I normally use a clone dome, rooting hormone, and my trusty sheers in the cloning process with great results. Recently, I was introduced to a method of cloning that has: lowered my day to day maintenance, decreased my total clone time, and lowered the waste when cloning my own plants — this method is called Aeroponics. Aeroponics, when used in cloning, does not require one to add nutrients to water in order to achieve results. When comparing the total time of 14-21 days using my standard method of cloning with a 10-14 day total time of the aquaponics cloning, the results are surprising. The clones didn’t even require a daily foliar misting, rooting hormone to succeed.
What is Aeroponics?
Aeroponics is a method of hydroponics achieved by spraying water directly to the plant roots in a: mist, spray, or fog — It also does not need a soil or medium. A plant is suspended in a closed environment and the roots, or stem is misted with a nutrient solution — The nutrient is not required while cloning. Since this method does not need a soil; Aeroponic setups are less prone to disease and pests — this does not make them immune to these issues however.
What Are The Benefits/Downsides?
The misting is a form of aeration and causes an increase in the Oxygen delivered to the plant roots — this helps produce a healthy plant. This method of hydroponics also prevents the spread of disease through the medium the plant is grown in, and prevents plant to plant contact. A diseased plant can also be quickly removed from the setup to further prevent the spread of disease. The plant roots being exposed also gives exposure to higher amounts CO2.
Aeroponics is great in many ways, but does have a few drawbacks. The first being that initial setup can be time consuming and requires a bit of know how. This leads to another downside which is the requirement for the equipment in the first place including electricity. This type of hydroponics can requires high pressure misters when the root system of a plant becomes larger. This allows the moisture to penetrate the larger root mass.
What does it mean for an Alaskan Gardener?
It means starting your season earlier — having clones ready sooner rather than later. The time between taking a cutting and having a strong root system on that cutting can be achieved in as little as 10 days. Less maintenance during the cloning process — I did not have to interact with the Aeroponic setup once during the time the plant took to root after cloning. No need for additional nutrients when cloning — plain tap water does the trick. All of these things allow you more time to focus on the parts of the garden you want and I recommend anyone give it a try.