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Why Aren’t my Clones Rooting?

This is a question that many growers tend to ask themselves; why aren’t my clones rooting? There can be many reasons but when it happens and you have no idea why it tends to be down to a small minor mistake that was made when making the cuts or during the rooting process itself.

In this article we’re going to go through a series of mistakes that people tend to make which can then cause the downfall of your clones. We’re going to talk about rooting clones in rockwool, jiffy’s or small flower pots, as all three methods are done in more or less the same way.

Mistakes when taking cuttings:

  • You need to take the cutting from the mother plant in a way so that you can then bury one of the nodes in a flowerpot and still have space between the substrate and the first leaves on the clone, so that there’s ventilation and you don’t get any rot. Taking cuttings that are too small will make it harder to spray them properly.
  • The rooting medium must be humid, having used water with a pH of 6.0, which will immensely help them to root properly.
  • Make sure you don’t wet the medium too much as the trunk might rot and then it won’t root at all.
  • Another common mistake that people make is scraping the cutting too much when taking it. Cannabis plants have natural rooting hormones under their second layer of skin – if you peal this skin too much they will never root.
  • Cutting at a 45º angle is done so that the stem doesn’t get blocked up, but if you directly submerge the stem into your rooting hormone then it can still get blocked. The trick here is to take a little brush such as an eyebrow shaper or a small, thin paint brush and use that to spread some rooting hormone on the stem.
  • Rooting hormones are alive, and sometimes you can ruin them if you contaminate them with something. Every time you take cuttings, pour a little bit of rooting hormone into a shot glass so that you’re not contaminating the contents of the bottle – keep the bottle in the fridge as it will last much longer without going off.
  • You need to cut the leaves slightly when you take cuttings but make sure you don’t take too much off – leave around 60% of each leaf on the plant.
  • It’s practically impossible to do this without a propagator or small greenhouse, as humidity needs to be at around 90% for them to root. I’ve tried it in all sorts of ways but the best one without a doubt is doing it in a propagator made specifically for rooting cuttings.

Mistakes when maintaining cuttings:

To keep your clones alive while they root you need to follow a series of steps that if not done correctly could cause your clones to die off – if you follow these steps and don’t make any of these mistakes your clones will have a happy, healthy future ahead of them.

  • When planting the cuttings, you need to wet your rooting medium such as a jiffy or rockwool – and then you don’t need to water it again until they actually root, around day 10 after taking the cuttings.
  • Don’t spray them on the top of the leaves, but rather on the bottom of the leaves – if you spray them when they’re standing upright you’ll wet the substrate and they’ll take much longer to root. You need to remove them from the propagator one by one, spray them outside the propagator and shake the excess drops of water off of them before sticking them back in. If you have them in jiffy trays or rockwool trays you can cut them in groups of 10 (2×5) which you’ll be able to easily remove with one hand, spray upside down and put them back in.
  • You need to keep them at around 22º – if they get too cold they won’t root at all, and if it’s too hot the roots will die off instantly.
  • You need to open the lid once a day so that they get some new air, as well as drying the drops of condensation on the inside of the propagator. If there’s water on the bottom of the propagator you’ll need to dry that too or the substrate will get too wet.
  • You don’t need to water the substrate or use anything in it – once the cutting roots and you can transplant it there will be time for watering and nutrients.
  • You need to spray them every second day, opening the lid every day though.
  • Don’t let them get too hot – there are heating blankets especially made for them, but electric blankets used around the house can easily kill them off.

Whichever way you decide to do it, you should go check out our article on making cuttings as it has a lot of valuable information on the whole process.

If you have any questions don’t hesitate to leave a comment and our team of experts will get back to you as soon as possible.

Author: Javier Chinesta
Translation: Ciara Murphy

Why Aren’t my Clones Rooting? Sometimes clones just don't work out – find out why your cuttings are having a hard time rooting.

Cannabis Clones And Rooting Hormones

Clones are the best way a home grower can keep hold of dank genetics and continue to crop a specific cannabis strain long-term. Similarly, if you plan on growing large numbers of plants, cannabis cuttings are the smart option. Rooting hormones play a key role in cloning. Find out why here.

Contents:

Cloning is consistently inconsistent for all kinds of growers, from novices to cultivators with decades of grow room experience. Taking cuttings is hit-or-miss for a variety of reasons. Although, to be clear from the outset, the number one cause of death for cannabis clones is the cannabis cultivator. Grower error is responsible for most clone casualties.

