Mother Plant Care and How To Keep Them Happy

How to keep that special cultivar growing for years!
04 December 2020
8 min read
Mother Plant Care and How To Keep Them Happy

  • 1. What is a mother plant?
  • 2. Why should i keep a mother plant?
  • 3. What should you look for in a mother plant?
  • 4. The benefits of mother plants
  • 5. The best way to select and how to grow a good mother plant step-by-step
  • 5. a. Step 1 - choose the strain
  • 5. b. Step 2 - grow the seeds and clone the plants
  • 5. c. Step 3 - grow the mother plant
  • 6. How to keep your mother plants happy
  • 7. Faqs about mother plant care
  • 8. In conclusion

Mother plants are basically plants kept in the vegetative stage for as long as you can, this way you can get clones at any time and continue smoking on those special buds.

Choosing and keeping a mother plant alive is quite hard, most growers stay away from this process because it takes time, effort, and space because they need to be under 18/6 forever.

1. What Is A Mother Plant?

A mother plant is a cannabis plant that you keep in the vegetative stage, from which you can get cuttings or clones and these clones will grow identically to the parent.

To simplify the process, you just need to cut a branch and place it in the substrate, if you’re able to keep the clone under the right conditions and provide the right amount of light and nutrients, this clone will eventually grow roots and continue to grow, becoming a copy of its parent.

2. Why Should I Keep A Mother Plant?

A mother plant serves one purpose: provide branches for you to get cuttings and continues growing that special cultivar.

Cuttings or clones will be exact copies of the parent, so by keeping a parent plant you will know exactly your plant’s size, quality, and approximate yields.


Mother plant care: why should i keep a mother plant?

Cuttings will be exact copies of its parent.

Also, starting from clones allows you to shorten the growth cycle because you are starting with clones that are a couple of weeks into the vegetative stage and you don’t have to wait until the seed germinates, the seedling comes out of the soil, and so on.

Also, when starting from seed, it’s likely that at least one seed fails to germinate so when you have learned how to do it properly, starting from clones will not only save time but also it’s less likely that you will waste time and effort as you would if a seed fails to germinate.

3. What Should You Look For In A Mother Plant?

So, you wanna keep a mother plant but don’t know what makes for a good one, how do you know if your plant will produce good clones?

Well, lucky for you, this is quite easy, you just have to take a look at the plant itself.

As said above, the clones will be a copy of the parent plant so you want the mother to be the best as possible, this is why we recommend you grow a couple of seeds before deciding, as you may know, every plant is unique, even though they may be similar, their structure, smell, effect, and resin production may differ slightly so you want to have at least 5 plants (if possible) to choose the best one.


Mother plant care: what to look for

You should grow around 5-20 to be able to select a good plant.

Now, choosing the best ones it’s actually up to you, you may decide on one plant over the other based on the yields, color of the buds, structure, how long it takes to flower, or any other trait so it’s really a matter of personal preference but if you still don’t know, here are a couple of things you should look for:

  • Strong roots
  • Good structure
  • Strong stem and branches
  • Density of the buds
  • High yields
  • Easy to grow
  • Effect
  • Terpene profile
  • Resin production

Make sure you take your time and choose correctly because this is what you’ll be growing for a long time so if you’re not satisfied with the plants you need to choose from, start other seeds until you choose the cultivar that makes for a perfect mother plant.

4. The Benefits Of Mother Plants

There are several benefits to selecting and having your own mother plant, the most important of all is that if you time it correctly, you’ll never run out of weed.

Mother plants are usually used in a perpetual harvest, so you can plan ahead and when they are ready for harvest, your parent plant is ready to produce more clones, this will not only keep your grow tent full at all times but you’ll also be able to grow your favorite strain and have the same results every time, with no changes to the effect, flavor, and aroma.


Mother plant care: the benefits

Big plant thriving.

Another great benefit is that you won’t have to spend money on seeds every time you start a new grow cycle, obviously, you will have to buy seeds if you get tired of smoking the same buds forever and want to look for another mother plant but as long as you have it ready to go, you won’t be spending money on seeds.

5. The Best Way To Select And How To Grow A Good Mother Plant Step-By-Step

Step 1 - Choose the strain

The first thing you need to do is know which strain you want to grow, this is 100% up to you, you may choose a strain based on the flavor, yields, effect, resin production, or whatever, just make sure that strain is really what you are looking for.


Mother plant care: choose the strain

Choose the strain and then select the best phenotype to have as a parent plant.

So, the thing about keeping a mother plant is finding the best phenotype of that specific strain so you should grow a couple of them and select the best one, now, most home growers don’t have a huge grow tent but it’s recommended you grow around 20 plants to find a unique cultivar, you can even grow 10 or as little as 5.

Remember that the more plants you grow, the more chances you get of getting an exceptional phenotype.

Step 2 - Grow the seeds and clone the plants

Now that you have decided if you’re growing 20, 10, 5, or whatever you can fit in your grow space, you have to grow them like you normally would and cut some clones once your plant has grown a bit, you don’t want to take the clones when they’re too small.


