Cloning chillies

Among the many self-grown chillies there is often one plant that puts all the others in the shade. It grows particularly splendidly and the proud breeder would like to have more of this species. Perhaps this particular specimen has already grown many chillies. Which of the other bland chillies has fertilized his favourite is uncertain. The breeding material is cross-pollinated and no longer pure.

If you want to spew fire with rage now, there is a simple and efficient solution to clone the chilli. With little effort, offspring of splendid chillies can be cloned and thus multiplied. This produces exact copies of the genetic material of the mother plant. The genetic advantages are retained and you can stabilize this variety by cloning. Perhaps you will even succeed in breeding a new chili in this way.

According to various sources, it took only ten years to breed Carolina Reaper as a new chili variety. The breeder of the hottest chili in the world, Ed Currie, was soon able to quit his job and turn his hobby into his profession. Since this variety was stabilized so quickly, it can be assumed that a broad basis could be created through vegetative propagation.

Propagation of cuttings🌶

Timing🌶

Vegetative reproduction, i.e. cloning, can be started at any time. In most cases, the ideal time is early summer. Up to this point the mother plant has already developed well. At the same time, the cuttings are given time to grow for the rest of the summer. Propagation of the cuttings is best in May and June so that their offspring can continue to benefit from the good weather until October.

The ideal time is always when the chilli is fully in the juice. When this is the case depends on the weather and climate and cannot be fixed on a certain day in the calendar.

So that the clones can recover after the stress of the cut, the cloning should be carried out in the evening. A period of rest in the dark night is good for the plants afterwards.

Plant Clones

Preparations🌶

Cloning chillies is quite simple: cut off a branch with about four leaves. The cuttings are placed in a moist substrate. The whole process takes about 5 minutes and the success rate is already mixed.

If more cuttings are to grow successfully, you must do the cloning correctly and start preparing earlier.

Do not give the growing plant any more fertilizer about a week before the cloning date. The reason is to reduce the nitrogen in the plant. This would only be used to form new leaves. Instead, chilli cuttings should take root. Daily spraying with water reduces the nitrogen in the leaves and the plant can build up a moisture supply.

Mix tap water with distilled or osmosis water according to the hardness of the water. Important: Use pure water, do not add liquid fertilizer.

Substrate🌶

It depends on the substrate whether propagation via cuttings is successful. It must be low in nutrients, airy and loose and keep moisture well. Coconut soil, peat-sand mixture, Jiffy spring pots, rock wool and vermiculite have proved their worth. Roots grow faster in a growing substrate that is only lightly fertilized. For chilli cuttings a pH value of 6.5 of the earth would be quite close to the optimum. You can measure this with a pH measuring strip or a pH meter.

With the substrate, make sure that it had time to distribute the moisture well. It must be moist, but not just wet. Fill the substrate into a tub from a larger propagator. Alternatively, you could use a transparent plastic tub, which you can cover with cling film. For the cuttings, the cloning station must be slightly higher than usual windowsill greenhouses.

Press small holes in the filled substrate. About half a centimetre in diameter, as is done with a pen or a pricker. When pressing in the planting holes, keep a distance from the bottom of the tub.

Root hormones🌶

In the DIY store you get root hormones mostly as a root activator. A powder containing plant hormones is made from algae. The hormone auxin stimulates root formation. In the mail order business you will find further products to choose from such as Klongel or Klonfix.

It is usually offered in the root medium category. Clone gel additionally protects the cut surface from drying out and reduces the stress of the plant. In our opinion, it is simple, reliable and practical to use. Root hormones can also be obtained from willow branches.

Working germ-free🌶

When preparing the water, soil and cuttings, it is important to work cleanly and if possible germ-free. All vessels should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected beforehand. Wipe knife and prick stick sterile with a hygienic cloth. Cuttings are initially susceptible to bacteria, fungi and viruses. Wash your hands properly with soap or wear sterile disposable gloves.

Cloning🌶

Cutting cuttings🌶

Before cutting a cuttings from the chilli, spray the plant again with water. This allows the cuttings to build up a supply of water in the cells. After all, the root is missing at the beginning, through which it absorbs moisture.

When selecting a branch for cloning, a trained eye develops over time. It should be about 15 cm long, have four to five small leaves and make a stable impression. If the leaves are too large, a lot of water will evaporate. A slabby stalk causes many problems when propagating cuttings. It falls over, the leaves hang on the ground and the whole cuttings start to rot. When the rot microorganisms spread, healthy cuttings are also attacked.

Several nodes should be distributed on the cuttings. From these new roots or branches develop.

We have made good experiences with a scalpel in order to make a cut. Sterile scalpels are available in pharmacies, for example. Razor blades or cutters can also be used as knives. Just remember to disinfect them beforehand.

Use the sharp knife to cut diagonally about half a centimetre below a node. The cut surface should have a 45° angle. This provides enough surface area. It must neither be squeezed nor dry. Immediately put into water or dip into a root gel for half a minute. If the wound comes into contact with air for too long, it will close. Root formation is then no longer possible.

You can bend off flowers and buds. We do not want the plant to focus its strength on their development. Leaves that are too close to the cutting edge are also cut off, they would only lie on the substrate and wither.

Plant🌶

Now it is time to plant the clone into the prepared substrate. Hold it in the appropriate depth in the planting hole and push the soil together. At the right depth it is advantageous to plant it as flat as possible. There is more oxygen in the upper layers of the substrate. This is where the first roots form. At the same time, the cuttings must of course protrude so far into the soil that they do not fall over.

Humidity and temperature
High humidity is now vital. The plant cannot absorb water through roots. The relative humidity should not be less than 70 %. For this you need a greenhouse or another possibility to form a bell over the cuttings. If you place the cuttings in individual plant containers, a neckless plastic bottle can be put over.

Before you lower the hood, spray your clones again with a water sprayer. Chili cuttings will feel at home at temperatures between 20°C and 25°C.

Care🌶

Spray the plants twice a day and check the soil moisture. At a bright window facing south or under artificial light, the cuttings develop into fully-fledged plants thanks to new roots. This happens after about two weeks. During this time, watch out for mould and rot. Isolate infested cuttings. They can destroy their entire breeding when spreading the disease.