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Plant cloning 101, with pictures

Gardening in Apex, NC and Holly Springs, NC; Hydroponic gardening and conventional gardening.

I was taking stock of our house plants and I noticed our mint plant had started to grow again but it was in rough shape.  It only had a few branches of growth and there was a moderate pest problem.  I sprayed it with Don’t Bug Me bug spray for a few days which took care of the infestation and I decided to take some clones.  Eventually I will re-pot the original mint plant after it recovers from the shock of being trimmed, more on that at a later date.  Different plants are cloned slightly different, but mostly similar, ways but here’s how you clone a mint plant and most others. I will do two clones in Grodan rockwool which will be grown hydroponically and one in soil I collected from the back of Homecrafted here in Apex, NC.

 

Here’s what we will be using: A rooting hormone powder, a rooting hormone gel, two Grodan cubes, yogurt cups in place of flower pots, a keg cup, super sharp trimmers and, of course, the mint. The re-purposed yogurt cups are perfect for gardening whether hydroponically or with soil. The bottom of the cups are raised and flat in the middle with a lower channel around the outside edge. This allows the Grodan cube to be placed in the center and extra water will collect in the lower channel. This way the cube will not become overly saturated which means better growth and less chance of disease.

I didn’t realize this until I started but a keg cup is a perfect holder for the yogurt cups. You need to poke some holes in the bottom of the yogurt cup which holds the soil in order to allow it to release any extra water. The problem with that is it can make a mess. An easy and green solution is to just put the yogurt cup over the keg cup and let any water that drips collect in the cup with absolutely no mess!

 

First, cut about three nodes from the top. Nodes are places where the leaves branch out. Take your cuttings from the most vigorous and new growth spots as they will survive much better. Trim off the bottom leaves. Plants use their leaves to gather sunlight for photosynthesis so you want to give the plant enough leaves to survive but too many leaves will actually dry the plant out through transpiration. This is where good judgment and experience comes in handy.  Here’s an important trick, re-cut the clone under water and at a 45 degree angle. The angle is important because it give the most surface area for the rooting hormone to adhere to. The theory behind the re-cut is that cutting under the water will prevent an embolism in the vesicals. I don’t know where or when I picked up this habit but I do it every time and I RARELY loose my clones. Just do it.

 

Next, use your clippers to LIGHTLY scratch off the hard outer layer on the bottom 1/2” of the stem. The part hanging off the bottom is what I scraped off. Pull that flesh off before you continue. Dip into the gel to a depth of 1/2” to 1”. Do the same with the powder but do not dip directly into the powder jar. Pour some into another container and when finished dispose of the used powder. This will keep your remaining powder clean and ready for the next cuttings.

 

Place the cuttings in the Grodan cubes. The cubes are made with a small hole but try to push the cutting into the actual cube tissue (this is easier since you cut the clone at a sharp 45 degree angle.) This will anchor the clone and give a good point of contact between the growing media and the mint. For the soil, make a hole with a pencil then insert the cutting and lightly pack the soil around the stem to make good contact. Label which cups got the powder and which got the gel so you know what works best for your plant. The last pic shows the three cutting in their new homes and the mint leaves I removed.  Why not make a mint mojito!?

06271413590628141011Either place the clones in a humidity dome or do like I did and use what you’ve got laying around. I used a clear keg cup and sandwich bags. Place the cutting in indirect sunlight until you see roots, checking for proper moister regularly(that’s what the bags are for!) I like to use an EnviroGro desktop grow light to supply light at night.