Cloning machine

geekdean(7b)January 20, 2012

I picked up a used American Agritech Cloning machine a while back and have finally pulled it out and cleaned it up and tested it. I have the solution in hand and have new spray heads and neoprene plugs on the way. I am looking for advice on using the machine as I am new to this thing but understand how it works.

I have it in an unused commercial building that stays about 40-50 degrees without heat over winter. Can I use it to start dormant hardwood cuttings, evergreens?

Any hints on lighting, heating, weather or not to start with it now or wait till spring?

Thanks much,


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peggiewho(z9 Ca)

How fun, I am making a machine. I am using a storage tub. I built a manifold and have the correct sprayers. Solution and plugs are on the way. I have been hanging out on YouTube with the stoners to get this thing together. I am doing this in my laundry room. I usually do cuttings in Turface and moss in the garage but have to quit when it gets too hot so I wanted this in a conditioned space. I have a double width heat mat under the tub. The mat is on Styrofoam to insulate it from the floor. I have a thermostat for the heat mat and it is dialed in at 72*. Too cool and the plants move too slowly, too hot and you get pathogens in the water. Heat is the usual problem because the pump produces some heat and lighting adds more. I have a 2 blub florescent fixture on a timer and plan to keep it a foot over the cuttings. I will try to keep PH at 6. I plan to used filtered water. I expect good roots in 10 to 14 days on regular plants and at least twice that for hardwood. I would love to make some clones of my coral bark Japanese maple for a friend. I am going to try dormant wood. I think I will have to figure out thinner plugs. I was repotting a calibrachoa and petunia pot today and the internode spacing is very tight. The plugs will be too thick.
Is your unit white? One of the 'farm boys' put black plastic around his to darken the rooting area. I think you need at least 55* heat. I have added a link to the ezcloner manual. I found it useful. If I have any success I will let you know.

Here is a link that might be useful: EZ clone

    Bookmark   January 27, 2012 at 12:44AM
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peggiewho(z9 Ca)

My home made machine leaked for a couple of weeks and I finally risked it all and cut down the lid to fit inside. The tub body has a cut in to act as a handle. The lid sits down on those cut ins and I have a little homemade hook in the middle on each side. Most people use gasketing but I bought two kinds and eventually everything soaked off and the lid leaked. Also I was concern about disinfecting the gasket. It was frustrating getting this going. But every morning I get my coffee and look at the roots. It is so Zen. I am not into serious production...yet. Started just about anything green to try it out. Verbena was strange. I cut off the lower leaves but it grew tiny leaves and then the leaves started growing roots on the surface. Then I had a hideous aphid breakout. Verbena had good roots in two weeks. The coleus looked like pipe cleaners. The petunias mostly did nothing maybe because they were older growth. I did take a couple of young cuttings of petunias from a basket in the greenhouse that are very knotted looking. They are getting roots or warts after three weeks. Nemesia loves it in there. The calibrachoa mostly bit the dust with the aphid breakout.
I have changed the solution once. Only the air hose and pump electrical cord were slimy. I am using ammonia instead of bleach. The neoprene holders are too thick for some small cuttings and don't hold multiple cuttings easily. I have started covering the top of the net cup with black plastic and a light rubber band. I can pock holes in the plastic with a toothpick and put in multiple cuttings of bacopa. The thin plastic also good for stumpy little coleus cuttings. I'm not bothering with cloning jell. One of the solutions is a hormone and the other I suspect is an antifungal. The label mostly tells what a scientific marvel it is.
It's pretty much regular cloning. I think the response is much bigger. When you get roots the roots have roots and it looks like a barb. I don't need a dome. I covered one wilted coleus with a plastic cup for a few days.
So at this point I am waiting for something green around here to grow new growth long enough to harvest. Nothing fun at the nursery yet. Also plan to try ammonia out as a solution for bug killing on cuttings. Mom disinfected everything with ammonia. My farming jeans have a palm size hole knee high from bleach. I am not careful.
I love to see the roots. That is the best part to watch it happen.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2012 at 10:12AM
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peggiewho(z9 Ca)

I did the second solution change today. This type of cloning has gotten to be hassle free except for the solution change every two weeks. I am committed to that no excuses schedule. I am not using hormone on the cuttings just as one of the solutions in the cloner. I find that using stretched black plastic over the net cups, creating little bouquets of cuttings in each net pot best. I can pack a lot in. I cut the net pots short for better misting. I have an air pump and stone. Everything runs 24/7 except the light 18/6. So far I am using toothpicks with numbers to label plants. It's crowded but I have greed issues. I use 5 gallons of water, my weight limit. The tub sits on a seedling heat mat. This last week I had a chance to go to Half Moon Bay and load up on fresh annuals which are much quicker to respond to cloning. I like to plant first and clone later but we are not past last frost here.
Transplanting is an unknown. My first batch dried up while I was in the Bay. Bigger container to last a week without watering will be necessary for summer travel. All in all it's faster to roots then dirt cloning. Euphorbia Frost took 8 to 9 days for a nice tuft of roots. Begonias are quick to rot so I will not be swearing off dirt just yet!

