WHAT IS A CLONE
Cloning has become one of the most efficient ways to grow plants. Clones are the result of asexual or vegetative propagation, whereas, seeds are the result of sexual propagation. Cloning is basically taking a cutting (a branch or growing portion of the plant, including a few small leaves to aid growth) of one plant,
and placing it in a medium and forcing it to take root on its own, by applying rooting hormones(described later). This cutting then becomes a plant of its own, but identical to the “parent” plant(the plant from which the clone was taken). This gives us the first benefit of cloning, the survival of the fittest.
Unlike with seeds, where the outcome of the plant can be a guess to the grower, clones can be taken from the strongest, healthiest, and most productive plants, and turned into genetic replicas of their strong parent plants. This gives you a complete, uniform garden of only the most productive, disease-resistant, pest-resistant, and healthiest plants(or whatever characteristics you decide are the best qualities for your particular plant).
Plants that are grown from seed can be non-productive. Some seeds, more than likely about 30%-60%, can grow up to represent the worst characteristics of their species. They also take time to start and grow; with clones, you start with a prebuilt plant, and all that is involved past that is adding the rooting hormone and regular plant maintenance.
Although the first step in cloning is the seed, after they have shown their traits, the unhealthiest(by the characteristics you set) can be taken out of the garden, leaving you with your strongest, most productive plants to clone. Your healthy plants are then cloned, and when these clones begin to grow small branches, they too can be cloned and so on and so forth, until you decide to stop.
If you decide that you could benefit from cloning then you are ready to begin the next step. In the next part, you will be given the information on the materials needed to take your clones, followed by “Ten Steps To The Perfect Clone”. I hope your newfound interest in cloning will lead your garden to the amazing results that they lead my garden to. Good luck and happy cloning!!
WHAT MATERIALS ARE NEEDED TO TAKE A CLONE?
The first thing you will need to take a clone will be a parent plant exhibiting your desired characteristics. The plant should be at least 2 months old. The next thing you will need is a rooting hormone. They come in liquid, as well as, powder forms. Liquid solutions are used by most professional growers because the have better stem penetration, and exhibit consistent results; powders are less used because they adhere inconsistently to the stem and yield poor survival rates.
The following is a list of rooting hormones good for a wide array of plant types(some of these products are not intended for plants that are used for consumption, so read the labels carefully to make sure you get the solution that will work best for you); Dip-N-Grow, Rootone-F, Woods Rooting Compound, Up-Start, Hormodin, Hormex, and Superthrive.
You will also need a piece of screen or shade cloth to protect your clones from large amounts of intense light for their first few days. New clones are sensitive to light and need some sort of shade or filtered sun for their first few days until they begin to form roots. They will also require foliar feeding via a water spray bottle.
In their first few days, it is critical that you spray the leaves of your clones with water about 4-5 times a day to supply the water that isn’t able to be supplied to the plant through the roots. Just spray the with a fine layer of mist to keep the leaves from dehydrating.
Also needed are a pair of sharp, sterile scissors to cut your clipping and remove excess foliage, a glass of fresh, tepid, water, a pencil or chopstick, and a container(filled with the planting mix of your choice) in which to transfer your new clone. With these materials, you are now prepared to take your first clone.
TEN STEPS TO TAKING THE PERFECT CLONE
1) Choose a parent plant that is at least two months old. Leach the soil with water, at a rate of 1-gallon water per 5 gallons of soil, once a day for 5 days prior to cloning.
2) Locate some older, lower branches with about 4-6 sets of leaves on them, and that is about 1/8-1/4-inches-wide and 3-8 inches long. With your scissors, make a 45 degree cut across the intended clones branch, being careful not to smash the stem. Trim the 2-3 sets of bottom leaves off the stem, leaving 2-3 sets of leaves above ground.
Immediately place the cut end into the glass of fresh, tepid water. This will keep an air bubble from blocking its transpiration passages, which can kill a plant within 24 hours. Leave your cuttings overnight in the water with no light.
3) Use your pencil or chopsticks to place a hole in the potting soil in your pot, just wider than your clones stem. The hole should bottom out 1/2-1 inch from the bottom of the container to allow for root growth.
4) Now is the time to prepare your rooting solution. Most professional nurserypeople use liquid hormones which should be mixed just prior to use. There should be dilutions for hardwoods and softwoods, use whichever dilution applies to you. Swirl the stem of your cutting in the solution for 10-20 seconds.
Place your clones in the hole and press the potting soil around the base of the stem gently. If you are using a powder hormone, roll the stem in the powder, taking special care to keep a solid layer of powder around the stem when packing the soil into place.
5) Lightly water with a mild solution of water and rooting hormone, until the soil is evenly moist, watering the soil as needed to retain moisture.
6) Place your new clones under filtered sunlight, a piece of shade cloth or a screen to prevent excessive shock to the plant. After 4-5 days they can be moved into a sunny area where they will begin to adjust and continue to grow.
7) With your spray bottle of water, gently mist the leaves of your clones, just lightly covering the surface of the leaves. This will help the plant continue to absorb water without needing roots. Spray about 4-7 times a day, just to keep the leaves from drying out completely.
8) Maintain the temperature of clones at about 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit for about 3 days after growth, bringing them inside if you need to.
9)Some of your cuttings may wilt for the first few days or have rotting leaves if the leaves were in contact with moist soil. Remove any rotten leaves as they may occur. Your clones should look like normal, small, uniform plants after about the first 5-7 days.
If any of the plants are still badly wilted at the end of the first week they probably will not survive or if they do they it is unlikely they will catch up with the rest of your plants and should be removed from the garden.
10) In 1-4 weeks the clones should be well rooted and ready to be checked. To check simply remove one of the clones from its container to check for the off-white strands of roots. After your plants have rooted they are now ready to be put into their regular growing area and resume growth.
In about another month these plants will be ready to be parents themselves. Simply follow the same process as the first clones for each subsequent generation and can be continued as long as you wish for them too. Within no time you will see just how beneficial cloning can be in your garden. Good luck with your new cloning hobbies.