How do i keep my cuttings healthy? blog

Why Take Cutting’s?

If you have chosen to clone from a mother plant, then you need to know how to keep these little fellas healthy. Every grower who have been cloning for years can come unstuck. Plants vary, conditions vary and sometimes people just get into bad habits. This article will give you some tips on keeping your clones healthy and avoiding getting into bad habits.

Healthy Mother – Healthy Clone

The first step in getting healthy clones is to start with a healthy mother plant. Your plant should have strong growth, be free of pests or diseases and should not be displaying any symptoms of deficiencies or stress. Your mother plant should also be large enough to support taking cuttings from. This sounds obvious but you would be amazed at how many people kill their mother plant by over harvesting.

If the plant is a fresh seedling, give it time to develop so that there’s healthy side branches to cut from. Generally speaking, the best time to take a cutting is when the plants are actively growing.

Plant Life Tip – Spray your stock plants with seaweed and fulvic acid a few days before taking cuttings. This will prime the plant to hold on to nutrients longer, giving the cutting a better chance to survive in the fragile rooting environment.

Ensure Proper Moisture

The moisture content of your growth medium needs to be at the correct level. Over hydrated and you will develop mildew and rot, not enough and the plant starves. Moisture and humidity are key.

Wet media lowers the oxygen levels in the media, which usually leads to rotting stems. Two of the most common medias used in cloning are rockwool and starter plugs. Rockwool is preferred for hydroponics, but could be used in soil. Starter plugs can be used in both.

For preference, starter plugs have a greater capacity for aeration which means that the medium can breathe whilst retains the right amount of water. Rockwool needs to be properly prepared by soaking in a pH 5.5 solution of water and then squeezed out. If Rockwool is not prepared correctly it can cause problems such as mildew and rot.

Remember that you need air as well as water in the growth medium and saturation will push out all the air. With the starter plugs, give them a spray of water, but do not soak them other wise you will drive out all the air.

Cleanliness

Ensure that all your equipment is clean. You are in effect performing an operation on a plant. Cutting a side shoot and planting it on is surgery. You are creating wounds on the plants and this makes them prone to infection, so all the equipment should be thoroughly cleaned before you begin.

New trays are always a good start, although cleaning out old trays in a 15% solution of bleach is just as good. For wiping down surfaces and other equipment, use a 3% solution. If you are using pumps for a water feed system then run the pump with a 30% solution for a few minutes.

These practices are especially important if you are using hydroponic cloners like the EZ-Clone or Super Sprouter AquaClone. Infection of bacteria is probably the number one cause of failure in these systems.

Light & Temperature

At this point in the growing process we are trying to keep all the moisture in the roots. This means that we want to reduce moisture evaporation from the leaves. Soft light is ideal for cuttings in the early stages, do not make the light to harsh or intense. We have created a separate article on types of lighting for propagators. You can read it here.

It is critical to have full control over your grow room temperatures if you want to remain successful with cuttings year round. Remember also that different lighting systems will generate different levels of heat. The ideal temperature for a space is around 75 degrees, and humidity should be in the 60 to 80% level.

You can try heat mats in the winter, but keep a close eye on the plants as a change in outside temperature could risk baking them. Give some space between the heat mat and the tray by elevating it an inch or so. Heat mat thermostats are also available to help regulate temperature.

Fresh Rooting Gel (or Liquid)

Your rooting solution should be fresh for best results. A gel that has separated and doesn’t look consistent has more than likely gone bad and should be discarded. An old gel or liquid can actually do more harm than good. It is also good practice to pour off what you think you may use into a separate container like a shot glass or floral stem, and use that to dip your cuttings into. Contamination into your stock bottle with shorten its shelf life.

Patience

Finally, you will probably want to take look at the cuttings sooner than is necessary. Give them at least five days to get establish, and when you first check for root development be gentle and avoid too much contact with the plants. Hopefully by following these tips and using our other information in this series, you will have happy, healthy thriving plants all raised by your own fair hand.

We hope you’ve found this blog useful.

Drop us a message or call through on 01924 492298  and we can help you!

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Happy Growing.

Happy Growing.