Most of these tips will work for traditional cuttings as well as hydroponic cloning.
Select the plant you plan to clone. Select only plants that are in good health and are at least two months old. New growth is best if it’s available, however, any healthy stem with at least two or three healthy sets of leaves will work. Only take cuttings from well hydrated plants. Plants that are dry will not perform as well as cuttings.
Hygiene cannot be stressed enough. Disease, fungus and viruses spread quickly and are a primary cause of failure. Luckily, a few easy steps will ensure healthy cuttings. It may be tempting to skip the cleaning steps, but you will be rewarded with quick healthy cuttings by spending a few extra seconds.
- Gather your tools: A sharp craft knife or razor blade, cutting shears, container with water, rooting hormone, clean cutting mat, cloning system.
- Prepare the water bath in the cloner. Measure nutrients carefully.
- Select a 2”-3” stem of plant, ideally with new growth. (Note: fall is the ideal time to find new growth, but cuttings will work in spring) cut below the intersection of leaves on the stem. Immediately place cutting into water until you are ready to process all cuttings.
- Remove lower leaves by carefully slicing them at the stem. Leave several leaves at the top of the stem. If leaves are too large for the cloning space, cut then lengthwise.
- Place cutting on a clean cutting mat. Sterilize blade with alcohol and carefully cut the stem diagonally at a 45° angle to expose as much of the plant’s cambium as possible. Be careful not to crush any tissues. Dip knife in alcohol between each cutting.
- Place a small amount of rooting hormone in a small Dixie cup or small glass and dip cutting into hormone. Do not dip the cutting directly into main container to avoid contamination. Throw the excess compound away; do not add back to the original container. Note: Commercial growers typically use liquid rooting hormone because the plant absorbs the liquid faster than the powder.
- Secure the cutting in the basket and place in cloner.
Check your cuttings frequently. In a few days you will start to see nodes forming just prior to root development. Change the water once a week or per the manufacturer’s instructions. Once roots are formed, transplant into 4” pots. Placing them in a cool greenhouse with bottom heat will encourage healthy root growth while keeping top growth compact and healthy.