To successfully root cannabis cuttings, the grower must be willing to experiment in order to discover the custom formula that works for them. Expect to take losses and stack up a cutting kill count before you figure it out. There is no one way to take cuttings and root them. But no matter which method you use, the biological fuel for root development are rooting hormones.

Sure, you can cut stems at a 45 degree angle with scissors, or cut finely with a razor blade, or cut precisely with a scalpel. But without a dose of rooting hormone and a new home inside a propagator, odds are, plenty of your clones are already done for.

WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO ROOT CLONES?

Ok, so you’ve decided on a clean cutting tool, invested in a propagator, and perhaps you have some cutting practice, albeit with mixed results. You have three types of rooting product to choose from; rooting hormone is available in gel, liquid, and powder form. It’s best to stick with the cannabis-specific brands. Some square gardening products work and some don’t. Why take the risk?

Using homemade rooting products or those from the garden centre is amateurish and not recommended. High-quality cannabis rooting hormones are inexpensive and will cost you less than €20. If you want a high rate of success and a process that you can repeat, you must match the right tools with the right techniques. And practice, practice, practice until you’ve got it down perfect. The best way to root clones is the way that works for you, again and again.

WHAT ARE ROOTING HORMONES?

Generally, there are five agreed plant hormones: auxins, abscisic acid, cytokinins, ethylene, and gibberellins. When it comes to rooting cannabis cuttings, it’s all about the auxins:cytokinins ratio. In ordinary decent stoner terms, auxins are root juice. The two most important natural auxins are, brace yourself for the science, indole-3-acetic acid or IAA, and IBA or indole-3-butyric acid.

HOW TO USE ROOTING HORMONE PRODUCTS

Typically, rooting hormone products are based on either IBA or a synthetic auxin like NAA (1-naphthaleneacetic acid). There are lots of really effective cannabis rooting products available, both from the grow store and online. Let’s discuss the three most commonly-used forms of rooting hormone by home growers.

CLONING POWDER

Cloning powder is favoured among commercial growers and those planning on large crops. As a powder, it has by far the longest shelf-life of any rooting product; plus, you can root a lot of clones using little powder. After you make your cut, you need to cover the tip in powder. Most growers fill a bottle cap or small cup and tap off the excess. Then, place your cutting in your medium of choice.

CLONING LIQUID

Cloning liquid is pretty versatile. Some growers like to dilute a few ml in 6.0pH water and immerse rooting mediums like coco coir, Jiffy pellets, or rockwool cubes in the solution to promote root zone development. More common is for growers to dunk a fresh cutting in a lid full of cloning liquid for 5 seconds, and then insert in the rooting medium.

CLONING GEL

Cloning gel is probably the most popular form of rooting hormone used by home growers these days. Again, to use gel, it’s more or less the same as the other two methods. You dunk your cutting into a small cup full of gel, only the gel is a gooey consistency and covers more of the cutting base and lower stem. Gel is easy to use and very effective. Dunk and pop your clone in a rooting cube.

HOW TO PROMOTE SEEDLING ROOT DEVELOPMENT

Some home growers will mix cloning powder with seedling potting mix to make it more auxin-rich. This is most effective with seedlings in small pots or containers. As the plants transition to vegetative growth proper, you need to transplant to a medium with fewer auxins or stem development will be stunted.

Other growers will use a light solution to assist rooting by adding a few ml of cloning liquid with watering, directly after transplant. This is in order to promote root development without building up too many auxins in the medium that will inhibit stem growth later.

ENVIRONMENTAL CONDITIONS

The ideal habitat for cannabis clones is a propagator under an 18-6 light schedule. Cool white CFL, MH, or LED will do just fine. Powerful lamps are too intense and not needed. 250W is about right for any light system. Don’t be tempted to run 24 hours straight to speed things up. Clones do most of their actual rooting during the dark cycle. So stick with a conventional 18-6 cycle.

Maintaining optimal environmental conditions during propagation is critical to clone survival. Try to keep humidity 70-80%+ and temps at 24°C. You can occasionally mist plants with pure water if the RH gets a bit too low. Successfully rooting clones can become routine if you can control the climate and master your method.

NATURAL HOMEMADE ROOTING COMPOUNDS

There are a number of commercial rooting hormones available that promote the healthy striking of clones.

