Grow Your Own Mother Plant
Cannabis plants are grown from seeds or clones when you're beginning to cultivate a garden. When propagating a certain strain's genetics, many growers will grow a high valued plant to take clippings from it to create consistent harvest results. This plant is commonly referred to as a 'mother plant.' It is larger in size to accommodate cloning stock, and grows in a continual vegetative stage as cuts are repeatedly taken. The cuts from the mother plant are genetically identical cuts that can be re-planted to grow another plant with those characteristics. This guarantees that all the plants in your garden will grow at generally the same rate with similar quality product, and grow with the same vigor as the mother they came from.
How to Select a Cannabis Mother Plant From Seeds
Because clones are genetically identical to their mothers, selecting a quality mother plant is crucial to a successful harvest. While a pack of seeds might all be the same strain, there are always different phenotypes (different physical expressions).
Some plants express several different phenotypes, which can make selecting a mother more difficult. Others might produce a little more consistency, which simplifies the selection process. Regardless, the best path to selecting a quality mother is as follows:
Step 1: Germinate the seeds.
Step 2: Wait until the plants show their sex in vegetative growth, and then take a few clones from each female plant. Be sure to label which seed they came from.
Step 3: Let the clones proceed to their flowering stage while keeping the original plants in vegetative growth.
Step 5: Take the corresponding original plant from whichever clones you liked most. This one is your new mother plant.
How to Protect Mother Plants
An initial step that some farmers take to protect their mother plants is germinating and growing them in an organic base.
“By starting out organic, you allow your mother plants to build up immunity to fight diseases as opposed to protecting them with strong non-organic mediums and nutrients,” said Cody Erickson, head grower of Khush Kush in Bellingham, Washington.
You’ll also want to use the original plant from seed as your mother plant as opposed to the first clone she produced. Plants grown from seed are known to have stronger, deeper tap roots than those of their clones in addition to stronger immune systems.
Down the road, you can use nutrients specifically developed for mother plants that promote strong clones while keeping your mothers healthy as clones are repeatedly clipped from her. You’ll want clones taken from plants with strong cell walls and high carbohydrate levels. Nitrogen-rich nutrients result in rapid growth that leaves the plant with thinner cell walls and a lower density of carbohydrates. Instead, use nutrients that have a higher percentage of calcium to help bind cell walls and increase the density of carbohydrates. These carbohydrates and water stored in the clone will be used by the plant to produce roots.
How to Preserve Cannabis Mothers
Mother plants have a life cycle, just like all living beings. Even with meticulous care, your favorite mother plant will show diminishing returns over time. The clones taken will grow with less vigor, produce lower-grade cannabis, and leave you reminiscing of better days.
This can take a year or two to occur, and while that seems like a long time, it’s best to store seeds from the plants you’re currently growing so that when the time comes, you’ll be ready to start over with the same genetics you love.
Information courtesy of Leafly.