Growing cannabis from clones is faster and easier than starting with seeds. Plus, you won’t need to sex the plants as they mature. If you’re interested in cloning and raising clones, the best investment you can make is cloning gel.
Cloning gel (also known as rooting gel) helps the clones recover from cutting and grow roots as quickly as possible. It increases your chances for a successful grow. It saves you money and time in the long run.
In this article, first we’ll cover the basics of taking a cutting and rooting it. Then we’ll help you find the best cloning gels for your needs.
Basic overview of how to take a cutting and root it
Cannabis clones do best if their cut stems have a lot of carbohydrates and root growth hormones. If you plan to make your own cuttings, take these steps to prepare the mother plants:
- For three or four days before you take the cuttings, flush the mother plant with lots of water to reduce her nitrogen levels (misting the leaves with lots of water is the easiest way unless you’re growing hydroponically)
- As nitrogen falls, carbohydrates increase, and that’s good for cuttings
- Plan to take cuttings close to the main stem of the plant so that there is a higher concentration of root growth hormones.
TIP: Kill two birds with one stone, take cuttings from your current crop at around week two or three of vegetation phase while topping. (Why then? Because the younger the mother plant the better the genetics. Better still when the plant’s not too far away from flowering.)
Taking the cutting
Once your plants are ready to provide you with cuttings, get your tools ready to use. Gather up new, sharp razor blades that you have sterilized with alcohol. Prepare your rooting containers and substrate, like rockwool. And have your cloning gel on hand.
- Use new razor blades that will make for a clean cut with as little damage as possible to the plants, and wash your hands before you cut
- Sanitize the blades because you don’t want disease or infections in your new clones
- Moisten the rooting plugs with water and drill holes in them to fit the cuttings—leave about half an inch at the bottom undrilled
- Also prepare a container with clean water to hold the cuttings if you are cutting several
- Have rooting gel ready to coat the cut stems.
Adding the cloning gel and rooting your clone
Cloning gel is the simplest rooting hormone to use. You don’t need to mix up a solution from powder, dilute a concentrate or get the formula right. The gel both protects the cut like a Band-aid and infuses the plant with the growth hormones and nutrients it needs to build healthy roots fast.
Once you’ve placed the cuttings into the rooting cubes or soil, keep them moist for the first few days. They will be eating and drinking from their leaves because they don’t have roots. Mist the leaves and keep the humidity level around 80 to 90 percent. If the soil pH is acidic, like 5.0 to 5.5, that’s great for clones that need to grow roots.
As for light, at this stage you don’t need strong lamps because the clones can’t take too much heat or light. You can root clones with fluorescent lamps running 18 to 24 hours a day. It’s also nice to warm their soil or rooting cubes with a heating mat or a light underneath. (Here’s a complete cloning kit, including heating mat, T5 light, starter cubes, shears and our favorite Clonex rooting gel.)
Best light for clones
We recommend fluorescent lights, such as T5s. Go for the cooler, blue-heavy options—we’re talking a color temperature of around 6500K.
Lighting for cloning doesn’t need to be too intense (in fact, you can easily give young clones too much light), so exactly what you use isn’t a huge deal. Just avoid something really hot and intense like HPS.
One further lighting concern:
Grow room temperature is very important at this stage. You want to keep it around 74–77°F. Slipping too far below that can stall root growth or stop it altogether. Fluorescents give off some heat and are cheap enough to run 24 hours a day, which will allow you to eliminate the night time temperature drop and help keep the temperature stable.
LEDs are also an option. But one further other advantage of fluorescents is that you can keep them very close to plants (often just a few inches away), which could be helpful if you want to create a cloning room or area in a small space. LEDs would need to be hung around 2′ above your clones.
After one week, remove the clones that looked wilted and weak. Within two to three weeks, plan on transplanting the healthy clones that have sprouted roots. Once the roots are about 1-1/2-inches long, they can move into your regular growing setup. Gradually increase light levels and intensity, and you’re on your way to harvesting weed.
[videoy id=”uTg32xPkr_c” ]
Further Reading: Check out this article for more information about growing hydroponically. Or consider investing in Ryan Riley’s Grow Bible—if you’re serious about growing, it’s about as comprehensive a guide as you’ll find.
Why use cloning gel?
Without cloning gel, your weed is much more susceptible to illness. The plants’ roots will take longer to grow. The shock of cutting can even kill clones if they aren’t protected. The small cost of buying cloning gel is nothing compared to the money and time you’ll save by using it. You’ll get more clones, healthier clones and faster.
So, if you’re a pro grower, you’re looking at faster turnarounds from cutting to bud and higher profits. And if you’re a home grower, you’re going to get more reward for the time, money and effort you put in.
The top cloning gels for cannabis (a.k.a. Best rooting gels)
Many cloning gels are appropriate for a variety of plants. Weed, orchids, you name it—any plant that you can propagate with clones can profit from the use of cloning gel. But we’re all about growing cannabis. So for this review we’ve rounded up the top cloning gels for weed growers.
