One of the most common problems that our customers face once the weather gets warm is getting their clones to root. Just like propagating from seed, successful cloning requires specific environmental conditions and your full attention. Propagation is obviously one of the most important parts of growing (if not THE most important...), because if you can't start, you can't finish. Problems during the cloning process can delay your entire crop and future crops, so here are some tips to help you avoid some common issues:
- Make sure to keep your water temperature between 68-72°. The lower the water temperature, the more oxygen the water holds and the less chance there is of harmful bacteria, fungi and pathogens breeding (which can infect your clones and kill them before they root). The best and most reliable way to control the water temperature when the ambient temperature of your room is high is by using a water chiller. If using a chiller is not an option for you (they're a little pricey and big pieces of equipment, similar to air conditioners), a cheap and easy alternative is to freeze water bottles and change them out once or twice daily. It's not technical and precise, but it works.
- Change the water and solution in your cloning machine every 5 days. This keeps your solution fresh and helps prevent the growth/build up of pathogens.
- Be clean! Always take your cuttings with a clean, sharp blade that's been disinfected with rubbing alcohol (try to avoid using scissors because they crush the stem of the plant instead of making a clean cut). As soon as you move your rooted clones out of your cloning machine, clean it. Immediately. The longer it sits around with old, stagnant water in it (especially in high-temperature settings), the more likely it is to start growing pathogens and the harder it will be to get rid of them. Here is a link to a video from EZ-Clone that shows you the proper way to clean your cloning machine: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gOthz9srozs. Some of the steps might seem like overkill but, trust us, they're not. There is no such thing as "too clean" when it comes to disinfecting your cloning machine. There is a great chart in that video that outlines the recommended amount of bleach for each size of EZ-Clone machine:
If you encounter a "pond scum"-like smell or a slimy coating on the surface of the water/stems of your clones, you already have a problem. The best thing to do would be to empty your cloner, clean it thoroughly and start over with fresh cuttings. If starting over isn't an option, empty and clean your cloner, rinse your cuttings in fresh water, add something beneficial to your system (Hydroguard from Botanicare, Great White from Plant Success, etc.) and cross your fingers that they can come back from it!
EZ-Clone also makes a product Clear Rez that you can add to your cloner to keep it pathogen-free, however it's not the most natural and if you follow all the steps above, it's not necessary.