How Long to Veg Clones & More: Top 10 Questions about Cloning Answered

Top-10-questions-about-cloning

1. Can you top and clone at the same time?

Yes!

You can use any plant cutting, including the top, to make a clone. As long as you follow the guidelines for proper cloning, there should be no issue. Starting with a top, or with any other part of the mother plant (such as a side branch) is all good.

By ‘proper cloning techniques’, I’m implying that you read up on some basic knowledge on this subject. Certain things are good to know before starting, as they can really improve your success-rate. Cloning is an interesting process and certain tweaks can seriously improve on the success rate!

For example, use a sterile blade or, at the very least, one that has been cleaned with a disinfectant. It sounds a bit silly perhaps, because plants aren’t exactly living their life in a sterile environment. But oddly enough even plants can suffer from the introduction of bacteria in fresh cuts.

Keep in mind when topping that any cut meant to become a clone has to be a few inches long, with a few sets of nodes of its own.

2. Can you clone without rooting gel?

Yes, you can – in principle. The question is whether you would want to.

The concept of cloning has been around since before the ‘invention’ of rooting gel. However, the use of rooting hormone can significantly improve the chances of success, and the speed at which cuttings will grow roots.

In general, some plants are easier to clone than others. You probably know of certain common house plants that grow roots in a glass of water like it’s nobody’s business! Among the cannabis plants, the same goes: certain strains are easier to clone than others.

What rooting hormone does is two-fold. It protects the fresh cut from fungi and bacteria to prevent infections or diseases from attacking the vulnerable sprout. Secondly, it contains substances to stimulate root growth and encourage stronger root development.

There are alternatives, though. If you can’t or don’t want to use rooting gel, some surprisingly simple things can function as a semi-substitute.

The good news? Aside from the last one, you may already have these in the bathroom or kitchen cabinet: aspirin, honey, cinnamon, aloe vera, vinegar, and even saliva.

The less-good news is that while some claim these things are natural rooting gel alternatives, they don’t do everything a rooting gel does.

The bottom line is that rooting hormone gel, or powder, isn’t necessary if you don’t mind a lower success rate. It’s definitely worth the small investment, knowing that more of your cuttings will make it into healthy clones.

Those earlier mentioned house plants that are quick and eager to root on their own can totally do without. Your precious marijuana clones are a bit more valuable. So why deny them the extra boost and protection that rooting gel provides? #rhetoricalquestion

3. How to root clones faster?

Between 7 and 10 days is a normal time frame for clones to root. If you’re in a hurry, you may be able to improve on that speed and see roots popping out a couple of days sooner.

How? For one, in case the previous question doesn’t have you convinced yet, don’t skip the rooting hormone.

Which part of the mother plant a cutting is taken from can influence how soon it grows its own roots. The closer to the roots of the mother plant, the faster it will root.

When using water, 5.8 is the ideal pH for many plants, including cannabis. Testing the pH is very easy with test strips like these.

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Adjusting the water’s pH isn’t complicated either. If you want to increase the number, adding an alkaline substance, such as baking soda or baking powder, will do the trick. To decrease, add some lemon juice.

If you don’t see roots growing within the first week, don’t give up hope. It can take up to three weeks for clones to root, depending on an array of factors. Not only in their immediate environment; genetics also play a role, so it may not be related to anything you’re doing (or not doing).

4. How long to veg clones?

We’re assuming it’s feminized but not auto-flowering plants we are talking about here since cloning autoflowers comes with a whole other set of issues.

Feminized cannabis clones are typically given the time they need to reach the desired size in the vegetative state.

As long as you’re growing indoors, with full control over the environment, it is not so much a matter of how long to let clones grow before inducing the flowering stage as more of how large you’d like them to end up.

Marijuana plants, depending on the strain, can easily double in size during their final growth spurt. Most growers will veg their clones to a certain size instead of a set period of time.

For example, if you’re aiming for plants of around 30 inches tall, you’ll want to flip the metaphorical light-cycle switch from veg to flowering when clones are roughly 15 inches.

Keep in mind that the clone’s size increase has a lot to do with the strain’s genetics. Sativa’s are reputed for doubling in size during the flowering stage. Indica plants are naturally shorter and more bushy. They do shoot up as well but don’t necessarily double their height.

How long to veg clones before flowering isn’t an exact science. But if you’d like some kind of number to walk away with, 60 days is considered a nice chunk of time for clones to establish themselves as large(-ish), healthy plants before being induced to flower.

Doing so sooner is certainly possible. For example, if high yield is not a priority, you might choose to nudge your clones to start flowering instead of growing bigger. Since clones are technically the same (old) age as the mother plant, that is an option.

5. Do clones grow faster than seeds?

Clones have the age as the mother plant. This means it is possible to reach the flowering stage sooner compared to plants grown from seed.

Cloning auto-flowering plants has very little use, since they simply don’t have enough time to grow large enough to make the yield worthwhile. With female marijuana plants grown under artificial lighting, there are options.

While clones are typically not as robust as plants grown from seeds, they come with their own set of advantages. Indoors, by managing the light cycles, female plants can grow big enough to generate a good yield.

So technically, clones do not grow faster than seeds but they are closer to maturity due to their genetic age.

Due to this, clones will be ready for the flowering stage faster than seeds. A clone from an auto-flowering plant won’t be able to grow fast enough to catch up to its internal timer. Female plants allow for the necessary stretching of the vegetative stage.

