Cultivating and maintaining strong, vigorous mother plants requires patience, dedication and consistency. With good genetics and basic equipment, you can cultivate healthy mother plants that will spawn many generations of great cannabis.
Any cannabis grower interested in perpetuating good genetics must have a good selection of mother plants. If they are kept well maintained, clones can be continually taken from mother plants for years. There are many benefits worth exploring for anybody who cares for great genetics.
Benefits of cultivating mother plants
- If you can get your timing right, you can be planting and harvesting all year long, especially if you are growing indoors. Essentially, by the time you harvest, it will be time to take new clones from your mother plant.
- Clones taken from mother plants are homogenous in terms of size, height and nutrient profiles.
- If using a mother plant for clones, there is no threat of pollination from male plants.
- No seeds are required to grow from cuttings on a female plant.
- There is security in the quality of the strain, the strength, taste and smell that is never guaranteed if growing from seed. Plants grown from seed can exhibit differences in phenotype even if they have the same genotype. There’s no risk of this with cloning from mothers.
Selecting your mother plants
The basis for selecting your mothers should always be health, strength and vigour. Beyond that, you may have various considerations such as terpene and cannabinoid profile, flavour and aroma, yield, drought-resistance, and height and branching characteristics. However, if you allow secondary traits such as these to take priority at the expense of strength and vitality, you may regret it further down the line.
Mothers need to be very strong and healthy to produce consistently good clones, and good ones may live a decade or more (there are even reports of 30- and 35-year-old mothers still going strong). With that being said, even the best genetics usually begin to exhibit signs of age-related deterioration at some stage.
Nurturing your young mother plants
Now that you have selected your mothers, it is vital that they get the correct initial care to prepare them for their long and fruitful future lives. If you have selected your mothers from clones, feed them nothing but water until they have clearly begun to sprout new growth. From seed, wait until the first true leaves have sprouted before giving your plants nutrients (although this not necessary, and may not be for some weeks).
Once your plants are generating new growth, you can commence feeding with a half-strength or quarter-strength vegetative nutrient for the first weeks. As the plant matures and grows, you can gradually increase to full-strength feeding. As you become familiar with your mothers, you will begin to understand their individual needs. As long as basic good practice is followed, you should have plenty of time to tweak your feeding regimes to perfection.
Generally, a typical vegetative growth solution, preferably organic, is sufficient to keep your mothers in a consistently healthy state. Microrhizomes and root stimulator can be used in soil from day one to give young roots a boost and improve soil microbiome.
Best light for mother plants
In order for mother plants to live for a long time, they must be kept in a vegetative state. This means they must consistently receive more than 12 hours of light per 24 hours. If you would like your plants to vegetate quickly to maximize the number of clones, mother plants can be left in an 18/6 day/night regime. To slow down growth, it may be adjusted to 14/8 day/night cycle.
The best light for vegetative growth is in the blue spectrum. For this reason, metal halide lamps are preferable for mother plants. This mimics the natural daylight in spring, when plants are typically undergoing vegetative growth.
Nutrients for your mature mother plants
Your mature mother plants need to receive sufficient nutrients to stay alive and healthy. The nutrient ratio must further be optimized to favour vegetative growth and abundant branching. Plenty of nitrogen is essential for vegetative growth. Other important nutrients include calcium, which is important in maintaining hormonal balance, and magnesium, which facilitates photosynthesis and production of sugars vital for growth.
As well as ensuring that the basic macro- and micronutrients are present and correct, there are various other tweaks that can be performed to improve the overall health and vigour of the plant, and to boost the rate of branching.
The auxin/cytokinin balance
For example, auxin and cytokinin are two plant hormones that work together to boost root and branch development. The apical shoots produce auxin, which is then delivered to the roots via an intracellular pathway to boost root development. Meanwhile, the roots produce cytokinin, which travels back up to the shoots via the same intracellular pathway, where it promotes branch development and leaf growth.
As auxin and cytokinin are natural plant hormones, it is possible to supplement your plants’ baseline levels so that they produce stronger, healthier roots and achieve a greater degree of branching. Ideally, a higher ratio of cytokinin to auxin is desirable, as this encourages lateral branching, while a higher ratio of auxin to cytokinin restricts lateral branching and encourages upward growth.
Selective pruning for abundant branching
Your approach to pruning your mothers determines the rate at which they will produce fresh shoots, which will ultimately become new clones. It is always important to prune your mothers regularly, and to be selective about how you approach the task so that the maximum number of healthy, vigorous new branches are produced.
It is very important to ensure that your mother plants grow short and bushy rather than tall and spindly. To achieve this, remove the apical stems from your mothers regularly. The apical stems produce auxin, which travels down the shoots towards the roots as previously mentioned. On its way, it inhibits auxiliary bud growth and lateral branching.
Thus, when the apical stems are removed, the auxin level drops off and lateral branching is uninhibited. Presence of cytokinin at this stage also encourages apical dominance to shift to the lateral branches so that they grow more vigorously.
Any grower who has stumbled upon great genetics must know how to maintain and utilise a mother plant. It means always having access to and a supply of fine cannabis. This removes the need for constant searching for the perfect seed or phenotype. Enjoy the many possibilities once you have found the perfect candidate for a mother plant!
- Disclaimer:Laws and regulations regarding cannabis cultivation differ from country to country. Sensi Seeds therefore strongly advises you to check your local laws and regulations. Do not act in conflict with the law.