Years ago I spent a lot of time trying different methods to clone my weed plants. I have tried honey, willow bark tea, aloe obviously, and many other methods to figure out what worked best. The goal was to find the best natural way to clone cannabis plants. I wanted a high success rate, and to shorten the time it took to get the rooted clones I needed. To my surprise, with the right conditions, using nothing can work very well.
That being said, with the use of aloe and kelp, you can shorten the time it takes to get the rooted clones you need. What I saw in those early experiments was that using nothing with the right temps I could get all of the clones I wanted in roughly 3 to 4 weeks. My success rate was well into the 90% + range, and it totally worked for my needs at the time.
However with the addition of aloe and kelp, I can get clones to show roots at about 7 days, and have all of the clones I need in about 2 to 3 weeks. Shaving off a full week is definitely worth the addition of these 2 products to your cloning game. It's so easy there's just no reason not to do it.
How I clone weed with aloe & kelp
Things you will need:
- Plastic bucket
- Rapid rooters or some similar rooting plug
- Powdered or fresh aloe
- Powdered, or liquid kelp
- A dome, tray, and insert to hold the clones
- Weed plants you want to make a bunch of baby weed plants out of
Most of this stuff is going to be common place in everyone's garden except for maybe the aloe.
Depending on how many clones you need to make you will fill your bucket with water accordingly. For up to about 50 clones I will fill up the bucket with 1 to 1.5 gallons of water. Luke warm water is better as to not shock the cuttings when you place them in the rooter plugs.
After you add the water you can add your aloe, and kelp. If using powdered aloe you can add a heaping teaspoon. If you are using fresh aloe, the inside of a 1” to 2” long piece of fillet is just fine. Now add in your kelp. If you are using a seaweed extract that is powdered a pinch will do. If you are using a liquid kelp, a teaspoon or so will do.
Stir both of these into the water, and then add your rooters. One of the key things is to go in and squeeze all of your rooters in the water. They tend to want to float, and they won't naturally soak up much of the water. So if you go in and squeeze the shit out of all of them while they are in the water you will get rooting plugs that are full of your aloe kelp water.
(Rooter Plugs Before Soaking & Squeezing)
(Rooter Plugs After Soaking & Squeezing)
After a few squeezes I let the plugs soak for 30 minutes or so to make sure they are fully saturated. Now you can take them out of the bucket and put them in your tray inserts. I prefer the thicker clone trays so that you can get more use out of them. Insert cells come in a few different variations, but I like the ones that break apart into 6 packs. They are perfect for smaller growers as you can spread them out in the tray so that all of your clones aren't touching. However, the standard 72 site inserts work just fine. I just skip a row here or there to keep some space between cuttings. For a dome I usually use the super tall 7” domes with air flow vents on the top and sides.
(Tray Insert Full Of Rooter Plugs Waiting For Clones)
Now that your plugs are ready, place them into your tray inserts and it's time to fill them with cuttings. You want to take cuttings from healthy vigorous plants. The healthier the mother plant, the faster your clones will root. I have messed around with cloning sickly or older plants to see what would happen, and the success rate goes way down. It took me 3 months one time to get roots from a less than healthy plant. I have no idea how the clone stayed viable for that long to be honest.
Keeping your mother plants in tip top shape is a key to helping your success rate with cloning. Making sure they have adequate light so they can grow vigorously will save you a lot of headache down the road. I have personally used to little light in years past, and suffered the consequences of a lower success rate of cloning due to this fact. It's not a place you want to skimp.
When taking cuttings, I like to cut right above a node so that the plant can continue to grow from that spot. I usually take the cutting slightly above the new growth. I will do an initial cut, later come back and re-cut the end of the clone. To be safe, and lessen the likelihood of spreading diseases, you will want to sterilize either your scissors, or scalpel. Spreading a plant disease to your mothers and all of your clones can put you out of business over night. No one wants that.
I prefer to take cuttings from top branches that have new growth as they will root faster, and be a more vigorous clone. Small under branches that get to little light will take longer to root, and drop your success rate fast. If you are cutting long branches you can cut that branch into multiple parts to make more than one clone out of it. Just use the same method of cutting right above a node, and it will work just fine. I've taken 3 and 4 clones from the same branch with a very high success rate.
