mother plants cannabis

How to keep cannabis mother plants

When growing a pack of seeds, it is not rare to find a plant that stands out over the rest, with a number of desirable traits difficult to find in the same phenotype. That’s when growers ask themselves.

Can I make a “backup copy” of a cannabis plant?

The answer is, of course, positive. Taking cuttings or clones from cannabis plants is easy and the way to go if we want to keep a specific plant for years, even decades. We could try to replicate the plant genetics through seeds, although this method is difficult and takes a lot of time.

On the other hand, if we take cuttings from a cannabis plant we are making sure that this genetics is being kept, since all cuttings will be exactly the same as their respective mother plants. In this way, we can enjoy the same taste, effect, yield, etc. over the years, the same exact buds than those of that first plant we grew from seed (needless to say, we can also take cuttings from cuts given to us). Logically, we won’t be able to take cuttings from autoflowering strains since they do not depend on the photoperiod to start flowering, and thus are impossible to be kept on a constant growth stage.

Let’s take a look at the most important aspects to keep in mind when trying to keep mother plants in indoor grow tents.

Veg room with mother plants and cuttings

Growing space requirements for keeping mother plants

We need the following materials to grow and keep our mother plants :

  • A growing space, not excessively large. A 80x80cm grow tent is perfect, although we can also use built-in closets, etc. It all depends on the number of plants we want to keep.
  • A lighting system. Normally, fluorescent tubes or low consumption lamps (blue spectrum) are used to keep mother plants and root cuttings. Several models (W) of these lamps are available, being the 100W lamps the lower ones. They are efficient and produce almost no heat. In case that we want to grow in larger spaces, or if we need to boost the growth of our plants, using HM lighting systems would be advised. The newest LEC CMH lighting kits work great
  • A 100-200m3/h air extraction fan to remove heat (if needed) and renew the air of the growing space
  • A timer to set the photoperiod for the plants
  • A thermo hygrometer to check the temperature and humidity values
  • A small clip fan to improve air circulation

How to keep a cannabis mother plant

Different mother plants

First of all, we should have a clone of the plant we want to keep. This is the easier way to start, since we dont have to germinate seeds and select the best female from all plants. Plant the clone into a 3,5L pot and use a 18/6 photoperiod (18 daily hours of light per 6 hours of darkness), what will prevent plants from flowering. In this way, the plant will be constantly growing and we’ll be able to take more cuttings from it. From time to time, we can remove our old mother plant and renew it with a cutting taken from it.

On the contrary, if we use seeds we’ll have to grow them, take cuttings from all the plants, flower them, remove male plants in case we are using regular seeds, and finally decide which is our chosen one. Once we know what plant will be our mother plant, we can discard the rest of plants/cuttings.

Depending on the number of cuttings that we need, we’ll use larger pots and more powerful lighting systems.

Feeding cannabis mother plants

Since all mother plants are kept under a constant growth photoperiod, their nutritional needs are covered if we use a fertiliser rich in nitrogen and micro elements. In this way, we prevent plants from suffering nutritional deficiencies, something important if we want to keep them during months or years.

Properly grown mother plants provide lots of cuttings

A regular use of enzymes is also recommendable, since they will help breaking down salt residues in the substrate, making them available for the plants again and thus “cleaning” the media from excess salts.

We must not forget to use foliar fertilisers from time to time, also some kind of nutritional supplement (Hemplex) to make sure that our plants will be healthy and lush.

Mother plant protection

Since mother plants usually have a very long life when compared to those plants that we harvest, they are more prone to be attacked by pests and diseases. This is why we should write down a schedule for using different insecticides (neem oil, Expelex) and fungicides (Propolis, Triadimenol) in order to make applications of these products every 15 days (of course depending on needs).

Healthy plants produce healthy cuttings

If we are to take clones of our mother plants, we should also use some propolis treatment via foliar, which will help to heal the cuts performed in the branches while preventing bacteria and fungi attacks.

Pruning mother plants

Pruning and even training our mother plants is very important in order to keep their height under control. Even if we don’t need cuttings, we should prune the tops of our plants regularly, otherwise they’ll grow too much and compete to reach the light, stretching and producing less clones.

