I'm Michael, the founder of PermaClone. My goal with this course is to provide reliable techniques for producing healthy cannabis clones.

Today, we'll focus on mother plants. Mother plant management is the foundation of pest-free clones that root in 7-10 days. Meanwhile, mother plant treatment is very different from vegetative and bloom programs. For example, the ideal nutrients and supplements for veg and bloom are NOT ideal for cloning. Also, your foliar and pest management program is different for mother plants intended for hydroponic and aeroponic cloning systems. So let's correct the course with guidelines for keeping healthy moms that will produce fast-rooting cuttings.

Yes, you’re overfeeding your moms!

Reduce nutrient levels for ALL stock mother plants to the minimum effective dosage for rapid growth. Once implemented, keep your mothers this way. Hydroponics (including Coco- and peat-based media) allow precise control of nutrient. If you’re in soil, this is a little tricky, but we’ll discuss soil systems also. 

To find your ideal minimum dose in Hydroponics (including coco and peat blends), I recommend starting at a total of 900 ppm (EC 1.8 mS) with Cal Mag at around 300 ppm (500 scale, EC 0.6 mS) and base bloom nutrients around 600 ppm (500 scale,  EC 1.2 mS). In other words, use 300 ppm CalMag and 600 ppm base nutrients to start. You'll increase the base nutrient dosage by 100ppm every week until the new growth shows no signs of deficiency. You are looking for a lighter, lime green leaf, while no signs of deficiency elsewhere. Tip burn means you need more potassium (K). Purpling in the stem and petiole indicate deficiencies in Calcium/Magnesium. Rapid growth is best achieved in up 80's Fahrenheit. 

Soil growers generally get great performance when it comes to cloning because soils and composts often provide time-released nutrients, relying on soil micro-life to break-down organic matter to feed the plant. However, this depends how the soil was built up (or “amended”). With bird and bat guano, the minerals are immediately available and produce an organic-based soil that’s very “hot” (high in immediately available mineral nutrients) which can overfeed your mother plants. An example is FoxFarms’ Ocean Forest. In stead I’d would recommend Foxfarms’ Happy Frog for mother's or flushing the Ocean Forest soil with excess water without nutrients a few days before taking your first cuttings. Then, when proceeding with nutrients, use the Foxfarm’s nutrient line at their lower recommended dosages for mother plant maintenance. I strongly recommend switching to a medium where you can control the nutrient levels with precision, even if the nutrient you are controlling are organics-based and teas.

Fox Farm

Mother Plant Supplements

Calcium/Magnesium: Lowering your nutrient doses requires adding Cal-mag based on your water quality. If your tap water has a TDS (total dissolved solids) reading of 150-300 ppm (0.3-0.5 mS), and your home or facility is not on a water softener, you may be able to use the water as is. However, if you're using reverse osmosis, rainwater, or water with a TDS below 300 ppm, you will need to add Cal-Mag to bring the TDS to a final reading of 300 ppm (EC of 0.6 mS EC) before adding nutrients. If you're on municipal city water, you can access your municipality's "Water Quality Reports" online to see a breakdown of the constituents in the water, including calcium, magnesium, heavy metals, and more, measured in ppm (or ~mg/L) or ppb (~ug/L). Ideally, you want water with 60-75 ppm calcium and 20 ppm magnesium, but this can be difficult to find in well or tap water, which can contain a variety of minerals depending on the source and location. For example, here is a water quality report for the municipal water supply in San Fernando Valley, CA.

Water Quality

Kelp Extracts: maintain medium strength Kelp products for mother plants. Kelp-based product contain auxins and cytokinins that drive tighter internodal spacing and root formation, both of which are linked to better rooting. Some examples of products are General Hydroponics BioweedFoxFarm Bush Doctor Kelp Me Kelp You, and Vegamatrix Boost but there are many others. 