    Bookmark   March 1, 2012 at 1:51PM
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peggiewho(z9 Ca)

I am in full production now. I have my first successful transplants. I can see roots in those 7oz cups. I water with cloning solution until I can see roots come to the side of the cup and then I have started watering with a mild fertilizer. I have succeeded in cloning my favorite petunia and will transplant them in the next 2 days. I think I have enough of them to replace the lawn. Greed issues again! I have filled up 3 plant trays and only have space on the heat matts for one more tray. With healthy growing mother plants, cloning only takes 8 to 11 days for good root growth. I am cloning bacopa, petunias, verbena, calibrachoa, coleus, euphorbia, brugmansia and some ferny little blue daisy. Some cuttings rot but most root.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2012 at 12:32AM
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Sounds like you are having amazing success, me not so much. I am having slow rooting issues, I am working with some hardwoods so it takes longer, but still conventional cutting in pots is working faster. How much light are you using, my light is not good. What are you using for fertilizer? I bought cloning solution on line but am only using it at half strength.


    Bookmark   March 11, 2012 at 8:38AM
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peggiewho(z9 Ca)

I am having great success but I am cloning annuals. In the race to root or rot, easier than hardwood. I am using what the EZ clone manual recommends, Dyna Gro-s - ProTekt and Dyna Gro's - KLN. ProTekt has fertilizer numbers 0-0-3. The machine uses 5 gal of water but I start with 4 gal and add a gal of very hot water to get the temperature up. I add 5t of each solutions, PH adjust, my tap water is a little high. Originally I had a big seedling heat matt with a thermometer under the tub but I needed that for the babies so I switched to a small matt on all the time. The temperature is around 70*. The light is 8" above the cuttings, has 2 bulbs, the smaller kind. Just a cheap 2' light from Lowe's. It's on 18 hours and off for 6. Old winter cuttings are too slow and the ones that are too green rot, but cuttings from growing plants work very well. My landscape is established so I don't have much need of hardwoods except my Japanese maples would be great to clone. We have a bonsai buddy that I supply with the common J maple. I would be interested in any tips for hardwood. My clematis are growing shoots. I will try them next when the cuttings are not so soft. I think I will give softwood cuttings from the J maples a try too. The fancy ones haven't leafed out yet.
I am very impressed with the solutions. I don't dip cuttings in hormone jell or powder. The only algae I get is a little bit on the electrical cord for the pump. Our spa is a lot more trouble. I add water and check PH once a week and change the solution every other week. I pile all the clones in a 2 gal bucket and put a lid on it. I clean the machine with ammonia, rinse 2 or 3 times, and put in new solution. The clones are still damp when I put them back in. Storing enough clean buckets to do this is a pain. It is a sloppy business but I am getting better at it.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2012 at 11:20AM
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peggiewho(z9 Ca)

The nature light in my banquet hall has dimmed as the leaves of the Japanese maples have sprung forth. Well la di da! The city thinks it's a sunroom but it turned out to be a hot box in the summer so we planted trees on the south side. I do over winter begonias in it because it gets winter sun but it is unconditioned space. I have been cloning like a mad gardener and out ran my heating pads. I ordered the big one that is 4' long, it is really the most economical. That's what I needed to accommodate nearly 200 clones that I have done in the last month. Too big for my light self. So I read on Brad's Begonias that one year he used a picnic table to mount lights under. I mounted two 4' overdrive florescent lights on chains under the table in the sunroom. I covered it to the floor with a tablecloth and the clones sit on Styrofoam on the floor. I have four trays and it is so easy to reach the clones. I have some potted plants on top of the table. Visitors could look at the table and think la di da and never guess it hides the workings of a maniac cloner. If you don't know about overdrive florescent lights there is lots of information on GW how to do. Shop lights run 2 lamps on one ballast. You can combine fixtures to have two ballast drive two lamps.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2012 at 1:45AM
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peggiewho(z9 Ca)

I have had some problems with aeroponics. The first big one was the darn thing leaked until I cut the top down. Some plants can't take that much water and rot. Most of the annuals I am interested in work great. Verbena is fast, petunias a sure thing and my beloved calibrachoa does well. I wasn't sure about transplanting so I ran a test on three medias. Unfortunately they all worked fine. Which brings me to my present problem. I had plenty of my favorite petunia that I carried through the winter. So all my tests were on this petunia. I didn't have any problems with transplanting so the problem is I have 52 clones of my favorite petunia. I am not good at plant murder. So replacing the lawn at this point is a possibility.
My next test will be on lobelia. I have a bunch brewing now. One developed a nice tuff of roots early right on the cut end. After 8 or 9 days in the cloner they all started developing roots up and down the stem like a pipe cleaner. So I am thinking that this extra tuff of root might be on older grown. So the perfect clone might have both old and new growth.
Also there is a problem with labeling. I use a numbered flag and log. What was number 16? One cup says very small and sure enough something very small is in there. So labeling needs to be checked twice.
I have lots of variety coming up in the cloner. I have started combining plants before I put them in the cloner. Yesterday I made a bouquet of all yellow; calibrachoa, biden and petunia. I can add another color later, put it in a blue pot or substitute if one doesn't make it.
Stand by for more tails from "As the Leaf Turns"

    Bookmark   March 22, 2012 at 3:38PM
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