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Jumpstarting Propagation


Sounds high-tech,
doesn’t it?


When you were a kid, did you ever watch your Mom take cuttings from a
neighbor’s rose bush and “root it” for her own garden? Well, she was
cloning it!

rose cutting

And that’s all cloning plants is… taking a cutting from an adult female (Momma Plant)… forcing it to grow roots… and Voila! New baby plant with the exact same genetic makeup (including sex) as the original plant.

Why wait for seeds to germinate when you can produce 6" plants in a couple of weeks?

Cuttings and cloning is a very good way to propagate new plants (for free) from an adult plant that has proven to have “good genes”. And this method has been practiced for virtually centuries; it is not futuristic, nor does it require any scientific knowledge or specialized skills.

   The Proper Climate for Cloning Plants

The most successful way to get a new cutting to sprout roots is to keep the upper part of the plant (the leaves) at the lowest metabolic rate possible. This encourages growth below, as the new baby has to “go and look for food” (by sprouting roots).

So how do you create this “root-friendly” atmosphere? By providing weak food, low light, warm temperatures, and high humidity. The specifics:

GH Flora Nutrients
If using GH Flora series for cloning, mix a one gallon jug of water with ¼ teaspoon of each of the three solutions: micro, grow and bloom.

  • Dimmer and shorter light cycle: low wattage fluorescent light (like a
    20-40 watt under-counter lamp); on only 12 hours a day: 2” above the
  • Temperature: 78-80°
  • Humidity: RH 90-100% the first week; then drop to 80-85%
  • Food: use only water or Superthrive ‘til you see the first roots; then switch to ¼ strength nutrient solution.


Clonex rooting gel
Grodan rockwool cube

 Clonex Gel


Rockwool cubes

  • Rooting hormone (Clonex gel* is best; or use Olivia’s Solution)
  • Optional: Superthrive* or Ortho Up-Start (use instead of water for the first week or two, then switch to the weak nutrient solution mix) 
  • Grow plugs; Perfect Starts or 1.5” Rockwool starter cubes*
  • Sharp razor blade or utility knife; dip in alcohol to sterilize it 
  • Optional but much easier:
    The perfect atmosphere is most easily achieved with an inexpensive domed nursery flat and warming mat*.
domed plant nursery
seedling warming mat

And the Cadillac Deluxe: Botanicare Power Cloner-45 sites *

Botanicare power cloner

All items marked with * can be ordered here: Cheap Supplies.

   A Perpetual Plant Factory


Keep the source plant (Momma) by itself in a bucket bubbler unit for 6-9 months before replacing with a fresh mother plant. Click for free plans for a bubbler.

You want to take cuttings only from healthy, mature (over two months old) female plants with “good genes”, which have not yet flowered. (Or if there are buds, strip them off). Don't use plants that have been treated with pesticides or fungicides.

Momma plants can be kept strictly as a cloning source, and are kept in a perpetual “growth” stage, and not allowed to flower (by keeping them under MH lights for 18 hours per day).

This practice is popular with growers of ornamentals, kitchen and medicinal herbs.


First, prepare the starter plugs by dipping in water, and enlarge the hole if necessary with a stick, nail or utensil about the size of a chopstick.

Choose a good, fresh,  vigorous growing tip for your clone, preferably from the lower branches, and then cut off the stem with your sterile razor, about 3-5” long, with 3-4 sets of leaves.

Next trim the lower leaves til there are only 2 sets of leaves left). Next you will shorten the cutting using the “Sip Of Life” technique.

The Sip of Life? Well, when you first take a cutting,
a bubble of air can be drawn into the stem, preventing solution from
getting to the plant later. (Sorta like an “air embolism”). The plant
will die if this happens.

So how do you prevent air bubbles in the stem? Glad you asked:

are going to make a second cut under water. Place the cut end of the
stem in a bowl of warm water, then take your clean razor knife and cut
the stem about an inch up from the original cut, at a 45° angle (under

Leave in the water until ready to plant. You want to end
up with cuttings about 2-4” long, with only 2 sets of leaves (strip off
the rest).

cloning plants diagram


  • Next, take a cutting out of the water bowl, and immediately insert the cut stem into rooting gel like Clonex for about 15 seconds. Then place the stem 1/2” to 3/4” into the hole of a pre-moistened starter plug or cube.


Do not dip the stem directly into the original bottle of gel. Instead pour a small amount into a shallow dish. Throw away any excess gel. Do not pour back into the bottle as you will contaminate it with organisms.

  • Set the grow plug upright in your domed nursery, and provide optimum “rooting conditions” as described above. Keep the cubes evenly moist, but not soggy; and be sure to open the little vent holes in the dome for some fresh air.
  • If you can manage it, mist the clones with clean water several times a
    day, this helps retard leaf metabolism and invigorates root growth. Get a
    cheap mister for a buck at Wal-Mart. (Don't use one you've stored
    Windex in).
  • After a week or so, remove the dome cover, but keep misting.
  • The clones may actually wilt the first couple of days, but should
    rebound from the shock. Do NOT PULL on the plant to try to determine if
    it is rooting. This will damage the new baby roots. 
  • After about 14-21 days, the clones will have grown a few inches and
    formed small but strong root systems, growing out the sides of the grow

Time to place the clones, cube and all, into the hydroponic garden.



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