Taking Cuttings From a Cannabis PlantMarch 23, 2019
There are many different strains of cannabis plant. Each seed you germinate, even of the same strain, will have different genetics to another seed. Taking cuttings from a cannabis plant, is a way to grow numerous plants, with the exact same genetics. This is also known as cloning.
Sometimes, you will grow a plant, that just has everything good about it. Grows easily, strong and healthy, trains well, recovers from stress well. Maybe you have grown a plant that grew huge flowers, that were stinky and thick with resins. It is possible to grow this exact strain again by taking cuttings from it, and cloning it. Let’s discuss different methods of taking cuttings from a cannabis plant, and the benefits of it.
Why Take Cuttings from a Cannabis Plant.
A cannabis seed is made up of the genetics of 2 parents. A male, and a female. Out of the hundreds, maybe even thousands of seeds a female cannabis plant will create, each one will have a different genetic make up.
The genes from the mother, and the father, will fight each other, to try and express more of their own characteristics. Some will take traits from the male, some will take traits of the female. When growing from seed, you will never get the exact same plants, there will always be variants, these are called phenotypes.
Preserving a Phenotype
It is very easy to grow from seed, and there is a huge variety of strains available to you at low prices. But, maybe, on one occasion, you come across a seed, that brings you an amazing plant. This plant outperforms any other plant you have grown. So this is a phenotype you want to preserve, and grow again, but what do you have to do?
By taking a cutting from the plant, you can make roots grow on the stem, and replant it like it was a plant of its own. This plant will then continue to grow and can be flowered like any other plant.
You can preserve numerous phenotypes, on one mother plant, by grafting different strains, to it. See our guide on cannabis plant grafting.
How to Take cuttings From a Cannabis Plant
Firstly, you need to make sure your plant is strong enough, to deal with the stress of losing a branch. It is always best to take cuttings during the vegetative stage of growth. Taking a cutting during flower will stress the plant, and reduce the final yield.
You can take cuttings from a flowering cannabis plant to preserve the phenotype, but do it at harvest time, and then reveg the cutting if possible. We will discuss revegging in another article.
Secondly, you will need a few things to increase the chances of roots growing successfully on your cutting. You can take numerous cuttings from one plant. Or take one cutting, so you can grow that into a mother plant. Then take many from that mother plant later on.
What you need to take cuttings
You will need something to chop the cuttings from the branch of the cannabis plant, smoothly. You will also need some water, and a place to for the cutting to sit. This could be rockwool, coco, or a weak soil. Of course like anytime you’re going to make a wound in your plant, make sure your cutting equipment is sterile.
- Razor blade/ Exacto knife: Using a blade instead of scissors will increase the chances of rooting. Scissors will crush the stem, whilst a razor will make a clean cut.
- Isopropyl Alcohol: Always ensure you’re using clean blades when chopping things off your plant. Mould spores can enter your plants tissues and germinate through cuts. Be careful, don’t take any risks.
- Medium: You have a few choices here; rock wool, soil, coco, or water. This is where your cutting is going to sit, to form its roots. We will discuss the pro and cons of different rooting mediums in more depth later.
- Rooting Hormones: Using a rooting hormone will increase the chances of roots forming. It is not necessary if you are making cuttings using just water, but using it will increase the chances of roots forming, and they will form faster.
Choosing a Cutting
Only take cuttings from a healthy cannabis plant, that is at least 4 weeks old! The plant needs to be able to withstand the stress of losing a branch. Before taking cuttings, you should also stop feeding your plant for at least 3 days before you take your cuts. This is to reduce the amount of nitrogen in the leaves, which will encourage the cuttings to grow roots, instead of more shoots.
Choose a branch that is long, and has growth at the top, with at least one set of nodes between the top, and where the cut is going to be. Plant at least an inch of the stem, to offer more surface on the plant for roots to grow.
Once you have chosen which branches you’re going to take, prepare some water for them to sit in once chopped. Don’t let the ends of the cuttings reach too much air, as the air bubbles will be a problem when roots are forming.
The best technique for taking cuttings from a cannabis plant is to cut at a 45 degree angle. This will increase the amount of surface area that roots will form on.
As soon as the cutting has been removed, place it straight into the water, and prepare your medium and rooting hormones.
Best Medium for Cannabis Cuttings
When taking cuttings from a cannabis plant, you can plant them into different mediums. Some of these are better than others, but all of them do the same job. Here are four methods you can use to increase the chances of roots forming on your cannabis cuttings.
- Rockwool Cubes: These are the most common mediums for planting cuttings. They offer a great air to water ratio, which will encourage roots to grow quicker. They are also easy available from most garden centres, and online.
- Pots of Soil: Using pots of soil is another way to plant cuttings. However, nutrient content of the soil must be low. Sometimes, if humidity is too high, the stems may also contract mould, as the bacteria and fungi in the soil begin to break the plant down. If using soil, do not let humidity get too high.
- Coco: Coco is the best of both worlds. You can have a good aeration, but still give the plants a firm holding in a soil like medium. This will make transplanting later much easier. Also, coco is void of nutrients, so will not shock the new roots because it isn’t too strong.
- Rooting in just water: You can root a cannabis plant cutting, by placing it in water, and leaving it to sit in low level lighting for a week, or so. This does work, and it is strain dependent on how successful it is. .
You have your cutting sitting in water, chopped off the plant at a 45 degree angle. It is sitting in water waiting to be planted, and your medium is now ready.
Unless you intend to use the water rooting method, this is where you need to treat the branch, to improve the chances of roots forming. To do this, simply remove the cutting from the water, and dip around 1 inch of it, into your rooting enzymes. There are many rooting enzymes on the market, choose what’s best for you.
Once dipped, plant the cutting into the medium, around 1 inch deep, and ensure it is well supported. Now the plant is sitting happily, you need to trim off the tips of the bigger fans leaves.
Removing the tips of a fan leaf, with tell the plant that leaf is damaged, and needs to fall off. The cutting will then use the nutrients sorted in these leaves to feed itself, until roots are formed.
Continue this process with other cuttings if you have some, and then, move onto the final step.
Growing Cannabis Plant Cuttings
You have planted your clones in the medium. Now they will need to be put under some lights for at least 18 hours a day.
Using a T5 fluorescent is the most common practise amongst growers. Young plants and seedlings prefer low level light. Keep your cannabis plant sitting under a T5 until roots are well formed.
Once the roots are formed, and the plant is showing new growth, your cannabis plant cutting is finished, and is now a cannabis plant of its own. You can now grow this as if it was a normal photoperiod cannabis plant.
Keeping a Mother
The best use for taking cuttings from a cannabis plant is to make a mother plant of a particular phenotype. This way, you can run crops of your favorite strain over and over again!
A mother plant can be kept in veg indefinitely. If you have found the perfect strain, and would like to keep running it, or maybe use it for breeding, then keeping a mother plant is the best way to keep these genetics alive for a long time. You can read more about keeping a mother plant in one of our many grow guides.
Thanks for reading! You can find more information on anything related to growing in our cannabis grow guides. All of our guides are written by experienced growers, and members of our cannabis growers forum. If you have any questions, sign up. It is free, and we are always happy to help!