The What, When and How of Cloning Plants
Cloning can be a great option for many crops, as you dont have to buy seeds and it can be done in unconventional spaces, like the gutters in your ZipGrow system. For many crops, however, genetic variety can aid in pest resistance, and some crops will sooner wither up and rot before they root out.
When to clone?
- Germination. You’ll want to understand how quickly and easily the crop germinates from seed. If you are replanting towers of rosemary and you need 30 plants as soon as possible, but you have only 40 seeds, then youll want to clone at least some of the plants, because rosemary typically has a poor germination rate.
- Crop. Is the crop easy to clone? Some crops simply cannot be cloned. Most single-harvest crops and large fruiting crops, for instance, do not clone well. Woody crops and crops with smaller leaves on obvious stems, however, do much better.
Good for cloning: Mint, rosemary, basil, thyme, oregano, woody herbs, tomatoes and peppers
Bad for cloning: Lettuce, kale, chard, mustard greens, collards, bok choy, and some fruiting crops.
- Pest and disease resistance. Many crops are able to develop defensive mechanisms to resist pests and diseases. If you have only one genome for a whole crop, this can stunt that process. (The weakness of the mother plant against a specific pest can be shared with the whole crop if they have all been cloned from that plant.) If you do clone many plants, make sure that you cut clones from multiple plants. If you only have one or two plants to clone from, borrow a few sprigs from a fellow farmer or a gardener nearby.
Trim the edge of the stem so that it is cut at an angle. This exposes more tissue to the hormone and to access water and can make the process faster and more effective.
After wrapping the stem, keep the media damp (or the water at an appropriate level). A low-maintenance way to do this is to place a container with drainage holes directly in the gutter.