Teas & Beneficials: Teas and other beneficial bacterial and fungal inoculants are fantastic for mother plants in soil or soil-less mixes, like coco- and peat-based blends, but they should only be applied at the root zone. It's crucial not to foliar spray beneficials or teas on mother plants since this would introduce bacteria that might not perform well in water culture when you take cuttings from that mother. However, applying beneficials at the root zone releases unique metabolites that stimulate the health and immune system of mother plants and act as a protective force against pathogens. If foliar treatment with beneficials is necessary as part of an integrated pest management (IPM), it's recommended to rinse the plants with low-dose sterilizers before cloning and use plant-safe dosages of popular oxidizer-based products like peroxide, hypochlorous acid (e.g., UC Roots, Clear Rez, Water Max), or peroxyacetic acid (Zerotol or Oxidate 2.0), and clone after the plants have dried. Remember, Teas at the roots, not the shoots!

Teas & Beneficials

Amino Acids: Amino Acids products are derived from protein hydrolysates. That’s proteins that have been digested chemically to yield individual amino acids that absorbed by plants along with feeding beneficials at the roots. Plants generally synthesize amino acids from mineral nitrogen (most common are ammonium and nitrate salts...more rarely urea). Providing amino acids at the roots allows the plant to synthesize proteins needed for plant growth while maintaining a low reserve of mineral nitrogen. Nitrate is the plants’ storage form of nitrogen. If excess ammonia is provided the plant will synthesis Nitrate as the storage form in little cellular pockets called vacuoles in the plant. Too much mineral-based nitrogen slows the plants' root growth. 

Amino Acids

Silicate: Silicate strengthens the cell wall of plants and function as a mechanical barrier to pests and disease. This is why many silicate products are branded with names like Pro-Tekt (Dyna-Grow), Rhino Skin (Advanced Nutrients), Armor Si (General Hydroponics). I recommend silicate, but at ½ or medium strength dosages. These product are correlated with improved rooting while also functioning as a great natural force-field against pests and fungi for your cuttings and mother plants. I personally use Dyna-Grow Pro-Tekt OR General Hydroponics Armor Si. However there’s lot of discussion about Silicic Acid being a more readily available form of silicone. I can’t currently speak with authority on this matter. 

Mother Plant Foliar Treatments

Auxins: Kelp extracts contain natural plant growth regulator (PGR’s) such as auxins (rooting hormones) and cytokinins (promote cell division) that will travel throughout your plants’ tissue. The scientific word for internal distribution of any product or molecule in plants (or other organisms) is systemic or systemically. It’s often used when we discuss pesticides (both natural and synthetic). It is wise to ask the manufacturer of product if it is systemic or translaminar. Translaminar means if forms a coat on the plant after application, but does not enter the plant. Auxins become systemic upon foliar application and travel fast (rates are in cm/hr). I recommend a weekly foliar sprays on mother plant and choosing your cloning time 12 - 24 hours after “Foliar Day”. Products like Floralicious Plus (General Hydroponics), Rhizotonic (Canna), RhizoBlast (Botanicare), Hard N Quick (VegaMatrix) are great options. Although some of these products can be expensive, foliar sprays use low volumes. For me I mix 0.25 gallon/16 sq ft of canopy or 1 liter per 1.5 square meters. Atomizers reduce this number significantly. A reduction of droplet size by ½ can yield up to 8 time the number of droplets. This of course depends on the micron size of the spray particles generated by your nozzle vs an atomizer. Naturally Sourced Auxins.

Mother Plant Foliar Treatments

Beneficials (Bacteria/Fungi) & teas: I’m all about foliar applications of ‘teas” and beneficials for veg and bloom, but I do NOT recommend their application to mother plants intended for hydroponic cloning. You risk introducing microbes that do NOT perform well in water culture or hydroponic cloning. There may be strains that are safe. For instance I’ve heard Streptomyces strains are safe in cloning (examples are MycoStop and Actinovate). Bacillus subtilis is also a common strain introduced in hydroponics. Still, i have gained the most reliable results excluding beneficial for mothers and cloners. #deadrez

Pest Management: Your mother plants are a great place to integrate your more aggressive pest management because their growth tips are 75 - 110 days away from harvest. Even with Organic certified pesticides you risk affecting flavor or consumer health with their use in the flower space. Be aware that even naturally sourced products can still be unsafe for human consumption. This is further complicated by the different ways cannabis is ingested, often times smoked or vaporized as apposed to taken orally like food-crops.