(Cutting A Longer Branch Into Two Clones)
(You Have Now Made 2 Clones From One Branch)
After you have your initial cuttings made, I go in and cut at a sharp angle on the end of the clone. I try for more than a 45 degree angle, but a 45 will work. The idea is to expose more surface area of the inner part of the plant stem. This will give a place for the roots to bust out, and the more surface area the better. I have seen people scrape down the side of the branch with a razor blade to increase the surface are even more. However I have not seen that this helps the rate or speed of cloning. It just adds an extra step. If you have 10,000 clones to make every second counts.
(A 45 Degree Angle Cut On The End Of a Clone)
Once you make your final cut, you can now put the clones into the rooters that have been placed inside the inserts that are placed into the tray. If I am doing a lot of cuttings I will trim the leaves down so they don't overlap each other to much. This can help to prevent damping off, and fungal diseases. Fill up your inserts with your clones, and then you are ready to fill the tray with some of the excess liquid from the bucket.
(A Tray Insert Filled With Freshly Cut Cannabis Clones)
Once the trays are full I will use a turkey baster to suck up the left over liquid from the bucket and squirt it on the rooter plugs. I do this to all of them and fill up the tray with about 1/2” of the liquid. I then place the dome on the tray, with all air vents closed for 3 days. You want to make sure that there is a consistent layer of water in the bottom of the tray, and that your rooter plugs never dry out. On the 3rd day I will crack the top air vent open 1/3 of the way. I will do this everyday until it is fully open. I will then open a side air vent 1/3 of the way everyday, alternating sides daily until both vents are fully open. This is a way of hardening off the plants in the tray while they are rooting. It is completely optional, and depending on your environment you may want to keep most of the air flow vents closed. For the fastest time to rooted clones I have found that right around 80 degrees is a good air temp. When you use a laser thermometer on your clones you will see that inside is a little warmer than 80 degrees. It could be 83 or 84 because of the greenhouse effect of the dome. This is a good range to get cuttings rooting in as little as 7 days. The lower the temps, the slower they will root.
(Watering Marijuana Clones With a Turkey Baster)
(Roughly a 1/2" Of Water In The Bottom Of a Clone Tray)
(Top Air Vent 1/3 Of The Way Open After 3 Days)
(Side Air Vent 1/3 Of The Way Open After The Top Air Vent Has Been Fully Opened)
This next piece of advice isn't the best thing to do if you need thousands of clones, but for smaller amounts, like 100 or even 200, it will increase your odds of success. This shows how old I am because people have been doing this for a very long time, but I still tell people to use it because it can make your success rate way higher. Once your clones are rooted, I will put them into a clear solo cup full of the best soil in the world, yes that's Redbud Soil. :) The clear solo cup will have drainage holes on the bottom of course. I then put this cup into another solid colored solo cup with drainage holes. I then put a clear solo cup on top of the plant to make a mini dome. As the plant spreads its roots you will now be able to pull the clear solo cup out of the solid solo cup to check the progress. Once the roots have grown enough you can take the clear solo cup used as a dome off, and your plant will survive on it's own.
(Clear Solo Cup Inside Solid color Solo Cup So You Can See The roots Of A Clone)
(Clear Solo Cup Over Clone Used As a Dome)
Keeping your newly rooted clones wet in their solo cups is very important. I like to do 2 or 3 waterings per day the first 2 days. You can add some yucca extract to the water to help the soil retain more moisture, but it's not necessary. Once the soil has fully soaked up the water over a couple of days, you will notice that you won't have to water to much. You do want to keep the soil more moist than if you were just growing out in a normal container though. The extra moisture will help to keep the young cuttings alive. To dry of soil can stunt growth, and slow root production.
Doing this solo cup technique on a large scale isn't practical at all. If you are doing large numbers a custom built clone room is a much better option. That way you can control the temps and humidity of the room. The room becomes the dome.
Unfortunately a lot of people have problems with cloning their favorite marijuana strains. For one reason or another they think they have to use a chemical based clone gel to get their plants to shoot out roots. This just isn't the case, and if you follow along with these directions your success rate using natural methods is going to be extremely high.
As always, what works for one person isn't always going to work for another. Experiment, take notes, and adjust as needed to figure out what will work best for you in your garden.