Mother Plant Care
- Escrito por : Ciara
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Growing and maintaining a mother plant is a whole world in itself. Many growers stay far away from this process, as it can require an awful lot of time and even more space if you want to be as thorough as possible. Mother plants are essentially cannabis plants that are constantly kept in the vegetative stage in order to obtain clones, which are plants that grow identically to their main mother plant.
Of course, this process requires growing indoors and having a room and lighting system dedicated specifically for your mother plant. This is already enough to turn many growers off the idea, as not everybody has access to two different rooms for maintaining mother plants and then growing out the clones.
The Benefits of Mother Plants
There are many benefits, however, to having your own mother plant, one of which being that you will never run out of cannabis; you can plan it so that when your clones are ready to harvest, your mother plant is ready to produce more clones. Plus, you’ll be able to get incredibly balanced results, with your favorite strain and absolutely no changes to its effect or aroma.
You won’t need to spend any extra cash on seeds anymore, as you won’t need a single seed. You can pick your favorite plant, with the best possible terpene content, aromas and the exact effect you’re looking for. Of course, this process is going to take quite a long time if you want to choose the absolute perfect plant to clone. So, where should you start?
Step 1: Find a Strain for your Mother Plant, Grow the Seeds
The first thing you’ll need to do is think of your favorite strain, one that you’ve tried and is close or identical to what you’ve been looking for. Many people prefer to look for a strain with a high yield whereas others look for a particular flavor, others prefer the shape, others might want strains that can out up with the cold or fungi… There’s an entire world of strains, effects, tastes and properties, so be wise about the choice that you make.
Now, the important thing is to find the best particular version of the plant you’ve chosen. I think that around 20 plants should be enough to find an exceptional one, maybe even with 10; 5 can be tricky and you’d need to be lucky to find the perfect phenotype. Remember, this is a whole process in itself, and it will take at least from 5 to 6 months just to find that perfect mother plant.
Step 2: Cloning the Plants and Flowering the Seeds
Grow them just like you’d grow any other plant. After 18 hours of light for about a month and a half, you can start taking your cuttings. You’ll need to wait for them to get kind of big; if you clone when the plants are too small, you might lose the entire plant afterwards due to rot. Get about four cuttings from each plant if you can.
Once you have your clones ready to go, rooted and guaranteed to survive, you can then move them to a growth area where they can also be put under 18h of light, and then begin flowering your original seeds. Keep your clones alive while your plants flower, and you’ll begin seeing which one is the most similar to the one you want.
Step 3: Test your Clones
This is the best part of the process; trying all of the plants that have bloomed and been harvested. Call a couple of friends over and ask for their opinion while you’re at it! Then, you get to pick the one that’s the closest to what you’re looking for. Usually, you’ll end up with 3 or 4 that you really like.
Once this process is done, we like to give them a little test for fungi and whatnot. I take one clone from each plant that I’ve picked and then take them outside and introduce them to fungi like oidium. I leave them there for twenty days to see if the plants get infected or not. If you end up with a plant that hasn’t gotten any fungi on it, then that’s a winner; if it didn’t get infected by force then it won’t happen accidentally. This is a great way to tell if plants are fragile or not. I’ve already discovered a few practically immune strains by using this method.
Step 4: Grow Your Mother Plant
Now that you’ve found the perfect strain and phenotype, it’s time to grow your mother plant. Remember, having a plant that is resistant to rot and fungi is honestly very useful, due to the fact that one day they could end up catching it, and all of that hard work might have been for nothing. Also, if you decide to give away the rest of the clones make sure that you don’t end up giving another grower a plant that has fungi on it, as it could be disastrous for his or her crop.
Grab your chosen clone or clones and top them, which is essentially pruning the top of the plant. Once they grow out their branches you’ll need to cut the tips off the branches just once, leaving two other sprouts underneath wherever you prune to make sure that two more branches can grow from where you’ve cut. It’s better to give the plant the shape you want before getting the clones. Once your plants are ready to be pruned again, you need to prune the upper leaves rather than the lower ones so that the plant grows out wider at the top. Keep growing the plant that way and you’ll end up with around 40 calyxes pointing upwards, making for nice and straight clones which makes everything more comfortable.
