WHY TAKE CUTTING’S?
By taking a cutting you can select the kind of plant that you want to grow. If you want a crop with a certain growth pattern, yield or hardiness, for example, then you will choose a “mother plant” with those same characteristics.
Growing from cutting is cloning.
Keep the mother plant alive and healthy and you can keep making as many copies as you like. What this means in real terms is that you can develop consistency and uniformity will all your crops. Taking cuttings, repeating the process and getting you crop properly **dialled in** will help you really get to know that particular plant; and in todays market, niche knowledge is everything.
Taking your cuttings
First select your mother plant. This is up to you. Think about what qualities you a revoking for in a crop.
You are going to need a mother plant which is producing a good number of healthy side shoots. You can encourage side shoot growth by nipping the tops of the plant. This is called topping. By stemming the vertical growth you encourage the plant to send out side shoots.
Now, with a small pair of scissors, or a sharp knife, snip off your side shoots ready for planting out. It is normal for some of the side shots to not take, so it is best to take a few more cuttings that are needed.
As soon as you take a cutting it will start to die. We have deprived the cutting of both water and nutrients by separating it from the mother plant. For this reason you need to carefully prepare and organise all of the equipment that you are going to use.
First of all you will need a propagator. This is a box with a clear lid and some adjustable vent holes.
In the beginning your new clones do not have any roots, so the humidity in the box needs to be kept high. This can be achieved by closing the vent holes. Keeping high humidity will provide the clones with the moisture they need to establish a root system.
Propagators come in three main types and in a variety of sizes.
– Unheated Propagators
These are the simplest types of propagator and ideal if you are in an already warm environment, or if you have a suitable external heat source. The clones can be placed in the propagator in “plugs.”
– Heated Propagators
Just as it sounds, these propagators come with a heat source that you can set to provide a constant temperature and have better control of the humidity. Like non-heated propagators, you will need to use some kind of plug to plant out into.
– Aeroponic Propagators
Aeroponic systems use neoprene collars to hold the cuttings in a net basket filled with pebbles. These nets are positioned over an irrigation system which sprays pH controlled water over the roots. Aeroponic propagators will cost you more, as you might expect, and are recommended for the more experienced grower. If you are just starting out, then we would recommend a heated propagator.
Choosing you plugs:
There are 3 main types of plug to choose from.
Rooting-plugs made from compressed Pete. They require soaking for an hours or so before use. Each plug is individually wrapped in thin fabric and will not fall apart. These soil plugs are pH adjusted and contain nutrients to feed your clones.
– Rock Wool Plugs
The same stuff they make your loft insulation out of. Rockwool plugs will hold moisture readily and due to the open structure will promote airflow and reduce the risk of mildew or other issues that may threaten the clone.
There are dozens of growth mediums on the market these days and it can be a hell of a job just finding out which one is right for you. Rather than confuse you with all the different options available, we have created a separate article to explore the pitfall and benefits of the many different mediums available to day.
Let’s get on with the cloning…
Your growth mediums often come in trays which can be placed directly into the propagator. This will keep your cuttings upright and evenly spaced.
One thing to be aware of is that the conditions inside the propagator are not only ideal for plant growth, but also for the growth of mildew and other fungal infections. To reduce the risk of infections and disease taking a hold make sure that all your equipment is cleaned and sterilised before use.
So now you have a your mother plant, propagator and growth medium. There are a few other items that you will need before we start.
- Rooting powder
- Light source
- Plugs (if you are unsure then check out this article on Which Growth Medium to use.)
To get your cuttings under way just use this step by step guide and you will enjoy the benefits of complete control over your crop.
- Select a side-shoot on the mother plant. Choose a side shoot with a stem no less than 3mm. For the best results, choose a shoot with at least three sets of leaves and make the cut just above the third set of leaves.
- Dip the cut end of the stem into rooting powder immediately. This will seal the cut and get the rooting hormones to work straight away. Remember that as soon as the cutting is removed from the mother plant it is losing moisture.
- Once the cutting has been taken and dipped in rooting powder, place it into the propagator. Keep handling to a minimum and be gentle.
- Your temperature should be set to around 20-25C. This is a good general temperature for most species. If the temperature drops then rooting will be impeded. If you are using a non-heated propagator, make sure you have some way of checking the temperature.
- Repeat this process for all the cuttings. Try not to over crowd the propagator as this will slow down progress by making the plants compete too much.
- Ensure that you have appropriate lighting for your cuttings. A standard system will be too aggressive, so we have put together this article for you to make sure you make the best choice. If you really can’t wait to read that article then we would recommend a low-level, broad spectrum light is ideal to get the clones on the move.
- Once the cuttings are all in the propagator mist them with some water and put the lid on. Remove the lid once or twice a day and re mist the plants. This will provide enough air flow to reduce the risk of mildew and help maintain 100% humidity. If you want to one step further you can mist the plants with Clone Start which will provide some nutrients while the roots beginning to develop.
- After three days open the propagator for slightly longer. This will reduce the humidity and force the root growth by reducing the amount of moisture being absorbed through he leaves. As the plants begin to take, open the vents/lid for longer each time.
- After between 10 and 20 days the root structure will begin to be visible on the outside of the plugs or around the pebbles in the nets (if you have used an aeroponic system.) At this stage you are now ready to plant on so that you can begin maturing the plants. To find out more about this next stage see the article on Planting On From Cuttings.
Any experience grower will tell you that the best way to learn is to get on and do. Things are never going to go exactly as you want them. Although your clones carry the identical genetic material as the mother plant, there are still enough variables to cause some plants to do well and other to struggle. You will probably lose a few plants, especially to begin with, but this is normal.
We strongly advise you to keep a log of temperatures, growth mediums, humidity and plant types so that you can repeat what works and avoid what doesn’t. If you make any interesting or groundbreaking discoveries then be sure to let us know.
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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