Clonex Rooting Compound Gel Packets, 15ML
[imgb altimg=”Clonex Rooting Compound Gel Packets, 15ML” imgid=”612uPF8keIL” asin=”B019NZHVSG”]
Clonex is the best-known brand of cloning gel. Like Kleenex, growers say the proper name Clonex when they could be discussing other companies’ products. It’s been around since the wall fell in Berlin and they have top-rated gel for a reason. Moreover, it’s always among the recommendations on growers’ forums.
Clonex is packed with root growth hormones, vitamins, and mineral nutrients. The gel formula is designed to cling to the stem and protect it while the ingredients go to work feeding the plant. If you’re curious, the active ingredient they list is Indole-3-Butyric Acid, at 0.31% per volume.
Although this is a small packet of only 15ml, this is enough for you if you’re taking cuttings or growing clones from a few plants. Even with a generous coating on each stem, this little packet goes a long way for a home operation. It’s also an inexpensive way to give this gel a try before springing for the whole tub.
If you want more gel for a larger grow, check out the next product below.
EDITOR’S CHOICE: HydroDynamics Clonex Rooting Gel, 100 ml
[imgb altimg=”HydroDynamics Clonex Rooting Gel, 100 ml” imgid=”51Sgf7JKJlL” asin=”B004Q3NN4W”]
If you have more plants to clone, more cuttings to take, choose this 100mL bottle, or move up to the 500mL or 1000mL (liter) bottles of Clonex Rooting Gel. The unused gel does keep for a while if you don’t use it all up at once.
Technaflora Rootech Gel for Plants, 7-Grams
[imgb altimg=”Technaflora Rootech Gel for Plants, 7-Grams” imgid=”41V9DZs6omL” asin=”B00B1GMXB6″]
Another well-known name is Rootech Gel, by Technaflora. This small tin with 7 grams of gel is the smallest size, but you can upgrade to 56, 112, or 224 gram containers. It’s water-based like Clonex, and it can be diluted with water if you need to stretch it farther for easy-to-clone plants.
The active ingredient is similar to Clonex—1H-indole-3-butanoic acid—but it appears in a higher concentration of 0.55% in Rootech. This higher concentration makes it possible to dilute, if you prefer, and it also makes it more powerful at feeding clones the nutrients they need. (Why dilute? You may find that it’s still effective at a slightly lower concentration, allowing you to get even more for your money.)
Grodan 1.5″ inch Rockwool / Stonewool Cubes (Mini Blocks) ► PLUS ◄ ROOTECH Cloning Gel
[imgb altimg=”Grodan 1.5″ inch Rockwool / Stonewool Cubes (Mini Blocks) – PLUS ROOTECH Cloning Gel” imgid=”51NnUN6lH6L.” asin=”B012GX67WI”]
You can save a little cash by ordering this kit that contains both Grodan Rockwool rooting cubes plus Rootech Cloning Gel. There are forty-five 1.5-inch cubes plus plenty of gel in the 0.25-ounce container.
Although rockwool and stonewool are very popular for raising clones and seedlings, please do take precautions when handling it. It’s smart to wear gloves and even a dust mask to keep the tiny man-made fibers from entering your skin and lungs.
(Should you prefer Clonex, you can also get a Clonex plus Root Riot starter cubes kit.)
If you want a natural solution for raising your clones, try the next product below.
General Hydroponics Rapid Rooter Replacement Plugs 50 count
[imgb altimg=”General Hydroponics Rapid Rooter Replacement Plugs 50 count” imgid=”71rsJZ-rNML” asin=”B0002IU8K2″]
The Rapid Rooter Plugs from General Hydroponics (a reliable brand in the weed growing world) are cheap and packed with nutrients. They are especially effective if you plan to raise weed hydroponically.
And now, back to the top cloning gels on the market.
BEST ORGANIC CLONING GEL: Quick Clone Gel – 75mL – Most Advanced Cloning Gel for Faster, Healthier, Stronger Rooting Clones.
[imgb altimg=”Quick Clone Gel – 75mL” imgid=”713mjTZKNVL.” asin=”B00UFH09L8″]
Quick Clone Gel comes in two sizes: 75mL for home growers and 250mL for larger operations. It doesn’t appear to contain the active ingredient found in Clonex and Rootech. However, instead, the Quick Clone Gel is based on organic ingredients brewed in a tea. It has no artificial dye. Instead, this gel is packed with amino acids, vitamins, and rooting hormones.
If you prefer to use an organic solution, consider getting the Quick Clone Gel. The price is a little higher than the competitors but it’s an all-natural formula.
Using cloning gel makes sense when you’re serious about raising healthy plants. Our choice for best cloning gel is: HydroDynamics CLONEX Rooting Gel. It’s simple to use, very effective and has a long shelf life. It’s become the leading and most grower recommended cloning gel for good reason.
If you prefer to keep things more organic, however, then we recommend the Quick Clone Gel.
Either way, you should see excellent results.
We hope that all your clones grow up strong and healthy. Check back soon for reviews of the best products to help you harvest top-quality cannabis. And for more growing advice, check out our beginners’ growing guide.