Pest Management

My foliar regimen for mother plants is alternating Take Down Garden Spray  and Garden Safe Neem while always including Floralicious Plus or Canna's Rhizotonic. I prefer full spectrum neem because it is a fungistatic, pesticide, and miticide; functioning as an all-in-one. Fungistatic means it doesn’t kill the spore, but it prevents the spore from "germinating" or spreading. Neem is only a temporary force-field that lasts up to 3 weeks, MAX. At weekly to biweekly foliars, you won't see PM or other fungi proliferate. Azadirachtin (e,g, Azamax) includes a molecule purified away from neem oil. It does great for pests control and functions as an ovicide, but doesn’t provide the broad protection found with full spectrum neem extracts. An ovicide is a product that kills or prevents eggs from reaching maturity. Take-down contains Pyrethrins a natural molecule purified from chrysanthemums. It’s not currently deemed safe for cannabis flowers, but is totally acceptable in veg. Always check your local laws on cannabis-safe pesticides before using any new products! Often times regulatory guidelines restrict products that may be safe when used in early growth or with proper timing.

For the record, I do NOT recommend oil-based controls outside the veg or mother space because they affect flavor and extracts. They may be safe for the first couple weeks of flower but its best to focus more on prevention and cleanliness in your flower space. Another thing to consider when using oil-based products is that they cannot be used in conjunction with a sulfur-burner for issue such as powdery mildew. This will burn your plants. You may use sulfur burners 3 weeks after your last oil-based foliar spray.

If you need to quickly transition to a space utilizing sulfur burners or beneficials, you can wash away oil-based products with horiticultural surfactants, aka "wetting agents" (e.g. Coco-Wet Organic Wetting Agent).

Lighting: The convention is to use blue-shifted lights such as 6000K T5, Metal Halide (HID) or Ceramic Metal Halides (CMH) for mother plants. These spectrum produce tighter internodal spacing which make for nice multi-node cuttings. We have found better performance at lighting closer to 4000k (an intermediate spectrum) for mothers, vegetative growth and cloning space. I currently recommend the 4300k CMH bulb which also offers a small dose of UV spectra. Alternating 3000k & 6000k T5 bulbs is another option or LED's in the 4000K range. Hortilux has a T5 bulbs designed to release small doses of UV you can add 2 bulbs to you T5 systems to strengthen the plant and elicit defense systems that protect against UV light and strengthen the plant while increase down-stream trichome and essential oil production.

I have dropped a lot of info, so let's quickly bullets the key points of mother plants maintenance.

  • Reduce nutrient strengths to 400 - 500 ppm (EC 0.8 - 1.0 mS), increase biweekly to find your plants minimum. 
  • Maintain Full Strength Cal/Mag dose of 300 ppm
  • Foliar mothers weekly with a kelp-based extract mixed w naturally sourced foliars for pest management and prevention
  • Beneficials at the roots, not the shoots
  • Maintain Silicate at medium strengths
  • Utilize mid-spectrum lighting (4000K ranges)  on mother plants

This course provided actionable tips that should have healthy mothers ready to clone by the end of this series. 

If you have any questions or comments in the meantime, please comment below...or contact us through our contact form. 

And if you're ahead of the curve and want to get started, feel free to learn more about Our new products AeroBlock™ Filters and Dunk-Base™ Bags.

Next we'll dive into sterilizing your cloning systems between cloning cycles in Class #2: #GetSterileGetCloning


I would like to emphasize that the knowledge I share in my articles comes from years of experience using PermaClone collars and working with thousands of satisfied customers. My goal is to share this knowledge so that PermaClone's plant collars can be recognized as the best cloning pucks on the market for hydroponic, deep-water culture, and aeroponic systems. I encourage you to spread the word about PermaClone's quality, performance, and longevity. PermaClone offers collar sizes that fit popular cloning systems such as EZ-CLONE, TurboKlone, PowerCloner by Botanicare, Oxyclone, Psychloner, and more. We can also provide recommendations for collar sizes that suit DIY and home-made cloning systems. If you have any questions or need assistance with sizing, feel free to reach out to us. Thank you for your support! #PermaClone #getsterilegetcloning

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