Clones can be an easy and efficient way to introduce new genetics into your garden. Whether you’re looking for a proven strain to deliver consistent flavor and yield or hunting for a cut of some rare “clone-only” phenotype, bringing home some clones can be the way to go.
But clones can also create problems. Often described as silent killers, tainted clones can introduce pests and diseases into your grow and bring things screeching to a halt if left unchecked.
Here are some tips to ensure bad clones don’t make it into your space.
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Find a reputable source for cannabis clones
The most crucial step in finding clean clones is to choose a reputable source. However, determining the actual source of your clone may be difficult. If you live in a medical or adult-use state, you’ll be able to get clones from your local cannabis shop.
Most of the time, these clones come from growers who focus solely on producing clones, but sometimes cuttings will come from a third-party source. When purchasing clones for your home garden, always ask your shop where they came from. If you can’t get a legitimate answer, look for another source.
It’s important to know the origin of your clones because that’s where any problem would originate. Diseases, pests, incorrectly labeled genetics, and unknown pesticide residues are some of the issues with a mystery clone.
Never hesitate to research a dispensary or grow facility you plan to acquire genetics from, and always ask questions about the clones when purchasing.
Inspect your cannabis clones
Not all pests, diseases, pesticide residues, or genetic markers will be easy to spot with the naked eye, but give your clones a good look before introducing them to your garden. You may be able to identify a problem if you know what to look for.
Look at these things:
A clone’s stem width is a great way to get a sense of its overall health and vigor. Thin and narrow stems typically mean that clone was taken from a weak or less viable branch. These cuttings may be more prone to disease or death and their root systems may take longer to develop.
Be sure to inspect all areas of your clone for the presence of pests. Large pests such as fungus gnats and even spider mites can be spotted relatively easily.
Check under each leaf and also check the soil medium, as some pests only live there. Certain pests can also leave markers—spider mites leave spots and webbing, and other insects can leave trace bite marks.
Many diseases can be difficult to detect in cuttings, but there are a few visual cues that can be seen early on. A lack of vigor is a major cue—check for limping leaves, irregular or mutated growth, and discoloration.
Powdery mildew (PM) is a very common disease found on clones, and mold spores can transfer to other plants. Keep an eye out for white powder on stems and leaves.
It’s almost impossible to detect harmful pesticides or fungicides on a clone. Often, these applications leave zero residue and can stay on a plant for the rest of the plant’s life. If you see any suspicious residue on a clone, ask your sales representative about their in-house integrated pest management (IPM) and always err on the side of caution.
Clean and quarantine your clones
If some clones look OK at the shop and you decide to take them home, make sure to take these last few precautionary steps before introducing them to the rest of your garden.
First, transplant your new clone into a more permanent container and medium. Often the grow medium used to house fresh cuttings at the shop will be different than what you use. Furthermore, pests may be present in its medium when you bought it—transplanting your clone to a cleaner space will help mitigate any potential root damage.
Take this time to properly clean your clone with whatever IPM solution you deem fit. A popular method for cleaning new clones involves dipping them into a light solution of whatever safe and approved pesticide you choose.
After your clones have been properly cleaned and transplanted into their new medium, make sure to keep them quarantined for a few days to a week. Doing this will protect the rest of your garden if they do develop problems, and you’ll able to pull them out easily.
If they look good after a week, go ahead and introduce them to the rest of your garden.
Keep these tips in mind next time you’re in the market to pick up some new clones for your garden. Although it’s extra work, these steps can potentially save you a huge headache in the long run and give you the assurance that your grow will be safe from the unknown hazards that may dwell in a malignant cutting.
This post was originally published on May 1, 2017. It was most recently updated on February 27, 2020.