Always remember that when you prune a branch, two new branches will grow from that point, so the more we prune a plant the more bushy and branched it will be.

Related Posts

The SCROG cannabis growing system

Tips to avoid stretching cannabis plants

Pruning Cannabis Plants

Flowering in Cannabis plants

Flushing cannabis plants

The Photoperiod of cannabis plants grown indoors

Comments in “How to keep cannabis mother plants” (16)

david Is an Alchimia client 2020-10-19
ive been vegging 2 power africas for 12 weeks, iknow its too long but i had other plants on the go . they been in flower for 3 nights, im scrogging them, just waiting for sign now. do you have any advice for me, i was going to prune them in about 3 weeks after i see flower sights, to make more space and light for them. durban poison cross haze. only got seeds cos of the name. what a journey !! love this web site!!

Carcajou 2020-10-15
Hi, I have a well growing veg mother under 600W LED full spectrum that I switched a week ago into 12/12 for flowering. She doesn’t yet show signs of being into flowering. Is it too late to cut a clones off of her? Also, never cloned my plants before. I am running low on seeds so I wanted to try. I read a bit, bought rooting hormone, but I only have space for 1 small grow tent in my appartment. Is there a way I can raise the clones and flower the mother all together? Since clones require 18/6 and the mother 12/12, I don’t know how to do. I tought about letting my clones go into flowering with the mother, and then reversing the clones back to veg, when my mother will be ready for harvest. What do you think about that?

Tim Alchimia 2020-10-19
Hi and thanks for your comment. You can take cuttings from a flowering plant without too much problem. You can even root them under a 12/12 photoperiod, but, in my experience, it will take longer than when rooted under 18/6 or higher. If you were to root them in the same space as the mother then I wouldn’t recommend keeping them there under 12/12 for much longer. Flowering plants can take a really long time to re-veg and return to normal growth, sometimes months! Check out our blog post on Re-vegging Cannabis Plants for more info. Clones don’t need much in the way of lumens, so they can be rooted and maintained under a low-wattage fluorescent tube and this is what I’d recommend you do. Personally, I root my cuttings under a couple of 24w tubes on a shelf in my living room and it works great. I hope that helps, all the best and happy growing!

Wayne 2020-09-03
Thank you for taking time with us. I’m a new grower trying to start with a mother plant from seed. I have a large grow space 8’X7’x9’ tall just to veg. My question is this can I grow and keep her in there under 400w hm. And still run the clones there as well?

Tim Alchimia 2020-09-03
Hi Wayne, thanks for your comment and question. Yes, you can keep both your mother plants and your clones in the same space and on the same photoperiod. Just one 400w MH won’t give a large enough light footprint to illuminate the entire room though, so in your situation, and with a large area like that, I’d use the 400w MH to keep the mother plant happy, but that’s too powerful for clones so I’d use a fluorescent tube or two to root the cuttings and grow them until they’re big enough to go under the 400w lamp. I think that way you can make the most of your space and give the plants the light they need at each stage of development. I hope that helps, best wishes and happy growing!

Mr.Trump 2020-02-15
Hi, If I start from seed and select the best plant for a mother and make clones of her, is it possible to take clones from those first clones and keep doing so with each successive generation or will they start losing vigor and potency? Can you really keep a original mother plant alive for decades? Thanks.

Newbe 2020-02-12
Can you flower a plant to harvest then keep it as a mother if you take all the proper precautions?

Tim Alchimia 2020-02-12
Hi, thanks for your question. Yes, you absolutely can do that, you’ll just need to leave a few of the lower buds and leaves on the plant when you harvest, and then change the photoperiod to 18/6 or 19/5 and add a little (but not too much) nitrogen. Re-potting can help too, and some growers like to take that opportunity to prune the roots with the purpose of stimulating new growth. To have the best quality clones for future grows, make sure you select a plant that hasn’t had any mould problems during flowering, as any pathogens may remain in the mother plant and be passed on to the subsequent clones. This is obviously something to be avoided at all costs if you want successful harvests! Good luck with the re-vegging, best wishes and happy growing!

Dolynn 2020-01-28
Is it better to start a mother from seed or clone. you know the strain and the grower. I would like any info. I can get! Thank you.

