Starting from seed can take a long time and there is no guarantee that the seeds will produce the same plant you got them from. People that want to get genetically identical plants can do so by taking clones or cuttings from the plant they wish to replicate. This process can turn one plant into fifty plants much quicker than it would take to start seeds. It's a quick and easy way to multiply your plant count without purchasing more seeds and waiting for them to mature.
Before you start taking cuttings you will want to make sure your “Mother plant” or the plant that you are taking the clones from is healthy. The care for a mother plant is slightly different as you want to make sure it will produce strong vigorous clones. The goal is to get as much stored energy in the leaves, stems, and tissues so the cutting has plenty of energy to root faster. The nutrient regiment is similar to a plant in its vegetative stage with some minor variations. First you will want to lower the nitrogen to adequate levels, too much nitrogen can lead to wasted energy. You will want to increase the amount of calcium used. Calcium is a large component in the strength of cells walls, the stronger the cell walls the stronger the plant. For those growing in soil add an amino acid to your regiment as calcium can often become immobile and amino acids can help keep nutrients soluble. Certain amino acids can also help improve root growth and stimulate nutrient uptake.
Prime your plant with a mild foliar spray about two weeks before you take cuttings. Seaweed and kelp are high in auxins and cytokinins which are plant hormones that are heavily involved in cell division and growth. Utilizing kelp and seaweed as foliar sprays help prepare the plants by drawing energy and plant hormones to the tissues of the leaves and stems. Be careful not to overfeed too much as a strong solution could burn the plant. Adding yucca can help disperse the water and prevent beading of the water droplets. Now that your plant has been primed it's time to take cuttings. When you make cuttings you always want to use clean tools as you are essentially creating a wound on the plant and you do not want to cause infection. When you make your cut you will want to do so just below the node. Then carefully remove lower leaves and excess stem, you will want to leave yourself about an inch of stem. A trick to help reduce leaf surface area is to cut larger leaves in half, this will help reduce the transpiration rates of the cutting allowing it to retain more water.
The same mediums you start your seeds in you can start cuttings. Rooting cubes and rockwool cubes work well for rooting cuttings. Peat based and cooco based mixes also work well just make sure you provide enough drainage. To give the cuttings an extra boost dip your clones in a rooting hormone. Rooting hormones are usually made from IBA which is the main hormone involved in the production of new roots. Also watering cuttings with a root enhancer like Rapid Start or Roots Excelurator can help you achieve strong, white, and hairy roots. Some natural plant root stimulants are amino acids combined with calcium can help stimulate root growth.
Things to remember when taking your cuttings; make a cutting with two nodes on it instead of one, only take from green soft growth and avoid hard or woody parts of the plant. Take small to medium size cuttings as larger cutting have to store more water and require more stored energy to produce roots compared to smaller ones. Make Sure that your mother plant is well watered before you take the cutting as the amount of stored water is very important. Try and make cuttings right at the end of the light cycle, it's not imperative, but towards the end of the day stored energy is highest and is then used up once the lights go off. the environment should be maintained to have high humidity to reduce transpiration, the media should be moist but not overly wet and temperatures should be between 68 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Lastly BE PATIENT!! Let nature do its thing, pulling and touching the cutting to see if it is rooted will only make things take longer, so just let it be and you should be successful.
There are two forms of plant propagation sexual and asexual reproduction. Sexual reproduction is when a flower is pollinated by pollen from a male plant resulting in a seed that contains unique genetic information from both parents. With asexual propagation (taking a cutting) the new plant will be an exact genetic replica of the plant that it was taken from. Both methods of propagation have similar care parameters to help your young plantlet survive and grow strong.
When starting from seed there are some rules of thumb that can help you be successful. When choosing a media to start seeds, whether it be soil or a hydroponic substrate, you will have to create an environment that will give the seed the best chance to survive. If you are using a potting soil make sure that it is a light mix with plenty of aeration and drainage. Keep the soil moist but not soaking wet. It should be easy for the seedling to breakthrough the surface of the soil. A good soilless mix to start seeds in is a perlite-vermiculite mix as it offers a good ratio of water holding capacity and aeration. To make it even easier there are rooting plugs that can be used, products like Rapid Rooters or Root Riots are made from peat moss and a silicate. Another common hydroponic substrate to start seeds in is rockwool. Made from spun basalt rock this fiber has an excellent aeration to water holding capacity ratio. When using rockwool, you first must treat them with a solution that has a pH of 5.5 because the natural pH of rockwool is around a 9 or a 10.
