Taking Clones

Sterility is vital. Wash your hands or use gloves. Sterilize your blade or scissors in alcohol. Keep a small container of alcohol nearby to dip your blades after every cutting.

Have everything ready! Dipping into rooting gel or liquid increases the speed of rooting. Powders adhere unevenly and yield erratic root emergence.

Put your gel onto a small plate – do not dip directly into the container! This will contaminate the gel, rendering this expensive product useless.

Take your cuttings. Always use growing tips: this is the part of the branch that has the small cluster of new leaves at the end. Each should be 2 – 4 inches long, and have at least four sets of leaves, not counting the growing tip. Cut between the sets of leaves at a 45-degree angle, and place immediately into a jar of clean water. Take all the cuttings you need.

Prepare the media. Moisten soil if using trays or cups, and then open holes with a chopstick or nail so the cuttings will slip in easily. Have plugs moist and standing upright, or pH the Rockwool. Have your cloner up and running with the proper pH water.

Remove all leaves except for two pairs and the growing tip. Trim off ends of very large remaining leaves.

There is only one type of cell in the plant that can change into root cells. Located just below the hard protective outer layer of the stem is the cambium layer. This layer of cells is the only place roots can develop. Split the stem up an inch, or lightly scrape a few cells off the hard outer surface. Dip into rooting liquid for 5 – 10 seconds and place into a cloning machine, or roll cutting in gel and place in other media. Do not use gel in cloning machines; the gel is not water soluble.

Firm soil or media around the base of the cutting and place under a T5. If using an HID, keep clones out of the harshest part of the light. Leave lights on for 18 to 24 hours a day.

Mist frequently, and keep air flow moving lightly. Clones root best when the media or water is around 75 – 80 degrees, and the humidity is close to 100%. A humidity dome can be used instead of the misting, but leave the vents open and provide good air flow.

About a week after cutting, the clones will develop a chunky mass on the rooting part called primordia. There is very little new green growth at this stage. Roots will emerge at this point. T5s should be lowered to 3-4 inches above the cuttings. Adding a root specialty, such as Rock Roots or Roots Excellurator will cause explosive root development.

During cloning, you may seed some yellowing of leaves, or dying of leaves. This is not unusual, and, as long as the stem is firm and the tips are healthy there is no need for concern.

In a cloning machine, the biggest drawback is water temperature. Even when using an RO or another cleaner, the water is usually around 55 degrees initially. DO NOT clone in this temperature! Heat up some water and add to the machine so it warm. Clones HATE a chilly bath. They may not start developing roots for weeks or may die off altogether. Proper temperature is vital! DO NOT ALLOW the water to exceed 75 degrees, however. In a small cloning bucket, us a timer and run the misters for 45 minutes, off 15 minutes, etc., for the entire 24 hour period. The time the clones are not receiving the spray does them no harm since the humidity in the cloner is at 100%.


Some plants, such as kiwi and holly, are sex-specific plants. Males do not provide fruit but are necessary for pollination. One male is sufficient for 5 females, usually, and so needed to be culled out if too many are present since males do not fruit.

Cloning from a female mother plant always results in female clones, but what about a seed? Take two cuttings from a questionable plant. Label each. Give 12 hours of red spectrum light while cloning. Cuttings will determine sex in 2 – 3 weeks.