Tim Alchimia 2020-01-28
Hi Dolynn, thanks for your question. The answer will depend on what you’re looking for. If you want something different from everybody else, a special plant that nobody else will have, then you’ll need to select a mother plant from seeds, sowing a pack (or two) of the variety you’re interested in and then choosing the plant that best fits your requirements, in terms of production, aroma, flavour, effect and also ease of growth and suitability for your specific growing conditions and situation. With this approach, if you do things properly, you’ll also have the added advantage of knowing that your selected plant will be free of nasty pests or diseases and that its plant tissue won’t hold any residues of chemical pesticides, which can be very persistent over many generations. In legal states, testing has found traces of banned chemicals in organically-grown cannabis, residues which can only have originated from previous generations of the clone being treated. Clones are also famous for spreading serious pests like broad mites, spider mites, root aphids and a whole load more! It’s not all bad though, elite clones do have their advantages. For one thing, you will know (as long as the clone is the real thing and not a fake) that you’re growing a variety that has been proven in many different gardens, one that has a track record of excellence among growers, meaning there should be a plethora of advice and information in online forums and message boards from those growers who have experience cultivating the clone. “Elite clones” are great for people who don’t have the time or grow space to grow and select a whole pack of seeds, and for those who like to know they’re growing a guaranteed winner, but for those that have the space and the motivation, and access to high-quality and reputable seeds, then selecting your own plant will always be far more satisfying! I hope that helps, all the best and happy growing!

INSANE Buds Is an Alchimia client 2020-01-25
I’m a beginner in the cannabis growing. I’ve converted my indoor laundry space into a grow room. My temp stays at 63-78 deg and humidity averaged at 50? 6oow full spectrum light. Is this ideal to start my mother plants. I’ve germinated purple kush seeds and are now around ?” tall been growing for 17days.

Tim Alchimia 2020-01-29
Hi, thanks for your comment. It sounds like you’ve got a great space for growing there, those conditions look ideal although be aware that once you’ve got large plants in there the humidity will probably get higher and you will need some kind of ventilation and extraction system to renew the air and keep the levels where you want them. Best of luck with this next grow, please let us know how you get on. Happy growing!

Isaiah Weinberg 2019-12-13
Thanks for the info, will give it a shot!

Isaiah Weinberg 2019-12-12
I’m looking to keep one Mother plant(AK 47) in a 4x3x6 tent, and the 4 clones that I will grow in my other tent. Using 600W sodium in flowering tent, works good for 4 plants. But am just starting the veg tent and am unsure if type any wattage of light I need to keep mom going. Too much differing info out there. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks. (Growing all hydroponic).

Tim Alchimia 2019-12-13
Hi Isaiah, thanks for your question. The answer really depends on how much growth you want to get from the plant. If you just want to keep it alive without it getting too big, then a 125w CFL low-energy bulb would be enough, but if you want vigorous growth (and if you’re keeping the plant in hydro, that’s what you’ll probably get) then I’d recommend something with a little more power, ideally a dimmable CMH/LEC lamp which will offer a great deal of flexibility in terms of growth control and electricity consumption. I hope that helps you to decide, all the best and happy growing!

Sugar C Cupit Is an Alchimia client 2017-12-24
I jus got a mother sour diesel..she is in full bloom..she was outside..but i brought her seeing in other questions tht i need to cut off all buds and give her 18/6 tht rite? Also any particular way to cut the buds?

Tim Alchimia 2018-01-02
Hi and thanks for your question. So you want to re-veg this plant? Once the plant is ready to harvest you’ll need to cut off the buds as usual, but don’t cut all of them! It’s vital that you leave a few buds and some healthy leaves for the plant to be able to regrow after flowering. Then give it a photoperiod conducive to vegetative growth (18/6, 19/5, 20/4 for example) and within a few weeks you should see some fresh green growth of new leaves coming from the bud sites, at which time you can start to apply weak doses of fertiliser. It takes time and patience, so be prepared to wait a while. Another tip that can help is pruning the roots and re-potting with fresh soil. Good luck!

