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.
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
- A 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
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.
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).
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.