If you are having trouble getting your seeds started make sure that the temperature of the air and media are in the proper range. If the media and air temperature is too cold then the seed will take much longer to sprout if at all. Adding a heating mat and a humidity dome can help to warm things up and maintain high humidity. However if you are starting a seed from a cool weather crop then it would be beneficial to start the seed in cooler temps like the low 60’s. Otherwise most seeds will need a warm temperature between 68 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the seeds under full spectrum fluorescent lighting. T5 lighting works best for starting seeds because the cooler operating temperatures allow you to place them closer to the seedlings, about 3 to 6 inches off the plants. Set your lights for either 24 or 18 hours on per day. Having them on for 24 hours will ensure that the seedlings have light as soon as they sprout, reducing the risk of stretching. Leave the humidity dome on until the first set of true leaves develops as this will help reduce the risk of the plant drying out too quickly. Once the true leaves emerge you can begin a light fertilizer regiment. During the seedling phase use a root enhancer such as House & Garden Root Excelurator or General Hydroponics Rapid Start to help promote faster root development. The more root hairs that the plant has the more nutrients it can take up.
For those starting in hydroponics you will want to maintain your pH in a range of 5.5 to 6.3, anything above that range causes trace elements to become unavailable to the plant. For those in soil the optimal pH range is a little higher. In soil you will want your pH to be between 6.2 and 7. This will provide the best environment for the soil bacteria that make the nutrients available to the plant. Add beneficial nutrients like kelp extract to help stimulate cell division for increased root size, Fulvic and Humic acid act as natural chelators and help make nutrients more available to the plants. It is important to remember to let nature take its course. Some seeds can take over a week to start to grow depending on how old they are and genetics. Pulling at seedlings and taking seeds out of their rooting cubes causes major damage to the seedling and will prolong the process so be patient. Maintaining the proper environment is one way to have a successful germination rate and strong seedling growth, focus on these aspects and you should find success.
ne of the most important parts of the plant is also the most difficult one to study, the root zone. Since roots are out of sight they are often out of mind too. However 80% of all plant issues are a result of root and soil based problems. Attacks by pathogens at the root zone often go unnoticed until there is a visual injury or the crop has failed before the grower knows what is wrong. In order to avoid catastrophes in the root zone, it is important to know how to best care for this vital part of the plant.
he roots have two main functions crucial to plant success. The first being it anchors the plant to the soil, an often overlooked role of roots, they have to support the plant as it grows taller. The other important role is the acquisition of water and nutrients from the soil. The healthier the root system the more water and nutrients the plant can uptake leading to vigorous growth and increased yields. When growing in soil one must be aware of the conditions that roots thrive in. The top area of the root zone is called the rhizosphere. Most of the root system will be within the top 36” of the soil. One of the most important factors in the rhizosphere is the association with beneficial soil organisms. These microscopic organisms are attracted to the organic molecules that the roots release into the rhizosphere and use it as food. In return for the food these soil bacteria will help the plant with the uptake of nutrients and water as well as protection against pathogens and insects. Maintaining a proper pH range for these organisms will help increase rhizosphere health.
The soil that you use needs to have plenty of air space for the roots as they need oxygen to grow. Without the proper amount of oxygen the roots will not be able to go through respiration which allows them to grow. Compact soils limit the amount of air that the soil can hold. Adding things like perlite, vermiculite, and Growstones can greatly increase the amount of air space in your soil. This will allow the roots to freely spread out in the soil to better access nutrients and water. It is important for the roots to be able to expand because the nutrients can only move so far in the soil. Most nutrients in the soil move through a process that is called mass flow. Mass flow happens when the water in the soil moves towards the roots as the roots are actively depleting the water and nutrients around them. This causes water to flow from areas of high concentration to low, bringing along nutrients with it. However not all nutrients can flow with the water as they become attached to soil particles requiring the plant to send out more roots in search of nutrients. In soil that has become compacted the roots can not break through in search of nutrients and water so it is important to make sure your soil is well aerated.
Another way to increase root health is by using beneficial mycorrhiza. Mycorrhiza are beneficial fungus that has a symbiotic relationship with plant roots meaning the roots provide food and place to live while the mycorrhizae can draw nutrients and water towards the roots that were once unavailable. The fungus is smaller than the smallest of root hairs so it can get to parts of the soil that the plant would otherwise not be able to retrieve. The mycorrhizae can increase the surface absorbing area of the roots by 100 to 1,000 times bigger. They also increase the plant's resistance to external stresses like drought and transplant shock.
