that different plant species prefer different environments. The optimal temperature to put plant clones in will vary from species to species too. However, you can follow some general rules and most plant clones will be successful. In particular, root zone temperatures are important for growing plant clones. Most plants do well with a root zone temperature that ranges from 74 to 79 degrees Fahrenheit (23.3-26 Celsius). Some herbaceous, short season crops, like cannabis, tolerate between 77 and 80.6 degrees Fahrenheit (25-27 C).

Photoperiod and Grow Lights

The photoperiod refers to the amount of light that plants get each day. While some growers may prefer to keep cuttings in environments with grow lights on 24/7, it can actually end up distressing plants. For most plants, it’s best to keep lights on clones for 18 hours, and off for 6 hours. This 18/6 light cycle helps retain moisture and energy they’ll need to grow root systems. Just like people need sleep to rejuvenate their bodies and refresh their cells, so do plants. And much like humans, most plants can’t really ‘rest’ if the lights are constantly on. Optimal lighting for plant clones is all about moderation.

The type of grow lights you use for seedlings and clones matters too. HID (High Intensity Discharge) lights are great for the vegetative stage when plants need to focus on growing foliage. Because cuttings need energy to go to creating roots, they need a gentler light. Blue spectrum light is still ideal for rooting plants, but young plants do not need intense light like older plants do.

Fluorescent lights, like T5 or CFL, are ideal for cuttings, clones, and seedlings.

You can always use more intense lights when the root system appears more developed and stable, and the clones start producing leaves. Using high intensity lights too early can cause plant cuttings to dry out.

Learn more about grow lights:

Oxygen

Any healthy root system needs access to plenty of oxygen. Unfortunately, many hydroponic gardeners get overeager and over water their cuttings. When you add too much water to the growing medium, there’s less room available for the medium to hold oxygen. It’s important to choose a grow medium designed to provide a balanced mixture of both oxygen and moisture. However, it is also important not to over water your new cuttings.

Humidity

Clones like plenty of humidity. It keeps the young plants from drying out, and prevents too much transpiration, which can also cause drying out. Depending on the type of plant, just like temperature, optimal humidity levels will vary. However, most growers use a range of RH (Relative Humidity) as a guideline. Typically, the ideal humidity for clones is anywhere between 75% to 90%. Some growers even raise RH to 100%, although this can make it impossible for plants to transpire and cause fungal issues. Most hydroponic plant clones do well with 75% to 85% humidity, although many can tolerate up to 90% humidity without much issue.

Learn more about how humidity affects your plants here

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