MOTHER PLANTS

When you find a strain that rocks your world or eases your pain, you will want to experience it over and over again. The easiest way to repeat a favourite discovery is by taking clones from mother plants. Using mothers has a number of benefits. Characteristics are known and repeatable, females are guaranteed, and growth and nutrient profiles are standardised. Mothers can be kept alive indefinitely when well-maintained, and enjoyed for years.

THE BENEFITS OF USING MOTHER PLANTS

When timed right, cloning from mother plants can mean harvesting one day and having more plants ready to go the next. With overlapping growing schedules, you can always have plants in flower—with more ready at a moment’s notice.

Mother plants are ideal sources for infant plants when using the sea of green (SOG) technique. Similar-sized clones will create a homogeneous canopy with no tall or short phenotypes to consider.

Mother plants can be as big as you need them to be. Ambitious grows with lots of space will need large mothers for lots of clones. Smaller spaces that can only fit a few plants will only need a small mother plant. Cannabis can be easily manipulated to suit your personal circumstances.

Consistent characteristics are guaranteed every time. Commercial growers appreciate the standardisation; domestic growers appreciate the reliable performance.

There is no risk of males with clones, making for an efficient grow space filled exclusively with females.

Mother Plant Cannabis

SELECTING A MOTHER PLANT

Mother plants begin their life as clones.

You will need to set aside an area separate from the flowering room. This mother plant home will be kept in permanent vegetation mode. If you already have a separate vegetation space, you are set. If not, you will need to create one.

“Making” mother plants requires some preparation when the original plants are grown from seed. It is a wait and see game. Every plant in the grow should be cloned. These clones need to be clearly identified with their source plant. After the source plants have been flowered, harvested, dried, cured, and consumed—that is when you make a choice of which one to keep.

Keeping detailed records and pics of growth characteristics and effects ensures things don’t get confused. Choose the most outstanding plant from a single-strain crop or the best of a multi-strain crop. By week two of flowering, males will have revealed themselves and can be disposed of.

MAINTAINING MOTHER PLANTS

Three things are essential knowledge for good mother plant upkeep:

  • Appropriate topping
  • Air pruning roots by hand or with air-pots/grow bags
  • Permanent vegetation cycle

When customised for the size of your grow-op, healthy mother plants will provide an endless supply of virile clones of your favourite strains.

Treat your mother plant as you would treat any other vegetating plant. As it is developing, only use diluted nutrients and increase the strength as the plant grows. Flush them regularly with pure, clean water or flushing solution to prevent nutrient lockout. Regular maintenance will ensure a long, healthy life for your mum.

How To Cut Clones Form Mother Cannabis Plant

TIP-TOP TOPPING TIPS

Clone size is space-dependent. 15cm cuttings will strike very well, as will 5cm and anywhere in between. A mother plant that provides long cuttings will take up substantially more volume than one that provides smaller cuttings. Big op, big mother; small op, small mother.

There are two types of mother plant. The permanent plant and the transient plant. Permanent plants are topped, tied, and manipulated to provide a continuous supply of clones. Transient mothers are cloned from the current plants under vegetation, prior to being put into flowering. In other words, each plant replaces itself before it goes onto the bloom phase. This way, there is no need for a separate plant. Don’t worry, there’s no such thing as genetic drift. Your only worry here is that clones might fail and plants could be lost.

Air Pruning Cannabis Plants

There are as many healthy mother plant topping techniques as there are ways to grow cannabis. In the domestic situation, the home-growing hobbyist is generally going to have eight weeks between the need for plants to bloom. Considering a 2–3 week period for cloning and vegetation, this is 5 weeks or more of mother plant preparation.

You can top once, tie the lateral branches horizontal as they grow, then clone from the fresh doublet of branches that grow from each node—leaving two branches to repeat the process. Continually topping the apically dominant branches will result in a bushy plant with many clone sites to choose from. Bonsai-ing also makes for a good selection of branches while keeping the mother size under control.

AIR PRUNING THE ROOTS

Air pruning the root system is necessary vandalism for continued mother plant health. When regular solid-walled pots with drainage holes in the bottom are used, plants eventually become pot-bound. Roots will knot  and spiral around the pot and eventually succumb to rot or strangulation.

Air pruning involves cutting the root ball down to a third of the original volume, then repotting. Fresh roots will then grow and plant development continues, unfettered by ill health. It is best to air prune a few days after clones are made. Plants have recovered well and the lesser foliage will have less demand for nutrients from the convalescing root system.

Root Issues Cannabis Plant

Air-pots and grow bags cauterise apically dominant root shoots with a thin film of air as they search their way through the grow medium. This prevents the roots from reaching the edge of the pot, and thus allows for more weeks in a single pot—rather than root-trimming once a month or so, as with regular pots.

Eventually, the pot will fill up with too many large, fat roots and form a knotted root ball. This leads to an inefficient surface area, which in turn inhibits proper nutrient uptake. At this point, many growers will begin a new mother plant.

In both cases, if you are unsure of the root condition of a plant, wait for a few hours after watering when the excess has drained away well. This will make sure the grow medium doesn’t collapse in your hand due to being too dry or saturated.

Upturn the pot and gently remove it to expose the subterranean workings of the roots. If roots can be seen starting to follow the shape of the pot, it is time to air prune. If roots aren’t visible, just as gently replace the plant. Pay attention to disturb the roots as little as possible.

Telltale signs your plants might be pot bound?

  • There are signs of nutrient burn and deficiencies simultaneously. 
  • Plant growth slows considerably and they lose their vigour.
  • There are general signs of sickness or pH imbalances that don’t respond to amending.

If your mother plants are responding strangely after weeks of healthy growth, upend them and inspect the root system.

Air Pruned vs Root Bound Cannabis Plant

ALWAYS VEGETATING

Mother plants need to be kept in the vegetative phase of growth. This means they will need to receive more than 12 hours of light per 24 hours. If they are in a vegetation chamber, they will be getting the standard 18/6 day/night vegetation cycle. If they are in a space of their own and you are wanting to slow growth rates, a 14/8 day/night cycle will keep them in vegetation, but growing slower. If you want more clones as quick as possible, keep up the 18/6 for rapid growth.

The same rules apply for keeping a mother plant vegetating as for general vegetation. A metal halide lamp to take advantage of the blue spectrum of light promotes ideal vegetation. Use reputable veg nutrients. If you are growing organically, the medium will be replaced every air prune to ensure consistently available food.

Mother plants are a great way to achieve consistent quality and performance from your favourite types of cannabis. When given the proper care, they can produce clones for decades.

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