Here we are, staring down the barrel of another winter in Colorado, wondering- at least for some of us- how we’re gonna pass the time until the slopes and half-pipes open, and for others, how we’re going to avoid the annual case of cabin fever! I have the perfect solution- create your very own ‘clone army’ in your indoor growing space! Think of it – your favorite strains, multiplied by the dozens or hundreds, all marching to the beat of YOUR drum! If that doesn’t get you excited, you can always grab the snow shovel…
Alrighty, then- the first thing to do when you set out to take cuttings of your favorite plants where the temperature stays between 72 and 78 degrees and doesn’t change much, especially when the furnace kicks on. Remember that the lights you use will generate some heat, so factor in your fluorescent or lighting- do a test setup- and use a good quality thermometer to check your temps. By the way, HID lighting isn’t recommended, as cuttings just don’t need and can’t handle that kind of light intensity. Unless you’re growing in a relatively unheated area, you shouldn’t need a warming met, so use one only as a last resort.
Next, get yourself a tray with a humidity dome- stop by the lawn and garden department or any greenhouse or hydro store and they’ll be plentiful. I tend to stay away from the types that need fresh refills or new inserts for every new crop, since it runs into money and isn’t necessary if you do your homework on the soil. Speaking of… I use basic indoor potting soil and I add a little bit of rooting accelerator (NOT cloning solution, I’ll explain that application in a sec-), possibly a light application of natural pesticide drench, such as a neem oil based product to keep down fungus gnat larvae and spidermites, and some sort of beneficial microbe/micorrhizae inoculant powder, plus plant enzymes and vitamins. Keep the solutions used on the weak side of the manufacturer’s recommendations- and for the love of Gaea, do NOT use any fertilizer at this point! Keep in mind that these will be very tender, vulnerable cuttings and that they can’t handle much in the developed roots.
Now, onto the setup- wet your soil until it drips a few drops when you clench it tightly in your fist. Then, gently place it into the cups of your tray, being careful not to pack it in place. Use a skinny pointy tool, like a chopstick, to poke a hole all the way down the middle of each cup for the stem of your new plant. Now, you’re ready to actually take the cuttings. I choose strong, healthy shoots from near the top of my plants, since the ones on the bottom are shaded, usually pale and spindly and often have mildew on them. You want them to be just tall enough to reach the bottom of the hole you made in the cup and still stick up 3 or 4 inches. Take your cuttings using a sharp blade like an exacto-knife, place them in a cup of cool water to soak for a minute or two, then trim off any leaves or side shoots that would be covered by the soil. Then, using the blade, gently scrape the bottom inch or so of the stem to expose the tissue just under the outer covering of the stem. This gives your rooting solution something to absorb into.
I use a gel type rooting hormone since the gel sticks to the stem of the cutting better than powder or liquid. Carefully place the stem all the way down the hole into your soil, and tamp the soil in place around the stem with your finger. Gently now, since this is when your plants are at their very most fragile! Keep all your cuttings well misted, and for the next week or so keep the humidity dome in place as well, because without roots the cuttings won’t be able to draw any moisture up the stem to keep from wilting. After a week or so, gradually open your dome for an hour at a time until the plants are able to stand on their own. This will be easier- and your temps will be more stable- if you keep the humidity in your growing and cloning area above 50%.
Yes, like any worthwhile skill it takes a little practice, but with attention to detail and some patience there is no reason why you should need a multi-zillion dollar super turbo monster cloning machine to achieve excellent results- and remember, clones are an exact copy of the original plant’s genetics so once they’ve hardened off, you’re dealing with a known quantity in terms of growth characteristics and horticultural preferences. So this winter, march down into your grow room and take command! Your clone army awaits!
About the Author:
Tyler Davidson – Indoor Cultivation Consultants –