This is an edited excerpt from my previous article on cloning at HTGSupply.com
Please see a post published 4/4/12 as a follow up to more cloning questions.

I have had great success with the 8 site clone bucket.  Once you take your cutting, you need to provide the right environment for the cutting to survive the few days it will take for roots to form. Because the cuttings don’t have roots, water is going to be a limiting factor. Once you have planted the number of cuttings you want, cover them with a clear plastic dome (like the one that comes with the clone kit) to retain humidity and give the plants 18 hours of diffused light per day. With all types of cuttings you need to provide a humid environment which generally means placing the cuttings where the air can be kept humid/moist but light can get to the plants. The light you use should be limited light, remember light drives photosynthesis which requires water. If you give the cuttings a lot of light, they will use up what water they have in their cells and dehydrate. Florescent lights are perhaps the best suited light source for cuttings. The light output promotes good growth, the light intensity is not excessive, and the low temperature does not put heat stress on the tender plantlets. Keep the light cycle on mostly light (18 on 6 off for example) and keep the fluorescent light several cm above the plants. The clone kit from HTGSupply.com comes with a dome, and I kept the light about 2.5 cm (1 inch) above the top of the dome.
Keep the cuttings moist by generously and thoroughly using a fine mister. After taking the cutting and putting it in a moist medium, you should gently mist the plants until most of the leaf surface is covered with tiny water droplets. Then place the dome over the plants and put them under a florescent light. After a day the plant leaves should be dry. Don’t mist if they are not dry and you definitely need to get some more air flow over your cuttings before misting again. If you keep the cuttings environment too wet you will get fungal growth, not plant growth. You could also mist the growth medium to keep it moist but not wet. You want the medium moist, not wet. You should not be able to squeeze water from your cutting medium, but it should NEVER dry out. That is the line you have to walk. Be gentle in your hand misting, you don’t want to stress the cuttings or worse knock them over with a blast of water.
The clone kit also comes with a warming pad. The pad will make the roots warm without raising the air temperature around the cuttings. Having the roots warm and the above air temperature cool will significantly improve your cutting success.

Good growing,
Dr. E. R. Myers


If you use hormone solution

Gel’s hormone’s like the one that came with my cloning kit are better supposedly because they stick to the stem better. I have had great success with get and liquid forms of hormones. With a liquid hormone you can soak the stems in the hormone solution for a minute before putting them in the cutting medium. I have found that using plant hormones does increase cloning success, especially products that contain vitamin B-1.
All hormones works on a cellular level. This means you want the hormone to come in contact with the cells that will form into roots. For most plants this is at the base of the stem where the cut occurred or where leaves were removed from a node. Make sure you get the rooting compound on these areas of your cutting before putting it into the medium. Make sure these areas are submerged INTO the growing medium, they need to be moist and away from light at all times.
Good Growing,
Dr. E. R. Myers


Cuttings taken on 4-20-09

The mother plant should be healthy and growing vigorously. If you start with plants that have nutrient deficiencies you are stacking the deck against your clones. The branch/stem you choose to make a cutting will not be able to take up nutrients easily, so you want the mother plant to have all essential nutrients inside the plants cells, but none in excess.

When you take your cutting, you should leave a couple cm (1 cm = about 1/2 inch btw) of stem length if you can; you are going to re-cut the stem right below a node before you dip the cutting in a rooting solution. (if you use one, the environment you put the cuttings in is just as or more important than using a rooting solution) If your plant is big enough, you should leave a second set of leaves below the top leaves of the cutting. You will cut these lower leaves off later, leave them attached for now. The node where you cut the lower leaves is often where new roots will sprout from.
A proven way to improving success with cuttings is to re-cut the stem again below the node where you cut the leaves from. Do this immediately before you dip the cutting in the hormone or put it in the medium, if you are not using rooting solutions. When you make a fresh cut of the stem, the xylem (tubes that carry water, like your arteries) will still be full of water and due to the chemical properties of water (hydrogen bonds) the water in the xylem will stick to/absorb water from the medium and push water/hormones up into the plant. If you cut the stem and let it sit for awhile, there will be air in the xylem which will block the tubes and any flow of water/ hormones into the leaves above. In most cases, if air gets in the xylem the cutting will dehydrate and die.

