Easy as 1, 2, 3
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. Depending on where you live, you’ll be able to find clones at either your local dispensary or a nursery. Many times, clones from these facilities are taken from in-house cultivars, but there will also be cases where cuttings have been acquired from a third party source. When purchasing clones for your home garden, always ask your purveyor where the strains came from. If you can’t get a legitimate answer, try finding another source.
It’s important to know the origin of your clones because this will be where your problems, if any, originate. Diseases, pests, incorrectly labeled genetics, and unknown systemic pesticide residues are among the handful of issues a mystery clone may carry. Knowing reputable vendors is the easiest way to help prevent one of these issues from potentially reaching your grow. Never hesitate to research the dispensaries and grow facilities you plan to acquire genetics from, and always ask questions about the clones themselves when purchasing.
Not all diseases, pests, pesticide residues, or genetic markers will be easy to spot with your naked eye, but giving your clones a good once-over before introducing them to your garden can help identify many problems beforehand if you know what to look for. Here are a few identifiers to reference when inspecting your new potential clones:
Stem Width – Looking at the width of the stem is a great way to identify the overall health and vigor of the cutting as it was taken. Thin and narrow stems can be an indicator that your cutting may have been taken from a weaker or less viable branch. These cuttings may be more prone to disease or death and their root systems may take longer to develop.
Pests – Be sure to inspect all areas of your clone for the presence of pests. Larger pests such as fungus gnats and even spider mites in some cases can be spotted relatively easily. Check under each leaf, and don’t be afraid to check the soil medium as well for signs of pests. Certain pests can also leave markers, such as spider mites that may leave webbing or other insects that can leave trace bite marks.
Disease – Many diseases can be difficult to detect in cuttings. However, there are a few early visual cues to be aware of. Lack of vigor is a major cue that can be easy to spot. Check for limping leaves, irregular or mutated growth, or even discoloration. Aside from some minor yellowing, which is an indicator that your plant may be developing roots, other colors should be inspected carefully. Powdery mildew (PM) is a very common disease found on clones. Although not systemic, mold spores can transfer on the surface of a cutting. Keep an eye out for white powder on the tops of your stem leaves.
Pesticides - It is almost impossible to detect if your cutting has been exposed to potentially harmful pesticides or fungicides. Oftentimes these applications leave zero residue, and due to their systemic nature, pesticides can live within your plant for the rest of its life cycle. If you see any residue on your clones that may be suspicious, ask your sales representative about their in-house integrated pest management (IPM), and always err on the side of caution before purchasing.
If the clones look okay 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/medium. Often the grow medium used to house fresh cuttings at the shop will be different than what you intend to use. Furthermore, pests may be present in the current medium, and it could help to transplant your clone to a potentially cleaner space to mitigate the 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 that you keep them quarantined for a few days (up to a week). Doing this will ensure that if your clones do become symptomatic, you’re able to cull them without compromising the integrity of your entire grow space. If after the allotted time your clones seem safe to transfer, go ahead and introduce them to the rest of your garden.
Keep these three tips in mind the next time you find yourself in the market to pick up a clone for your garden. Being proactive when it comes to clone acquisition will not only potentially save you a huge headache at the end of the day, but will give you the assurance that your grow will be safe from the unknown hazards that may dwell with a malignant cutting.