Cloning 101

Cloning allows you to grow an exact copy of your plant by using the original plant roots. Here is a basic guide to cloning your plants.

What You'll Need...

Tray & Dome                             Light                         Growing Medium      
          1. On your plant look for a spot where there are branches growing out and a new top, and cut a little bit below that. Cut the branch away at a 45 degree angle. You want probably around 5-8 inches to cut for your new clone. 
          2. Now choose the growing medium you are going to use. There are Jiffy pellets, Rockwool, Rapid Rotter cubes, or loose soilless mix. Pre-soak which growing medium you prefer. Also choose which rooting hormone you prefer- powder or a gel. Give a light coating of either on the stem of your cut and insert it into the medium. 
      1. Arrange your "planted" cuttings in your tray and your dome. The dome will provide humidity and keep heat in. Under the tray it is preferable to put a heating mat. This will increase your chances of rooting. Make sure there is no water in the bottom of the tray.  
      2. On top of your dome you will want to put a propagation light. We recommend the T5HO Sunblaster 6400k light or even better, the 18" Clone LED from Quick Grow Supercenter.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  
      3. Do Not Spray your cuttings. We are trying to get the clones to want to look for water, in order to do that they must grow roots to find it. If the humidity in the dome is too high they will have sufficient moisture to be able to survive without growing roots. After 5-7 days you will need to water the cuttings. You can remove each one and dunk them in water or you can water in tray, but remember to drain the excess water.                                                             
      4. Within 14 days you should have signs of new roots that signify you can transplant to a new container.


Efficiencies of Light and Space

Efficiencies of Light and Space

Outdoors plants may be free to roam and stretch but when faced with a small indoor growing area efficiencies of space and maximum use of the available light on offer become a vital part of a production system. Obviously when artificial light is supplied, a grower will want to make use of every photon produced and some planting designs are more efficient at this than others. Where crop plants of a similar size are being grown in a hydroponic system, under artificial lighting, the most efficient use of lumen levels produced is where each plant is a equal distance from the light source. This is generally not obtained where the plants are all sitting in a flat layer – some plants will be directly under the light source(s) while others at the edges of the ‘table’ are further away and therefore receive light of a lower intensity. This type of arrangement doesn’t make the most efficient use of valuable light energy and can result in uneven growth and development.

Most lamps have an efficient reflector above the bulb which acts to reflect light waves back down into the plants, rather than having them directed upwards and wasted. These reflectors however diffuse light back downwards on a fairly wide angle, rather than directly downwards which could cause hot spots and burning of the foliage. Since this reflection is at a wide angle, it makes sense to position plants not only directly below the bulb, but also to the sides to prevent ‘light waste’ a common problem in badly designed indoor grow rooms.

Since it is ideal to have all plants placed an equal distance from the light source, optimum use of the available light (both reflected and direct lumens) is obtained when the planting system is designed to produce a ‘stadium’ effect. This means when the newly planted system with small plants is set up, the light(s) can be lowered into the center of the ‘stadium’ so that each plant is an equal distance from the light source. As the plants grow upwards, lights have the potential to be raised with the crop while still keeping the same stadium effect. A semi-tiered or stadium type planting, also means more gullies and more plants can be grown in the same floor area and more use is made of the vertical space available. In an area which would only hold 6 channels if these are played in a single flat layer, the stadium type systems can hold 12 of the same size channels.

Another factor which concerns growers producing plants under lights is plant size – if the plant gets too tall before it’s fully mature it can simply run out of room for development. Smaller plants are better suited to systems which have limited developmental space and they also make better use of light. Many crop plants from tomatoes to wheat to flowering ornamentals and herbs have been specifically bred for ‘compact growth habits’ which mean a greater yield can be obtained from the same unit of area. Many plants are even treated with growth regulators to ensure they remain as short and compact as possible while under cultivation. The reasons for choosing a short compact plant over a tall one are many – firstly shorter plants have a greater ability for self support and resistance to ‘lodging’ or stem breakage’s when insufficient support is a problem. Shorter, smaller plants will usually have the same number of nodes on the stem as a much taller plant of the same species and even the same number of leaves, so vegetative yield is not affected. Shorter internode area, which reduce plant height, do not affect or reduce yields, since yield is determined by assimilate production, flowering ability and general plant health, not the length of the stem internode area.

With shorter and smaller plants, more plants can be grown in the same area as a lesser number of tall spreading plants of the same variety, so the potential to increase yield is greater. This has been seen with many crops which are now selected for compact growth habits so that planting densities and yields can be pushed higher.

Under artificial lighting where maximum use of all lumen levels produced is important, smaller plants have a huge advantage (apart from not hitting the roof before they are mature). When light levels are originating from a single source overhead, the leaves at the top of the plant tend to be fully saturated with light, however those below the top leaves are receiving ‘second hand light’, that is light that has passed through the top canopy of leaves down to the lower layers of the plant. The greater the depth of the canopy, the lower the light levels reaching the leaves for photosynthesis A shallow canopy has greater light penetration and radiation levels at its lowest levels than a tall, deep canopy where light intensity falls off drastically towards the base of the plant. Tall plants which only have their top few layers of leaves receiving sufficient light tend to naturally stretch upwards anyway complicating the low light problem down below even further. Leaves on the lower stems of tall plants which don’t receive sufficient light are a drain on the plant – they can not produce sufficient assimilate to keep the leaf active and functioning and it will soon age, turn yellow and begin to die back. Leaves which are in shade and dying back due to insufficient light are a magnet to plant pathogens who prefer to attack those areas of the plant which are weakened in some way.

