Plant Cloning: How It Helps for Large Cultivation Practices

Plant Cloning: How It Helps for Large Cultivation Practices
External Guest Writer
March 16, 2022

Even though plant cloning is a process that has been used by farmers since the beginnings of agriculture, it is not a technique that receives enough attention. In the following article, we discuss the specifics of plant cloning, the method behind it, its benefits, and the detailed steps involved in this process.

What is Plant Cloning?

Plant cloning is a technique of clipping or cutting plants in order to produce plants with identical genetics. After clipping the plant, it is essential to replant it in order to allow the roots to grow into the soil. With enough time, usually one to three weeks, a new set of roots will develop from the cutting, and this is when the process of cloning has been complete.

Why Clone Plants?

Cloning is widely considered to be a simple, quick, easy, and cost-effective method of producing more plants from a singular host plant. Once a farmer has identified a plant that has a healthy set of genes, they can opt to clone it in order to ensure that all subsequent recreations will grow to be as healthy as the host plant. Once a plant has been cloned off another, it is sure to retain the same characteristics and qualities of the host or mother plant.

Cloning plants allows farmers to skip the germination process entirely as this can be a highly time-intensive step. If the cutting of the plant is from a mature host, they will also flower much faster once the rooting has been complete.

Additionally, it is important to note that the cloning process does not affect the health of the mother plant in any manner whatsoever. It is possible to create as many clones as required from the same mother plant as long as there are numerous branches available to clip from.

It is, however, important to highlight that all clonings may not be successful in this process. Sometimes, the clones from a mother plant may not root successfully, and this will lead to the death of the plant clipping. Thus, it is important to expect that a few clones will be unsuccessful when carrying out this process.

The Benefits of Plant Cloning

There are numerous benefits associated with the process of plant cloning. This includes the following:

  • As a plant clone shares identical traits from the mother plant, it is possible to select and replicate any desirable traits.
  • Clones are highly predictable and it is possible to predict how much the cloned plant will grow based on the history of the mother plant. 
  • It is possible to speed up the harvest time considerably by using clones as they tend to reproduce much faster. This is in comparison to plants that have to achieve the germination process before reaching the stage of the clipping from the mother plant. Traditionally, farmers utilize seeds in order to create their fresh batch, but a cloned clipping will already include adult leaves. This allows the cloned plant to start the rooting process weeks ahead of the seeds.
  • Some seeds used by farmers tend to be duds, but it is hard to distinguish which seeds are failing until a considerable amount of time has passed. A failed cloned plant, however, will tend to deteriorate immediately if it hasn’t managed to root. This helps to save the grower lots of time and better assess the health of the plants.
  • Even the element of pest resistance can be reproduced using clones, and this is enormously beneficial to farmers.

What Are the Best Plants to Clone?

Many types of herb plants tend to be excellent choices when considering the cloning process. This includes plants such as mint, basil, sage, and thyme. While it is theoretically possible to use the cloning process to reproduce any plant, the thinking behind picking certain plants over others is simple. 

Plants with thicker and sturdier stems tend to make for better mother plants when compared to flimsy or soft plants. An example of the former would include the tomato plant, while lettuce is a classic example of the latter variant. 

Another crucial factor in this process involves identifying if a plant is a monocot or a dicot. A monocot plant has only a single stalk, but a dicot develops numerous branches over time. Examples of monocots include onions, corn, and asparagus. Herbs, chard, and the vine plant are good examples of dicots. Ideally, it makes sense to use dicots for the cloning process as the farmer has numerous selections available to clip from.

How to Clone a Plant

You can clone a plant by following these simple steps:

  1. Select a healthy plant that has completed at least one growth cycle. Make sure that the plant is well-watered, but it is important to not feed the plant for three days before the clipping.
  2. Check the plant to ensure that there are no signs of fungi growing on its body. 
  3. For the cutting portion of the process, use a sharp knife to clip a leaf stem from the middle of the plant. Make sure to slice the plant at a 45 degree angle.
  4. Don’t cut from the main step, but instead slice a piece from a smaller stem.
  5. A clean and tear-free cut is essential to ensure the health of the cloned plant.
  6. Cut the stem to roughly four inches in length at a 45 degree angle. Make sure to trim off the leaves that are at the bottom of the stem.
  7. Now you can place the stem in a growing medium of your choosing. This includes the soil, nutrient water, coir, or rock wool.
  8. Keep a close eye on the plant to ensure that it is rooting successfully. 

Like Mother Like Clone

Cloning plants is a quick and effective method of creating multiple batches from a quality mother plant. If you are a farmer who is curious about artificial selection, you can use this technique to ensure that certain qualities of a mother plant can be successfully passed down to generations of clone plants for years to come.