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Send In The Clones: Reproducing your favorite plant

EZ-Clone aeroponic cloning system, $235 and up, EZ-Clone Enterprises Inc., ezclone.com. EZ-Clone aeroponic cloning system, $235 and up, EZ-Clone Enterprises Inc., ezclone.com.

Picking A Winner

When growing from seeds indorrs, most growers will pick a special plant that originated from those seeds and then maintain it as a mother, or donor, plant. This plant will provide cuttings for future crops. These “clones” from the original seed plant will be identical in every way to the original seed plant and can be propagated in large numbers by rooting the cuttings/clones from donor material.

When you’re selecting a mother plant from a crop grown from seed, you will need to take a few cuttings from each of the original seed plants, root them, and grow them out. Clearly label which plants came from which donors so that once you have made your selection(s) you will know which of the original seed plants to keep as mother stock for future crops.

Aeroponic cloners (see diagram) have been around for a while and offer great advantages: There’s no growing medium to replace, they’re fast rooting, they can root very large cuttings (saves vegetative time later), and cuttings can usually be maintained without a humidity dome (lessens chance of foliar diseases). One of the drawbacks of aeroponic cloners has been their tendency to overheat. Since the internal pump usually runs 24/7, it may add some heat to the cloning solution that is sprayed onto the ends of the cut stems. Recent innovations in aeroponic cloners (like the EZ-Clone, at right) incorporate a cooling fan into the cloning/rooting chamber, dispersing heat and allowing for a healthier rooting environment with increased gas exchange. If you haven’t tried cloning aeroponically, give it a shot! It’s fast and easy.

Color-Coded Seeds

Imagine having a bunch of seeds from a few different strains within the same plant variety. Now shuffle them and mix them up. Can you guess which is which? Not likely.

Because seeds can be hard to tell apart, seed producers are now color-coding their products, both to prevent mix-up of seed varieties and to help buyers determine from which seed company or breeder the seed originated. You’ll see different coatings to distinguish different strains but also to distinguish different seed producers.

The coatings may also help protect the seeds from moisture, preserving their viability for longer periods as well as shielding the seeds from damage during handling. The coating may also contain beneficial microbial inoculants so that when the seeds germinate, the emerging sprouts are quickly colonized with beneficial bacteria or fungi to help protect them from common seedling diseases, such as damping-off.

Automatic Joy

In the last few years there have been some phenomenal developments made by breeders in creating high-quality autoflowering strains of plants. Most of these plants require either long or short daylight hours to induce the reproductive process or to initiate the bloom phase. Growers in areas where the climate may not provide enough warm days in the fall before frost occurs for short-day flowering plants to finish have been forced to either harvest early, immature plants or to choose varieties that are fast flowering, perhaps at the expense of quality.

Savvy breeders have developed strains of plants that are typically short-day-only flowering plants into autoflowering varieties. This is a big deal for growers in less hospitable outdoor environments, and even for growers who just want to harvest early. Instead of beginning the bloom phase only after daylight times become shorter, these plants initiate flowering after they develop a few new sets of leaves. Note that they may be grown only from seed and will not yield as much per plant as conventional short-day varieties. The quality of the harvest can be very good.

Autoflowering strains are not just for gardeners in harsh climates. Growers in temperate areas may enjoy several harvests per year when growing these special plants. Autoflowering strains tend to stay compact, so they are great for balcony growers, too.

Indoor growers using T5 high output fluorescent lights and older LED technologies can also benefit. Because autoflowering strains do best with 20 hours of light, artificial light sources that are not as intense as HPS (high pressure sodium), MH (metal halide), and high-output LED lights can help to make up for their lack of intensity by providing longer duration and a better spectrum, giving hobby growers respectable yields and quality in a shorter amount of time.

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B Vitamins are important for the Mother Plant as well as for the Clones
Last modified on Friday, 12 October 2012 18:24

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