The other factor to take into account when considering plant size is not just the upper portion of the plant but also the root system. Smaller plants generally have much smaller root systems than larger plants and smaller root systems use less dissolved oxygen than a larger root system with a greater surface area. Since oxygen is vital for plant growth, and large, overcrowded root systems from large plants will deplete oxygen levels rapidly under warm conditions, smaller plants in a hydroponics system makes a lot of sense. Where root overcrowding causes nutrient stagnation and suffocation in hydroponic systems where too many large plants have been forced to grow, opportunist root pathogens will rapidly attack the weakened root system, causing major problems.

High yielding, small, compact plants are the ideal way to produce hydroponic crops in just about every situation and system. Since making maximum use of very photon produced by artificial lighting becomes vital in confined growing spaces, compact plants in stadium type arrangement equal distance from a highly efficient lamp design will give optimum performance from a grow room system. 

Aeroponics – Misting Frequency and The Root Systems

Aeroponic systems, which use a mist of nutrients over the plant roots, inside a growing chamber. Producing faster growth rates, high yields and healthy roots. As long as the plant rooting chamber is being kept between 62F – 71F consistently. Some of the more sophisticated commercial greenhouse systems are temperature linked. The temperature is continually monitored in the root chambers, when pre-set temperature is triggered the mister system is activated to bring temperatures down.

Simple Misting Time

One method of delivering nutrient spray in commercial aeroponic systems is the ‘regular, intermittent misting cycle’. This is a burst of nutrient solution, misting 3 minutes every 5 minutes. By using this technique, which does not change during the life of the crop, the misting cycle never causes the plant’s roots to dry out. The emphasis here, is on regularly delivery fresh aerated, temperature adjusted nutrient to the root zone.

Continual Misting with Proper “Conditions”

With proper oxygen and temperature ( 62F – 71F ) in the nutrient solution in the aeroponic growing chamber, the plant root system will not become water logged or root rot problems. The plants root system on continual misting cycle will produces extremely healthy roots and high yields of plant material. Continual misting eliminates the problems of roots drying out between misting cycles and is one way of ensuring temperatures in the root zone stay stable and do not fluctuate.

The Need for Tweaking

Aeroponic timers allows the grower ability to adjust the frequency of the on/off misting or spraying cycle as well as how long the roots are misted for. FHD has discovered that by changing the cycle timer during the plant stages of life, we received overall better production without adding higher cost in the systems. This idea is based on applying more oxygen to the root system than continual misting cycle. When using this type of system the following points should be taken into account.

1. There is not one set ideal misting program, the amount of nutrient mist time required, is largely depended on the plant, stage of development and more importantly the temperature in the root chamber during the plant stages.

2. Each growing environment is different. The need for experimenting is crucial in receiving eXtreme harvest. Take your time, set your timer 1 minute on and 1 minute off. Then watch the program in action allowing to repeat its self a few times making sure the plant leaves don’t start to wilt from lack of nutrient mist. If no sign of wilting, increase off time for a minute. Continue until desired setting is reached or 10 minutes is reached. Repeat this programming once a week for that growing week. Ultimate would be 1 minute on and 2 minutes off, for first 2 weeks of vegetative stage. Then moving to a 1 minute on and 3 minutes off after shading the growing chamber and the whole duration of flowering a 1 minute on and 10 minutes off.

4. The major benefit of an adjustable misting program is its flexibility in the growing stages of the plant. When propagated in an aeroponic chamber, newly clipped clones need to be constantly misted until rooted with a dome on top to trap humidity to the plant leaves. Once rooted, the root system needs nutrients. The nutrient interval cycles are determined in vegetative and flowering stages by root temperature. As the plant matures, the plant leaves will begin to shadow the growing chamber, reducing temperature, allowing decreasing misting time. By utilizing this procedure, the plant is allowed more oxygen intake to the root hair between feedings, achieving faster and bushier growth. In flowering, the importance of oxygen intake to the root system is staggering. Plants will go from looking beautiful to looking sick and death is inevitable from oxygen starvation.

5. Always keep a close eye on the root system inside an aeroponic chamber – even slight drying of a portion of the root system will result in tissue damage and could lead to pathogen attack.

6. Make sure to use a quality sediment free nutrient, as it’s very important not to have a mister plug up. Remember that in aeroponics, the ppm (EC) in the nutrient solution needs to be less concentrated, than other soil-less systems as the roots intakes the nutrients much more easier.

Nutrient Uptake – Day and Night

Most plants take up nutrients by both day and night. With night time being the more dominant side. Commercial hydroponic growers of ‘heavy feeder’ crops such as cucumbers and tomatoes, experience higher nutrient uptake in the evening and into the night as the temperatures cool down the plants are able to take up more water and nutrients through increased root pressure and more suitable environmental conditions. Warmer conditions during the day, the plant will shut down photosynthesis and transpiration and thus reduce nutrient uptake, and will then feed rapidly in the evening as conditions become cooler. Calcium is taken up during the night when root pressure allows more water uptake and transpiration within the plant, carrying with it calcium into plant tissue.

The Root System

Plant roots, which end up continually submerged in a ‘deep flow’ or constant drip systems will commonly be long, thin, relatively unbranched, yellowing or brown in color and seem to be lacking in fine, fluffy root hairs. The roots which develop up above the flow or pond of nutrient with a mist are typically whiter in color, more branched out and often contain masses of very fluffy, fine, bright white root hairs.