Aeroponic Cloning The Easy Option?
Many gardeners have been contacting us extolling the virtues of aeroponic propagation. Instead of rooting their cuttings or seedlings in rockwool cubes or some other growth media, they are suspending them in a nutrient mist instead!
Roots grow in thin air! If this sounds like a load of airy fairy hocus pocus to you then read on! It turns out that these growers are bang on the money.
Not only do they develop superior, more vigorous cuttings (which go on to yield bigger harvests) but it takes a whole lot less effort too!
Ahhhh now I’ve got your attention! There’s none of the monotony of dipping your cuttings every few days. Aeroponic cloning machines can do it all for you. And they don’t cost the earth either. So we here at BSB HQ thought it was high time to take a look …
Aeroponic propagation is tine technique of raising young plants from seed or cutting by suspending them in the air and spraying or misting with a nutrient solution. Cuttings are suspended in mesh pots above a chamber of water. A delivery system sprays water over the mesh pots encouraging the cuttings to root. When the roots are beyond the mesh pots the whole pot is lifted from the propagator and the plant can be transferred to another growing environment with or without the pot.
Is Aeroponic Propagation more Effective?
Yes! Plants need water, air and nutrients in balance. In a growing media water and nutrients can build up restricting the ability of the roots to access oxygen. In aeroponic propagation there is a constant available source of oxygen and the misting of the water-nutrient solution provides easy access to moisture and essential nutrients. Basically you’re giving your little lovelies the best possible start in life! Cant be bad, can it?
Maximum Availability of Oxygen To The ‘Roots
As no or little growing media is used the amount of oxygen surrounding the stem and root system is maximised. This speeds up root growth. If too much water is provided in soil or other heavy media the plant’s roots cant access oxygen. And that’s very bad news for your little ones! They will quickly succumb to anaerobic pathogens and other nasties.
Some of you might be thinking: hang on, how are you rooting cuttings in thin air? Do I need an anti-gravity machine too? No, the cuttings are held in place with small In neoprene collars which keeps them gently but firmly in place.
improved Transplanting To Hydro
When transplanting to a hydroponic growing method it is important to have roots external to the growing media,
because there is little growing media when raising plants aeroponically much more of the roots is external and they become external much more quickly.
Plants are raised in separate pots so contact between plants is reduced and the spread of disease is prevented. If a plant does become diseased, it can be quickly removed without disrupting or infecting the other plants. soil, clay or coco, or other media, disease can spread through the media, infecting many plants.
More plants can be raised in a smaller space! No more tripping over legions of propagators.
Easy access to the plants.
The plants are in separate pots so can be checked individually. They are also suspended in the air rather than trapped in media. You can see exactly how the roots are getting on at any stage- you don’t have to wait for them to poke out of any propagation media.
No water or nutrient is wasted on a growing media- it is all going to the plants.
The automatic misting means that plants can be left alone they dont need to be hand watered or dipped.
No cuttings plucked too soon.
Just lift the pots to see if they are ready for transplanting.
Aeroponic PropagationTips – And some Common Mistakes to avoid
- No water or nutrient is wasted on a growing media- it is all going to the plants.
- You need to be on top of your temperatures as there is no growth media to buffer the plants.
- Don’t overheat or leave to get cold. Most plants like a temperature of 18- 25C- so use a heater in your aeroponic propagator but keep the heat gentle.
- Don’t add nutrients too early. They don’t need it! Wait until some roots are showing.
- pH adjust to around 5.8. Keep it very dilute!
- Keep the growing media damp but don’t add nutrients to the water until roots have emerged. When roots have emerged add nutrients at quarter strength and start to run the sprinkler constantly. As the roots develop increase nutrient dose to half strength.
- Don’t let dirt in! Keep everything super-clean when working with cuttings
- Dip the cutting in a rooting compound.
- It’s easier to transfer the plant with the mesh pot.
- Transplant your rooting cuttings in a low light environment. Roots and light do not mix!.
And for those of you who are DIY minded, here are the plans for a simple 24 site aero cloner.
Materials and products you will have to find build a 24 website aeroponic cloner:
25 Gallon Storage Tub
4 ft of 1/2″ PVC (actually just require 3 feet but it is good to have extra and it’s low-cost).
1 PVC T shaped port– 1/2″ threaded bottom, 1/2″.
2 PVC T shaped adapters– 1/2″.
4 PVC 90 degree elbows– 1/2″.
6″ long 1/2″ nipple pipe (usually in sprinkler section).
Products From Your Local Grow Shop.
Water Pump– I like the MJ 1000, however any pump with comparable LPH will work.
EcoPlus Submersible Pump 264 GPH.
12 Sprinkler Heads– Get the 360 degree sprayers, ideally the EZ Cloner sprinkler heads.
25 2″ net pots (1 additional).
25 2″ foam inserts (1 extra).
EZ-Clone Replacement Inserts.
Air Pump (optional)
Air stone (optional).
Tubing for the air hos (optional).
Tools for this Project.
11/64″ drill bit (to drill the holes for the sprinkler heads).
Serrated knife or 2″ drill bit (to eliminate clone websites in the lid). Below is a photo of the drill bit that was utilized.