Cloning is as much a blessing if done right as a curse if not administered properly. Plant cloning may seem to be an exciting job to those who can do it with the required knowledge and the appropriate machine. Our experiences of using these machines aren’t unmixed. After a series of failed clones, mostly due to the faulty/wrong tool, we started a serious quest to find the right cloning machine, and the Drillly team is here today with the ultimate guide to the best cloning machine that delivers satisfaction (a healthy, successful clone).
There’re reasons why a cloning machine is all you need for cloning purposes. So, let’s learn the benefits of a cloning unit, and then move onto the other factors to find the best cloning machine for the money.
Why Should You Trust Us?
While going through our reviews, we are certain that one question might pop-up in your mind - why should you trust us? That’s logical - asking the credibility of a reviewer. Well, there are a few reasons that will ensure you the trustworthiness of our review.
The first and perhaps the most convincing reason is that we are an expert user of the cloning machine. We have been involved in plant propagation for years and we have grown so many types of plants in our gardens. You might agree to the fact that only an expert knows how good a product is. Arguably, after reading our expert opinions, we hope that you will be able to pick the best cloning machine up and make an informed buying decision.
The second reason is our years of experience with different cloning machines from different manufacturers. Though our online presence is not so old - a matter of a few years only - what we have is a practical experience that you will earn after many years if you’re new to propagating plants.
The third reason is that our review is completely unbiased. This is due to the fact that we don’t receive any payment from any cloning machine manufactures, be it small or large. So, we did not exaggerate any feature extensively to lure you into buying a certain product. But many other online reviewers suppress the true facts about a particular product while drumming up many trivial features. Since our writing is not for commercial purposes, you can put your faith in us.
How We Picked the Best Cloning Machine
We have a standard product testing procedure that we follow no matter what we review, from wood lathes to belt sanders to TIG welders to plasma cutters and whatnots.
In order to prepare a top 10 list, we first conducted online research to identify which were the most popular plant cloners on the market. After around 18 hours of research, we listed down 20 such clone machines with all of their features and then we decided to test them ourselves.
We spent nearly four months testing and monitoring their growth in a controlled environment to see which were really able to give the healthiest possible plants.
We also involved other local gardeners in our reviewing process for community-based usage and took their feedback to see their hands-on experience with these products. During our research, we noticed one thing - none of these cloning machines were perfect. However, some had better features and were more effective than others when we compared their overall effectiveness.
Finally, after going through such an extensive research process and consulting a lot of pro and amateur gardeners who had also used those products like us with different cloning methods, we shortlisted 10 best of them that you are going to see below.
Our Top 10 Best Cloning Machine
There are many cloning machines on the market today and you can even build such a machine at home. Each has its design, make, model and brand name. They also have significant price differences, and to find the best one for you we have put together a comprehensive clone machine reviews section.
Why Use a Cloning Machine?
Cloning machines help you with the production of your plants’ successful genetic replicas. They come in a few varied shapes, sizes, bands and site slots but work in the same way. For the various methods of cloning, are two basic machine choice types the Ebb and Flow (EAF) or the Deep-Water Culture (DWC) systems. These gardening tools show a few similarities to that of a hydroponic system. They come with aeroponic spray nozzles, pumps, and a nutrient mixture.
There are holes on the top of the container which have hard or soft inserts in them made of neoprene. These represent the "cloning sites" where you place the plant cuttings in.
Once operational the cloning process involves less labor and time. It also affords a 100% success rate more often than not. In comparison, the standard process takes twice as long! And the success rate is not as high due to the delicate environment.
How to Use a Cloning Machine?
All top-rated cloning machines perform depending on various factors and the way you use them. Read all the instructions as some machines may differ from other machines.
1. Machine Setup
The tank needs to have water added to it when you do be careful not to exceed the water level limit. Attach the tanks mister, and its pump then combines the nutrient mix. The misters need to cover the whole of the lid. Water temperature for the cloning machine should be from 18 to 20 degrees Celsius (64 to 68 degrees F).
2. The Cloning Environment
The humidity in the plant cloner needs to be about 70 to 80 percent for the machine to perform at its best. You will have to use a dome (most machines come with one) or need misting if the humidity is less than 60 percent.
Check the pump does not overheat to better maintain the nutrient mix at 20 degrees C (68 degrees F) for best results.
3. Cutting Transplanting
Take cuttings from the plant(s) that you want to replicate. Make sure the cuttings are big enough to be able to place into the neoprene fillers. At least two inches of the cuttings stem should stick out of the filler. This will make sure that the mister can mist the required parts.
4. Looking after the Cuttings
At first, the cuttings may seem to be a bit droopy. There is no need for alarm as this is natural as they will need to adjust to no longer having roots. Give them two or three days, and their roots should start to grow. Healthy roots are bright white and grey suggesting that the environment might be too hot. Healthy roots mean the plant will be ready for transplanting in about ten days.
