By Guy Ehydro
With the introduction of aeroponics cloning machines now old news, more effective cloning gels hitting the market like the RX Green Life Cloning Gel, and updated cloning techniques and strategies for success, now is a great time to perfect this necessary hydroponic gardening skill. Cuttings in machine cloners can root in as few as 4 days (depending on the variety). So, if you’re waiting for more than ten days to see some healthy root development, something’s up.
These models range in price from $100 and up, depending on how many cloning sites the model has. The OxyClone is a popular new bubble cloner with a great introductory price for growers with minimal cloning requirements who want more success with their cuttings.
Here are 10 Tips and Tricks for Success when using a modern cloning machine:
- For two weeks before you take clones, feed your mother plants organic solutions like Advanced Nutrients Nirvana, along with Vitamin B like from ThriveAlive. These strengthen plant tissues to spur earlier root growth. They also help your cuttings handle the stress of cloning.
- Pre-treat rooting plugs or cubes with a mild rooting accelerator like Rx Life Cloning Solution. Continue to use the supplement in your cloner and beyond for the first 2-6 weeks of your clone’s growth cycle. Some people use it up to halfway through bloom phase. It’s like putting your roots on steroids.
- Examine your mother plants to ensure they are free of thrips, mites, aphids, diseases and other problems. Never take clones from a troubled mother. If you’re having pest and disease issues we recommend Green Cleaner.
- Use a clean, sharp scalpel or similar razor sharp tool for taking cuttings. Sterilize your knife, hands and all nearby bench and other materials beforehand with isopropyl alcohol and wash with clean water before cloning.
- Select terminal stems from the middle of your mother plant… not the topmost set of stems or the stems at the very bottom. Selecting the most vigorous shoots gives the best results. Cut a portion that’s about four inches long.
- Dip your cuttings in a natural pest control solution before introducing them to your cutting room. Safter Insecticidal Soap and Mighty Wash are popular dips with our customers and employees.
- Provide 18 hours per day of a high quality blue spectrum for vegetative growth. The Eye Hortilux PowerVeg T5 fluorescent lamps have been crushing it for our customers since they debuted last year.
- Use a humidity dome to keep the relative humidity around the cuttings over 90% for the first several days. This will reduce how much water they lose to evaporation while establishing new roots.
- Keep an eye on your nutrient solution temperature. Try for between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Too cold and this will delay rooting. Too warm and you may have an issue with rot and disease. Changing your solution every 2-3 days and using a few drops of Hydrogen Peroxide will help keep anaerobic bacteria at bay.
- Take notes, carefully study your results, network with other gardeners (if it’s safe to do so), and always work to improve your cloning technique and success rate.