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When Cloning Plants becomes a Neccesity

Although it is common knowledge that many plants grow from seeds, did you know that there are plants that don't always grow from seeds? Certain plants are mainly grown by a process called cloning. Next to the tomato plant, aloe, rose, and cannabis plants are some examples of plants that are often cloned.

But what exactly is cloning? How do you clone a plant? Is cloning plants better than growing a plant from a seed?

As the name implies, cloning means a plant is cut in order to grow another identical plant from this part. This is an effective method to breed a large number of plants in a short amount of time. In the more advanced structures cloning is often done by experienced gardeners as the process takes  an almost scientific approach which requires a lot of knowledge and care. Plants which are cut are traumatized and very sensitive. You will need a perfect growing environment and the ideal materials to give each plant the needed love and attention. However, nevertheless it is perfectly possible for anyone to clone a plant, i.e. a tomato plant, yourself for home and garden use. The big advantage of cloning is that it gives you the ability to copy that one perfect plant that really stands out from the others.

The Process in a Nutshell

A clone of a plant is simply a way of growing the mother (original) plant's identical offspring. Usually the cloning process exists out of the following steps:

  1. Choose a healthy cutting. The stem should be strong and thriving. The stem should be at least three inches long. Anything smaller is more likely to die before taking root properly
  2. Cut the stem from the rest of the plant. If it has several leaves or other plant parts, trim them until only one leaf remains.
  3. Have a prepared container for the cutting at hand. Peat moss or a grow cube works very well for this process.
  4. Plant the cutting 1-3 inches within the soil.
  5. Place a bag over the cutting and allow the plant to get bright sunlight.

Voila! You have successfully planted your first clone. 


A tomato cutting grows new roots. (via arstechnica.com)

Source:arstechnica.com

Source: arstechnica.com

Seeds vs Cloning

Cloning does not only save time, but also money that you would have had to spend on seeds which might not give you the result that you were actually looking for. Both methods have its own pro's and cons and while some people believe there definitely is a best method for growing plants, this really depends on the goals of the grower. By using seeds, you are guaranteed to have a clean slate. Your seeds will not be carrying any diseases or pests and will naturally grow and can handle their fair share of stress. With seeds, you can also have a pretty good idea of how big your crop will be, when flowering will occur, and other facts. Of course, some cons to using seeds are that not all seeds with germinate; costs from buying seeds for every crop can add up. However, autoflowering seeds are exceptions to this.

By cloning, you can cut weeks of grow time and you can constantly re-clone from the mother plant. On the other hand, however, shipped clones can take weeks to recover and unhealthy clones may remain sickly or even die. The debate between seeds vs cloning is often held by cannabis breeders (due to obvious reasons). Due to the specific nature of this product, interesting points are made and added to the debate. Cloning used to be the regular method for breeding cannabis plants, however since the development of feminized cannabis seeds, cloning has become less interesting. Both require the needed equipment. Within the industry however, the legal setting tends to push the growers into using seeds, as the posession of seeds themselves are legal in many countries and can be stored for multiple years with very little space capacity needed.B Outdoor growers have a strong peference for seeds, as outdoor crops will produce firm roots which give better support and resistance to various weather conditions. Indoor growers might prefer cloning to preserve the quality and strength of the products that are tagged to their brand. What kind of breeder are you?