It obviously takes some effort but when done it is extremely rewarding and you can get an incredible amount of yield from never-ending clones. Keep in mind that mother plants must be kept in their own room with a constant veg lighting schedule.
Step 5: Maintaining your New Mother Plant
Now that you have your precious mother plant ready to go, you need to maintain it and keep it alive. Growth fertilizers are definitely not enough; there are certain nutrients that mother plants need that those kinds of fertilizers just don’t have, so you’ll need to add some more things to your plant’s diet. It can hard to get the hang of. I’ve recently discovered Power Feeding for Mother Plants. This fertilizer comes in a powder format and contains macro and micronutrients that keep your plant extremely healthy; specifically designed for Mother Plants.
If you notice that your plant suddenly stops growing it’s because it’s filled the flowerpot up with roots and it needs a transplant; you’ll need to constantly transplant it until a certain point, in which it stops growing at around 20L. At this stage you’ll need to prune the roots and transplant it back to a 11L pot, leaving enough roots to fill a 7L pot so that it can grow some more. The plant will look sad for a couple of days but it should be happy again on the third day. You’ll need to do this every 5 months or so.
It’s extremely important to adjust the pH in your irrigation water due to how long the plant is going to spend in the same flowerpot. If you keep an eye on it you shouldn’t have any issues with nutrition and whatnot.
This topic is quite extensive and honestly this is just touching on it, but you get the idea of how to pick the right strain, clone and how to then take care of the plant the best you can to keep getting clones. We’ll write a more extensive article on the subject in the future, but I think this is a good base of information for those that are just starting out.
Growing & maintaining a mother plant can be a challenging, lengthy, rewarding and satisfying task if done properly. Read on to find out how.
Mother Plants: An Endless Source of Your Favourite Weed
Cannabis mother plants are an ideal way to source cuttings of your favourite specimens. Discover the art of selecting, growing, and maintaining perfect mother plants below.
An in-depth guide on cannabis mother plants.
When you find a cannabis strain that rocks your world, you’ll want to experience it over and over again. The easiest way to repeat a favourite discovery is by taking clones from a mother plant. Using mothers has a number of benefits. Strain characteristics are known and repeatable, females are guaranteed, and growth is more or less standardised. Mothers can be kept alive indefinitely when well-maintained, and enjoyed for years.
The Benefits of Using Mother Plants
When timed right, cloning mother plants can mean harvesting one day and having more plants ready to go the next. With overlapping growing schedules, you can always have plants in flower—with more ready at a moment’s notice.
Mother plants are ideal sources for infant plants when using the sea of green (SOG) technique. Similar-sized clones will create a homogeneous canopy with no tall or short phenotypes to consider, thus optimising light exposure and yield potential.
Mother plants can be as big as you need them to be. Ambitious growers with lots of space will need large mothers for lots of clones. Smaller spaces that can only fit a few plants will only need a small mother plant to suit. Cannabis can easily be manipulated to suit your personal circumstances.
Consistent characteristics are guaranteed every time you grow cuttings. Commercial growers appreciate the standardisation; domestic growers appreciate the reliable performance.
There is no risk of males with clones, making for an efficient grow space filled exclusively with females.
What Are the Requirements for Growing a Healthy Mother Plant?
While keeping a mother plant might sound like it requires a lot of space and gear, it is actually quite simple. Here’s a list of all the things you’ll need to grow a healthy mother plant:
Grow space of 80 × 80 × 150cm
Small grow tents work great, but you can also keep your mother growing in a cupboard or closet. Some growers even use the bonsai method to grow small, healthy mother plants in tight spaces.
Most growers use low-consumption fluorescent lamps of roughly 100–150W to keep their plants growing at a healthy, manageable rate. If you want to boost the growth of your plants, or you’re keeping several mothers at once, we recommend switching to metal halide lights.
