Hydroponic Mother Plants

Hydroponic Mother Plants

Better Propagation Programs with Water Culture


Hydroponic mother plants produce more shoot material for rooting cuttings and clones versus conventional growing methods.  Additionally, the donor material is often of higher quality and roots faster. Experienced growers know that high-yielding trouble-free crops start with high-quality transplants, which begin before the material is even cut for the purposes of rooting as clones.




Plants growing in hydroponic water culture methods like RDWC (recirculating deep water culture) and DWC (deep water culture) often grow much faster than the same genetics grown in soil or soilless methods. We’ll discuss how in this article. However, firstly we will discuss why this is an important advantage.


Maximum Production Maximizes Profits


Empty planting sites in a grow room or greenhouse represent lost profitability: time lost where plants should be developing in order to grow, mature and ultimately be harvested for marketable material. At the same time, a lot of the expenses associated with a cultivation facility tend to be fixed, ie the building and associated labor (the greatest expenses) remain constant. It’s important to keep “downtime” eliminated or at a minimum once the previous crop has been harvested and the room cleaned.  Ideally, a professional cultivation room can be harvested, cleaned and replanted within 48 hours. Beyond that, the time lost is cutting into annual profitability.

Numbers Count


In larger facilities and/or where significant numbers of transplants are required with each crop turn it can be a significant challenge to propagate enough new healthy transplants within a given time frame.  Additionally, just having the right number of plants is only part of the equation; uniformity in transplants is critical in developing high yielding healthy crops.  Variation in plant size and health only becomes compounded as time progresses–an uneven canopy and inconsistent yields from plant to plant are a tell-tale sign there are issues arising from the propagation phase.


Water Culture to the Rescue


It’s true that growers can produce a higher volume of healthy plant shoots for rooting in water culture within a given time frame versus other growing methods. The difference can be remarkable. As a quick example, it could take eight weeks to produce a large healthy vegetative plant in coco or peat mix, while the same or greater sized plant could be produced in as little as three to five weeks; essentially half the time using RDWC or DWC cultivation methods.




There are several factors, however, the number one is likely related to oxygen or more specifically DO (dissolved oxygen). Soil or soilless cultivation methods simply cannot compete with water culture when it comes to supplying oxygen at the roots. It’s not even close. Think of a turbo or supercharger–essentially the engine is the same, however, the rate of reaction for combustion to create more power due to added air makes all the difference. Fuel works better in the presence of air.  Same with plant roots and their ability to absorb nutrients for faster growth rates. Same with your lungs and blood oxygen to support increased activity.  You get the idea. The same can also be said of cut shoots for rooting cuttings: the reaction is potentiated in the presence of dissolved and ambient oxygen levels in the rootzone and nutrient solution.

healthy roots oxygen


How To Use Water Culture for Bigger, Better Transplants Faster


Raising hydroponic mother plants in an Under Current RDWC system and rooting the donor material in an HPAC (high pressure aeroponic) set up can help a growing enterprise produce LOTS of healthy transplants in a relatively short time frame using limited space.  Additionally, the young plants produced tend to be of higher quality, with more foliage and roots.  It’s also easier to keep water culture mothers problem free so there is less risk of issues like powdery mildew or pests surfacing in your fresh crops of transplants.


Don’t worry, the aeroponic cuttings are well suited to all types of growing methods—you don’t have to grow exclusively in water culture to reap the benefits of hydroponic mother plants and aeroponic cuttings. Note that clones from HPAC systems may have a substantial root system with lots of foliage in as little as ten days. Typically just a few days are required for HPAC cuttings to get acclimated to transplant into other growing media types, for example coco coir before they can be treated as per usual cropping.


Replace Your Mother Plants Less Frequently


Soil and soilless grown mother plants lose vigour quickly with time. As mother plants age,root bound conditions or nutritional imbalances develop. Mother plants are replaced with a fairly high level of frequency potentially limiting production of new plants for future crops. RDWC or DWC raised plants tend to stay clean and vigorous, as they do not experience limitations in the root zone (say goodbye to unwanted preflowering). Because hydroponic mother plants have no substrate around the roots, they can be “Re Vig’d” i.e. reinvigorated with regular root prunings, keeping root advancement prolific; an important mechanism in signaling for robust vegetative growth up top.


Eliminate Soil, Eliminate Problems


Let’s face it, there will always be growers who want to finish their plants in soil or soilless mediums. However, these crops tend to be short term, ie no longer than four months total.  Even if there are problems that arise from the soil conditions, it can be managed.  However, when soil born problems develop in mother plants (and they will) the success of future crops is diminished before future crops can even start in earnest. By eliminating soil in the mother plant and cloning process, there is less potential pathogen pressures on both the donor material and subsequent rooted cuttings.  Of further benefit, bare rooted cuttings may be shipped over borders while soil bound plants may not due to concern of spreading plant viruses or soil borne pathogens.


Getting Started

Consider contacting the experts at sales@ch2o.com for a customized approach to your crop transplant production needs. Based on the number of plants you require and how often, they can suggest the right set up and methodologies for you to follow to ensure bountiful gardens of healthy plants, not headaches.

Click HERE to for Medium-less Commercial Propagation Approach Information Package (PDF)