Taking cuttings is a method of making a smaller “copy” of a specific marijuana plant, to obtain specimens that will grow in the same way and produce buds with similar characteristics.
It is a simple and cost-effective way of growing cannabis compared to other methods, which also allows to keep a genetic intact.
Do you want to know more to get started in this method of propagation? Here we tell you all about it.
Cannabis plants can reproduce sexually and asexually. In sexual reproduction two parent plants interbreed in a process called pollination, after which the female plant produces buds containing seeds. If seeds are planted, each new plant that is “born” in this way has unique characteristics.
With asexual reproduction, no seeds are needed, only an adult cannabis plant, usually called a mother plant, from which a cutting is cut and planted in a rooting medium and helped to grow into another young plant. Because the plant “born” in this way will be an exact replica of its mother.
Often, this method of reproduction is called “Cloning”. However, this is a pretty big misnomer. Cloning cannabis is actually something done in a lab, using petri dishes and tissue material. According to Morten Mortenson, the owner of a licensed producer of THC cannabis in Denmark, genuine cloning is the way of the future for the cannabis industry.
For now, taking cuttings is the best way for most cannabis cultivators to produce uniform canopies and crops which produce nearly the same ganja every single cycle.
What do you do when you want to perpetuate a special genetic with defined characteristics? If you have a marijuana plant that you like, either for its appearance, smell, effects or something else, you can take cuttings of it and grow it again.
Growing marijuana from a cutting will save time; although cuttings need days to root, there is no need to germinate seeds, which will shave about a month off the growing process.
Cuttings also ensure that all plants are female, so no time or space is wasted sexing plants and discarding males.
A mother plant is any cannabis plant from which a cutting is obtained. As the genetics are virtually identical between a mother and a cutting, it is important to choose a healthy plant as a mother, looking for qualities such as vigorous growth, high yields, particular aromas and flavours or resistance to pests and diseases.
Cuttings will also grow at the same rate as the mother to achieve a similar quality product, allowing you to dial in your process, homogenize plantings in size and really get to know how to grow that particular marijuana plant.
Taking cuttings is relatively easy and requires only a few key parameters which should be taken into account.
Be sure to work in a sterile environment. Remember to wear gloves and disinfect the instruments after each use.
Rooting media include rockwool cubes or blocks, dehydrated peat pellets or other equivalents, as good aeration and moisture retention is very important. A tray and a dome are also commonly used; and even a thermal mat to achieve a constant temperature. Be careful using a thermal mat. Many cultivators have found that thermal mats do less benefit than they do harm if not careful placed and monitored.
Another method is to use an aeroponic propagator that reduces the amount of work required. These machines spray the bottom of the cuttings with nutrient water to facilitate root growth.
Whichever method is chosen, make sure that the clones receive many hours of light, corresponding to that of the vegetative phase (18 hours of light and 6 hours of darkness).
Cuttings can be rooted with an HPS lamp far away from the mini-greenhouse; however, the use of fluorescent neon or CFL lamps is preferred. Cuttings need very little light in comparison to flowering plants, and can be affected quickly by the intensity of light radiation produced by HID bulbs like HPS lamps.
When selecting a mother plant, choose plants that are healthy, robust and have at least two months of vegetative cycle. Look for branches that are resistant with at least two to three nodes at the final cut, keeping in mind that newer growth of the oldest branches is the part that roots most easily.
Take a 10-15 cm cutting by cutting above one node from mother plant. Then, with a blade, cut below the bottom node of the cutting at a 45° angle to the branch to provide a larger surface area for root growth.
Some growers use the blade to scrape away the outer layers of bark and expose the inner stem from which new roots grow. This is another technique which should be done with caution.
Once cut, the cuttings can be placed in a container with a little water.
Remove unnecessary leaves towards the bottom and cut the tips of the remaining leaves horizontally (50% of their size). This reduces transpiration/dehydration, helping the clones not to dry out.
Place the cutting immediately in rooting hormones, inserting the stem 2-3 cm. They are usually made from plant extracts containing a certain concentration of auxins (hormones that accelerate growth). If you are using a rooting gel, no more than a 2mm of the tip should be covered in gel.
Then, insert it in a rooting plug, rockwool cube, or other material that you have previously moistened, burying the base of the stem about 4 cm, with at least one knot under the substrate. Finally place the lid on the tray to achieve a humidity level close to 90-95%.
Check the cuttings daily to make sure they have a humidity of about 80-85% for the next week; it should not drop below 70-75%. To increase humidity, you can spray water on walls of the transparent terrarium you’ve created.
The temperature should be stable between 24 and 28°C, which increases the chances of success. If the growing space is too cold, the heating mat should be used. Careful using a heating mat to heat up the space, because it can quickly heat up the root space passed acceptable limits. This should be monitored closely.
It is necessary to remove the cover of the mini-greenhouse once a day, for at least a few minutes, to ventilate. Otherwise mold may appear due to lack of air renewal.
Alternatively, placing small holes in the cloning dome can help facilitate fresh air entry while still keeping humidity levels high.
Mother plants should always be in the vegetative stage when taking cuttings. It is important not to cut cuttings from a flowering plant; this can cause the cutting to express hermaphroditic traits.
Most cuttings will be ready to transplant in 2-3 weeks, but some will root faster and some less quickly. You will know they are ready when the white roots are visible protruding from the substrate.
To transplant, first fill the pots with soil and give them copious amounts of water. Once the water has drained, dig a hole deep enough to bury all the roots. Place the rooted cutting in the hole and cover it gently with soil.
This is a major reason while many cultivators to choose to only work with known seed sources like Seedstockers, and then create their own mother plants.
Finally, some questions that every beginner may ask themselves:
It is possible, but the result will be poor. The window to get a cutting from an auto is very close to the time when the plant should start flowering, so you will get small plants without roots that will try to produce buds.
In theory you can take cuttings even during flowering, although you should expect weak and strange looking growth, as you will have to return the clone to the vegetative phase by adjusting the light cycle, which exposes the plant to unnecessary stress.
They do not require noticeable intensity of light until they have rooted. Therefore, the best light is that which consumes the least electricity. This prevents expensive waste of electricity producing light that isn’t necessary or could stress the cuttings.
You don’t need to, but this encourages the plant to stop photosynthesis and almost shut down. This is how root cells can form in the dark, moist conditions of the rooting cube.
Due to epigenetic changes, cuttings of cuttings can eventually change quite dramatically over time. A single mother can produce an unlimited number of cuttings. This said, as cannabis plants age they produce different types and quantities of hormones. Many commercial agriculturalists in and out of the cannabis industry prefer to start from fresh seed stock each year or every few years.