Extractor fan (optional)
We recommend using a 100–200cm³ extractor fan to renew the air in your grow room. You should also consider using a small oscillating fan to improve air circulation around your mother plant.
Timer & thermo-hygrometer
It’s extremely helpful to have a timer to set the photoperiod for your plants, and a thermo-hygrometer to keep an eye on the temperature and humidity in your grow space.
Selecting a Mother Plant
Mother plants can be grown from seed or clone, and are kept in vegetation throughout their entire life. Choosing a mother plant requires some preparation when the original plants are grown from seed. It is a wait-and-see game.
Keeping detailed records and pictures of growth characteristics and effects ensures things don’t get confused. Choose the most outstanding plant from a single-strain crop or the best of a multi-strain crop. By week two of flowering, males will have revealed themselves and can be disposed of.
But, how do you know which of your plants is worth keeping around as a mother?
What to Look for in a Cannabis Mother Plant
- Vigour: Pick plants that germinate quickly and show vigorous, healthy growth during both their seedling and vegetative stages.
- Root health: A healthy root network is the heart of a healthy plant. When transplanting, keep tabs on which plants seem to be growing the healthiest roots, and keep that in mind when choosing your mother plant.
- Pest resistance: Pests and plagues can ruin an entire crop of cannabis. You’ll want to pick a mother plant that shows a natural resistance to common pests and pathogens.
- Hermaphroditism: We never recommend cloning hermaphrodites or keeping them as mother plants, as your clones/mothers will inherit the same traits.
- Flowering potential: Keep an eye on the speed at which your plants develop their flowers, and how they form. You’ll want to keep mothers whose clones produce flowers with a homogenous structure, a good flower to leaf ratio, and excellent trichome production.
- Smoke report: Once you’ve harvested a strain, make sure to take the time to analyse its flowers after a solid dry and cure. Consider the strain’s flavour and aroma, potency, and the size and quality of its yield.
In an ideal world, you want to pick a plant that performs exceptionally on all of these fronts. Keep in mind, however, that plants aren’t perfect, and you’ll likely have to make some compromises when it comes to choosing which one to keep as a mother. The final decision will come down to the traits you value most in a plant.
How to Pick a Cannabis Mother Plant From Seed
When you germinate a batch of cannabis seeds, the plants you end up with in your garden or grow room will likely show a wide variety of phenotypic variation. Despite being sold as the same strain, some plants might grow large with wide internodes, while others grow smaller and bushier. The colours on the plants’ foliage might vary slightly, as well as the size and shape of their leaves and the smell and taste of the flowers they produce.
This is because most cannabis seeds on the market today are F1 poly hybrids: the first generation of seeds produced as a result of crossing two unstabilised hybrids. Unlike corn, wheat, or pretty much any other agricultural crop, cannabis hasn’t yet been subject to the strict breeding techniques that help breeders stabilise different plant varieties.
While this means that cannabis seeds can sometimes produce unexpected results, it also opens up a lot of possibilities by giving growers and breeders the opportunity to work with plants with a wide variety of possible traits.
If you’re growing from seed, we recommend taking cuttings from each of your plants once they’re about 2–3 weeks into their vegetative phase. Wait for the cuttings to root and give them at least two weeks of vegging time before you bring them to flower (all while keeping your seed-grown originals in vegetation). This gives you the opportunity to evaluate each plant’s vegetative growth, cloning potential, and flower development. Here are a few things to look for when choosing a mother plant from seed:
- Stress threshold: After taking cuttings from your plants, keep tabs on which were the best or worst at dealing with the stress of pruning.
- Rooting potential: Check to see which of your cuttings rooted the quickest.
- Vegetative growth: As your cuttings veg for 2–3 weeks, see which cuttings grow the fastest and develop the healthiest foliage. If you’re growing indoors, you’ll generally want plants with short internodal spacing.
- Flowering potential: Once you flip your clones into the bloom phase, observe how fast their flowers develop, how well they form, their resin production, and aroma. Also, keep in mind how well their flowers are suited to your growing environment. If, for example, you struggle with high humidity levels and lots of heat, consider choosing a plant that produces looser, airier flowers less prone to mould.
