Dirt Cheap Areated Cloning System for Plants





Introduction: Dirt Cheap Areated Cloning System for Plants

About: I just do what I do.

A simple and cheap (practically free if you have this stuff laying around like I did)way to propagate cuttings requiring a little more attention.

Step 1: Getting Started

To get this set up going you'll need
-fish tank
-plant light
-aquarium ariator
-bubble stones
-cooling rack
-distilled water
-glass or similar for lid

To get this project underway you need to round up all the above. It's very simple, I was lucky enough to have most of it laying around. You'll have to cut the cooling rack down to size with some wire cutters. Place this in the bottom of the fish tank. The reason that I have this in there is for plants that have already rooted. They don't like sitting in water once they hit the dirt. With the system that I am using water collects in the bottom of the fish tank after awhile.
As you can see from the picture I have two peices of glass for the lid. This is for humidity, I have them taped together and they act as a door. This makes it easier when watering or doing whaterver with the plants.

Wash out your fish

Step 2: Get Hooked Up

Now that we have the tank ready, get the containers that you are going to use ready. I just use party cups, though this year I'm going to give red cups a try. I've been reading praises about putting any cutting in a darker container for faster rooting (cause roots hate light). So I am experimenting with that.

I take regular old tape and make a checkerboard with that over the top of the cup. This gives your cuttings a place to rest and holds them more upright. Very handy when your cutting has a short stem, it lets you suspend it over the water.

Place your air pump on the lid, hook up your tubing and bubble stones and get them in the water filled cups. All this stuff is available in the pet department at any store. T connectors (you can see one in the second pic)are good when you have several cups. It is best to have the bigger air pump. As the small ones can't handle several outlets at the same time. The one I have has two hook ups on it for two seperate tubes. This will be very handy when you have several going.

Step 3: Fill Em Up!

Now you are ready to get the distilled water in the cups. And place your cutting in after you get the bubbles going. Yippee.

Get your light going once your done and there you go.



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    17 Discussions

    So you are rooting them in nothing but distilled water?

    This is a great project. I am impressed. But, I cannot think of any reason to use distilled water. Regular tap water will work just as well if not better. if it has a little chlorine in it then it would be even better. It may help control the algae growth. Distilled water can actually cause cells to shrivel up and die. In one of my biology classes we mixed distilled water with blood while looking at it under the microscope. When the distilled water hit the blood cells they instantly shrivled up and died. A repeat with regular water did nothing to the cells. Distilled water can have the same effect on any type of cells including plant cells. It will also kill fish over time. As for the question about why you put air in the water. Plant roots need both air (oxygen) and water to flourish. That is why over-watering a potted plant can actually harm the plant. They actually drown. I have never heard of using honey to root plants but I can see where it would help a lot. It would help control the nasty stuff and the sugar would be great for the plants. You might want to use a little soft drink. That would even add a little extra CO@ which the plants would love. The water may get a little nasty honey or soda but it is not going to hurt the plants. Remember - they normally grow in dirt - you can't get much dirtier than dirt. LOL Again - a great project. I am actually going to give this one a try. I will check back to see how the dark vs clear cups experiment comes out. Thanks for taking the time to shre this with us.

    4 replies

    Thanks. I use distilled water because the person that I bought them from said that they needed soft water and were I live the water is so hard it is off the charts. Plus when I used to mist the plants with regular tap water, minerals slowly built up on the leaves and the plants certianly did not like that. Now that i'm thinking about it, all the bubbling going on it wouldn't take long for mineral build up on the cutting and inside of the tank as well. I just have the one plant I'm taking cuttings of and I hate to test it on tap water and kill it. I have been thinking of using water from my fish pond-it has no chemicals in it and there are nutrients in the water. I use the pond water to water all my house plants anyway. The light versus dark has proved quite interesting. They dark actually produced four little roots, were as the dark had one longer root with a nub starting. I also tried this with a regular house plants just sitting in cups of tap water and I checked them out and was quite shocked. The one with a clear glass container hadn't rooted yet, and the one in the black painted jar had much root growth. So there may be something to it. I'll get pictures of both the plants on here hopefully today. I have not tried the honey yet. When I get some more plants growth to take from I may try it. I'll try it on my regular ol' house plant (have to look up the name), but my Mitragyna speciosa is my baby. I'm not risking anything with that.

    I got so inspired by your instructable that I 1went home last night and started building my own aerated plant cloning system. As for the distilled water thing - now I can understand why you use it. Living in South Texas I know what a problem mineral buildup from water can be. However, your plants would still do better in something besides distilled water. The pond water idea sounds good, but I am not sure what effect the abundance of nutrients in the water would have on your plants. I know very little about succulents, but I do know that ferns do not tolerate fertilizers well. I am going to try bottled water in my system. I can get it in large square 3 gallon dispensers with a valve on the front. Well take care and thanks for the additional light/dark information. Keep up the great research.

