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Roots Excelurator
HOME + GROW INFORMATION + ROOT ZONE FAQ

FAQ: PROPAGATION - CLONING AND SEED STARTING

What is cloning? What are cuttings?
Can all plants be cloned?
How do I take cuttings?
What kind of light should I use for indoor cloning and seed starting
What kind of nutrient should I use for propagation?
What temperature should I keep my clones at?
How do I start seeds?
What is the shelf life for Olivia's Root Clone Gel?
Can you recommend a grow light that meets my needs?
 

What is cloning? What are cuttings?
Cloning is a form of plant propagation that has been around for a very long time. It's basically taking a growing portion of a plant - a stem with some leaves attached, and helping it to become a brand new plant that is genetically identical to the plant from which the clone was taken. This is often easy to do because plants often clone themselves in nature; it's called asexual reproducation. The methods currently used today include taking cuttings, layering, division, grafting, budding, and tissue culture. Gardeners often trade cuttings and divisions as a way of sharing plants with their friends.

A stem cutting is a terminal growing point on a plant. It is 4 to 6 inches long and is cut off at a node. A node is the point on a stem where a leaf is attached. The bottom leaves are removed from the nodes and the lower end is inserted into the rooting medium. Some plants are excellent for cuttings; others never survive. Both woody and herbaceous plants may be used for cutting materials

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Can all plants be cloned?
Most plants can be cloned, although it takes different methods to do so. The kind of cloning performed most often in greenhouse situations is cuttings.
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How do I take cuttings?
The biggest requirement for taking clones is a healthy parent, or stock plant. The parent plant should be in excellent health and should posess the characteristics wished for in the new plants. It should be at least two months old and should still be in vegetative growth. Besides that, there are a few things you will need to take healthy cuttings. We offer a few *STARTER KITS* that can help you pull all this stuff together: We also have a fully stocked *PROPAGATION SECTION*. You will need:

First, you'll want to prepare the humidity tray by soaking the growing media with your prepared nutrient solution. You will use this same nutrient solution to water the clones in a few days. Once your media is wet you should poke holes in it with a pencil if it does not already have them. Place the tray on a propagation heat mat, and cover with the plastic dome to warm the rooting medium. After you have prepared your tray, you are ready to begin to take cuttings.

Generally the gardener cuts a short piece of a growing stem with several branch points on it. These branch points are call internodes. Usually these point will only have leaves coming out of them . The point at which the stem is actually growing is called the apical meristem. The goal of cuttings is to cut that apical meristem and grow roots on it. It will then become the top of your future plant.

Using your sterile razor you should cut the stem off with a precise and clean cut, cutting through cleanly without causing any extra damage. The cut should be made at a 45 degree angle. For absolute best results, make a first cut and then make the second cut at a 45 degree angle under water. You should strive for clones that will have one or two internodal spaces under the growing media. Cut off this extra leaf matter and dip the cut part in rooting hormone or solution (follow directions on the bottle for correct dilution rates etc.) Immediately place the cutting into the previously soaked growing medium. The cutting should be about 1/2" deep in the growing medium (when doing this be VERY careful not to bend the stems!)

As you continue to take cuttings, be sure to keep them moist by spraying them frequently with the spray bottle - get the undersides of their leaves. If you are worried about wilting clones, you should check on No-Wilt which prevents transpiration and helps prevent wilt.

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What kind of light should I use for indoor cloning and seed starting?
Seedlings and clones require bright light for healthy growth. Most growers use special spectrum fluorescent lights for these early stages of plant growth. These can be run in the same kind of fixture you find at the hardware store, but the bulbs themselves provide more lumens of the correct growing spectrum than do ordinary bulbs. They are slightly more expensive, but they will result in a much healthier start for your plants.

Here is a link to our Fluorescents Section.

Fluorescent lights should be placed no more than 6 inches above the dome. Some growers choose to use H.I.D. lights, but these should be hung higher up from the plants so as not to fry them (3, 4 feet away should do the trick.)

Most clones and seedlings benefit from 16 to 18 hours of light

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What kind of nutrient should I use for cloning and seed starting?
Olivia's, B'cuzz, InstaGreen, or any diluted bloom solution (say 6-700 ppm). Kelp and chitosan will promote root growth. and B1 vitamin is great for repairing stress damage at transplant time and helping plants with a healthy start. SM-90 is also a great way to ensure healthy root growth, although it should not be used in conjunction with other products.

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What temperature should I keep my clones at?
Keep seedlings in a well-ventilated, cool location. The temperatures should be about 70 to 75 degrees F in the air around the plants, but the bottom heat from the propagation mat should be about 80 degrees . Bottom heat encourages root growth. The humidity level should be kept at or near 90%. These conditions encourage compact, bushy, vigorous growth while minimizing disease.

Plants do require air circulation and your clones will benefit if you remove the dome once a day. Some folks say to leave it off for a few minutes each day, but we have found the trick is to turn it upside down and allow the hot air to escape. This airing will help to prevent disease.

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How do I start Seeds?
Sow very small seeds by sprinkling on top of the medium and pressing in. Use a fine mist of water to gently wash seeds into the growing medium. Sow medium-size and larger seed in rows 1 to 2 inches apart, and 1/8 to 1/4 inches deep. If no depth is specified on the seed packet, use the general rule of planting at a depth twice the diameter of the seed.

When planting in a tray or flat, sowing in rows works better than simply scattering the seeds. Planting in rows provides for better air circulation. Be careful not to plant seeds too close together because when seedlings are crowded, they may become tall and spindly. (It's often better to have several healthy plants than many spindly unhealthy ones.)

Plant two or three seeds per cell or pot. When they germinate, remove the two less vigorous seedlings. To avoid having to transplant seedlings from a seed flat to pots, you may sow seeds directly into small rockwool cubes. The General Hydroponics Rockwool Starter Tray is a great choice for this kind of sowing.

You may use a variety of growing mediums to start seeds, but whatever you use, you'll want to keep it moist, not wet. You can do this by keeping the container inside of a plastic bag, or use a clear plastic dome over your tray. The idea is to keep the moisture in, but allow air exchange, so be sure to leave a little air opening. If you do this correctly, your seeds should not require any further watering until germination. Provide proper light and temperature conditions.

Once seedlings germinate, remove the container from the plastic bag. Place the container in a location that has high light intensity and cooler temperatures.

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What is the shelf life for Olivia's Root Clone?
Olivia's Root Clone says that its product is good for one year after being opened. As long as you have kept it in a cool dark place and haven't opened it then it should be good for over a year. If you open a bottle of any rooting solution and refridgerate it then it should be good for over a year. However if you have had a bottle sitting out for over a year, better be safe then sorry and just toss it.

I am an avid gardener who wants to try starting some plants from seed in my basement next spring. I will be utilizing a workbench that is 2 feet by 12 feet and is 3 feet up from the floor. There is a window just above the workbench that has a total glass area of 6 square feet so I don't have much sunlight. Can you recommend a grow light that will meet my needs?
You should direct your attention towards “T-5 High Output Fluorecents.” They are better than regular fluorescent bulbs and put out a large number of lumens (light output). I think they will work perfectly for you. They come in 2x4 ft sections. You will probably want 2 of them. I would go with the 6 bulb units. These work REALLY REALLY well, so much so, that you might not even want to move you seedlings outside).
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