- Harvest quality: After harvesting, drying, and curing your cuttings, sample each plant to make a final judgment on their flavour, aroma, and potency.
How to Feed a Cannabis Mother Plant
Because mother plants are kept in constant vegetation, you’ll want to ensure they have access to nitrogen and other vegging micronutrients. Ideally, we recommend feeding mother plants with organic fertilisers (like vermicompost or compost teas) to promote healthy microbial life in the soil, which in turn will help clean the plant’s medium and prevent salt buildup in the root zone.
You can feed your mother plant like you would any normal vegging plant. Some growers, however, opt to feed their mothers specific fertilisers that contain a milder concentration of nutrients.
Maintaining Mother Plants
Maintaining a plant in vegetation for months (or even years) takes some work on behalf of the grower. Without proper care, mother plants can develop nutrient deficiencies, root problems, or grow to unmanageable sizes. Here’s how to keep a mother plant healthy and happy so it produces the best clones.
Topping is essential for managing the size of your mother plants. Top your mothers early on, roughly two weeks into their vegetative phase. As its new branches grow up towards the light, use pinching and LST to bring them down towards the soil and create an even canopy. Continue topping the plant regularly to train it to grow within the confines of your grow room/tent.
Air Pruning Roots
One of the big challenges of keeping mother plants is that they stay potted for prolonged periods of time. Plants that are left in pots for too long can develop root rot and become rootbound, which can then lead to nutrient deficiencies, stunted growth, and problems with pests and plagues.
To keep your mother plant’s roots healthy, grow her in a fabric pot that will trim her roots naturally. These pots cauterise apically dominant root shoots with a thin film of air as they search their way through the growing medium. This prevents the roots from reaching the edge of the pot, and thus allows for more weeks in a single pot—rather than root-trimming once a month or so, as with regular pots.
RQS Geotextile Fabric Pot
Every time you prune your mother plant, flip her upside down to inspect her root zone. If a plant’s roots have started growing around the outside of its medium in the shape of the pot, you’ll need to trim them with a clean pair of garden shears or scissors. Ideally, we recommend trimming a plant’s roots back to ½ of their original size. Repot the plant, fill up the pot with extra soil if need be, and water well.
While it might seem counterintuitive, trimming a mother plant’s roots is a vital step in keeping the plant healthy and protecting it against root problems while it stays potted for months or years.
Permanent Vegetation Cycle
Mother plants need to be kept in the vegetative phase of growth indefinitely. This means they need to receive more than 12 hours of light every 24 hours. If they are in a vegetation chamber, they will be getting the standard 18/6 day/night vegetation cycle. If they are in a space of their own and you want to slow growth rates, a 14/10 day/night cycle will keep them in vegetation but growing slower. If you want more clones as quickly as possible, keep up the 18/6 schedule for rapid growth.
Using a metal halide lamp to take advantage of the blue spectrum of light promotes ideal vegetation. Alternatively, consider full-spectrum LEDs.
When Can You Take Clones From a Cannabis Mother Plant?
You can start taking clones from a healthy mother plant roughly two weeks into its vegetative cycle. While the plant is young, we recommend only taking 2–3 clones at a time. As the plant grows larger, you can gradually start taking more cuttings from it every time.
How Often Can You Take Clones From a Mother Plant?
After being pruned, we recommend giving your mother plant at least two weeks to recover before taking more cuttings. Taking too many clones at once or not giving your mother enough time to recover can stress the plant, stunting its growth and making it more vulnerable to pests and plagues.
The Perpetual Harvest: Every Grower’s Dream
With a healthy mother and proper cloning protocol in place, you can manage to achieve multiple harvests of top-shelf bud per year. This practice, known as the perpetual harvest method, is all about properly timing your cloning and harvesting processes so your new clones are ready to flower as soon as your old ones have been harvested.
Wondering what it takes to grow healthy cannabis mother plants? Click here for an in-depth guide on selecting, maintaining, and taking clones from mothers.