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Cloning Plants in Water

The Largely Unnoticed Advantages of Cloning Plants in Water

Cloning plants is a process of replicating specific mother plant qualities, like height, flower, leaves, color, and adaptability. The method of cloning plant cuttings, and propagating them through the medium of water is an age-old practice.
Gardenerdy Staff
Last Updated: Apr 22, 2018
Cloning is a biological term that refers to the process of producing genetically identical organisms such as bacteria, insects, and plants, that reproduce asexually. Life on the planet survives and thrives due to adaptable cloning that occurs over the course of time. Plants can be cloned using various medium, but this article speaks specifically about water as a medium for cloning.

What is Plant Cloning?
Through the ages, plants have cloned themselves naturally to ensure that they thrive through different climatic and environmental changes. It is basically the ability of the plant to reproduce itself asexually using its own plant cell parts. Naturally, plants send out shoots, runners or spread themselves underground by multiplying rhizomes, that grows into a new separate plant that is genetically identical to the original plant. When seeds fall to the ground and sprout, they propagate themselves to a close similarity as their mother plants. Strawberry, bamboo shoots, lotus shoots, etc., are excellent examples of natural plant cloning and propagating themselves.

Using cuttings, leaves, and seeds, plants have been reproduced during gardening to have the same genetic makeup of their mother plants. As agricultural technologies advanced, this cloning concept turned the way plants were reproduced. Tissue culture is a prominent, and perhaps the most successful method of plant cloning or vegetative propagation, as of today. Using tissue culture as a medium of propagation, it is possible to produce genetically identical plants, because the cloned plant comes from the same plant used initially. The use of cells to reproduce plants is the basic concept used here.

Using Water for Cloning
Growing plants in water is a very old practice. The Chinese have been doing it for long, and growing bamboo from cuttings in water is an important aspect of their Feng Shui practice and traditions. Just bear in mind a few of the following steps and tips, and you can grow your own plant clone.
  • As clichéd as it may sound, take cuttings from a healthier plant, and use a sharp shear to cut it. Healthier the mother plant, and sharper the cut, better will be the success rate.
  • Cut the stems at an angle of 45°, around ¼ inch below the leaf nodes. Always have a minimum 5 - 6 cuttings.
  • The cuttings need to be drained out of nitrogen, as nitrogen hinders or slows down rooting. Pour 4 - 5 jugs of normal water down the cuttings and the plant before cutting the stems.
  • To prepare the rooting solution, take a sterilized water holder or container, and pour water in it. ¾ of the jar should be filled. Add rooting hormone powder in it, as per the quantity specified, and stir it well.
  • There are many formulations available for one to use while cloning plants, that include active ingredients for the roots to develop, as well as seal the cut.
  • Gel-based formulation is another rooting product which is applied to the lower part of the cut, before submerging it in water.
  • Stand the cuttings individually in different jars, and cover them with transparent plastic sheets. One can find these sheets in most plant stores.
  • The plastic covering will ensure high humidity levels, and this, combined with the rooting hormone infused water, will speed the rooting process.
  • Make sure the water stays clean and does not encourage any fungal growth. Change water after 2 - 3 days.
  • The roots will sprout in a weeks time. Once you see them, remove the sheet and place them in a location where they can receive partial natural light.
  • Move the rooted cutting to a soil medium once they have sufficiently healthy roots.
Cloning of plants in water or through other mediums can ensure existence of species, especially those which are endangered. There are many plants that have one-in-hundred chances of propagating naturally, or can't produce seeds, so cloning these through advance technologies will ensure their continued existence. This propagation method is faster than normal sexual reproduction via seeds. New plants can be created (hybrids) with specific qualities of more than one variety. Cloning plants and trees has helped in better harvest, and increased their resistance to harmful viruses and diseases. On a larger scale, propagating through cloning, like the technique of tissue culture, has proved to be more economical.