Mother plants are donor plants from which you take cuttings from and keep valuable strains viable and grow new plants from. A donor plant can live for a very long time and this will guarantee a grower of having the same type of strain with repeatable characteristics for many years.
How to Create and Maintain a Bonsai Mother Plant
Bonsai, the word, loosely translates to mean ‘in a pot’ and keeping a mother plant in a pot ensures that you can care for it, take it from place to place with you, give it proper food and water, etc.
You should start your plants off in a very small pot, around 2 to 3 inches in diameter. Using small pots allows you to have several mother plants in a small space. The more you have of any one strain, the longer you can ensure that you’ll have it around.
A single, 2-inch plant can produce over 5 and up to 10 cuttings with each cycle. This is the most productive way to raise cannabis clones and keep your strain alive and healthy for many years.
Choose a good healthy plant to take a cutting from. Obviously, this should be a plant that you’ve tried and feel that you’d like to use over and over again. You will simply take a cutting and use a small container, even a small cup, to start it in. It will take several days to sprout roots and begin to take a hold in the soil. Use a good organic potting mix to start your plant in. Don’t pack it down tight. You want it to be loose enough that the roots can easily get started.
In a Week
Transplant your mother plant(s) to larger1 to 2 quart containers. Use dry potting soil and place some in the bottom of the new container, add your plant and the soil from the first container. Gently add more soil to fill the new container to the top.
Let your plant grow and establish a good root system in its new container. At the end of a week, it is time to top your plant for the first time. You’ll want to trim only the top back to encourage your plant not to grow too tall. You want to leave two or three nodes where it will branch out and fill-out from below, rather than growing tall and thin. You want your plant to be more bush-like.
Feed Your Plant
It’s a good idea to make sure that you use a good plant food to keep your plant healthy and strong. Flush the plant once in a while with good, clean water and nothing else. You can put it in the sink and just run water through it, if you like. This helps to prevent nutrient lockout.
In two to three months, your mother plant will be ready to offer up some cuttings. Harvest your cuttings carefully and take no more than five the first time. Thereafter, depending on your plant, you make take as many as ten. Before you take cuttings, you will want to make sure that you have growth lights that give your mother plants 18 to 22 hours of sunlight daily. This will ensure that it is in the right cycle for giving cuttings and remaining very healthy.
After taking cuttings, you should always ensure that your mother plant is trimmed down as low as possible again, encouraging her to create new growths from nodes that can be future cuttings. Long, tall plants do not yield places to take cuttings from so encourage low plants that are bushy by keeping them topped all of the time.
If you live in states like Oregon, make sure that your plants are OLCC approved. If you are growing hemp, then you should make sure they are ODA approved. Remember that some states have very rigid laws on growing marijuana and you should not do so unless willing to risk fines and possible jail time. Only licensed growers, or those approved in their particular states should attempt to grow marijuana at home.
You can expect anywhere from 4 to 18 cuttings per year for as long as 15 years. Treat your mother plants like gold because they effectively are just that. Always keep the best cuttings and if a cutting isn’t up to par, don’t waste time with it. You want the strongest and sturdiest looking cuttings for the maximum life expectancy. They aren’t hard to take care of if you choose good cuttings to start off with.
Ideally, when you do your cuttings and trimmings, you want to form a “Y” in your tiny mother trees. Think of it as a cup if that is easier. This will help yield healthier and strong plants and make for easier bushing out so you’ll have more cuttings to choose from as well.
Bonsai mothers are typically very hearty and can take some ignoring but if you want the maximum life from your plants, then you’ll want to give them plenty of attention, topping, feeding, fertilizing, rinsing the roots well and even doing occasional root trimming to keep your bonsai mother happy in her pot. Just remember that you’ll get out of the plant what you are willing to put into her in time and effort. She should be cared for with respect and she’ll yield you enough clones to last a lifetime.