In this article, I’ll review how to grow a cannabonsai plant that stays alive for an extended amount of time while providing clones or a genetic bookmark in one’s cannabis plant collection. In cannabis growing, this is referred to as a “mother plant”
What is a mother plant?
The simplest definition of a mother plant it’s a photoperiod variety plant kept in a vegetative state specifically to produce clones. Other times mother plants are kept for long periods of time without cloning, simply because a grower wants to save genetics for the future. If you have the space, mother plants are a great way to do this. If you don’t, cannabonsai mother plants are even better!
This brings us to my Venom OG featured in episode 9 of Zen Cannabonsai. For those who are just tuning in, this is a Venom OG clone I grabbed back in episode 4 from a local dispensary. It was about a month old when I got it, and I made this composition about 4 months ago so this lady has been chilling for some time now.
While this plant is a bit on the elaborate end due to the rocks here, the principles of how to keep a cannabonsai mother are basically the same.
1. Pot Size
The first thing to consider is the pot size. This is an 8-in oval pot with depth to it. The volume is approximately 1.50 quarts, and the larger rock takes up a portion of this. By comparison, a 10-in oval pot like the ones I typically use (point) holds about 3 quarts of soil.
While I love this composition, it is a small vessel and it will be a challenge maintaining this over time since the rocks make it difficult to root trim. My plan is to keep feeding it myco and build up a really solid root mass that adheres to the wires and rocks. Eventually, it can then be popped out of the pot, trimmed on the bottom root layer, and repotted in this or a larger pot with a new composition.
Since I grow my cannabonsai in living soil, my feeding regimen for this plant is similar to that of all my plants: Teas and occasional dry fertilizer. As mother plants are kept in a vegetative growth stage, feedings should consist of higher N and P values and a lower K value.
My dry fertilizer of choice at the moment is an awesome organic mix from Recipe 420. It has extra myco, trace minerals, and a bunch of other great stuff. Unfortunately, it’s a nursery only-product but I’ll link to something similar from NPK Industries and suggest you ask your local nursery to consider carrying it if they don’t already.
The reason I use tea and fertilizer is that the micro herd of bacteria and fungi in the tea acts as an awesome intermediary for the plant. I’ll be diving into teas in a future episode, but for now, I have a video up on composting at home which is the first step to awesome teas.
Be careful with overfeeding, as with any cannabonsai, and consider using a soak-style watering method if you plan to incorporate moss on the top as I have in my other compositions. I’d grade this plant a 7/10 health-wise at the moment, as you can see the leaves are light green and the stalk is pretty purple. As with any cannabonsai tree, the stress of serious trimming, small pots, and learning to dial in nutrients make it slightly more challenging than a traditional grow, but if you’ve been following my Fast OGKZ project (point) as well, you know that beautiful plants can come out of struggling cannabonsai and you gotta just keep listening to the plant and growing forward.
Depending on a cannabonsai mother’s size, you may want to consider a diminished light source like natural lighting or a cool 5600k 42w light bulb. I’ve noticed my cannabonsai in flowering love my 1000w led, but it’s a bit much at times for trimmed-back mothers or plants just starting out. Vegging plants also love that cool blue light rather than anything down the red end of the spectrum.
How you trim a cannabonsai mother plant is really depended on your goals with it. If you’re trying to pump out clones, for instance, aggressive topping will produce endless clones even from a small plant. If your goals are more cannabonsai-oriented, styling may look like manipulating the trunk, wiring branches, and trimming growth that isn’t conducive to the sculpture.
In this example, I’ve grown it in the broom style and wired a few branches. I’ve gone through waves of letting it grow wild, then trimmed it back to add girth to the stalk. Keep in mind the diameter of the stalk is ultimately determined by the surface area of the branches. The quickest way to a girthy stalk is to let the plant grow as much surface area as possible.
I’ve tried to strike a balance here between form and function since I don’t have clone requirements, but it’s also nice having a mother with plenty of clones on hand if a friend needs a clone of some bomb-ass Venom OG.
5. Advanced Techniques
When you’re just starting out with photoperiod cannabonsai it may be tempting to add extras like moss, rocks, driftwood, and such but keep in mind that these things will make it much harder to do root maintenance in the future. I already dropped my thoughts on how I’ll handle that in this instance, but my East Coast Sour Diesel roots over rock are in the same spot and not super happy in its terribly draining pot. That one is going to be a really tough job due to the size of the rock, the size of the plant, and the weird lip on the pot, but it will have to be done.
Another advanced technique is grafting. At its core grafting is taking a branch from one plant and affixing it to another. This is how nearly all citrus is grown, with Meyers Lemon as the receiving plant. Grapefruits for instance are taken as cuttings, then grafted to the lemon tree.
Believe it or not, this can be done with cannabis as well! Royal Queen Seeds has a whole article here, but this is a basic visual rundown. I haven’t tried this yet, but hope to soon.
You’ve got this!
Alright, so we covered pot size, nutrients, light, maintenance, and advanced techniques, which should get you started with keeping a photoperiod cannabonsai mother plant. If you have any questions beyond that or want to know what gear I use, check out the links in the description below (point down) so you can pick them up locally or online if needed.
If you’re watching this far, thank you for the love, and consider hitting like and subscribe (point) to stay up to date on my cannabonsai content. If you want to see more frequent updates on all my other projects hop on over to my Instagram as well and be sure to shoot me a picture of your projects if you’re a cannabonsai nut like me.