Mother plant care: clone the plant

Cut a couple of clones to ensure at least 1 survives.

You should cut 2-4 clones off each plant to ensure some of them will survive and once your clones have rooted and are ready to grow, place them under an 18/6 cycle so they begin growing and begin flowering the mother plants, you should place a label or something so you’re able to identify them.

Once it has flowered and you know which one you want to keep as a parent, your clones should be quite big and you’re ready for the next step.

Step 3 - Grow the mother plant

Now that you’ve found the perfect mother plant, it’s a good idea to top them, have in mind that autoflowers cannot be kept like this so you will have to use photoperiodic strains to do this.

You don’t necessarily need to top your plants but topping your plants will grow more branches and make it easier for you to get clones whenever you need to, also, remember that you should top your plants every couple of weeks to prevent them from growing too much.

Remember that mother plants are basically cannabis plants that are kept in the vegetative stage for as long as you can so it’s extremely important that you keep them under an 18/6 cycle and don’t change the light cycle.

6. How To Keep Your Mother Plants Happy

As said above, mother plants are cannabis plants kept in the vegetative stage for a long time, to allow you to get clones whenever you want. 

If you’ve grown cannabis before you may know that growing cannabis isn’t super easy, there are a couple of things that you need to ger right to be able to have a successful harvest, now imagine having to keep a mother plant healthy for more than 6 can get really hard.

So here are a couple of things you need to know to keep your parent plants healthy.

Mother plant nutrients

So, first of all, all plants need to eat and with mother plants, it’s the same; There’s no such thing as the best fertilizer for mother plants because they are kept in the vegetative stage for a long time.


Mother plant care: nutrients

Mother plants need nitrogen because they're kept in the vegetative stage.

This is why you need to provide a lot of nitrogen if you want it to thrive because nitrogen is the macronutrient that cannabis plants use to grow green matter.

Keeping your mothers healthy is essential because the clones are an exact copy so if your parent plant is unhealthy, your cutting will have a hard time surviving.

Keep a mother plant small

Since your mother plant will be in the vegetative stage for a long time, it can get quite tall and you may not have enough space so to keep your plant manageable, you should apply plant training techniques such as topping or pruning.

Cut clones from a mother plant

Once your plant is big enough for you to take the cuttings,  you should do it with caution because you can end up transmitting a disease to your mother plant.

So first, when you are clipping off a cutting, make sure you work with sterile tools, also make sure you cut off the leaves’ tips so the clone’s energy goes where it needs it the most: the roots.


Mother plant care: cuttings

Once you see the clones get weaker, you should retire your parent plant.

To increase the chances of surviving even more, you should dip the clones in rooting gel and quickly place them in water, although you can already plant them in your medium of choice, once the roots have reached the bottom of the current container or they have grown a bit, they’re ready to be transplanted.

Keep mother plants safe

When kept in the right environment, a mother plant can live for years but as time passes, the clones can get weaker and weaker so once you feel your plant is ready to retire, you can grow one of the good clones to have as a parent.

Also, due to the long time, you’ll be growing your mother plants, it’s a good idea to come up with a pest protection plan, so use a good natural pesticide and spray it every couple of days to prevent bugs or mold from killing your plant.

7. FAQs About Mother Plant Care

What are the best conditions for mother plants?

You should dedicate an entire grow tent to your mother plant, have a good extractor, and keep the temperatures around 23-26°C and the relative humidity around 60%.

What’s the best mother plant pot size?

If you’re growing your plants in a pot, you should have them in an 18-20L pot at least because they may become root-bound and if this happens, you’ll need to use a sterile knife or scissors to remove the tip of the roots and it can have bad consequences if done incorrectly.


Mother plant care: best conditions

The best conditions for keeping a mother.

What’s the best light for mother plants?

You can grow your plants under a full-spectrum LED but if you wanna keep it simple, use a grow light with a blue spectrum suck as MH or CFL, you should provide around 250w due to the size your plant will have.

How often can you take clones from a mother plant?

Remember that they can produce an unlimited number of clones so you can take as many cuttings as you need to, just make sure you don’t overdo it, also remember that it’s super important you let your parent plant rest at least 15 days in between cloning. 

8. In conclusion

Selecting and maintaining a good mother plant is the best way to never run out of that weed that has a special place in your heart, it’s a great way to maintain a top-quality perpetual harvest.

If you have experience with mother plants and have some tips and tricks to help fellow growers, feel free to leave a comment in the comment section below!



External references

  1. ENVIRONMENTAL CONDITIONS OF THE MOTHER PLANT AND THE PEANUT SEEDS QUALITY. - Fernandez, Elena & Arnosio, Nicolas & Morla, Federico & Giayetto, Oscar & Cerioni, Guillermo. (2013).
  2. Plant regeneration from young leaves in loquat (Eriobotrya japonica L.) using young grafted seedlings as mother plants. - Deng, Renju & Wang, Yongqing & Fan, Jianxin & Cui, Wenning. (2020). 
04 December 2020