Clone Hydroponics: Grow A Clone From A Cutting In Hydroponics

Clone Hydroponics: Grow A Clone From A Cutting In Hydroponics

Hydroponic clones, also referred to as hydroponic cuttings, are plants that are grown from a small section of a mother plant and rooted in a hydroponics system. There are many benefits to starting with a clone or cutting in a hydroponics setup. In this article, we’ll walk through the cloning process step-by-step, talk about preferred setups, and how to increase your cloning success rate.

(Featured Image: Hydroponic Clone Roots)

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What Is A Hydroponic Clone?

Hydroponic clones refer to plants that have been propagated through a method called cloning and are grown in a hydroponic system. Let’s break down these two components:

  1. Cloning: Cloning is a horticultural technique used to create genetically identical copies (clones) of a parent plant. This is typically done by taking a cutting of a mature plant, such as a stem or a leaf, and encouraging it to root and grow into a new plant. Cloning ensures that the new plant will have the same genetic characteristics as the parent plant.
  2. Hydroponics: Hydroponics is a method of growing plants without soil. Instead of soil, hydroponic systems use nutrient-rich water solutions to deliver essential nutrients directly to the plant’s roots. This method allows for precise control over the plant’s environment, including factors like pH, nutrient levels, and water availability.

When you combine these two concepts, “hydroponic clones” refer to plants that have been created through cloning techniques and are being cultivated in a hydroponic system. This approach is popular among indoor growers and those looking to produce consistent, high-quality plants with specific traits. It allows for rapid propagation of desirable plant varieties and optimal control over the growing conditions.

Hydroponic cloning can be used for a variety of plants, including vegetables, herbs, and ornamental plants. It’s commonly employed in commercial agriculture, research, and hobbyist gardening to maintain genetic consistency and boost crop yields.

Pepper seedlings grow as a clone from hydroponic system.

How To Grow A Hydroponic Clone From A Cutting

Materials You’ll Need:

  • Parent plant with desirable characteristics
  • Healthy cutting (clone) from the parent plant
  • Heat mat
  • Hydroponic cloning system or grow medium (e.g., rockwool cube, coco coir)
  • Rooting solution or cloning gel (optional)
  • Hydroponic nutrient solution
  • Hydroponic system (e.g., deep water culture, nutrient film technique, drip system)
  • Suitable containers or trays for cuttings
  • Adequate lighting (e.g., fluorescent lights or LED grow lights like this hydro panel by KingLED)
  • Controlled environment (water temperature, humidity, ventilation)

Step 1: Preparation

  • Select a healthy plant that exhibits the desired traits you want to replicate (e.g., flavor, size, yield).
  • Sterilize all cutting tools and equipment to minimize the risk of introducing bacteria.

Step 2: Taking Cuttings

  • Take a cutting (clone) from the parent plant. The cutting should typically include a section of the stem cut above the second node, where leaves or branches grow. Use clean, sharp scissors or pruning shears to make a clean cut just below a node at a 45 degree angle.
  • If desired, dip the cut end of the clone into rooting hormone to stimulate root development. This step is optional but can expedite the rooting process.

Step 3: Rooting

  • Place the cuttings in a hydroponic cloning system or growing medium. Common choices include rockwool cubes, aeroponic misters, or foam cuffs.
  • Maintain high humidity around the cuttings to prevent them from drying out. This can be achieved by using a humidity dome or placing them in a controlled environment with elevated humidity levels.
  • Some plants can handle the rooting phase in a glass or jar of water. Make sure you change out the water every 2-3 days to reduce the risk of bacterial growth.

Step 4: Provide Adequate Lighting

  • Position the cuttings under suitable lighting, such as fluorescent or LED grow lights. Provide 18-24 hours of light per day to encourage vegetative growth.

Step 5: Maintain the Hydroponic Cloning Environment

  • Keep the temperature and humidity in the cloning environment at optimal levels. A temperature range of 70-75°F (21-24°C) and a humidity level of around 80% are generally ideal for rooting.
  • Monitor the cuttings regularly for signs of root development, which typically takes a few weeks. You can gently tug on the cuttings to check for resistance, indicating the presence of roots.