Richard 2017-09-24
Question, I am just starting, I have some background as a research tech for a national fertilizer co. I don’t know enough of this industry to determine who is qualified too give council from those who aren’t but feel compelled to offer their council. That being said I was given a mother plant (30″ tall) and told it is an OG Cush, a variety of Indica. Another individual states this is not a Indica. Simply by terminology is a OG Cush a Indica strain? My second question is that in the process of getting set up and no lighting the plant has started to flower, is this a bad situation may I simply give it the 18 hrs of light and trim off the flower buds? Any help offered would be greatly appreciated, our hopes are too produce our own RSO too treat my wife cancer (stage 4 ovarian)

Dani Alchimia 2017-09-25
Hi Richard, Cannabis plants grown indoors need a daily photoperiod of 18 hours of light and 6 of darkness to grow. We switch it to 12/12 when we want them to start the bloom period. You can do as you say and put your plants under 18/6 phoroperiod. Remove any bud and the plant will soon start to grow again. About the OG Kush, the lineage of this clone only strain is ChemDawg x [Lemon Thai x Old World Paki Kush]. It is a mostly Indica strain, but it does contain some Sativa genes from the Lemon Thai. Still, the effect of OG Kush and most hybrids developed from it is far away from the clean, cerebral high of Sativas. Hope it helped!

david 2017-06-21
about to attempt my first try on creating a mother. the plant is from seed. a pure Sativa strain from India. i have to assume environment can have some effects on how the plant will do. any comments or tips that may help would be welcome. mtn mn

Dani Alchimia 2017-06-22
Hi david, Keeping a mother plant from a landrace can be complicated, since these plants are not adapted to indoor environments. Sometimes they find 600W lamps too potent, so they grow better with more distance between the lamp and the plants (or with 400W bulbs). Also, it may happen that it starts flowering with 18/6 photoperiod; these plants are used to have plenty of space for the root system, so sometimes they bloom because they feel like they don’t have enough space to grow. Root trimming and transplanting may solve the problem, but not always. Best of luck!

Flick allen 2017-03-10
Hi LJC I have my mother under a 600w LED full spectrum at 18/6 and she has flowed This is the second time this has happend. the plant is speedy chilly Any ideas why. Thanks Flick

Dani Alchimia 2017-03-14
Hi Flick, Speedy Chile has been developed (as many other fast flowering genetics) by using an autoflowering plant as one of the parents. Thus, some plants may show the autoflower trait, as may be the case here. Also, keep in mind that cannabis – especially mother plants – hate small containers, so always try to provide them with enough space for proper root development. Hope it helped!

Collin 2017-01-21
Hey LJC, how do you keep the mother plants from flowering if they are outdoors?

Dani Alchimia 2017-01-23
Hi Collin, The only option you have is providing some extra light during the night period with a lighting system. You can either extend the light hours to 17-18 daily hours or light your plants for around 30 minutes every 2-3 hours during the night period. Both techniques will prevent your plants from flowering. Hope it helped!

LJC 2016-09-30
My mother plants ( 24, Sour Diesel ) are passing through 6 years of growth and have provided literally hundreds of healthy clones, higher than average yields. As the mother plants develop through the years, they adapt to their environment, including nutrient ratios. The clones, as a result, are much more hardy and adapt easily to the grow environment. Clones from a supplier take much more time to adapt, and are fragile. I have the mother plants in an outdoor setting, in view of my deck. Many people have commented on how attractive my “hedges” are, not knowing those hedges are Sour Diesel. Best luck to those that start their own Mothers. LJC Organic Chem, MS. Santa Cruz, Ca.

Dani Alchimia 2016-10-03
Hi LJC, Thanks you very much for your comment, we absolutely love to hear and learn from experienced growers like you!! I’ve read about adaptation of clones/motherplants and it is a very interesting subject, you can adapt and select clones to enhance the performance of certain strains to certain environments, which is great! Thanks again, all the best! 😉

Dylan 2016-06-19
Hey brother thanks for the great advice (kiss)is always the preferred path to follow, stay cool and keep bubbling ?dylthedog

Dani Alchimia 2016-06-20
Hi Dylan, Thanks for your comment dude! 😉 All the best!

Mother plants are commonly used as cutting donors. To successfully keep mother plants for long periods of time, we need to know a few basic aspects th

What is a Mother Plant?