    Just a few drops of pond water is what I had in mind, using it like plant food. I really have no problem with using it. One of my cuttings is already in soil, the other close to it. It is the technique I used last year when I did this. My mother plant isn't the biggest so I'm going to have to wait until I can take more cuttings. Mitragyna speciosa doesn't exactly grow fast. But we'll see. You'll have to let me know what you get growing in yours. I've tried shrubs from the yard but none of them made it. Maybe it's the distilled water. Kratom may be the only plant that tolerates it.

    Don't worry about the distilled water. If you are adding some sort of plant food (even pond water) to the distilled water then it is not going to harm any of your plants. Pure, distilled water is not good for anything living - including humans. It is also mildly corrosive so it damage materials like metal or plastic pipes and concrete. However, if you add a few impurities like salts and/or baking soda (used in swimming pools) and it is fine. You wouldn't think it would be like that but it is. Just don't try to keep your plants in pure distilled water.

    Nice it's like a small scale hydroponics, And about using a darker cup, covering the cup with foil / paint or something to that effect will also stop algae from taking over your water, this is common if you use fertilizers or growth / rooting hormones like IBA ... Dipping the ends in liquid honey before putting them in the water is also a good idea to stop fungus from showing up on the plant, this works on most hardwoods, infact I've found it to work better then most commercial chemicals, almost like the bees know what they are doing ... And temperature is also important if you want good rooting, try keeping it in about 21 to 26 degs C and if you need to heat use a bottom heating like an electric heating pad, the seed starter kits in wal-mart with heating pads are ideal for this .... And while growing Kratom is legal you know it's on the D.E.A. Drugs and Chemicals of Concern list, so it's only a matter of time until it is illegal to grow...(( just guessing your in the US )) but there is lots of plants that aren't... like morning glory's .........

    3 replies

    Nice. Well I've heard that plants hate aluminum so I have avoided that. And so far as the algea goes, to be honest the plants seemed to root a whole lot faster once the water turned green and there was algea growth on the walls of the cups. I considered it food for the plants. I know people are gasping and thinking the horrible deseases or whatever that the plants can get. I just know that for a while I got lazy and didn't bother with the water and the greener the water got the faster they grew roots. I joked and said the green water was the same as the high dollar liquid plant food. As for the legal statis, I am aware, I'm not really growing it to sell it, it is more of a novilty, something to compensate for being a settled down mum. Thanks for the tip with the honey. I actually thought about that but I was afraid the sugar would cause some kind of problem.

    The honey tip was from some old gardener I know, which they use to root lilacs with, So I figured why not try it, whats the worst that would happen ? A few cuttings would die, but not a one did, I can't say the same for 0.3% IBA rooting hormone treated cuttings.. Now I haven't tryed it on Kartom, but lots of other plants, even on cut herbs I bought at the store.. And there is more then sugar in honey, it seems to stop fungus from growing, and it really promotes the roots to form ... And don't waste your time with expensive fertilizers, I just use Plant Prod, 10-52-10 ( $6 will make a few hundred liters ) it's in most big box stores, and it's 100 % water soluble just mix it 1/2 strength for the first couple of weeks, after you have some roots formed..... And it's for the mum, dam I though it would work as a sedative on the kids ....

    I,'ll have to try that. I never have any luck with cuttings in dirt. I don't know what I'm doing wrong. I knew it was anti fungal, as well as anti bacterial, and some other anti-somethings. It's a good preservative. I have a garlic honey sore throat syrup. It's really good. "And it's for the mum, dam I though it would work as a sedative on the kids ...." LOL-don't give me any ideas!

    I just wanted to add, when I bought this plant. The seller made it seem impossible to root these cuttings. I mean they literally said they were nearly impossible to grow. I wish I could find the instructions that they left. The whole time saying how hard they were to grow unless you went by the strick specifecations. Bought this, bought that, did this, did that, kept such and such humidity. I truly believe they were just trying to scare any potential growers out of the picture. I said screw it. And tried what I am showing you. It worked. Anybody else grow this plant?

    Can you explain why this helps the cuttings root faster? I've only ever stuck a cutting in water and then waited and hoped that it didn't die. :)

    3 replies

    It's the oxygen levels in the water. The plants in the pic. have to have the higher oxygen or they won't make it.

    Interesting! I don't recognize that plant - do you have a list of plants that would do better with this technique?

    The plant that I am growing with this set up is Mytragania speciosa-Kratom. The person I bought the plants from gave me instructions making it sound like it was near impossible to root cuttings. With this chem. and this water conditioner and liquid food and blah blah blah blah. I think they were trying to scare off competition or something. But I said screw all the water conditioners and high cost foods and just tried this instead. LO and Behold it worked. That is all I can say. I only use this set up for Kratom right now. I will let you know of other plants that work when I find them.

    Hmmm interesting, do you happen to know what the probability for rooting would be versus without the air bubbles by chance?

    1 reply

    Ahh. I'd have to say it depends on the plant. There are bushes that I tried to root in the same set up and they didn't make it. So I think it is just for certian plants that need this set up. This is my first instructable so I will have to see if I can show pics when they start growing roots.