Just as animals can be cloned, so can plants. Plant cloning has been used for centuries and allows gardeners the opportunity to reproduce an identical plant from a parent plant. A clone has the same identical characteristics as its parent plant such as fruit shape, flower color, growth habit, disease resistance, and yield potential. Some of the plants that are easy to clone include tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, petunias and cabbage, notes Access Excellence.
Plants can be cloned either by people or naturally. Gardeners or horticulturists use a process known as vegetative propagation to produce a matching plant from a portion of a stem or root from a donor plant. There are also many plants able to clone themselves naturally by sending a runner, which is a small, shoot-like structure, along the soil. As the runner grows into a new plant it has the same genetic makeup as the original plant and is considered a clone, says the University of Idaho.
The greatest benefit of plant cloning is that it permits all the good traits of a mother plant to be reproduced in a clone, notes Simply Hydroponics. Because cuttings will have the same chronological age as a parent plant they can produce flowers considerably earlier than counterparts that are grown from seeds.
Because every plant and growing environment differs, the time frame that roots appear varies from a few weeks to a month, according to Planet Natural. When roots do start appearing cuttings can tolerate brighter and stronger light. The closer plants are placed to lights the quicker they’ll grow. Cuttings should be transplanted immediately after the appearance of vigorous roots.
Cuttings can easily shock when they’re cut, so be gentle when you take them from a mother plant. Planet Natural recommends using a plastic cover as a tent or humidly dome to increase the amount of root cuttings. Consider that all plants require fresh air, and if cuttings look wilted, cut a few holes in the humidity dome so air can ventilate. Over-watering can damage cuttings, causing stem rot or wilting. Instead of keeping the tray bottom filled with cloning solution, just keep the soil or growing medium moist.
All growing trays and other equipment need to be sterilized thoroughly, warns Simply Hydroponics. Cleanliness is imperative so hands need washing continually during the cutting process. Be cautious when selecting a parent plant, choosing only the best mother plant because bad traits will be inherited by a root cutting.