To an inexperienced hydroponic grower, it can sometimes be frustrating to hear how easily some people seem to be able to grow new plants form a cutting. Plant cloning seems like a difficult and delicate procedure that it might feel like an impossible task for your average hobby grower. The truth of the matter is, anyone can successfully clone—you just have to create the right conditions for it to happen. Here are the primary factors that influence how successful your cloning attempts will be.
- Health of the Parent Plant – Even if you have a plant that you believe to be genetically desirable, it is useless to try to clone it if it is showing any signs of poor health. Carefully observe your parent plant before taking a cutting. Are any leaves wilting or curling inward? Do you see any “dead spots” in the middle of the leaves or any signs of yellowing or discoloration? If you notice any signs of poor health, try to diagnose and correct the problem before attempting a cutting. You should also make sure that the stems are very firm and green. These are signs that the plant holds an adequate supply of carbohydrates, which are essential for cloning success.
- Age of the Parent Plant – Plants suffer some of the unfortunate realities of ageing that people do, and therefore an older plant may not be able to do everything a younger plant can. Some studies show that odds of plant cloning success decrease with a plant’s age. This is especially true of plants that already have a difficult time propagating through cloning. The only real way to get around this is to take your cutting from the stems that have formed most recently on your plant.
- Presence of Buds or Leaves – Of course, the problem with taking a cutting of a young stem is that it may not have yet formed sufficient buds or leaves. The presence of buds often greatly helps the formation of roots in cuttings, particularly if those buds are young. Studies have even shown that removing buds can actually cease the formation of roots in a cutting. The cutting should also ideally have large, green leaves. A clone cannot be successful without carbohydrates from photosynthesis, and photosynthesis cannot occur without foliage. You should try to strike a happy balance between finding a stem that is young, but still is mature enough to have sufficient buds and leaves.
- Humidity – Once you cut a stem, you cut off the main water supply of your cutting’s leaves. As a result, you should increase the amount of moisture that your leaves receive by increasing the humidity of your grow room. If you don’t have or can’t afford a humidifier, you can try simply regularly spraying the leaves of your cuttings with a fine mist.
- Rooting Medium – A rooting medium that doesn’t hold air or moisture well enough can decrease your odds of your cuttings successfully taking root. You may try investing in a more advanced rooting medium, such as rockwool cubes, and see if that shows more success than a medium that you typically use.