How to grow a healthy mother marijuana plant for cloning

Published Jun 30, 2019 11:36 a.m. ET
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No matter which type of marijuana strains you are working with, the plants will come into existence in one of two ways. The first is through seeds, and the second is through a process called cloning. Seeds can be an excellent starting point when growing weed, but for those who want to achieve a yield from a bunch of plants that are all identical, cloning is the ideal way to preserve those genetics.

What is a mother plant?

A mother plant is a female cannabis plant that is used for cloning. The clones are the offspring and identical copies of the mother plant they are cut from.

What is cloning?

Cloning is a method of propagation which replicates the DNA of the mother plant and multiplies it. Clones are cuttings that are taken from female marijuana plants, which are rooted and then grown on their own. This is not a process that would happen naturally, and typically requires a careful hand as well as a rooting compound to be successful.

6 Tips and tricks to growing a healthy and robust mother marijuana plant

Though technically a cutting from almost any female cannabis plant should take to soil with a little bit of assistance, it is always best to start with a plant that provides all the physical and elemental components that you seek. If you aren’t sure where to begin or are wondering if there is a way to improve upon your current cloning techniques than this list of six handy tips from the pros on growing weed might be just what you have been looking for.

1. Start with good genetics
Some marijuana strains will grow in a thick, short, and bushy way that is perfect for cloning. Those that are taller and produce fewer leaves and joints make less than an ideal substitute. To grow the best mother plant, you will want to choose one of the marijuana strains that provide these qualities, as well as the effects that you want from the experience of consuming it. Smell, aesthetics, expected yield, temperature requirements, and cannabinoid content should all be thoroughly considered when making such an important decision.

2. Use high-quality feminized seeds
When your entire plan rests on having a healthy female marijuana plant to take cuttings from, you do not want to waste your time growing males or germinating seeds that don’t survive through the first stages of life. Instead, you should always begin with feminized seeds from a reputable company. This way, you won’t have to worry about wasting time, energy, and patience on a male, and you also won’t have to watch for developing pollen sacks which could destroy an entire crop. Though it might seem like a hefty investment for some, in the end, the cost is well worth the boost in the overall process of growing weed.

3. Plant your seedlings in living soil
Marijuana plants thrive on many of the microscopic organisms that are found in fertile soil, and though you can add concentrated fertilizers, there is no better or safer food for your cannabis than this natural source. Some people will grow their plants in a lower quality house plant dirt, but that is not enough for this type of set-up. If you want your mother plant to be as healthy and big as possible, then you will need to begin with either a store bought or homemade living soil.

4. Use high-quality and properly timed lighting
Some people have excellent luck with growing marijuana plants outdoors, but depending on the climate, strains that are chosen, legal restrictions, etc. It might not be worth it to try growing weed outdoors to use as mother plants. This is for many reasons, but one of the most important is the possibility of cross-contamination. Especially since the goal of most growers while cloning is to maintain the integrity of the genetics of the marijuana strains. Instead, an indoor grow system is recommended. This allows for complete control over the temperature, humidity, moisture levels, and light exposure to be easily controlled.

There are several different kinds of light bulbs and fixtures that you can use to grow cannabis, but there are only a couple that is recommended, including HID and LED. This is due to the strength of the lighting, and the range of UV rays they are capable of emitting which are beneficial to the plants. When your mother marijuana plant is in its early stages of life, and getting ready for cloning day, your timers should be set to provide 18 hours of light, and 6 hours of total darkness. This step is critical to keeping the mother plant in the vegetative stage, which is necessary for a successful harvest of clones.

5. Nutrients
Stage specific nutrients are necessary to a marijuana plant’s health and overall wellbeing. Providing the proper boost in supplements can help to speed up growth, produce more leaves, improve color, and enhance the taste and smell by increasing the production of terpenes. A mother plant should be placed on a nutrient regimen that uses as little nitrogen as possible while providing large doses of essential enzymes. This will help to ward off sickness, pests, and predators during the plants longer than average life span.

6. Pruning
This is another critical element to growing a healthy and robust marijuana plant. Mother plants need to be pruned and trimmed back regularly. Enough to stimulate new and unique growth, without causing harm. Once a month, the very tips of 50% of the branches can be trimmed. This adjustment will force new growth, which results in two tips for every single one that you prune if it’s done correctly.

Mother marijuana plant essentials

Before you even have seeds germinated, you should be planning out the space that will house the mother plant. Here is a checklist of everything that you will need to keep your mother plants healthy and thriving for as long as possible.

  • living soil
  • 1 2-gallon pot per plant
  • 1 grow space (that measures at least 80cm by 80cm)
  • 1 fan (for air circulation and to improve stem strength)
  • 1 light system
  • 1 light timer
  • 1 air extraction fan (removes heat and simulates wind)
  • 1 thermo hygrometer (to accurately measure the humidity and temperatures)

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