Dear Dan, I'd like to know more about growing and caring for mother plants. For example, I grow with hydro, but I'm wondering if growing my mothers in soil would make more sense. Also, what kind of nutrients and feeding schedule should I be using? I'm guessing something light for slower growth? Could a lighter version of Sub Cool's soil recipe be used? What type of lighting do you recommend for healthy moms? – Josh
Successful marijuana gardening from clones requires healthy mother plants from which to take those cuttings. I always recommend that mother plants be grown in soil or soilless mixes rather than hydroponically for most people. Soil is far more forgiving than hydro, so the plants have a better chance of long-term survival and stability.
The smallest container size I recommend for mother plants is a 5-gallon bucket. Since the plant will be alive for a long period of time, the roots need plenty of space to spread out and root-bound moms will not be nearly as healthy and productive as ones that have room to expand.
As for nutrients, stay on the lighter side and water with plain water frequently to avoid salt buildup. If you notice any deficiencies such as yellowing of the leaves, amp up the nutes accordingly. Subcool’s mix is pretty hot, meaning the nutrient levels are pretty high and can burn young plants that aren’t ready for that level of feeding. You can use a lighter version of that or just plain Pro-Mix for healthy moms. If you want to do hydro moms, keep them in individual buckets (DWC or deep water culture would work well) and make sure the roots are well oxygenated.
Lighting for mother plants depends on how frequently you plan to take cuttings. For infrequent cloning, you can keep your moms under fluorescent tubes or compact fluorescent lighting. For faster growing mother plants that can produce many healthy cuttings more frequently, use a 400-watt MH (Metal Halide) lighting system. This will ensure vigorous and healthy mother plants capable of giving you healthy cuttings as often as you might need them.
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(photo by @DannyDanko)