Mother’s Day Tribute: Tips For Choosing And Keeping Cannabis Mother Plants
If you have some experience growing cannabis plants from a seed, you’ve probably noticed by now how one plant tends to shadow its siblings in terms of health, its effects, smell, and taste.
This, my friends, is the cannabis mother plant.
Cannabis mother plants are chosen by growers because they possess superior characteristics. This is the plant used to produce cannabis clones. They may also be chosen because they tend to produce much larger yields, are more resilient to disease, and flourish extra well in their grow environment. They are strong, and because of this, growers keep them in the vegetative state deliberately so that they continue producing offspring with desirable results.
Reasons For Using A Mother Plant
The main reason growers use a mother plant is for economy. Buying good quality cannabis seeds can burn a hole in your pocket. Without a mother plant, you’ll have to shell out big bucks to purchase new seeds every time you begin cultivation.
Second, using clones also speed up the beginning of the cannabis grow process. This is because clones eliminate the need for germinating seeds and it reduces the time you’ll wait for them to develop.
Third and last, it all boils down to quality. Keep in mind that many of the best cannabis strains have different phenotypes, but when you find yourself with an excellent phenotype that has all the qualities you’re looking for, the best thing to do would be to repeat this outcome by cloning the mother plant in order to produce identical offspring.
Choosing A Mother
A mother plant can make a big difference in your growing success. It enables you to produce identical plants that have similar characteristics such as size and height, and can flourish with the same growing conditions, with higher chance of quality buds at harvest, can make anyone successful at growing. However, the key here is to choose a mother plant to clone that will suit your growing needs.
To choose a mother plant, it all starts when you get a new set of seeds, and start the process as you normally would. When they have started to establish themselves and you can tell that they are growing well, make cuttings from every plant. The best time to do this would be around the 3rd or 4th week of vegetative growth. It’s critical that you get the cuttings before pre-flowers start to appear.
Clones have the same age as its donors, so when you take cuttings from a flowering plant, it will continue to flower despite being only a few inches in height. But taking clones from a plant in its vegetative stage provides you with more control over the results. Label each cutting so that you know which donor plant it came from. They can all be kept in the same room as its donors, ideally with 12-18 hours of light. When the clones become established, you can now separate them from tis donor and flower the donors by adjusting the lighting to 12/12, making sure that you keep the cuttings on its vegetative light cycle.
When the males begin to appear, they should be removed immediately as well as any clones because you will no longer have any use for them.
When the donor plants enter the flowering phase, you should be able to have an idea of which ones you are most interested in. Each grower will have their own preferences, but here’s some qualities you should be looking at:
- Appearance: Certain cannabis strains may be preferred for its appearance. If you are looking for a color or a certain structure, you can easily identify this trait once it begins to manifest.
- Taste and aroma: Before you even get to try the plants, the aroma they give should be an indicator of its quality. This is especially important if you are growing tasty strains such as Super Lemon Haze, Blueberry, or Pineapple Express.
- Yield: The potential yield of a plant is usually, not always, associated with how robust it grows. But if you are growing for quantity instead of quality, the plant that produces the biggest yield will be more important to you:
- Vigor: You want to look for a mother plant that grows very strong since you can tell that it will result in several generations of cuttings. Identifying which plants grows stronger and more robust than others will be easy.
- Potency: It can be difficult to tell which plant will be more potent than others until you can sample the end product. However, a plant’s aroma is usually a good indicator.
Given these factors, you can eliminate some of the clones already even before the flowering stage has finished. But it will only be after the drying, curing, and consumption that you can confidently select which clone you would like to make into the mother plant. As a general rule of thumb, the more individual plants you begin cultivation with, the bigger your chances will be of identifying a high quality mother for the future generations of cannabis plants.
Tips For Keeping Healthy Mother Plants
Any cannabis plant can be used as the mother plant. The exception is autoflowering varieties that flower at a given time once they have been exposed to a photoperiod. Ideally, you should be keeping the mother plant in its vegetative state, which means that it should be receiving 18-24 hours of light each day.
To optimize the mother plant’s superior growing abilities, feed it with a nutrient-rich fertilizer since it will be kept in a growth phase throughout her life cycle. Using enzymes regularly is also recommended, since it helps break down the salt residue in substrates, making it more available for the mother plant and cleaning it from excess salts. Make sure it gets a lot of nitrogen as well as manganese, boron, magnesium, calcium, and sulphur. Here’s why these micronutrients are essential for healthy mother plants:
Manganese: Manganese plays an important role in helping your developing cannabis plants produce chlorophyll. If a plant has low levels of manganese, they will have grey or white spotted leaves, or yellow chloroplasts, which will eventually die.
Boron: Boron is necessary for helping cannabis plants absorb sugar, calcium, and water. It also assists in the production, formation, and coloring of the leaves. A boron deficiency can be identified through the presence of “death tips” on the buds, and can also result in magnesium and potassium deficiencies.
Calcium: Calcium is critical for helping cannabis plants grow walls of individual cells, which means that it is absolutely vital for plants especially in its growth stages. Calcium also helps the plant produce strong roots, branches, and stems. A cannabis plant with a calcium deficiency will have distorted leaves with brown or yellow spots.
Sulphur: Sulphur helps plants produce proteins and form chlorophyll. A plant with sulphur deficiencies will experience slow growth and develop mutated leaves that tend to curl upwards.
How To Protect Mother Plants
Mother plants tend to outlive other plants, and a long life means that they will be more prone to pests and disease. To successfully keep your mother plants strong and healthy, create a schedule for when you should use various insecticides and fungicides. Ideally you can apply them every 15 days, but this will depend on your plant’s needs.
If you will be making clones of the mother plant, use propolis treatment to heal any cuts in the branches. This will also prevent fungi and bacteria later on.
It’s also important to prune and train mother plants to have control over their height. Even if you won’t need cuttings, pruning the tops of the plants on a regular basis will prevent them from growing too tall and reaching the light, which results in producing less clones. When you prune a branch, keep in mind that it will produce two more branches in that spot, so the more you prune, the bushier and branchy your plant will become.
Growing Space For Mother Plants
Here are the equipment you’ll need and characteristics of an ideal growing space for your mother plant:
- Spacious but not too large; a grow tent 80x80cm in size works great. However, a closet grow space will also do, depending on how many plants you want to keep.
- Lighting: Blue spectrum or other low consumption lamps will do to keep root cuttings and mother plants. The 100W lamps are efficient while producing little to no heat. But if you wan to use a bigger grow space or enhance the growth of your plant, use an HM lighting instead.
- Timer: For establishing the plant’s photoperiod
- Ventilation: A 100-200m3/h air extraction fan is recommended for removing heat while providing the grow space with renewed air
- Clip fan: For improving air circulation
- Thermo hygrometer: For checking humidity and temperature
Now we’ve established that you really need to take care of your mother (plants). The bottom line is that if you take care of your mother, she will take care of you!