Chapter 12 – Growing Top Shelf Buds
All plants start off from seeds. Cannabis plants started from high quality seed have several advantages over clones. Firstly, they are free of problems like nutrient disorders, pests, and foliar diseases. Secondly, they have a tap root, clones do not. Clones only grow fibrous root systems.
However, clones have the advantage of all being identical, so plants will all finish at the same time, have similar growth rates and harvest qualities. To start gardens from clones, you will need to perform a strain hunt from your favorite plant genetics started from seed. Once you identify the plant you want to replicate for future gardens, you can maintain that plant in a constant state of healthy vegetative growth to use as donor material for cuttings.
It is recommended to replace mother plants annually by starting new plants from high quality seed and making a new selection. Cannabis plants were not intended to live forever. As time goes on, the genetics are susceptible to “drift” and begin to lose vigor. Additionally, any imbalances or stresses the mother plant experiences becomes compounded over time. Lastly, mother plants can get to a huge stature after a year of taking cuttings, so you’re likely to run out of room. If your licensing allows, these can be grown outdoors to maturity after serving indoors. Mother plants transplanted outdoors with lots of room for roots are capable of producing very heavy yields, the plants can become giants.
You’ll need to keep potting up to larger containers to keep mother plants vibrant and producing lots of new shoots. DWC (deep water culture) and RDWC (recirculating deep, water culture) hydroponic systems are great for keeping mother plants, no potting up is necessary; you can prune the roots back as needed. Water culture grown mothers tend to produce lots of cuttings quickly that root fast.
If you opt not to run your mother plants in large pots of rockwool flock, coco coir can be an acceptable alternative, especially as pots get larger and larger for well kept
mother plants. Note that pests have an easier time hiding and laying eggs in coco than they do in rockwool flock.
To boost production of shoots for donor material to root as cuttings, foliar sprays can be beneficial with mother plants. Choose a professional and proven foliar program if you do and follow the instructions to the letter. All it takes is one misguided foliar spray to fry your beloved mother plant. When used correctly and sparingly, foliar programs are a good way to boost shoot growth and keep mother plants vibrant.
A semi, weekly foliar treatment with insecticidal soap and potassium bicarbonate is recommended. This prevents any problems in mother plants. This will also minimize the transfer of problems from mothers to future crops of cuttings. SEE Pest Control Chapter for more detail.