Slowhand's Oasis cubes in soil, cloning method
Having struggled mightily with cloning for quite a while, I have settled on a method that works 100% (so far) for me. This is ONLY for soil growing, there are a lot of ways to clone for hydroponics but this is not one. This simple and reliable cloning method is for all you newbie or just unlucky cloners, and it does not require any close supervision.
If you are having cloning problems, please try it like this:
The "key" to my problem was my great difficulty to get roots before damp off problems, etc. Oasis recommends that the cubes be sat in shallow nute solution and left there. I found that was far too wet for oxygen hungry MJ. To "buffer" the cube, we shall use regular soil mix that is kept moist, rather than standing in water. This will allow much more oxygen to the rooting area.
Lets get started:
Start with standard 3" seedling pots (I prefer the very thin and flexible breeders pots found in large flats), some Oasis cubes, and a sharp box cutter or knife.
Have your soil mix prepared and ready.
60% Scotts seedling starter mix
15% worm castings
5% lava sand
Using the knife, cut all four corners out of the pots, the provided drain holes are NOT enough.
MJ does not like "wet feet".
Plant the Oasis cube:
Now dig a hole in the pre-moistened soil mix deep enough to bury an Oasis cube nearly all the way in. You should finish with something like this...
Prepare the cloning solution:
Now we should prepare our cloning solution. I use Olivia's Cloning solution and gel, per instructions; it works quite well. Start by mixing 3 tablespoons of the cloning solution (large bottle) with 1 quart of pH adjusted water (anywhere between pH 6 and pH 7 is good). Add one teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide (3% solution) to the mix to "supercharge" it. Set some of the solution in a separate container in the refrigerator to chill.
Prepare the cuts:
Now to the mum chamber to select a cut. Show is an Aussie Bush female mum. I should have trimmed the prospective cut YESTERDAY and given it a day to "heal and recuperate" before final removal. I'll cheat for the sake of continuity. Let's try the left secondary.
Like I said, this part should have been done 24 hrs ago..
Also, for you "mummers" out there, you can see that I have ruined the left secondary as a future clone site. By removing the first (lowest) node as well as the clone (it's for science!), I have effectively killed the left secondary. Leave that first node alone!
Take the cutting(s):
Now take the cut at a 45 degree angle, and pop it directly into the slightly chilled solution. Let it soak and uptake solution for 10 to 20 minutes. Please note the exacto-knife and the alcohol wipe, remember, this is an OPERATION! Wash your hands carefully and sterilize the cutting blade after EACH cut. Also, a new blade is recommended for every cloning session.
Re-cut the clone and place it in a small amount of the cloning gel. Let it soak and uptake gel for 10 minutes or so. *PLEASE NOTE* DO NOT dip the cut into the whole bottle. Any viruses or other nasties you may have on the cut WILL contaminate the entire bottle and thus ruin all future cuts you try to make from that bottle.
Finally, roll the cut around in the gel to thoroughly coat the outside of the stem for an inch or so; try to "pick-up" as much of the gel as you can with the stem as you transfer the cut to the Oasis cube you have prepared.
Inserting the cuts:
After "stabbing" the cut slightly down (about 1/2") into the bottom of the hole in the cube, slightly pinch the side of the cube to "close" the hole around the stem. Gently, gently please! Now, irrigate the entire pot thoroughly with cloning solution until it runs out the bottom.
She is now ready to go into the cloning domes. As you can see, I use two clear plastic tubs to form one dome assembly. They are not airtight, but we don't want that anyway.
The mum & cloning chamber enjoys year round temperatures between 74 and 76 degrees, just about exactly perfect. Above 80, fungus and rot become bigger problems. Below 70, and the clone just "stalls" and takes FOREVER if it makes it at all. Be SURE to remove the domes at least once (twice is better) every day for a few minutes to allow "new" air in. Mist slightly every time and water only with cloning solution when the dirt is starting to dry a bit or the clone starts to wilt.
Clones have a limited energy "budget", only what they "contain" the instant they are cut. Almost all of that energy is needed just to establish good rooting. Strong light forces photosynthesis, thus food production, transpiration and other process not needed for rooting. For this reason, lighting should be kept quite soft and diffuse until the clones fully root. When using fluoros, keep the tubes about 6" to a foot above the top of the domes. With HID lighting, stay well back, 3 to 5 feet or more (depending on wattage of the light) and shade the dome from the intense HID lighting. I like to use a white paper towel on top of the domes to further diffuse and soften the light. Clones need VERY little light until they root. Just insure they are getting at least 18 hours of light each day and 24/7 is ok too.
Hardening off: (getting them used to being without the dome)
After about a week, start leaving the dome off for a few minutes longer each day. Monitor the clones carefully and replace the dome after misting if they start to wilt. DO NOT forget that you have the dome off. A young batch WILL wilt severely and might die if not caught in time. After several "hardening" sessions, the domes may be left off all together (as long as there is NO wilting). There she is on the lower right...
Special Technique: Trimming fan leaves.
In this example, the clones shown are Crystal Light x AK47 (unsexed).
The fans were trimmed prior to setting them in the cubes because they were already quite large and lush when the cuts were taken, experience will tell you when you have "too much" leaf surface and the clone will just wilt and resist efforts to revive it. So, trim the big stuff before "stabbing it". If it remains "wilty" remove the largest trimmed fans completely, this usually does it for stubborn ones. You can even then trim the smaller fans if you REALLY are trying to save a "special" clone.
Tip 1: When are they starting to root?
Please compare this picture with the picture, 2nd above. Please note that now all of the clones pictured (except our "new" AB clone) have leaves that are strong and turning upward, as compared to the previous photo when they were all "wilty". This is a sure sign that the clones have started rooting, you will also see new growth starting form the grow tips. The 5 older clones in the photo are now ready to be "hardened off" gradually, and finally removed from the cloning chamber and placed in full vegetative mode. Also, please note the grid wire at the bottom of the tub. It works great to keep the planters out of the water.
Tip 2: Humidity control under the dome
This is a good idea for you folks that are too busy to keep an eye on things a least twice a day. Just put an air stone in some water in a container inside the dome as shown. The humidity will be kept at a nice level and you will not need to mist the clones at all. Please notice the wire mesh is still used to keep the planters out of any standing water; in this case, the whole thing is set on a couple of bricks inside the tub.
Here we see the "humidifier tub" in action. After just a few minutes, the humidity is 75% and the temp is 78 degress f. I will try to reduce that "inside" temp to a steady 75 or 76 degrees. Please note that the white lid for the tub is serving as a perfect light blocker/diffuser.
Final Tip and Credit: Oldtimer1's ezine articles on cloning and bonsai mums!
Taking cuttings from old mums is "the way" to duplicate great results. Once you find the magic mum, you just grow out her cuttings for more of the same great smoke. It is far beyond the scope of this article to go into mums, but let me expound the excellence of OldTimer1's article on cloning and making mums.