If you read my guide on cloning marijuana, you know how much that topic excites me. There’s another facet, however, that we didn’t really cover in that post: mother plants.
So today we’re going to dive into that and discuss things like what exactly a mother plant is, why you should consider growing one, and some basics on how you can grow one. Sound good? Awesome, let’s get started.
What Is a Mother Plant?
You can get clones a few different ways. If you belong to a medical marijuana collective, it’s likely that you can purchase them. Perhaps you have someone in your social circle that could provide you some. Another way is to take cuttings from a plant that is about to be put into 12/12 and start flowering. You could even try your hand at “monster cropping” and take some clones from a plant that has flowered already! (Exciting stuff, but that’s a topic for another day.)
Or, you could have a plant that you keep in a vegetative state for the sole purpose of providing you with a near endless supply of clones. That, ladies and gentleman, is a mother plant.
Why Grow a Mother Plant?
The most obvious reason is what I stated above; you can have a steady supply of clones. Once your plants have completed flowering and you’ve harvested them, you can start a new grow right away. But follow me down a rabbit hole for a minute and I’ll go over couple benefits to having a steady supply of clones that you may not have considered.
Limiting factors is a term used fairly often in marijuana cultivation. To put it simply, your plants are only going to grow as well as the factor or condition that is most limited. It’s like that saying, “a chain is only as strong as it’s weakest link”. If you don’t provide enough, say, water or nutrients to your green ladies, it doesn’t matter how much light, CO2 or whatever else you give them. They will only grow as well as they can with limited water and nutrients. But, there is a limiting factor that is ignored or glossed over far more than it should be.
Real experience and knowledge of the strain being grown.
Things like water, light, ventilation, etc are fairly easy limiting factors to address. They can be broken down into quantifiable measurements and numbers. If you put in the time and care, you can, without a doubt, create a finely tuned grow space with the most ideal environmental conditions possible. But just like anything else, it’s the human aspect that determines how well something will operate. And how does human get better at operating or doing something? Practice.
A mother plant will provide you with all the practice you need. You see, they’re called clones for a reason. They are the exact same plant as the one they were cut from. When you grow a dozen clones, you aren’t simply growing a dozen plants; you’re growing a dozen of the exact same plants. If you’ve recently completed a grow, congratulations, for one, but imagine how it would have turned out if you knew everything about your strain and how it grew. I rest my case! Onto the next reason for raising a mother. See how I flipped the roles there?
If you have the space to make it happen, a steady supply of clones can equate to a steady supply of herb. Like, an actual steady supply where you’re harvesting every week instead of rationing out your stash for the next 9 weeks of your current flowering cycle. It’s called perpetual growing and it could be exactly what some of you need.
It takes quite a bit of planning, space, and some pretty precise scheduling, but it is totally possible to have plants in all stages of growth going at all times. I won’t get too wordy with this one, but if you’re interested in learning about perpetual gardening let me know in the comments and I’ll write up a guide for you guys. If you want a grow room that is steadily and predictably pumping out bud, you’re going to need a mother plant.
How to Grow a Mother Plant
Don’t worry, the process of growing a mother plant really isn’t all that complicated. You’re essentially growing the plant like you normally would without ever flipping the light schedule. But, of course, I have some advice for you!
While you can start a mother from seed, I would recommend using a clone instead. I wish I had an in-depth and profound explanation for you as to why, but I don’t. It’s just personal preference based on not being sure about the consequences of a tap root growing for up to a year. If I start a plant from seed that I plan on turning into a mother, I just take a cutting from that plant to be the mother and then let it flower. Just to be clear, I flower the plant, not the clone! This also allows me to see if it’s a strain I even want to dedicate space to in the “mother chamber”.
Which brings me to my next bit of advice. Buy a tent, build a box, or use a room that is going to be dedicated to housing your mother plant(s). It seems obvious, but you’d be surprised by how many people start a mother plant and then realize they have nowhere to keep it after their clones are rooted and they need to veg them.
As far as lighting your mother plants go, they really don’t need much. A few CFLs is adequate if it works for you. Ultimately, this all depends on the scale of your grow, how many cuttings you need, and how often you need them. Obviously, your mother plant will grow a lot quicker under more fluorescent light or a MH.
So you know how I said that growing a mother plant is pretty much the same as growing a plant during veg? Well, don’t let that confuse you into thinking you just have to water the plant and let it grow until you need cuttings. Most of us don’t have the space to just let her grow on her own accord. You’re going to have to get in there and prune her down every now and then. What do I mean by that? Basically, take cuttings you probably don’t even need at the time. I can just see the expression of horror on some of your faces. Look, for every shoot you cut, two more will take it’s place. Pruning will shape your mother plant and keep everything neat and tidy and create more growth. Both of which are exactly what we want here.
Lastly, you don’t only need to prune the vegetation if you’re growing in a pot, but the roots as well. Ok, now I can really see the horror on your faces! Don’t worry, it’s really easy to do and it’s not as hard on your plant as you would think. After growing in a pot for so long, the roots of your mother plant will start to circle around the pot and become root bound. This will eventually start to have a negative impact on the plant itself, which is where root pruning comes in. All you have to do is grab your plant at the base of the stem and pull everything up and out of the pot. It helps if you let the soil dry out a little. Then take a sharp, sterile knife and cut off about 2 to 3 inches all the way around. Just do a few straight cuts from top to bottom. After that, put some fresh soil at the bottom of the pot, place your plant on top and fill in the sides with more fresh soil. It might take a few days to recover, but I promise you it will.
Alright guys, that’s it for today! If it’s feasible for your garden, I hope I convinced you to introduce a mother to your family. If there’s anything you’d like to know more about, you know where to find me!
I really appreciated your article and really need some help. For some strange and disastrous reason my cuttings have stopped rooting! I mean zero rooting activity. I might have some cuttings root just fine but the majority will not. After one week the clones look perfect but if you pull on them they come right out with zero rooting activity. I have checked for disease, infestation and humidity. Everything looks fine. The only thing that is helping is when I starve the mother plant. Have you heard of any nutrient deficiency or excess that could cause this problem?
I am pre soaking rock wool in 250 ppm clone ex solution (I have experimented with different concentrations) at 5.5. Dip and grow at 15x (I have also tried 10x and 20x). For the mothers I have used grow terra at 1/2 strength at 6.0 in soil. I have also tried using different nutrients like mother plant and botanicare. Things were working fine for a long time but now I’m almost out of business.
Interested in just getting started with 1 plant. I have a lot of pain from a botched partial shoulder implant 6 yrs ago and regular pain meds just aren’t allowing a good nights rest. Any information on how to proceed would be appreciated