Propagation means to reproduce an organism through natural or unnatural processes.
When it comes to plants, this is considered the 3rd happiest moment for any indoor grower. The 1st happiest moment is harvesting your hard earned fruits or flowers and the 2nd happiest moment is knowing that your plant is a female.
Propagating your plant happens in two ways: clones from cuttings or sprouts from germinating seedlings. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. For the most part, they require similar equipment to get the job done.
Let’s start talking about the easiest of the two to propagate: Seeds
There are many ways to germinate seeds. I’ve seen people shave seeds down to have a thinner outer shell, I’ve seen people dunk seeds in water and let them sit for 24 hours in the dark, and I’ve seen people do it the old fashion way– bury them in soil and pray to God it sprouts.
The easiest way to germinate seeds with the best results is the Wet Paper Towel Method. The initial setup doesn’t require any fancy equipment we carry at GrowAce.com. You simply need a paper towel, saran wrap, your seeds, and a dining plate.
Rip a piece of paper towel from the roll and wet it under the sink with warm water. You want to have just enough moisture so you don’t drown your seeds. The rule of thumb is to lightly squeeze out the excess water until the paper towel isn’t dripping anymore.
Lay your wet paper towel flat on top of the plate. Then place your seeds on one half of the paper towel evenly spaced in a row. Make sure they all face the same direction.
Fold the other half of the paper towel over the seeds and gently press around each seed, making a ‘cocoon’ for them to incubate in. Then, with another wet paper towel, you want to add a single drop of warm water on top of each seed.
Saran wrap the plate to keep it moist and keep it in a dark location with temperatures between 70-85 degrees.
After 48 hours, you should see taproots coming out of your seeds. If you find some seeds that haven’t popped yet, leave them in there a little longer. After 3-4 days, if they haven’t popped, then they’re a lost cause– throw ‘em out!
This is where our GrowAce equipment comes in. You want to transplant the sprouted seed immediately before they form micro-roots that can be torn when removed from the paper towel. This will temporarily retard germination and growth as well as stress the plant which could possibly result in unfavorable male/hermaphrodites. A big no no in the marijuana plant cultivation.
If the taproot is stuck on the paper towel, go ahead and rip the piece of the paper towel with the seed.
Use the Accel-A-Root 50 Cell Starter Tray for transplanting your seeds. Cut out the appropriate amount that you need and set the rest aside in a cool location.
Each Cell should come pre-moistened, but if you need to, run it under some water and gently squeeze out the excess. Take a toothpick and slowly dig a small hole for your seeds. You should dig deep enough for the taproot and shell to be covered under the surface of the cell.
Grab your seeds and gently lower your taproot in the hole, making sure you do not bend or snap it. Once you have it comfortably in the cell, lightly bury the top of the seed. Do not pack it with the cell soil.
Then place the cell trays in a propagation tray, like the 10” x 20” EXTREME. Add a cup of water into the tray for humidity and moisture and cover the tray with the dome top. Place the entire setup on top of a heat mat under some bright lights.
Keep the entire thing under direct light. The heat and brightness from the light will help the seed navigate upward towards it. You want the light to be strong to prevent stretching.
So how do you do that? We know that the high power lights are definitely strong but the problem with them during the first stages of plant growth is that the lights produce a lot of heat and you don’t want to fry your little babies. Plus big HID and LED grow lights are better suited for more mature plants.
Most people wouldn’t want to throw their germinated seedlings into this grow environment right away. You would need a smaller powered light that can give us the same intensity with minimal to no heat. You have two options, but one of the options is the best option…
The first option: Fluorescent grow lights. They are great for newly sprouted seedlings. They provide strong intense lights with very little heat and can be placed 4-5inches away from the seedlings for intense direct light.
However, fluorescent grow lights are big and cumbersome for people with small spaces. They only come in 4ft wide fixtures (unless using small inefficient CFLs) and, unless you’re planning on creating a small propagation station in your indoor garden, they’re too bulky.
Another option, what I consider is the best option, is using a 50w LED grow light. It runs cooler than fluorescents, uses less wattage, and can be placed 2-3 inches above the seedlings without harming them. You can use any type of LED grow light except for the all Red, because all red spectrums are more for supplementing the flowering stage (more on the flowering stage in another article).
