For a consistent supply of
cutting material, it is beneficial to have a dedicated plant for this role.
Mother plants must provide strong and healthy
‘vegetative’ growth. The health and quality of the mother plant will
determine the performance of the plants grown from its cuttings. Therefore,
ensure the following:
is important that the mother plant is well protected from disease. Cuttings
taken from a diseased mother plant will most likely be contaminated, even if
the actual cutting appears disease-free. Be aware that the mother plant also
needs to live for a longer period of time than other plants. Therefore, take
every possible precaution to help preserve its health. For example, ensure
the nutrient solution is regularly
Pests: Pests can weaken the mother plant and increase the risk of
disease. Inspect regularly for pests.
Yellow sticky traps are
useful as an indicator of predators being in the growing area.
3. Light: Where the mother plant
is grown under artificial light, “blue”
light should be used for at least 18 hours* per day. This will promote
vegetative growth and help keep the donor in the vegetative phase. Blue
CFL’s are generally suitable. However, ensure the light is used effectively
by shaping the plant so that the foliage is as
close as possible to the lamp. Where possible, rotate the plant
periodically. This will help produce even growth. Use a 250-400W MH lamp if
the CFL produces insufficient cutting material.
*Some growers find it more convenient or
beneficial to run lights 24 hours per day.
4. Rooting potential: Use a mother
plant that produces cuttings that root easily. Be aware that even plants of
the same genus can have rooting speeds that vary widely. Therefore,
5. Shaping and
pruning: Shape the mother plant so that multiple stems are created.
A bushy plant will use light more efficiently and produce more cutting
material (Fig 17.6).
6. Dead leaves: Remove any dead
leaves from the mother plant. These are an ideal host for
disease or pests.
Use a complete ‘grow’ formulation
and maintain EC and
pH at the optimum levels for the medium being
used. Where the nutrient is being recirculated, ensure to
discard and replace the nutrient regularly.
8. Humidity and
temperature: Maintain relative
humidity (RH) at 50-70% and day-time air temperature at ~25OC
size: An under-sized pot will cause the
mother plant to become root-bound. This can dramatically inhibit growth.
How long will the mother plant last?
Do not expect the mother plant to last forever,
even if it remains healthy. It is common for the rooting speed or general
performance of cuttings to diminish with the mother’s age.