Step 6: Transplanting

  • Once the cuttings have developed sufficient roots (usually when they are 1-2 inches long), they are in the perfect transplanting condition. Prepare your chosen hydroponic system with the appropriate nutrient solution. If you are new to hydroponic gardening, we recommend starting with a DWC or deep water culture system as this method is very straightforward and easy to implement. (Check out this video to see what a DWC setup looks like)
  • Carefully transfer the rooted clones into the hydroponic system, ensuring that the roots are submerged in the nutrient solution.

Step 7: Hydroponic Growth

  • Continue to provide the appropriate hydroponic nutrient solution, maintain the proper pH level and nutrient amounts, and ensure adequate lighting and environmental conditions for the growing plants.
  • For any type of edible food, I always use GrowBig hydroponic nutrients by Fox Farm. These nutrients are ideal for your favorite hydro plants such as tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, herbs, and more!

Step 8: Monitoring and Maintenance

  • Regularly monitor the plants for signs of nutrient deficiencies, diseases, or pests. Adjust the nutrient solution and other parameters as needed.
  • You should notice luscious white root development on a consistent basis during the vegetative and flowering phase.

Step 9: Harvest

  • Allow the hydroponic clones to grow to maturity. Harvest your crops when they reach the desired size and maturity.

Remember that the specific steps and conditions may vary depending on the plant species you are cloning and the type of hydroponic system you are using. It’s essential to research the requirements of the particular plants you are working with and adapt your approach accordingly. Additionally, maintaining a clean and disease-free environment throughout the process is crucial for successful hydroponic cloning.

To create a hydroponic clone, make a cut below the second leaf node of a parent plant for your cutting.

Hydroponic Clone Cutting

Why Grow A Hydroponic Clone vs Starting From Seed?

Using hydroponic clones in your gardening or agricultural practices offers several benefits:

  1. Genetic Consistency: Hydroponic clones are exact genetic replicas of the parent plant, whereas a pack of seeds may contain a wide variety of plant genetics. This ensures that all the new plants will have the same desirable traits, such as flavor, size, and yield, as the parent. This consistency is crucial for commercial growers and those looking for predictable results.
  2. Faster Growth and Yield: Cloning is a great way to speed up your plant production. This means you can grow a large number of plants with desirable characteristics in a shorter time frame. Faster growth also means earlier harvesting and increased yields, which can be especially advantageous for commercial growers.
  3. Disease Prevention: By using hydroponic cloning, you can start with healthy, disease-free parent plants and maintain a controlled, sterile growing environment. This reduces the risk of introducing soil-borne diseases and pests into your crops.
  4. Space Efficiency: Cloning allows you to make the most of limited space. You can produce multiple plants from a single parent plant, which is especially useful for indoor or limited-space gardening.
  5. Resource Efficiency: Hydroponic systems can be highly efficient in resource usage. They deliver nutrients and water directly to the plant’s roots, minimizing waste and conserving resources like water and fertilizers compared to traditional soil-based cultivation.
  6. Precision Control: Hydroponic systems offer precise control over environmental factors such as nutrient levels, pH, temperature, humidity, and lighting. This level of control enables you to optimize growing conditions for maximum plant growth and health.
  7. Reduced Environmental Impact: Hydroponic systems can be designed to be more sustainable and environmentally friendly. They typically use less water than traditional soil farming and can reduce the need for chemical pesticides and herbicides.
  8. Year-Round Cultivation: Hydroponic systems can be set up indoors or in controlled environments, allowing for year-round cultivation regardless of external weather conditions. This continuous production can be financially advantageous for commercial growers.
  9. Crop Rotation and Succession Planting: Hydroponic cloning makes it easy to implement crop rotation and succession planting strategies, optimizing space and resources and preventing soil depletion.
  10. Education and Research: Hydroponic cloning is widely used in educational settings and research institutions for studying plant genetics, physiology, and growth. It provides a controlled environment for experiments and learning opportunities.

​Learn More About Hydroponic Gardening

If you’re passionate about gardening, hydroponics is a great way to keep growing through the winter months. I thought about hydroponic gardening for many years before finally taking the leap and trying it out. At first glance, the process seemed very involved and hard to learn. However, I found that with a simple setup I could start hydroponically gardening indoors with minimal start up costs.

If you are interested in learning more about hydroponic gardening, check out these helpful articles:

Hydroponic clones can root in a jar of water before being transplanted into a hydroponic system.