Maintaining a healthy root system will reduce the risk of soil borne disease being a problem. The healthier your roots are the healthier more vigorous plant you can grow. Some factors to remember to maintain healthy roots is have well aerated soil, maintain a pH for beneficial bacteria, and introduce beneficial mycorrhizae to help your roots. Keep your roots happy and your plant will be healthy.
It is easy to quickly get confused when talking about measuring the strength of a nutrient solutions. With the acronyms PPM, EC, and TDS being used to refer to the same thing new growers can quickly lose their way and become overwhelmed by all the information being thrown in their direction. To better understand what all this means for your plants health you first have to understand what all those acronyms mean. Parts per million (PPM), electrical conductivity (EC), and total dissolved solids (TDS) all refer to the conductivity of the solution just on different scales. In America most growers will refer to their solutions being in PPMs, in Europe they use EC and both are measuring the same exact thing . The conductivity of the solution is the same as the strength of the solution. The more electrical conductance the solution has the higher the concentration of salts or fertilizer will be. Depending on your water source natural water is low conductance of electricity. If you utilize a public water source your EC will be about a 0.2 or 0.3 EC or between 80 and 200 ppm. To get that number down to zero most gardeners will use a reverse osmosis system to remove the unwanted chlorine and fluoride from the water along with any additional sediments.
Utilizing a meter that reads in EC it's important to know if it is on the millisiemen or microsiemen scale. A Microsiemen is 1000 times smaller than a millisiemen. there for 1 millisiemen is equal to 1000 microsiemen. If using EC you will have a much more accurate readings since the meter is not converting the measurement. The more accurate a reading you have the more precisely you can feed your plants. EC is the standard everywhere outside of the United States so if you are looking to communicate with someone about your conductivity it is best to use the EC so everyone is on the same page.
nutrient level in the solution. The main thing that affects the nutrient concentration is the rate at which you dilute your fertilizers. When first mixing your solution it's important to adjust it to the proper level for your plants stage of growth. Younger plants need less nutrients than plants that are in the later stages of growth. Another factor that affects nutrient concentrations is temperature of your growing area. the hotter it is the more water the plants will take up and it will omit the nutrients, so the concentration will become higher. If salt levels build up too high it can affect the osmotic system of the plant and cause dehydration. It is important to monitor your conductivity every day as plants are constantly feeding and drinking. To maintain a healthy reservoir you should change the water every 7 to 10 days. This will help avoid any issues with nutrient deficiencies as some nutrients are used faster than others and can drop to deficient levels. Having better control and understanding of your EC will allow you to feed more precisely. This will not only help you use your nutrients more efficiently but also more effectively, giving your plants what they want when they want it allowing them to grow happily and healthy.
Managing and understanding pH is a very important part of gardening. It becomes even more crucial when gardening with hydroponics. When gardening in soil, the pH is buffered by the natural charges in the soil so changes in pH usually happen over time unlike in hydroponics where the pH of the water can rapidly change. When running a hydroponic system maintaining proper pH levels can affect the health and vigor of your plants.The pH can have a direct effect on what nutrients are available to the plant. At different pH levels certain elements have different solubility rates and can become unavailable for the plant to uptake.
The chart below shows the availability of nutrients based on the pH of the solution. From the chart you can see that most nutrients are available when the pH is between 5.0 and 7.0. The optimal range is between 5.5 and 6.5. Maintaining a pH in that range will ensure that the plant will have access to all available nutrients. Whenever the pH drops below 5.0 or rises above 7.0, certain nutrients can become unavailable or “locked out” of the solution and deficiencies can quickly become an issue.
The best way to ensure that the pH is in the proper zone is to monitor it on a daily basis. There are a few different options when it comes to measuring pH. The simplest option that will give you a general estimate of the pH is using indicator drops. When mixed with a small sample of water the indicator drops will change the color of the sample based on the pH. This is not an exact reading but more like an estimate of pH. To get a more accurate measure of pH one should use a digital pH meter. pH meters can give a far more accurate reading compared to indicator drops.
