10 Steps to Supercharged Cuttings: Reproducing your own plants from “cuttings” provides control over the supply and quality of “seedlings”. It also enables you to replicate your favourite ‘strain’.
1. Start with clean, sterile water. This helps to prevent diseases. Use either fresh, reverse osmosis water (ideal), or fresh treated tap water. The water should be tepid, around 20 °C (68 °F).
2. Choose a professional nutrient such as FloraMax Coco A+B. Add Coco ‘A’ and stir. Next add Coco ‘B’ and stir.
3. Stimulate root production. Add a suitable root stimulant and root-zone conditioner (such as FloraMax Root-XS) to the nutrient solution then stir again. This encourages strong, vigorous and healthy roots.
4. Check pH to ensure optimal nutrient availability. This step is unnecessary if using FloraMax. However, if uncertain use a calibrated digital pH meter to verify the nutrient solution’s pH is between 5.5 and 7.0. If the pH is above 7.0, add dilute (not straight out of the bottle!) phosphoric acid, little by little until the pH falls within the correct range.
5. Prep pots then moisten. Line two or three-inch net pots with net pot liners and fill with premium quality, pith-rich coco coir and place in a propagator tray. Alternatively use large cell trays or coco propagation blocks. Gently tap the pot or tray a few times to get rid of any large air gaps. Thoroughly moisten (flush) the propagation media with the nutrient solution. Discard any run-off. TIP: To prevent diseases, ensure all hardware has been thoroughly cleaned and sterilized with bleach or FloraMax System Maintenance prior to commencing.
6. Take small cuttings. Select a healthy mother plant that is not flowering and has no visible diseases or pest infestations:
- Step 1. Select “lead” growth tips wherever possible: Ideal length is 3 – 5 inches with one leaf set (two leaves) at the base that can be removed later on (fig 1). When these lower leaves are removed (in Step 2) this region offers greater rooting potential when placed into ‘soil’.
- Step 2. Work quickly with a sterile, sharp blade (razor blades are good but be careful): Remove lower set of leaves flush with stem, but without cutting into it. Then cut through the stem on a 45 degree angle about 1/4 inch (6mm) below this (fig 2). Do not tear or crush the stem.
- Step 3. Insert 1 inch of base of cutting (fig 3) into FloraMax Cloner (or equivalent). Finally, insert stem about one inch deep into a ‘pre-made’ hole (slightly undersized) in the centre of the pot or block (fig 4). It should fit snugly. Be careful not to bruise or damage the stem. NOTE: Steps 1 to 3 should be done quickly to minimize stresses on the cutting such as dehydration and air ingress.
7. Seal in moisture. Place propagator lid on tray and generally close any vents. Relative humidity should be maintained about 90% (open vents slightly if required). To combat any persistent wilting, spray 2-3 times per day with water or FloraMax Clone Spray. Avoid pools of liquid at the bottom of the propagator – propagation media should never be allowed to sit in water.
8. Place under low intensity fluorescent light. Choose 6500K lamps. One 2ft lamp is sufficient for one full-sized propagator. Lights on for 24 hours a day. Monitor temperature inside the propagator using a thermometer with a remote probe. Aim for 24-27 °C (75-80 °F). Use a thermostatically controlled heat mat if temperatures are too cold—unlikely. Raise lights if too hot—more likely.
9. Check cuttings regularly. Once roots form (typically after 5 – 10 days) the propagation media can become dry very quickly, often catching growers out. Re-moisten using the same solution. In some cases, top-watering fails to water the entire propagation block. Full immersion of the block itself may be required.
10. Be patient and clean. Wait until roots have fully explored the propagation media before transplanting—keeping the cuttings moist (but not drenched) with regular top-ups of mild nutrient solution. Vents can be gradually opened once roots have formed. This will help prevent diseases. Also, maintain hygiene by keeping hard surfaces wiped clean, and remove any dead plant matter as this is an ideal host for fungi.
© Andrew M Taylor