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What Is Plant Cloning?

By Cleveland Van Cecil ; Updated September 21, 2017
Plant cloning is used to propagate ideal plant specimens asexually.
Plant image by Platinum Pictures from Fotolia.com

Plant cloning is a form of human-controlled asexual propagation of a plant. Cloning is used to recreate an ideal plant specimen from a parent plant. The techniques used to clone are cuttings, layering, division, and grafting or budding. Clones are identical recreations of the parent plant, with all its good and bad qualities.


Propagation by cutting is the method by which a plant is cloned from a tissue sample of a parent plant. Roots, stem and leaf are all suitable cuttings to use for this method. Cuttings dipped into a rooting hormone solution and placed in water, or under a misting dome, create roots. These roots help the cutting grow into a new plant. Some species are difficult to root, so several tries are required before a clone is made.


Layering is the creation of a new, cloned root system that attaches to a parent stem before the stem is cut from the plant. This is in contrast to the cutting method, where the cutting is taken before the root system is created. Branches or stems of the parent plant are buried in the earth and tied down, without being cut from the plant, where they grow new root systems. Once the root system is established, the plant can be released from the parent specimen.

Grafting and Budding

Grafting is used to create cultivars of trees, which do not exist in nature by creating cross-breeds of trees that do not usually mix by sexual methods. Grafting requires a cut branch from a parent tree being attached to another tree by means of scarring the parent tree, and attaching the new twig by means of grafting tape or wax.

Care of Clones

Clones require a lot of moisture to grow effectively. Cuttings especially are in danger of drying out when not protected from heat. Cuttings placed in a dry, shaded area are more likely to grow roots than those left in direct sunlight. Spraying the cutting with a mist of water and covering it with plastic wrapping prevents moisture from escaping and creates a greenhouse effect.

Rooting Hormone

Plants that are difficult to root with asexual propagation require a good root hormone to aid the rooting process. Several different rooting hormones are available, so it is best practice to check the parent plants' needs against the rooting hormones properties. Hormodin, Rootone, Jiffy-Grow, and Chloromone are some of the root hormones available for difficult to propagate plants.