Good Growing,
Dr. E. R. Myers


THE MOTHER PLANT clone kit set up

When you decide to give cloning a try, you can sacrifice (cut up into pieces) one entire plant to make many “clone” plants that will grow up and be identical to the original plant if they’re grown in the same environment as the original. The other option, which I have done here, is to take pieces of a plant over time. The plant that you are taking the pieces from is called a mother plant. There are many advantages to using a “mother plant” to create many clones. Commercially this is used to provide many many consistent plants to the consumer year after year. The home grower can use cloning to fill in a landscape, increase the number of prized specimens to share with friends (and then soak in their gratitude) or just to see if you have the skills to do it. With some plants you can leave one or two larger fan leaves, and one or two new branches will sprout which you can than cut in a few weeks. Notice this in the figure above. Cloning using a mother plant can be done for years, until the mother plant and/or cuttings show decreased yield or vigor.
If you are growing a dioecious plant, one that has separate male and female plants, you could use cloning to get all male or female plants. Once you sex a plant, you can change the light cycle indoors and give the plant a high nitrogen fertilizer to stimulate vegetative growth. All the new growth can then be used as cuttings. You can then grow and harvest knowing all your plants are the preferred sex. This is how mulberries can be sold that will “bear fruit” They are from cuttings of a female mulberry bush.

Before I took a single cutting I used a mild (2ml/gallon each) fertilizer Ca and N to further saturate the starter plugs in the tray. I only used 100 ml of the gallon to saturate the tray. I cut a slit in the plastic over the plugs I planned to use, and watered the tray letting it sit over night. Before I took the cuttings, I poured out the excess water that was in the tray. The starter plugs hold a good bit of water, which is what you want, but you don’t want standing water in the tray for much of the time.


Cloning -- The first thing to know.

The first thing to start with when taking cuttings is a clean (that means sterile) environment. If there are going to be any microorganisms, you want to control which ones. When my clone kit came from HTGSupply.com, it was free from plant pathogens. I rinsed the dome and tray with tap water and then put in my first cuttings. However, after each generation of clones, you should gently wash the dome and tray with soapy water. You can sterilize your clone kit by spraying it with 25% hydrogen peroxide 75% water in a spray bottle.
I have had a few people write about stem rot etc. with cuttings. If you have tried taking cuttings before and gotten any kind of fungal problems, you have fungal spores in your grow area. You can’t see them, but they are there. To be honest, all of us will have fungal spores in our grow area, they are virtually everywhere. You need to clean the cloning dome and tray but you also should clean the surface (table shelf etc.) where you will place the tray, and while you are at it, you can wipe down the walls and floor etc. Use a 10% bleach or a 25 % hydrogen peroxide, or a vinegar solution to clean the area. You can use a higher percentage of vinegar, up to 50% to wipe down the walls etc. Vinegar is organic and nontoxic to non-microscopic organisms. Vinegar is an acid so it will sterilize the area. You can then make a 25% hydrogen peroxide solution and spray the area with a spray bottle. Let it sit for several minutes before wiping it up with paper towels. You should let the area dry with a fan (or better yet a carbon filter). Your cloning area should be dry with low humidity to help to kill off any remaining fungal spores and not allow the ones that enter to develop.
You can get obsessive about cleaning, just know that the cleaner the area you grow your cuttings the better. However! if you don’t have problems with stem rot you don’t need to spray peroxide solution everywhere, or use bleach, but you will get better results if you keep your cloning area clean and free of dirt, dead leaves, rags and other organic surfaces. Bleach does react with some plastics putting off toxic fumes, so be careful when using.

Good Growing
Dr. E.R. Myers



On the 20th of April, I began testing a clone kit from HTGSupply.com. I will be talking and creating pictures about cloning for much of May. I have enjoyed the dozens of E-mail's I have gotten so far, and I would like any one with comments or questions about cloning to E-mail me and I will try to work your E-mail's into the blog so that we can all learn from each other.

Good Growing!

Dr. E. R. Myers



As you know a great light source and a good fertilizer high in phosphorus the “P” in NPK is crucial for top-quality flowering. If you are growing for flowers, or fruit which of course come from flowers, you should test different high phosphorus fertilizers to see which one works best for your plants.

For plant growth, high potassium the “K” in NPK is an all around good thing. I recommend you include potassium in all stages of plant growth. Moreover, it should most defiantly be used if you are producing seeds as part of a breeding program. I say this because in most plants K improves the health and vitality of seeds.

This semester I used Hammer Head in my greenhouse, the high P really increased flowering over non fertilized Coleus. I also noticed longer fuller flowering stems and increased flower formation with multiple flowers on a single stem. Many flowers that were not fertilized showed a second flush of blooms as I continued to water with Hammer Head; some plants even put out another flower stem. As all good growers know, too much is too much; I followed the directions and gave each plant/container the same amount of fertilizer. As always you should read the instructions of each product the first time you use it and then try to “tweak” it to your particular plants over time.

Good Growing
Dr. E. R. Myers