How to keep cannabis mother plants

When growing a pack of seeds, it is not rare to find a plant that stands out over the rest, with a number of desirable traits difficult to find in the same phenotype. That’s when growers ask themselves…

Can I make a “backup copy” of a cannabis plant?

The answer is, of course, positive. Taking cuttings or clones from cannabis plants is easy and the way to go if we want to keep a specific plant for years, even decades. We could try to replicate the plant genetics through seeds, although this method is difficult and takes a lot of time.

On the other hand, if we take cuttings from a cannabis plant we are making sure that this genetics is being kept, since all cuttings will be exactly the same as their respective mother plants. In this way, we can enjoy the same taste, effect, yield, etc. over the years, the same exact buds than those of that first plant we grew from seed (needless to say, we can also take cuttings from cuts given to us). Logically, we won’t be able to take cuttings from autoflowering strains since they do not depend on the photoperiod to start flowering, and thus are impossible to be kept on a constant growth stage.

Let’s take a look at the most important aspects to keep in mind when trying to keep mother plants in indoor grow tents.

Veg room with mother plants and cuttings

Veg room with mother plants and cuttings

Growing space requirements for keeping mother plants

We need the following materials to grow and keep our mother plants :

  • A growing space, not excessively large. A 80x80cm grow tent is perfect, although we can also use built-in closets, etc. It all depends on the number of plants we want to keep.
  • A lighting system. Normally, fluorescent tubes or low consumption lamps (blue spectrum) are used to keep mother plants and root cuttings. Several models (W) of these lamps are available, being the 100W lamps the lower ones. They are efficient and produce almost no heat. In case that we want to grow in larger spaces, or if we need to boost the growth of our plants, using HM lighting systems would be advised. The newest LEC CMH lighting kits work great
  • 100-200m3/h air extraction fan to remove heat (if needed) and renew the air of the growing space
  • A timer to set the photoperiod for the plants
  • A thermo hygrometer to check the temperature and humidity values
  • A small clip fan to improve air circulation

How to keep a cannabis mother plant


Different mother plants

First of all, we should have a clone of the plant we want to keep. This is the easier way to start, since we dont have to germinate seeds and select the best female from all plants. Plant the clone into a 3,5L pot and use a 18/6 photoperiod (18 daily hours of light per 6 hours of darkness), what will prevent plants from flowering. In this way, the plant will be constantly growing and we’ll be able to take more cuttings from it. From time to time, we can remove our old mother plant and renew it with a cutting taken from it.

On the contrary, if we use seeds we’ll have to grow them, take cuttings from all the plants, flower them, remove male plants in case we are using regular seeds, and finally decide which is our chosen one. Once we know what plant will be our mother plant, we can discard the rest of plants/cuttings.

Depending on the number of cuttings that we need, we’ll use larger pots and more powerful lighting systems.

Feeding cannabis mother plants

Since all mother plants are kept under a constant growth photoperiod, their nutritional needs are covered if we use a fertiliser rich in nitrogen and micro elements. In this way, we prevent plants from suffering nutritional deficiencies, something important if we want to keep them during months or years.

Mother plants

Properly grown mother plants provide lots of cuttings

A regular use of enzymes is also recommendable, since they will help breaking down salt residues in the substrate, making them available for the plants again and thus “cleaning” the media from excess salts.

We must not forget to use foliar fertilisers from time to time, also some kind of nutritional supplement (Hemplex) to make sure that our plants will be healthy and lush.

Mother plant protection

Since mother plants usually have a very long life when compared to those plants that we harvest, they are more prone to be attacked by pests and diseases. This is why we should write down a schedule for using different insecticides (neem oil, Expelex) and fungicides (Propolis, Triadimenol) in order to make applications of these products every 15 days (of course depending on needs).

Healthy plants

Healthy plants produce healthy cuttings

If we are to take clones of our mother plants, we should also use some propolis treatment via foliar, which will help to heal the cuts performed in the branches while preventing bacteria and fungi attacks.

Pruning mother plants

Pruning and even training our mother plants is very important in order to keep their height under control. Even if we don’t need cuttings, we should prune the tops of our plants regularly, otherwise they’ll grow too much and compete to reach the light, stretching and producing less clones.

Always remember that when you prune a branch, two new branches will grow from that point, so the more we prune a plant the more bushy and branched it will be.

October 12, 2015 | Indoor marijuana growing

17 comments on “How to keep cannabis mother plants

  1. Dylan

    Hey brother thanks for the great advice (kiss)is always the preferred path to follow, stay cool and keep bubbling ?dylthedog

    1. Dani Alchimia Post author

      Hi Dylan,

      Thanks for your comment dude! 😉

      All the best!