Having an exact numeric value gives you the ability to adjust your solution with precision. Once you know your pH chances are you will need to adjust it at some point in time. For the best results you will only want to add either an up or a down to your solution. Adding both can lead to an unwanted rise in EC or PPMs. So having the exact numerical reading can save you time and money using a more accurate amount of pH up and down and not having to dump out nutrients when you have to start over.
Utilizing chemical adjusters for pH is the fastest and easiest way to alter pH. Most of the time phosphoric acid will be used to lower pH and potassium hydroxide to raise the pH. Both chemicals are safe to use. Products on the market tend to be a diluted version of these chemicals. An organic alternative to using chemical pH adjusters is food grade citric acid which will lower pH, however it is less buffered meaning that it won’t maintain that pH as long as the chemical adjusters will. When checking the pH of your water always remember to do so after you have added the nutrients to the water as the nutrients will alter the pH. Once you have your reading use a small amount of pH adjuster to get the pH into the desired range. The pH of the solution will tend to go up as the plants feed and take up nutrients. It is important to monitor the pH everyday as swings can happen over a short period of time. Staying on top of your pH will help maintain a healthy life for your plant.
Hydroponics is a growing hobby that everyone can enjoy but most people think they don’t know enough to do it successfully. This article will give you the basic information that you need to know before getting started. These six basic categories are the fundamentals that you need to know in order to get an understanding of what hydroponics and indoor gardening is all about. The main things to focus on at first are environment, water, method, media, and lighting. Understanding these factors will make hydroponics easier to get the hang of.
2. Water Quality
Using good quality water is essential when growing hydroponically. You will want to start with a water that has a low ppm or ec, which is the measure of dissolved salts in the solution. Tap water will usually have a slightly elevated initial ppm and will contain some chlorine. If using tap water it is best to let it sit out for at least 24 hours to let the chlorine evaporate out. Running tap water through a reverse osmosis filter will strip the water of any contaminants, sediment, and reduce the ppms. It is also important to monitor the pH or the acidity or alkalinity of the water. pH can affect the availability of nutrients to your plants. At different levels of pH certain nutrients are unavailable to the plant due to a decrease in the solubility.
There are a few different ways to grow hydroponically. Ebb and flow floods and drains a table or tray of plants with a nutrient rich solution periodically. In Deep water culture (DWC) plants roots are suspended in a nutrient rich solution that has oxygen pumped in via an air pump to get oxygen to the roots. Nutrient film technique (NFT) utilizes a slow flow of moving water over the plants roots. Drip systems run tubing from a reservoir to each plant and releases a nutrient solution slowly through drip tubes. Choosing the right method for your grow will be based of the area you choose to grow in.
In hydroponics the media will act like an anchor for the plants instead of a source of nutrition. Some common media used in hydroponics are coco fiber, which comes from the husks of coconuts, expanded clay pebbles which provide both aeration and water retention, they are also reusable if sterilized after each use. Rock wool is heated and spun basalt rock that offers great moisture retention to aeration ratio, but they have to be pre-treated with pH water before they can be used. You will want to select the media you use based on the method you choose for growing. some medias work better for different styles of hydroponic systems.
Nutrients can come in a liquid or dry forms, as well as organic based and mineral salt based or synthetic. Nutrient packages will contain N-P-K ratios on the labels to show the strength of the fertilizer. Knowing the strength of the fertilizer is important so you don’t over fertilize your plants and cause leaf burn and curl. Nutrient lines come in one part, two part and three parts referring to the number of bottles used to supply all the nutrients needed. Three part nutrients have a grow, bloom, and a micro fertilizer. Each bottle corresponding to the stage of growth the plant is in. Micro bottles supply micronutrients to the plant throughout its entire lifecycle. Two part nutrient lines usually have a grow and a bloom fertilizer, one part uses only one bottle for the life of the plant. Additives and supplements are additional boosts of specific nutrients, vitamins, amino acids and carbohydrates to help stimulate the growth of plant. They can aid in certain ways like increasing microbial populations in soil, stem and leaf strength, increase flowers sites and size, aroma, and flavor. Although they are not essential to plant growth they can give added benefits to the plant.
