Plant Cloning: Methods and Steps
Plant cloning is not something new in the gardening world. It has been done since ages ago. At that time, this propagating method is only done by cutting a mother plant. These days, plant cloning can be done in several methods. However, if you are a beginner in gardening, you may try the cutting method first. It is easier to do. In order to try this method, you need to know the steps of how to clone a plant.
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Understanding More About Plant Cloning
Before you apply the steps of how to clone a plant, it is better for you to understand more about plant cloning. With a good understanding of this subject, you can gain more success in doing it. These are some facts you must know about plant cloning.
1. What is Plant Cloning?
Plant cloning is actually a term for vegetative propagation of a plant. It means a plant is multiplied without the use of its seed. A new plant that is produced by this method is most likely to have similar quality with its mother plant.
There are several methods of plant cloning. However, not all plants can be cloned in similar techniques. Therefore, before you found out the methods of how to clone a plant, you need to know which plants can be cloned using the cuttings methods and other methods.
2. What is a Mother Plant?
A mother plant, or sometimes referred as a parent plant, is a plant which is cut in order to get a new cloned plant. This plant is usually planted from seed. When it grows into an adult plant, growers will cut certain parts of it to create new plants.
3. The Advantages of Plant Cloning
Plant cloning offers you with some advantages. That’s why you must try to do it in your garden. Here are some of the advantages of cloning a plant.
Allows you to have a high quality new plant
As stated before, plant cloning will give you new plants that have similar quality as its mother plant. Therefore, it is important for you to choose the mother plant carefully. You need to make sure that it has certain qualities, such as resistance to disease, yield sweet and big fruits, or have sweet fragrant blooms. Therefore, you will have a high quality new plant.
Cloning a plant is an easy and quick propagating method. Compared to growing a plant from seed, plant cloning allows you to have a new plant quicker. Moreover, it is pretty easy to do.
Allows You to Harvest the Yield of Your Plants Quicker
In plant cloning, you will get a new mature plant. Therefore, this new plant will bloom or yield fruits not long after you plant it. For example, an avocado tree that is obtained from a plant cloning will yield fruits in the third year. But, an avocado tree that is obtained from the seed will yield fruit in the eighth year.
Different plants require different cloning methods. As a result, you will need to perform different steps of how to clone a plant. These are the methods of cloning a plant.
In this method, a stem of the mother plant is cut. After that, it is planted in a certain medium. Eventually, this stem will grow some roots. Therefore, it will grow into a new plant. Some plants that can be cloned using this method are gardenia, begonia, lantana, impatiens, and Christmas cactus.
If you want to clone a plant using this method, you must cut a leaf from a mother plant. Put the leaf in a certain medium. Similar to stem cuttings, this leaf eventually will sprout some roots and grows into a new plant. Some plants that can be cloned using this method are snake plants, African violet, sedum, peperomia, episcia, and hoya.
Grafting is usually done to multiply fruit trees. In this method, you need two plants for the root stock and scion. A cut must be formed on the root stock. Moreover, you need to cut a stem from the second plant as the scion. After that, the scion is fused into the rood stock. They are then wrapped tightly. Eventually, new leaves will grow and you get a new tree.
Budding is almost the same with grafting. However, the scion used in this method is not in the form of a stem. It is in the form of a bud, i.e. an undeveloped leaf or branch. It is also commonly done in fruit trees.
5. Techniques in plant cuttings
Among the plant cloning methods above, the easiest method is stem cuttings. This method can be done in several techniques. The thing that differentiates those techniques is the growing medium used in cloning the new plant. With different mediums, you will need to follow different steps of how to clone a plant. These are the mediums that can be used in stem cuttings.
Soil is very easy to prepare medium for plant cloning since you can use potting mix for it. Moreover, it is pretty effective medium. The soil you use in this plant cloning must be wet enough.
Rockwool cubes are made of basalt and chalk which undergone certain process. This medium is pretty popular among hydroponic gardeners. Moreover, it is also great for germinating seeds and stem cuttings. With this medium, you can avoid too dry or too wet medium for your plant cloning.
Propagating plants in water is pretty easy since you don’t need to perform certain preparation. However, it is only suitable for certain plants. Philodendron, anthurium, monstera, aglaonema, and pothos are some plants that can be propagated in water.
A cloning machine will help you to have higher rate of success in plant cloning. However, it is pretty expensive. It is more perfect for a more professional gardeners and hydroponic gardeners.
