I know what you are thinking. Images of Dolly the cloned sheep are popping up in your head as we speak. Well no need to worry, you won’t be doing any advanced scientific experiments in your garden, as plant cloning, also known as plant cutting, has been around for centuries, way before those geeks at the Roslin Institute were born.
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 it’s own, by applying rooting hormones, such as Botanicare Power Clone Solution. This cutting then becomes a plant of it’s own, but identical to the “parent” plant (the plant from which the clone was taken). This gives us the first benefit of cloning, survival of the fittest. This gives you a complete, uniform garden of only the most productive, disease resistant, pest resistant and healthiest plants.
HOW TO CLONE A PLANT IN 10 STEPS
So you have decided to take up cloning as your fun new gardening hobby. Well, cloning is not only a great way to save money, but is also a very easy way to improve the overall health of your garden.
- A plant that is at least two months old.
- Rooting hormone, such as Botanicare Power Clone Solution
- Piece of screen or shade cloth to protect your clones from large amounts of intense light for their first few days
- 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.
- One pair of scissors to cut your clipping and remove excess foliage
- A glass of fresh, tepid, water
- Pencil or chop stick
- Container (filled with the planting mix of your choice) in which to transfer your new clone.
- Take your plant and fill 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.
- Locate some older, lower branches with about four to six sets of leaves on them, and that are about 1/8 to 1/4 inches wide and three to eight inches long. With your scissors, make a forty-five degree cut across the intended clones branch, being careful not to smash the stem. Trim the two to three sets of bottom leaves off the stem, leaving two to three sets of leaves above ground. Immediately place the cut end into the glass of fresh, tepid water. Leave your cuttings overnight in the water with no light.
- 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.
- Now is the time to prepare your rooting solution. Swirl the stem of your cutting in Botanicare Power Clone Solution for ten to twenty seconds. Place your clones in the hole and press the potting soil around the base of the stem gently.
- 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.
- Place your new clones under filtered sunlight, a piece of shade cloth or a screen to prevent excessive shock to the plant. After four or five days they can be moved into a sunny area where they will begin to adjust and continue to grow.
- 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 four to seven times a day, just to keep the leaves from drying out completely.
- Maintain the temperature of clones at about 70 to 80 degrees for about three days after growth, bringing them inside if you need to.
- 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 five to seven 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.
- In one to four weeks the clones should be well rooted and ready to be checked. To check simply remove one of the clones from its container to look 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.
SIX TIPS FOR SUCCESSFUL CLONING
When you take a cutting off a parent plant to clone you want it to do two things: Stay alive with photosynthesis and focus on root development. Here are six tips to help the process along:
- Don’t blast your cuttings with too much light or they will focus more energy on photosynthesis and less on rooting development, so don’t put the light source too close.
- Cut the existing foliage in half so that there is a little less focus on photosynthesis but enough to keep the cutting alive, which helps with root development.
- Don’t heavily fertilize the parent plant prior to taking cuts. If a cutting is full of nutrients it will delay root development because it has everything it needs. Until the nutrients are depleted, the cutting will not feel the need to grow roots in search of food.
- Create a humid atmosphere surrounding the cuttings to promote root growth. Clone machines will create a humid atmosphere at the root zone, while the use of a tray and dome will create that humidity around the foliage.
- Roots will form from the open wounds created when taking cuts, the more open wounds created at the root zone, the better the chance of a bigger root mass.
- When dipping your cuts into your rooting gel you have the potential to contaminate the entire contents. It’s better to dump out a little at a time and not dip directly into your gel container. Botanicare Power Clone gel has a dispenser so that you cannot contaminate the contents of your supply.