  2. LJC

    My mother plants ( 24, Sour Diesel ) are passing through 6 years of growth and have provided literally hundreds of healthy clones, higher than average yields. As the mother plants develop through the years, they adapt to their environment, including nutrient ratios. The clones, as a result, are much more hardy and adapt easily to the grow environment. Clones from a supplier take much more time to adapt, and are fragile.
    I have the mother plants in an outdoor setting, in view of my deck. Many people have commented on how attractive my “hedges” are, not knowing those hedges are Sour Diesel.

    Best luck to those that start their own Mothers.

    Organic Chem, MS.
    Santa Cruz, Ca.

    1. Dani Alchimia Post author

      Hi LJC,

      Thanks you very much for your comment, we absolutely love to hear and learn from experienced growers like you!! I’ve read about adaptation of clones/motherplants and it is a very interesting subject, you can adapt and select clones to enhance the performance of certain strains to certain environments, which is great!

      Thanks again, all the best! 😉

  3. Collin

    Hey LJC, how do you keep the mother plants from flowering if they are outdoors?

    1. Dani Alchimia Post author

      Hi Collin,

      The only option you have is providing some extra light during the night period with a lighting system. You can either extend the light hours to 17-18 daily hours or light your plants for around 30 minutes every 2-3 hours during the night period. Both techniques will prevent your plants from flowering.

      Hope it helped!

  4. Flick allen

    Hi LJC
    I have my mother under a 600w LED full spectrum at 18/6 and she has flowed
    This is the second time this has happend.
    the plant is speedy chilly
    Any ideas why???


    1. Dani Alchimia Post author

      Hi Flick,

      Speedy Chile has been developed (as many other fast flowering genetics) by using an autoflowering plant as one of the parents. Thus, some plants may show the autoflower trait, as may be the case here. Also, keep in mind that cannabis – especially mother plants – hate small containers, so always try to provide them with enough space for proper root development.

      Hope it helped!

  5. david

    about to attempt my first try on creating a mother. the plant is from seed. a pure Sativa strain from India. i have to assume environment can have some effects on how the plant will do. any comments or tips that may help would be welcome!!!
    mtn mn

    1. Dani Alchimia Post author

      Hi david,

      Keeping a mother plant from a landrace can be complicated, since these plants are not adapted to indoor environments. Sometimes they find 600W lamps too potent, so they grow better with more distance between the lamp and the plants (or with 400W bulbs). Also, it may happen that it starts flowering with 18/6 photoperiod; these plants are used to have plenty of space for the root system, so sometimes they bloom because they feel like they don’t have enough space to grow. Root trimming and transplanting may solve the problem, but not always.

      Best of luck!

  6. Richard

    Question, I am just starting, I have some background as a research tech for a national fertilizer co. I don’t know enough of this industry to determine who is qualified too give council from those who aren’t but feel compelled to offer their council. That being said I was given a mother plant (30″ tall) and told it is an OG Cush, a variety of Indica. Another individual states this is not a Indica. Simply by terminology is a OG Cush a Indica strain?

    My second question is that in the process of getting set up and no lighting the plant has started to flower, is this a bad situation may I simply give it the 18 hrs of light and trim off the flower buds?

    Any help offered would be greatly appreciated, our hopes are too produce our own RSO too treat my wife cancer (stage 4 ovarian)

    1. Dani Alchimia Post author

      Hi Richard,

      Cannabis plants grown indoors need a daily photoperiod of 18 hours of light and 6 of darkness to grow. We switch it to 12/12 when we want them to start the bloom period. You can do as you say and put your plants under 18/6 phoroperiod. Remove any bud and the plant will soon start to grow again.

      About the OG Kush, the lineage of this clone only strain is ChemDawg x [Lemon Thai x Old World Paki Kush]. It is a mostly Indica strain, but it does contain some Sativa genes from the Lemon Thai. Still, the effect of OG Kush and most hybrids developed from it is far away from the clean, cerebral high of Sativas.

      Hope it helped!

  7. Sugar C Cupit

    I jus got a mother sour diesel..she is in full bloom..she was outside..but i brought her seeing in other questions tht i need to cut off all buds and give her 18/6 tht rite? Also any particular way to cut the buds?

    1. Tim Alchimia

      Hi and thanks for your question. So you want to re-veg this plant? Once the plant is ready to harvest you’ll need to cut off the buds as usual, but don’t cut all of them! It’s vital that you leave a few buds and some healthy leaves for the plant to be able to regrow after flowering. Then give it a photoperiod conducive to vegetative growth (18/6, 19/5, 20/4 for example) and within a few weeks you should see some fresh green growth of new leaves coming from the bud sites, at which time you can start to apply weak doses of fertiliser. It takes time and patience, so be prepared to wait a while. Another tip that can help is pruning the roots and re-potting with fresh soil. Good luck!

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