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How to Clone a Plant
Cloning a plant, especially through cutting method, is not complicated. Therefore, it is perfect for beginners. Before you perform the first step of how to clone a plant, you need to prepare several things. They are a healthy plant, rooting hormone, a sharp and sterilized knife or scissors, medium, and plastic or rooting dome.
Once you have them ready, you can follow these steps of how to clone a plant.
1. Selecting a mother plant
Selecting a mother plant must be done carefully. If you already have some plants to clone, you can simply evaluate their quality. What you need to evaluate is the quality of the leaves, stems, flowers, and fruits. After that, you can choose the best one. You need to make sure that the mother plant you choose is healthy, resistance to disease, and doesn’t show any sign of disease.
However, if you don’t have the plants yet, you need to grow the mother plants first. In growing them, you had better start them from the seeds. You will need to germinate several seeds. Once they grow into young plants, you can select the best one. For better result, the young plant must at least 8 weeks old.
Many beginners in gardening often ask whether they can cut stem from a cloned plant or not. The answer is that it is not recommended for you to clone a plant from a cloned plant. The result or the new plant may not be as satisfying as its mother. It is more recommended for you to clone from a mother plant that grows from a seed.
2. Select the stem
The next step in how to clone a plant is selecting the stem that you will cut. The stem or branch must be young enough. It is because younger stem can grow root easier. Moreover, it must have a node. The stem you choose must also be in the right height, between 4 and 8 inches. To add your chance of success, you had better choose a stem which is located nearest to the root.
To cut this stem, you must make sure that the knife or scissors you use is sterile. It is because the stem you cut is very sensitive to bacteria. If it is infected by bacteria, it will not be able to grow roots.
The cutting must be done near the main branch. If your cut is not close to it, the cloned stem will take more time to grow roots. It may even fail to grow them.
Cut the stem in 45o angle. It will allow the stem to have larger area to grow its roots. After you cut it, you need to place it in a glass of water immediately. It will prevent the cut to be exposed of oxygen which can lead to failure.
After that, trim all the branches and most leaves on this stem. You must only left the top leaves. In addition, you may cut a portion of those leaves if they are too big. Cutting the leaves will prevent evaporation and photosynthesis. Therefore, the stem will be more focused in growing its roots.
4. Dip it in the rooting hormones
Next, you need to dip your stem in a rooting hormone for 30 seconds. In doing it, you must dip only the bottom part of the stem. Rooting hormones will increase the chance of this stem to grow roots.
Actually, stem of a plant has natural rooting hormones or auxin hormones inside it. However, certain plants have lower hormones than the others. Tomatoes, peppers, basil, mint, and rosemary are some plants that has high auxin hormones. Therefore, you don’t need to deep them in a rooting hormone in propagating them.
The use of this hormone in plant cloning has caused some pros and cons. People who love organic farming may not like the use of synthetic rooting hormones in propagating plants. However, certain plants cannot sprout roots easily when they are cut. Therefore, the use of this hormone cannot be avoided.
Synthetic rooting hormone may not promote organic farming and gardening. But, it can be very helpful. For an alternative, many farmers and gardeners replace it with a homemade rooting hormone. It is more natural but gives almost the same result.
Once your stem is dipped in rooting hormones, you must place the cloning into the medium immediately. In consequence, you must prepare the medium beforehand. These are the techniques of stem cutting using different medium.
If you use soils, then you need potting mix and a small pot. Fill in the pot with potting mix. Mist the soil to make it wet enough. After that, put your stem into the soil.
The pH level of rockwool cubes is very high. Meanwhile, a stem can sprout roots if the pH level of its environment is 5.5. To lower a rockwool cube pH level, you need to soak it into water for a night or until its pH reading shows 5.5.
After that, you can place a stem into it. It is important for you to keep this cube moist. Therefore, you need to mist it with water regularly. In addition, you need to place the cloning in an area with normal daylight.
If you use water as the medium of your plant cloning, you need to prepare a cup, a plastic wrap, and tap water. The water must have room temperature and pH 5.5. Once you fill the cup with water, cover it with a plastic wrap tightly. After that, make a little hole in it. The size of the hole must be smaller than the size of the stem.
Then, place the stem in the water. You must at least have 5 cm of the bottom part under the water. Place it in an area with indirect sunlight. You need to check the water afterward. If it gets dirty, you must replace the water. Moreover, you may need to add the water regularly.
After those processes of how to clone a plant are done, you need to keep the medium moist. If you don’t want to mist it and checking it every day, you can use a rooting dome. Some plants will sprout roots in day 10 or even 7. However, others may need 3 weeks to sprout roots. Once it has enough roots, you can do the transplanting process.
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