How to Keep the Mother Plant Healthy
Once a grower produces a plant that has excellent genetics and everything they’re looking for in a marijuana plant, they may want to keep growing that exact strain of Lemon OG Fem over and over again. While they can collect seeds, this doesn’t guarantee they’ll have the same outcome for every plant they grow since the male plant that fertilizes the female plant will have an impact on the genetics of any seeds. Instead, a grower who wants to ensure they can keep the same plant growing perpetually may wish to consider using the perfect plant as a mother plant and cloning from it. Done correctly, they can continue to grow plants with the ideal genetics year after year without worry.
What is a Mother Plant?
The best way to preserve the genetics of a plant and ensure new plants will have the same genetics is through cloning. To clone marijuana plants, a cutting is taken from a mother plant and is rooted so it will grow into its own plant. This can be done many times from the same mother plant, and every plant that is grown will have the same genetics, so the grower can continue producing the exact plant year after year.
The mother plant is simply the one plant the grower takes cuttings from to create exact replicas of it. There are no requirements for which plant should be used as a mother plant, though there are guidelines to help growers choose the right one. Once selected, the mother plant will need to be kept in the vegetative stage and cared for accurately to ensure it lives as long as possible and so it provides as many cuttings as possible.
Why Cultivate a Mother Plant?
Since it isn’t exactly hard to grow from seed and the results can be somewhat predictable, what is the point of cultivating a mother plant? It’s not possible to get buds from the mother plant, so it can seem like a waste of space. However, there are a few different benefits of using a mother plant for cloning instead of starting from seeds.
- Possible to Grow Year-round – When the grower can time it correctly, they’ll be harvesting from the current plants and starting the new clones around the same time. This means there can be a crop growing at all times throughout the year, spreading out the harvest.
- Clones Grow Faster – Clones don’t need to germinate or go through the seedling stage, so they grow a lot faster compared to growing from seeds. Growers can save a couple of weeks by starting from clones instead of seeds.
- Results Will be the Same – Since clones are the same as the mother plant, the results will be the same. The size of the plants, the strength of the marijuana, the taste, and the smell are all going to be the same for every plant grown from the mother plant. They will all be identical genetic copies of one another.
- No Male Plants – The mother plant is female, and all of the clones are the same as the mother plant, so there won’t be any male plants. This means no worry about wasting space on a plant that turns out to be male or worry about pollination and seed growth.
Selecting a Plant to Use for a Mother Plant
As mentioned, there aren’t any strict requirements for what plant should be picked to use as a mother plant. However, some guidelines can be used to select the right plant. Always look at the plants very carefully to choose the one with the best genetics and keep an eye on the following traits.
- Healthy and Strong – The stronger a plant is, and the healthier it is, the longer it can live. If a mother plant is strong, it’s not unusual for the plant to last a decade or longer before it starts showing signs that it needs to be replaced because it’s getting too old. This is the most vital trait to consider and should be above all others on this list.
- Flavor and Aroma – The taste and aroma of the marijuana are essential, so many indoor seed and outdoor seed growers will want to choose a plant that features excellent flavors in the finished harvest as well as a much better aroma while growing or after the buds are harvested.
- Yield – With strong, healthy mother plants, it’s possible to take more clones from them, so yield isn’t too much of a concern. However, those who want to minimize the amount of space for plants while getting as big a harvest as possible may want to choose a plant that is known as a higher-yield strain.
- Drought-Resistance – If the clones are planted outside, it may be a good idea to look into the drought-resistance of the mother plant. More drought-resistance means the plant will continue to grow without issue during the dry season and won’t require as much water to thrive.
How to Nurture the Mother Plants
For a mother plant to live a decade or longer, it needs to be taken care of properly. The initial care they receive is going to prep them to continue to grow without flowering and ensure they can have cuttings taken regularly without issue. Nutrients are needed after the first true leaves have developed and vegetative nutrients can continue for the next few weeks. While the mother plant is growing, it’s crucial to keep them as healthy as possible and to ensure they have everything they need to flourish. This includes looking into lighting, adding proper nutrients, and learning when and how to prune the plants correctly.
Make Sure the Lighting is Correct
Most growers already know that the proper lighting for plants is crucial. Most growers will keep mother plants indoors to ensure they get the right lighting all of the time. Mother plants will need to be held in a vegetative state to ensure they can be cloned. To keep them in this state, they should receive more than 12 hours of light every day. The exact amount can vary based on the goals of the grower.
Growers who want to encourage the Sour Diesel or LA Confidential plant to grow faster so they can get the maximum number of clones from each mother plant will want to have the lights on much longer. Most will have the lights on for 18 hours a day and off for six hours. Growers who want to slow down the growth may reduce the lighting to 14 hours on and eight hours off. The plants will still grow, but not quite as quickly, so they may end up being healthier and able to live longer.
The right type of lighting is also crucial for mother plants and can have an impact on how healthy and robust the plants end up being. For vegetative growth, the best light is inside the blue light spectrum, as this mimics the natural daylight during the spring. As springtime is when marijuana plants are typically going through the vegetative state during the spring, the blue light offers precisely what they need to grow. To get the right light for a mother plant, most growers will want to look into metal halide lamps.
Ensure the Mother Plant Has the Proper Nutrients
Fertilizers can be used on mother plants and are almost a requirement. As the plants grow, they use all of the nutrients that are available naturally in the soil. They will need new nutrients added to stay alive and continue to be healthy and strong. Growers will need to know what kinds of nutrients are best for a plant in the vegetative state. This includes looking into the macronutrients like nitrogen and potassium, as well as looking into micronutrients that can help boost the plant’s development.
Auxin and cytokinin are two hormones that help to boost root and branch development, essential in mother plants to encourage more growth. Increasing these hormones can help the plants grow taller or branch out more, depending on the ratio of auxin and cytokinin the plant receives.
Prune Mother Plants Regularly but Carefully
Many new sativa weed and indica weed growers worry about pruning. Too much can damage the plant, while too little won’t have much of an impact at all. With mother plants, pruning is crucial as it can be used to maximize the number of healthy branches. It is better for mother plants to grow shorter but be bushier, as this produces more branches that can be trimmed to create the clones. To do this, the apical stems will need to be removed. This helps decrease the auxin levels in the plant and creates a higher ratio of cytokinin. The shift in this ratio helps to shift growth to the branches, so they grow faster compared to the height of the plant.
It is possible to preserve the genetics of a great cannabis plant and create plants from it that are genetically identical. This is done through cloning, and a mother plant is needed to create the clones. Use the information here to pick out a mother plant from your crop of female wedding cake or 24K Gold plants and try out cloning today. Done right, you can preserve the genetics of your plant and ensure you receive all of the benefits cloning can offer.