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10 Steps to Supercharged Cuttings

Posted May 25th, 2018 by Andrew Taylor in ,

Reproducing your own plants from cuttings provides control over the supply and quality of seedlings.  It also enables you to replicate your favorite strain.

Start with Clean, Sterile Water

This helps to prevent diseases. Use either fresh, reverse osmosis water (ideal), or fresh treated tap water. The water should be tepid and around 68 °F.

Use a Professional Nutrient

Choose a professional nutrient then add coco coir and stir.

Stimulate Root Production

Add a suitable root stimulant and root-zone conditioner to the nutrient solution then stir again. This encourages strong, vigorous and healthy roots.

Check pH to Ensure Optimal Nutrient Availability

Depending on the nutrient being used, this step may be unnecessary. However, if you are not certain then use a calibrated digital pH meter to verify the nutrient solution’s pH is between 5.5 and 7.0. If the pH is above 7.0, add dilute (not straight out of the bottle!) phosphoric acid, little by little until the pH falls within the correct range.

Prep the Pots Then Moisten

Line two or three-inch net pots with net pot liners and fill them with premium quality, pith-rich coco coir and place in a propagation tray. Large cell trays or coco propagation blocks can also be used. Gently tap the pot or tray a few times to get rid of any large air gaps. Thoroughly moisten (flush) the propagation media with the nutrient solution and discard any run-off.  To prevent diseases, ensure all hardware has been thoroughly cleaned and sterilized with bleach.

Take Small Cuttings

Select a healthy mother plant that is not flowering and has no visible diseases or pest infestations:

  • Select “lead” growth tips wherever possible: Ideal length is 3 – 5 inches with one leaf set (two leaves) at the base that can be removed later on (fig 1).  When these lower leaves are removed (in Step 2) this region offers greater rooting potential when placed into ‘soil’.
  • Work quickly with a sterile, sharp blade (razor blades are good but be careful): Remove the lower set of leaves flush with stem, but without cutting into it.  Then cut through the stem on a 45 degree angle about 1/4 inch below this (fig 2).  Do not tear or crush the stem.
  • Insert the one inch of base of cutting (fig 3) into a cloning gel then insert the stem about one inch deep into a pre-made hole (slightly undersized) in the center of the pot or block (fig 4).  It should fit snugly but be careful not to bruise or damage the stem. Steps 1 to 3 should be done quickly to minimize stresses on the cutting such as dehydration and air ingress.

Seal in Moisture

Place a propagator lid on the tray and generally close any vents. Relative humidity should be maintained about 90% (open vents slightly if required). To combat any persistent wilting, spray 2-3 times per day with water or a cloning spray. Make sure to avoid pools of liquid at the bottom of the propagator – propagation media should never be allowed to sit in water.

Place Under Low Intensity Fluorescent Light

Choose 6500K lamps. One 2 foot lamp is sufficient for one full-sized propagator. Leave the lights on for 24 hours a day. Monitor the temperature inside the propagator using a thermometer with a remote probe and aim for 75-80 °F. Use a thermostatically controlled heat mat if temperatures are too cold, which is unlikely and raise the lights if is too hot, which is more likely.

Check Cuttings Regularly

Once roots form (typically after 5 – 10 days) the propagation media can become dry very quickly, often catching growers off guard. Re-moisten the media using the same solution while keeping in mind that in some cases, top-watering fails to water the entire propagation block. Full immersion of the block itself may be required.

Be Patient and Clean

Wait until the roots have fully explored the propagation media before transplanting—keeping the cuttings moist (but not drenched) with regular top-ups of a mild nutrient solution. Vents can be gradually opened once roots have formed to help prevent diseases. Also, maintain hygiene by keeping hard surfaces wiped clean while removing any dead plant matter as it is an ideal host for fungi.

Andrew Taylor is the Chief Chemist at FloraMax. You can visit their website at Floramax.com.

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