This article was written by Ben Greene from The Farmery in Durham, North Carolina. It was originally published in 2014, Garden Culture Magazine, Issue 3 under the title, “Embrace the Awesome Power of Air”.

Cuttings are ideal for aeroponic systems. The roots grow much faster using aeroponic propagation than in growing medium, and they are less prone to diseases, because the roots are in air instead of lying in growing substrates that provide a habitat for pathogens. New plants from cuttings rooted in aeroponics are ideal for transplanting into hydroponic and soil based growing systems. Often, many growers use aeroponic rooting machines like the EZ-CLONE aeroponic cloning machine, or they may create their own system from a plastic storage bin and spare plumbing parts from their local hydroponic retailer.

Here are some simple steps to use a cloning machine to turn your fresh cuttings into a rooting extravaganza!

 

STEP 1. Fill ‘er up!

Fill your machine with room temperature water. You might be inclined to throw some nutrients into the water at this stage, but your cuttings will not uptake the nutrients because they lack roots. As you begin to notice roots, you can gradually add nutrients to feed your cuttings.

It’s recommended to use non-organic mineral-based nutrients over organic nutrients, because the plant can immediately absorb the nutrients. There are numerous nutrient mixes on the market designed for rooting cuttings. Look for nutrient products with phosphorus to  encourage the growth of your roots. Try to get you’re your EC between 0.4 and 0.6

 

STEP 2. Environment Controls

Pamper your cuttings with an ideal temperature of around 75 degrees Fahrenheit, and try to keep the highest temperature below 84ºF to reduce stress. The nutrient solution should stay between 79-84ºF. Keep an eye on the submerged pumps, air vents, and placement on appliances, or strong sunlight that could vary the temperature of the nutrient solution.

STEP 3. Light it up!

Cuttings require much less light than they will need during later stages of their life. Avoid intense light and direct sunlight as it distracts the plants from rooting. Window sills are fine, but growers prefer the control of 55 watt T5 fluorescent lights placed 12-14 inches above the cuttings.

The lights should stay on for 18-24 hours a day for maximum growth.

 

STEP 4. Place your cuttings into the aeroponic machine

Many aeroponic machines use neoprene foam inserts. Ensure that your foam inserts are clean and free from debris to prevent disease. You should insert the cuttings into the slit in the foam, allowing 2” of the stem to dangle into the misting chamber. Only bare stems should be placed in the misting chamber.

STEP 5. Go Forth and Grow!

Expect the leaves on your cutting to wilt slightly for a few hours while they are becoming adjusted to their new environment. If the cuttings continue to wilt, mist the leaves with water. If it looks like you may lose a couple of cuttings after the first 24 hours, go ahead and create a  replacement for those. You should begin to see white roots forming on the cuttings by day 3. At this stage you can begin to add your nutrient solution.

Keep an eye on the machine and ensure that your nozzles don’t clog. This is very important, because extended periods of dry air will lead to a quick death for your cuttings! On day 7, you should notice a proliferation of roots forming. This is just the beginning!

Give your cutting 4 more days to develop its root system, and mature into its own plant. Root hair formation is a sure sign that your cuttings are ready to transplant. If you’re not in a hurry to plant, your plants can survive for weeks in the aeroponic machine.

Go forth and grow!

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