Cloning is the process of making an identical copy of something. In plant propagation, cloning is a way to asexually reproduce a plant. Plants produced in this way are genetically identical to the parent plant. Plant cells exhibit a trait known as totipotency, meaning they all have the ability to divide and make another plant.
Many people choose to clone because it can actually create a new plant faster than seed propagation. Others choose to clone in order to make copies of genetically superior plants. It is not uncommon for an experienced hydroponic gardener to have his grow room be mostly filled with clones of a single original plant.
In hydroponics, the most common method of plant cloning is making a cutting. This simply involves cutting off a part of the "parent plant" and planting it in the medium. Since each cell in a plant has the ability to grow every part necessary for the plant's survival, this will create an entirely new plant if done properly.
The plant you use to make your clone or clones must be chosen carefully. During a growing season, make sure to pay careful attention to which plants seem to be the hardiest, were most resistant to the diseases, and provided the biggest yields. In vegetables, try to note which offered the best tasting food. In flowers, look at which offered the biggest, most colorful and most fragrant buds. Make certain that the mother plant is healthy and well fed. Making a cutting creates an open wound which increases the odds of the plant suffering from a bacterial or viral disease.
You may have to alter your growing room conditions when plant cloning. Cuttings often require more humidity and higher temperatures in order to successfully take root. Make sure that the light you use is neither too harsh or too hot. It will probably benefit from either indirect, reflected light and cool running light source, such as LED or fluorescent bulbs.
To make the cut, take a sharp razor blade and sterilize it with isopropyl alcohol. Cut a section of the stem that is about two to five inches long. The stem should have a few large leaves on it to maximize photosynthesis.
However, you should remove any leaves that may wind up below the growing medium. These will simply die because they will not receive any light, and create unwanted organic material that might attract bugs and diseases.
To maximize the potential of success of the plant cloning, you should use a rooting hormone. Rooting hormones are designed to increase the percentage of cuttings which form roots, speed up how quickly roots form and increase the number of roots on every cutting. To use this, simply pour the hormone into a shot glass or other container and dip the end of the cutting into it.
Now you should poke an area in your medium to allow easy insertion of the cutting and gently place it in the medium. Some growers cover their grow tray or buckets with a clear plastic bag to increase humidity. The bag should be removed after about two weeks, when the roots should start taking hold.
During the cloning stage, growers should pay extra attention to any fungi that might form in their growing room. The increased need for humidity creates a perfect environment for many species of undesirable fungi to thrive.