With the demand for high quality organic weed increasing all the time. It makes sense to begin the life of your plants with an organic homemade rooting compound. Here are 6 natural and homemade methods for helping cuttings develop their first shoots.

1. CINNAMON

Yes, cinnamon. Cinnamon isn’t so much a rooting compound as a natural antifungal agent that prevents pathogens from harming developing roots.

In a well prepared quality medium, cuttings will eventually develop roots without the need for rooting compounds. It can take a little longer and cinnamon will protect the young plant while it strikes roots.

  1. Shake some cinnamon into a small container.
  2. Dip the cutting into the cinnamon.
  3. Plant as normal.

2. HONEY

Honey is an old school way to aid with striking cuttings. It has a number of beneficial enzymes and vitamins and is a natural antibacterial and antifungal. As with cinnamon, honey might not be considered a rooting compound as much as a protectant for emerging roots. It goes without saying that natural honey needs to be used. Be careful, many of the shelf brands contain substantial amounts of sugar syrup. Be sure the honey is pure.

  1. Decant an amount of honey.
  2. Dip the clone in the honey and let any excess drip away.
  3. Plant as normal.

3. WILLOW WATER

Certainly the most traditional rooting compound, used by gardeners since time immemorial. Willow water has naturally occurring indolebutyric acid, which is a growth stimulant. This is why a willow branch laid on the ground will sprout roots and grow.

  1. First source some willow and cut a small bunch of young branches, enough to fill 2 cups. Don’t collect fallen branches as the important compound is gone. The size and thickness of a pencil is ideal. You can also use the bark of the willow tree itself, however you will need 3 cups as the indolebutyric acid is weaker in bark.
  2. Cut the branches or bark into small pieces and place in a container that can hold at least 5 litres of fluid.
  3. Using a large saucepan boil 3.7 litres of water.
  4. Pour the boiling water over the willow bits and leave to steep for at least 12hrs, preferably 24hrs.
  5. Your rooting hormone is now ready. Strain into clean glass bottles making sure no bits get into the mix. Label and date bottles and store in the fridge. It will keep for up to 2 months.
  6. When ready to make clones, decant some of the tonic into a container large enough to hold your cuttings. Let them rest for a few hours while the indolebutyric acid works it rooting magic.
  7. Plant as normal.

4. ALOE VERA

Aloe Vera is a common succulent with many uses. A favourite for sunburns and getting rid of dark rings under the eyes. Aloe is also a handy natural rooting aid for clones, as it contains salicylic acid, which is a growth stimulant. Aloe can also be watered into mature plants to encourage healthy overall growth.

  1. Break off an Aloe frond and squeeze out the sticky juice into a clean container of pure water. Give it a stir until the goo is well dissolved. Container size depends on how many cuttings are being made.
  2. Make your cuttings and put them into the aloe and water mix. Leave them to soak for 24hrs. You will notice they increase their turgidity.
  3. 24hrs later break off another Aloe frond and push the cut stalk into the wound. Agitate it a bit to make sure the juice gets onto the stalk. Agitation has the added benefit of mildly scoring the outer cambium where root shoots will be encouraged to develop.
  4. Plant as normal.

5. APPLE CIDER VINEGAR

Apple cider vinegar is a useful rooting tonic for clones. It must be diluted, otherwise it can be too acidic and harm the clones whilst dropping the medium pH.

  1. Dilute the apple cider vinegar with fresh. 1 teaspoon of ACV to 6 cups of water and stir well. Any stronger than this is too acidic.
  2. Dip the cutting in the diluted mix.
  3. Plant as normal.

6. ASPIRIN

Uncoated aspirin tablets can also be used to make a rooting agent. They contain salicylic acid, which is why aspirin in vase water helps cut flowers last longer. Follow the method for the willow tonic to make a rooting agent. Aspirin may not be totally organic, but is a cheap homemade solution to expensive rooting compounds.

  1. Purchase uncoated aspirin tablets. There’s no need for any additives that may harm young plants.
  2. Dissolve a tablet in a clean glass of water. Give it a quick stir to ensure there are no solids left over.
  3. Place the cuttings in the solution and leave to sit for a few hours.
  4. Plant as normal.

Do you want to learn how to root cuttings and understand the importance of rooting hormones in the process? Read on to find out more!