Cultivating and maintaining strong, vigorous mother plants requires patience, dedication and consistency—as well as good genetics and some basic (but good-quality) equipment.
Growing Space Requirements For Keeping Mother Plants
- A growing space, not excessively large. A 80x80cm grow tent is perfect, although we can also use built-in closets, etc. It all depends on the number of plants we want to keep.
- A lighting system. Normally, fluorescent tubes or low consumption lamps (blue spectrum) are used to keep mother plants and root cuttings. Several models (W) of these lamps are available, being the 100W lamps the lower ones. They are efficient and produce almost no heat. In case that we want to grow in larger spaces, or if we need to boost the growth of our plants, using HM lighting systems would be advised.
- A 100-200m3/h air extraction fan to remove heat (if needed) and renew the air of the growing space
- A timer to set the photoperiod for the plants
- A thermo hygrometer to check the temperature and humidity values
- A small clip fan to improve air circulation
What Are Cannabis Mother Plants?
A mother plant is the plant used to make new cannabis clones.
Cannabis mother plants are carefully chosen by cultivators because they boast particularly favorable characteristics, such as the ability to produce big yields; a resilience to disease; the ability to flourish in a specific grow environment (such as indoors or in a greenhouse), or the taste, smell, and effect of the flowers they produce.
Cannabis mother plants are usually strong, vigorous plants that are deliberately kept in their vegetative state in order to produce cuttings that grow and develop quickly.
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); however, even the best genetics usually begin to exhibit signs of age-related deterioration at some stage.
You can keep almost any cannabis plant as a mother plant, except autoflowering varieties that flower after a specific time rather than after being exposed to a specific photoperiod.
For best results, you’ll want to keep mother plants in their vegetative states, so you’ll want to make sure your plants receive between 18-24 hours of light per day.
Make sure to feed your plants with a rich fertiliser, as they’ll be essentially kept in a growth phase throughout their entire lifecycle. We recommend using a fertiliser rich in nitrogen and other micronutrients, such as calcium, magnesium, sulphur, manganese, and boron.
Here’s a little more information about the role of each of these nutrients and why they’re important for your mother plants:
Calcium is very important for cannabis plants as it forms parts of the walls of the individual cells in the plant, making it a vital nutrient for the plant in it its growth phase. It also helps plants develop strong stems, branches, and roots. Plants with calcium deficiencies will usually display distorted leaves with yellow/brown spots.
Magnesium is also essential for plants in a vegetative states as it helps to stimulate the formation of chlorophyll, a group of pigments responsible for maintaining the health of the leaves and veins of the plant. Cannabis plants with magnesium deficiencies usually display yellowing leaves. Excess amounts of magnesium can cause calcium deficiencies in plants.
Sulphur is another key nutrient for developing cannabis plants. It is responsible for the production of proteins in the cannabis plants, as well as the formation of chlorophyll. Plants with sulphur deficiencies usually grow slowly and develop small, mutated leaves that curl upwards.
Manganese is, like sulphur and magnesium, also plays a key role in the production of chlorophyll in developing cannabis plants. Plants with low amounts of manganese will display yellowing chloroplasts and white or grey-spotted leaves which eventually die off.
Boron is important for sugar, water, and calcium absorption in cannabis plants. Moreover, it also aids in the production, colouring and formation of leaves Boron deficiencies produce ‘death tips” on marijuana buds and also lead to potassium and magnesium deficiencies.
To ensure your mother plant provides vigorous cuttings, you must customize the fertilization schedule. Many growers feed mother plants a standard vegetative fertilizer, which is not ideal for a donor plant.
Mother plants should be on a nutrient program that minimizes the use of nitrogen, especially nitrates. This will increase the carbon-to-nitrogen ratio, allowing for greater storage of carbohydrates and a healthier rooted cutting. If a mother plant is fed excessive nitrogen, then it will grow quickly, but the growths will be soft and leggy with little carbohydrates, leading to cuttings with soft stems and a greater susceptibility to diseases.
Choose a fertilizer with a 1:1 ratio of nitrogen to potassium, as unnecessary potassium tends to exacerbate the problems associated with nitrate imbalances. It is better to feed a mother plant minimal nitrate nitrogen, and then if you notice a general yellowing of the leaves, feed the plant a little nitrogen boost fertilizer.
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 selectively about how you approach the task so that the maximum number of healthy, vigorous new branches are produced.
Pruning and even training our mother plants is very important in order to keep their height under control. Even if we don’t need cuttings, we should prune the tops of our plants regularly, otherwise they’ll grow too much and compete to reach the light, stretching and producing less clones. Always remember that when you prune a branch, two new branches will grow from that point, so the more we prune a plant the more bushy and branched it will be.