6. Do clones flower faster than seeds?

This is sort of another way of wording the previous question, so yes, clones do flower faster than seeds. The entire sprouting/seedling/young plant part is cut out of the process.

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Clones are able to flower sooner than seeds, although you’ll probably want to grow them large enough first. Unless you’re aiming for a modest yield. Which seems unlikely. 😉

7. Do clones produce seeds?

Cloned plants can produce seeds in the same way that other plants can: through exposure to pollen from a male plant.

Of course, breeding the female – clone or not – with a male plant creates a cross of the two, from a genetic standpoint. Not what you’d want if you’re after seeds of the exact same strain as is the clone.

But there are ways to cause a female clone to produce male flowers and pollinate herself to create seeds. In fact, this is how feminized cannabis seeds are made!

Various techniques can be used to provoke the development of male flowers on a female plant. It boils down to altering the plant’s hormone levels through the use of chemicals (colloidal silver, for example) or causing environmental stress, such as irregular light cycles or low temperatures, to stimulate hermaphrodite tendencies. If you’re interested in the process, check out the cannabis encyclopedia.

In summary, female clones don’t randomly produce seeds out of thin air. As long as they are kept at a safe distance from male plants, they should be fine – just as any other female (not cloned) plant. On the other hand, if seeds are what you want, then get ready to take a deep dive into the world of genetics and seed production!

8. How many times can you clone a clone?

Can you clone a cloned plant?

Yes!

How many times can a clone be cloned?

In theory, indefinitely. But it’s not that simple (is it ever?) and here’s a fantastic article, written by someone a lot smarter than me. What those who work extensively with cloning observe is that

after a few generations, the plants get weaker, yield less, and are more susceptible to diseases.

There are different theories as to why this happens. It might have something to do with chromosomes, or a progressive buildup of mutations, or a progressive accumulation of diseases.

With that said, if you’re a small-scale home grower, wondering whether you can clone a clone?

Don’t let the observations from experts hold you back. Wait – that doesn’t sound right, does it? Experts’ observations are as valuable as they come.

However, they are based on a multiplication of the process, not doing so once and once over. If you’re tempted to make a clone from a clone, I wouldn’t let the potential drawbacks deter me from trying. Worst case, you end up with a plant that’s rather ‘meh’ and learn some things along the way.

9. Do clones lose potency?

The complete answer to this question is still in the works. It’s an important one, so I don’t want to haphazardly scrape together some facts.

It seems as though there are two parts to the question, namely:

  • whether clones cut from the same mother plant over time (the mother being kept in a lengthy vegetative state) lose potency as the mother plant ages, and
  • whether clones lose potency over the course of multiple generations.

The latter is pretty sure to be the case. Especially since various other aspects of plant health and overall vigor appear to suffer when looking at multiple generations of clones. (As we’ve covered under the previous question.)

10. Are clones better than seeds?

It all depends what you’re looking for.

The commercial marijuana industry has a preference for clones, because consumers of recreational or medical cannabis have reasonably high expectations. To commercial growers, the guarantee that cloned plants will produce the exact same kind of weed outweighs their downsides.

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In most other areas, seeds have strong advantages over clones. One could say that, generally speaking, seeds are “better” than clones, although starting with seeds and making your own clones gives you more control over certain areas where clones are at a disadvantage.

The Root System

Seeds grow a taproot. It’s the first sprout that peeks out of a seed, and grows into the strongest, central root of the system. Clones will only grow a web of smaller roots; never a taproot to shoot deep into the earth.

The root system of any plant is an underground reflection of its stature and vigor. And not merely for the fun of it; the deeper and stronger the roots are, the better a plant is able to access water and nutrients (especially crucial when growing outside).

Flowering & Yield

In the case of cannabis, a plant’s yield is also thought to be proportional to its root system. So seeds may ultimately yield more per plant, while clones will produce a bit less of consistently identical buds.

Clones are identical copies, bringing along the bad with the good. The bad being pests, viruses, and other diseases, the good being those highly coveted completely identical buds.

Clones are faster to finish, since they don’t have to work through the earliest growth phase. And working with female clones eliminates the concern for male or hermaphrodite plants messing up the harvest.

Availability

However, clones are not readily available to the general public in the way that seeds are.

If you’re getting one or more clones, it is useful to make sure the plants you bring home have been started and cared for by someone with meticulous hygiene. The risk that clones from friends or acquaintances carry diseases is high. Introducing such a clone can pose a serious threat to any otherwise healthy plants you’ve got growing.

Seeds are much easier to come by than clones. They don’t need special care, transport without any issues, and they’re a whole lot cheaper, too. Plus they can conveniently be stored for a while without compromising the plant’s health or yield.

Fun Fact

Did you know that cuttings can get an air embolism? A tiny air bubble can enter their system at the moment of cutting. This embolism can compromise the cutting’s ability to drink water and result in the clone dying instead of flourishing.

Cutting at a 45-degree angle instead of 90 supposedly plays a role in avoiding air bubbles in the plant’s veins. Another trick to prevent this from happening is to make the final cut underwater.

By Felis Cannabis

Hi, Felis Cannabis here. This little corner of the web is my scratch pole. The legalize movement is growing, but not fast enough for me to give up the incognito status just yet. ;-) Let's keep at it! We should have the right to use any plant we choose.