Preventing the Attack of the Sick Clones

Prevent Sick Clones

Prevent sick clones by using good cultural practices for early and prolonged success for needy growing plants. The most important cultural practice is good hygiene. From start to finish, keep the growing environment – from the propagation trays to the planting beds – clean and free of pathogens. This practice lets you prevent future future problems which can happen more easily than you would think.

As a professor of mine once said, “Disease is always present; it’s just waiting for the right opportunity to get in.” These words of wisdom become even more evident as you chart your own growth as a gardener. You will experience this as you battle increasing varieties of disease and pestilence. Upon reflection, besides the Asian Citrus Psyllid, I can honestly say that all of my failures were rooted in negligent cultural practices.

Avoid Cross-Contamination

Practice good hygiene when propagating or cloning new plants to discourage prevent sick clones and blight from the very beginning. After all, healthier young plants can deploy greater defenses when required.  Follow the old adage, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” In terms  time and money, you are much better off preventing any need to fertilize or apply pesticides to regain a plant’s turgor and vigor.

After cleaning reused pots and trays, I always prevent sick clones by scrubbing and rinsing them with a scour pad drenched in bleach diluted at 10 parts to 1. I sometimes also use heavily diluted, food-grade hydrogen peroxide (please familiarize yourself with this product before use because it can cause severe burns). Consider using reverse osmosis (RO) or distilled water if your tap water is high in minerals or salts. This allows you to avoid a noticeable residue on containers, especially terra cotta. However, unfiltered tap water should have little negative effect on your plants.

In terms of asexual propagation or cloning, be sure prevent sick clones by avoiding cross-contamination of tools and growing media. Cuttings easily be affected by disease, fungi and bacterium via the mother plant. When going from plant to plant, gardeners often forget to clean shears with an alcohol wipe or hydrogen peroxide. Always keep in mind that you’re not just chopping away and pruning; you’re creating babies.

Rooting Hormone Tips

When it comes to rooting hormones, gardeners must be very careful not to cross-contaminate plants. People  mistakenly dip fresh cuttings directly into rooting powder or gel one after the other. This creates multi-generational pestilence that professional horticulturists know can be devastating to a mono-culture cash crop.  Instead, simply pour your powder into a separate container. If you use coco plugs or rockwool cubes for starts, give them a good pre-soak in Hormex rooting hormone. If you let the solution go above 80 degrees for a couple of days, you will discover water-borne pathogens such as Pythium or Verticulum, which can cause root or stem rot.

Watering Schedule

After placing your plants, prevent sick clones by establishing a consistent watering routine. Just like with children, plants need to be fed regularly. Select your watering routine based on the humidity level. Every time the starter medium dries out, tiny branching lateral roots wither and withdraw, beginning to stunt growth. And when young freshly, rooted plants wilt, they lose the essential turgor pressure to push against cell walls, an essential part of the growth process. When and if wilted plants recover, be sure to immediately remove any leaves that that did not recover as they become the perfect breeding ground for pests and fungi.

I always like to use this permaculture mindset: a lot of intense work in the beginning equals easy maintenance down the line. You will rest easy knowing that your branches will create healthy future generations of clones.

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