I’ll discuss the reasons why you would start from seedlings vs clones towards the end of the article. In the meantime…
We conveniently have an entire grow package dedicated to germinated seedlings called the seed and clone propagation package. This works for both germinating seedlings as well as propagating clones.
When it comes to cloning, watch the video below for the basic info and then we can dive deeper into the process. Keep in mind this is not a video on how to clone in soil because the success rate in soil is lower than the methods shown in the video:
So what’s really happening here? Nothing fancy because plants have been doing this to themselves over hundreds of thousands of years. When you take a leaf cutting (or suckle) from your original plant you have exposed a mass of non-specialized cells called a callus. When treated properly, the callus will grow, divide and form various specialized cells (roots, stems), eventually forming a new plant that has the identical genetic makeup as the donor plant.
If you’re planning on taking multiple cuttings from your plants, make sure to drop them in a cup of water to prevent air from getting into the mass of the stems.
Once you’re ready to transplant them in your tray, you want to make a 45 degree angle cut. The reason the cut is in a 45 degree angle is to increase your cloning success rate by exposing more of the branch’s mass. To get a precise cut, we recommend using a surgical scalpel like the Gro1 Disposable Scalpels. They come with ten in all cloning packages. It’s important to clean your scalpel with rubbing alcohol for every 45 degree cut to prevent transferring diseases.
To increase your odds even more, you dip the end of the branch into cloning gel, like the X Nutrient MX Clone Gel. You never want to dip your cuttings in the original container because it can contaminate your clone gel. Most growers don’t realize is that contamination can easily happen and that equals bad stuff growing in your gel between uses.
You want to come up about an inch when you dip your cutting. Make sure to coat the living hell out of it. Then place your clones in a moist starting tray. For successful cloning propagation, you use the same dome and tray setup found in the complete clone and rooting package.
Unlike seedlings, humidity needs to be much higher for cuttings. Adding a cup of water to the bottom of the tray or misting your dome will help provide a high humidity environment.
Keep the dome on and make visual checks every day for signs of mold or mildew. If any show up, remove the infected plant or clip off the infected portion of the plant to keep the mold from spreading to your other cuttings.
Your dome has venting holes on the sides and on the top of it that can help you regulate the humidity level during the stages of cloning.
After 3-4 days, open your side vents half way. This will lower the humidity in the dome and aid in drying out the environment. You want to slowly dry out the starter cell medium so that the clones’ roots that are forming can start looking for water.
Around day 7, open up your vents all the way. This is also a good time to water your tray again to keep things moist. Feed plain water to your cuttings.
At the earliest, roots will start showing on the bottom of your tray medium within 7-8 days. By the 10th day, most of the cuttings should form roots. Keep in mind that depending on the strain of your plant, it may take up to 14-21 days until they take root.
So now you’re wondering why people would clone their plants vs starting fresh with seeds. If you discovered favorable traits from the plants you grow, cloning will help propagate the same genetics. These favorable traits are subjective, but most people clone their garden or house plants because their plants are either easy to grow, fast growing, tight internodal growth (internodal? It’ll be explained in an upcoming article), delicious fruits or beautiful flowers, immune to pests, molds, or other diseases, and many other traits.
Seedlings are a great way to introduce new genetics into your garden. However, seedlings come with variables that might be unfavorable to your garden. Such things would include difficult growing genetics, male plants, hermaphrodites, diseases and many other things. The worst and disheartening part of growing from seeds is that you don’t discover these issues months after they are mature. For indoor growing especially, this wastes time, money and energy that you could have used on healthy plants.
So to recap:
Seeds are a great way to introduce new genetics into your garden. Not only that, but they take less time to propagate your garden than cloning.
The best way to germinate seeds is with Paper Towel Method.
Transplant your seedlings into a high humidity environment until the sprouts show.
Cloning is a great way to keep favorable genetics.
Cloning is a longer process than seedlings but well worth the trouble. Especially what you do after you receive your clones.
We try to be as comprehensive as possible but in case we missed anything, let us know!