Wednesday January 30, 2019

A lmost all commercial grow facilities (and many private grows) begin growing their cannabis plants by taking cuttings off mother plants. By turning plant cuttings into clones, growers can speed their grow time and predict results with amazing accuracy. But that’s not the only reason to love mothers. If you’re unfamiliar with what a mother plant is, keep reading as we take a closer look at these integral parts of a cannabis grow!

What is a Mother Plant?

A mother plant is a plant that is grown specifically for cloning purposes. They are kept in a constant vegetative state and never transitioned over into the flowering stage. Cannabis plants are especially appealing to use as mothers because they are easy to clone and are resilient to the minor stress that accompanies plant cuttings.

Reasons to Keep a Mother Plant

There are many reasons to keep a mother plant, the first of which being the amount of time clones shave off the cultivation process. Because clones can be placed directly into a flowering light cycle, there needn’t be any lag time between crops – when one crop gets pulled to trim, another can go straight into the flower cycle. It is important to note, however, that the plant’s output will directly correlate with its size so smaller clones should be allowed to veg on their own until an optimum size is reached.

Perhaps the best reason to keep a mother plant, is because clones taken from a mother are exact genetic copies of each other.

One plant may produce around 10 solid clones in a single cycle all of which will produce the exact same strain qualities. Not only that, but clones taken from a female plant will always be female, as well (unless stressed into going hermie) so you’ll never have to worry about males pollinating your females.

Another great reason to cultivate cannabis from mother plants is the confidence inherent with growing the same crop over and over. Because clones are exact copies of their mothers, their grow patterns and nutritional needs will match as well. This not only helps novice growers perfect their cultivation process but also helps more experienced growers experiment with different cultivation techniques and growth mediums. By comparing the growth cycle of genetically identical clones, growers can learn which techniques produce optimum yield and which are best left untouched.

Tips to Keep Your Mother Healthy and Strong

Once you’ve decided to use a mother plant, you’ll need to start growing one. We suggest starting mother plants from seeds because seeds develop stronger, deeper taproots which is important for both nutrient absorption and structural integrity of the plant. We also suggest purchasing cannabis seeds from a reputable breeder (instead of using bag seeds) as these tend to possess stronger genetic traits.

After germinating your seeds, grow them under a vegetative light cycle until they begin showing signs of their sex. Male plants will begin developing seed sacks by the nodes whereas female plants will develop bracts and eventually hair-like stigmas intended to collect male pollen. Alternatively, you can force-flower a cutting by placing it in an 18+ hour light cycle for a few weeks. Males should be removed immediately while females can be flowered or used as mothers. Also remember to keep your mother plants in the vegetative light cycle to reduce stress and the likelihood of your plants turning into hermaphrodites.

When it comes to preserving your mother, always use organic nutrients and pesticides. Over the generations, your plant could develop a resistance to synthetic nutrients/pesticides thus reducing her ability to resist stress and infestation later in her life cycle.

Lastly, know when it’s time to put your mother plant to rest. Even with the best of care, your mother plant will begin to show signs of age after about a year or two. Growth will be less vigorous, clones will produce less weight, and signs of stress may become apparent. Therefore, we suggest storing seeds from your favorite plants so that, when it is time to put your mother plant to rest, you’ll already be prepared to start over again.

Final Thoughts

Mothers are truly special; they give us life, nurture us throughout adolescence, and instill our most important characteristics through the years. Cannabis mother plants are no different. Using a mother plant to grow cannabis is both easy and extremely rewarding giving us all the more reason to love the mothers in our lives.

Do you have any tips for maintaining mother plants? Share them with our readers in the comment section below.

Abby is a writer and founder of Cannabis Content, a marketplace designed to connect cannabis writers and creatives with businesses in the industry. She has been a professional cannabis writer since 2014 and regularly contributes to publications such as PotGuide and M&F Talent. She is also the Content Director at Fortuna Hemp, America’s leading feminized hemp seed bank. Follow Abby on Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin.

An essential part of any continuous cannabis grow is a mother plant. Mother plants allow growers to keep their genetics as close to original as possible while outputting consistent flower. Keep reading to learn more about mother plants and why they're so essential to en effective cannabis grow.