Growers always ask us how to handle issues they’re having trying to raise clones. Some growers had problems getting clones started, but others had problems growing them, so this week we wanted to share some common issues growers face when clipping, rooting and raising clones. Cloning Rule #1: Always Use Sterile Razors/Scalpels to Take Clippings The first big thing growers overlook is using sterile equipment when taking clones. You wouldn’t let a doctor use a dirty, non-sterile scalpel on you, so you shouldn’t be using them to cut into your clones. Germs and bacteria from around your grow room- including mold, fungus- can be transmitted to your clones through the blade if it’s not clean. If you’re cutting into the plant with a dirty razor it won’t grow correctly (or at all, in most cases), so make sure your equipment is germ-free before using it to take clones. Now, some growers will tell you that so long as you disinfect them properly you can use the same shears you use to prune your branches to take clones. While this is true for the most part, we feel more comfortable using sealed, medical-grade scalpels or autoclaved razors to take cuttings to ensure that nothing harmful from the rest of your plant doesn’t harm your potential clone. Cloning Rule #2: Avoid Taking Clones from Sick/Infested Plants Sometimes feeding your plants certain vitamins or ridding them of pests just isn't enough to save them. To save a plant species, some growers will take clones from sick or infested plants in hopes to grow a healthier one. Some suggest popping a new seed and starting fresh, but if that's not much of an option you'll want to think carefully about taking that clipping. Now, it should be noted that as long as the clipping is still relatively healthy (as opposed to the rest of the plant) it'll still take root. However, the healthier the clipping is the faster it'll root. Depending on how affected the clipping is, it can take much longer to root than healthier clones, which means you'll need to baby them and make sure they're not overwhelmed by their environment (lights, temperatures, humidity levels, etc...) It's also been seen that flowers and fruit may not be as large as they could be had the plant been grown from seed or cloned from a healthy plant. Remember that clones are trying to grow an entire plant from a single clipping, so it will need to do a lot of work to do so. If it has to also repair possible damage, that's more energy going to repairing damaged cells instead of creating and growing new cells. Cloning Rule #3: Avoid Using Nutrients Until Your Clones Are Transplanted Clones are delicate, and if you give them nutrients before they’re ready you can severely damage the plant. However, there seem to be two schools of thought when it comes to when you should start giving your clones nutrients. Usually rooting gel, water, and humid conditions in your cloning trays are enough for roots to develop and for a clone to begin growing into a plant. But depending on the type of plants you have, how large or small the cut is, and how healthy it is, some growers prefer to wait a few days after being transplanted to give clones nutrients. When a plant’s a weak stage like this, giving it more nutrients than it can handle may backfire and instead of roots and leaves developing, you’ll see them lock up and wither. However, others don’t mind giving their rooted clones a minuscule amount of grow nutrients. This is done to help prepare the plant to take in more nutrients. It makes sense that if a plant is introduced to the nutrients it’ll receive once it’s transplanted it will reduce the likelihood of shock. When nutrients are given to clones, they are greatly reduced (we’re talking down to 1/8th of its strength- VERY small), so if you think your clones can take that minimal amount of nutrients proceed with caution. Otherwise, there’s nothing wrong with using pH’d water to feed your plants until they’ve been transplanted for a few days. Cloning Rule #4: Use CFL's, T5's, or LED's to Raise Clones Another issue growers have when they raise clones is overpowering them with light. Clones need plenty of light to root and grow, but that light needs to be less intense than what you'll use once it's transplanted. T5 and CFL grow lights can offer your clones the vegging (blue) spectrum they need without the intensity that could take it out. That's why you can (and should) hang them close to your plants without damaging them. Otherwise, an HID of the same size would overheat those young plants. If you're looking to go the LED route keep in mind how intense the lights are. LED's are becoming increasingly efficient and much more effective than other forms of light out there- but that may not be the best thing for young plants. When choosing LED's, make sure to go for something in the 35-50w range at the highest. As for spectrum, we suggest going with a dual-band or all-blue LED light to help stimulate vegetative growth.