6 . Lighting
Choosing the proper lighting for your grow space is one of the most important aspects of your indoor garden. There are a few different options when it comes to lighting. There is HID, fluorescent, and LED. HID or High Intensity Discharge lights are the most common horticultural lighting. HID lamps are metal halide(MH) and high pressure sodium(HPS), these lamps contain gasses that when fired correctly produce an intense light in the proper plant spectrums. MH lights contain more blue light and are used for vegetative growth and HPS lights contain more red and orange light that supports flowering growth. These lights operate at a much higher temperature and often have to be air cooled in order to maintain optimal growing conditions. High output fluorescent lighting works well for early vegetative growth, starting seeds, and clones. Fluorescent lighting is a cheaper alternative than HID lighting as they use less electricity and do not produce as much heat, however they have less output and do not support flowering growth as well as HID lights do. LED lights are the newest option on the market and quickly have become one of the most popular due to its low energy consumption and minimal heat output. However it is more expensive than the HID or fluorescent lighting options. Even though initial costs can be higher you save money in the long run with lower energy costs. No matter what lighting option you choose plants will need between 15 and 18 hours of light to support strong vegetative growth and 10 to 12 hours of light to support flowering growth. Choosing the wattage or intensity of your light will depend on two things; one the size of the area you want to illuminate and two the number of plants you wish to support. The larger the space and the greater number of plants the higher the wattage you will need.
Indoor gardening can be a fun and rewarding hobby but it does come with its challenges. Understanding the conditions in which your plants thrive will help you create an optimal environment and alleviate some of the challenges that come with it. It is important to do research about the plants you want to grow so that you can give them the best chance to succeed. A healthy plant will give you less problems when your environment is dialed in. Every grow is a chance to learn something new and refine your techniques so don’t give up if you struggle the first time around and remember this is a learning process.
Eco-Mite is a botanical insecticide/miticide that controls mites, eggs, and their nymphs. This insecticide is made from organic botanical extracts and is safe for the environment. These natural oils include rosemary, peppermint, and cottonseed oil, so it is safe to use around people and pets and is non toxic. Eco-Mite doesn’t just kill mites but also helps repel them to prevent infestations from occurring or spreading to other near by plants. Not only does it work on spider mites but it can be used to help deter aphids, mealybugs, scale crawlers, thrips, and whiteflies.
Eco-PM is a botanical broad spectrum fungicide. It can control diseases like powdery mildew, botrytis gray mold, and phytophthora late blight on common garden and vegetable plants. The active ingredients is thyme oil and clove oil so just like Eco-Mite it is safe to use around people and pets. It can help decrease the amount of mold covering the leaves which will help reduce the risk of the disease spreading to other nearby plants that may be susceptible. The Eco products are a unique formula and it is intended to be used with lights on in indoor gardens. So stop by Rootdown Hydroponics to try out the Eco line for yourself and to see what kind of results you can achieve. Eco products come in a ready-to-use spray or a concentrated formula. So if you have only a few plants or a whole garden the Eco line is one treatment that you should have in your arsenal.
Liquid Karma- A natural plant growth enhancer derived from a kelp seaweed extract and with humic and fulvic acid for increased nutrient uptake. Liquid Karma can be used in all stages of growth and as a foliar spray. It contains a full regimen of metabolically active and organic compounds that are absorbed immediately and act as activators or catalyst to produce accelerated growth in all conditions. The reasons to use Liquid Karma are simple; larger flowers and vegetables, healthy rooting of cuttings, bigger yields, increased metabolic rates, and it helps protect against transplant shock. Liquid Karma works well with all nutrient lines so give it a shot today and see what gains your garden can make.
Pure Blend Tea- Most people associate compost tea with soil gardening but this tea is 100% water soluble and can be used in hydroponic systems including DWC and drip line irrigation. Derived from natural sources like kelp, earthworm castings, and seabird guano. Contains all major and secondary components essential for maximizing aroma and flavor in flowers and vegetables. Can also help reduce salt build up in all types of media when using mineral based fertilizers. Pure Blend Tea is suitable for all stages of growth and all growing styles. If you want to bring out the natural aromas and flavors of your plant in a natural way then utilize Pure Blend Tea.
Vitamins and amino acids are not only important to people but also to plants, especially plants that are growing in an accelerated growth environment as it is harder for the plant to keep its growth in balance. This product helps to maintain that balance by increasing the availability of vitamins and L-Amino acids. It can increase the plant's performance in hydroponic, soil, and coco growing mediums. Derived from soybean protein so it only uses plant based proteins that are ready for the plant to use. This product can also help mitigate the impact that stress has on the plant whether it be transplanting, heat, or drought stress that it is experiencing. Vitamino can be used in all stages of plant growth so try it for yourself and see the results that you can achieve with this product.
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