Best Plant Cloner - Buying Guide
There are a few points to consider when setting out to buy a cloning machine. As the machine is going to have to meet your needs, you will need to take a bit of time to consider your options.
Each plant may have a different need, and it may also depend on user operation level of the system. Some systems are more suited to beginners, and some are more suited to the more advanced cloner users.
1. Number of Sites
Different brands make and models come with a varied number of cloning sites. The number you choose is a matter of how many plants you want to clone.
For beginners, it best to start with fewer sites until you are more adept at using the cloning machine.
2. Bucket Size
The bucket size gives the system the space to grow the plants in. It also determines the size of the plants you can grow in it. More room in the bucket makes for easier transferring of the plants when they are ready. A bigger bucket is always best to go for and is usually measured in gallons.
3. Active Hydroponics System
There are passive hydroponic systems and active hydroponic systems. The active systems are the better one to go for as they give the best results. It tends to offer a higher growth and success rate due to the pump. The pump is set to pump oxygen and nutrients at set intervals. The active system can also be pricier than the passive system but well worth it.
There are two types of cloning machines as we mentioned above the EAF and DWC.
a) DWC/Deep Water Culture
The DWC (Deep Water Culture) is ideal for the beginner. The tank does not need a pump as it has nutrients stored in it and it is also oxygenated. As such, there is no need to worry about the buildup of algae. The system is easy to set up, run and yields success.
b) EBB & Flow Systems
While the EAF (Ebb and Flow) is ideal for plants that prefer a dry heat and has also known to give excellent results. It also requires the skill of a more advanced cloner user. This a more intense environment to set up and works on a "true hydroponic type system." It needs a pump and temperature control to achieve results. But the results in this system justify the means as the success rate all but speaks for itself.
5. Expandable Kit
It may be an idea to look into buying expandable cloning kits. they are pricier than the standard ones, but they give room to expand and grow more plants
You don't have to keep checking for plant debris in the various nozzles and pumps. Check for an easy to maintain machine with reservoirs that are easy to reach and work filters.
Make sure the system is sturdy and durable, not easy to crack and that pump is not prone to leaking.
7. Ease of Use
The system should be easy to use and have a comprehensive easy-to-read instruction manual.
8. Price-to-Quality Ratio
Look for a system that has a decent performance delivery ratio to justify its cost.
9. The Machine's Success Rate
This is a good reference, and a top cloning machine will have it on the product specifications. This should also list how long the system can maintain root health.
10. Design of the machine
- The shape, size, and weight are essential. It needs to be able to fit the space and be light enough to carry
- How many sites it has, the material of the inserts and their usage
- It must be able to adapt to most environments, have a proper pump and be able to manage the required temperature
- The system must moderate the flow of water and oxygen required to sustain the system
- Machines that are easy to use, clean and maintain are always preferred
- The cloner must be durable and strong as you want it to last, so we always check the build materials
11. How Comprehensive is the System?
- Most cloning systems come with a full kit needed to get started with including a user manual
- We also check online reviews and any product test ratings it may have
Tips for Your Cloning Success
When using a cloner, if you comply with these tips, you are likely to get better gardening as well as carpentry experience.
Prepare the Machine
Prepare your cloning machine before delving into the cloning steps. Attach the pump and mister after filling up the machine with water. Ensure that the misters can cover the whole surface area of the lid. You can add some nutrients mixtures in the machine. But that is not necessary as the plants haven't grown any root.
Keep the Machine Clean
The cloning system consists of components such as sprayers, base, lid, pump, cloning collars, etc. make sure that these parts are clean and hygienic. You can use hydrogen peroxide, castile soap, or bleach to clean the cloners.
Maintain the pH Balance
Cloning machines work with the help of water. The pH level of water can affect the performance of cloning machines. Try to fill the machine with premium quality water, especially rainwater to maintain the pH balance. The recommended level of pH is 5.5-6.5.
Place the Machine in a Suitable Environment
All your effort will end up in vain if you can't provide a friendly environment to your plants. Don't put your cloning machine uncovered in any place where air movement is inevitable due to electric fans, AC, or strong breezes. Young and uprooted plants can’t withstand such environment and may dehydrate or stress. Also, pay attention to the temperature. 68℉ is the recommended temperature for healthy cloning. Make sure that the cloning machine is exposed to sufficient humidity. The optimal level of humidity is 75%.
I hope these comprehensive cloning machine reviews help you narrow down the choices. Having an analytical view of the products makes it easier to compare the various machines.
For the more advanced cloning gardener give the Clone King 36 Site a try!
The Indoor 7 Site Plant Cloning Machine is a small clone machine that is easy to use and ideal for the beginner!
The best cloning machine for you depends on your plant growing needs as well as your cloning experience and the number of plants to clone. When deciding on a machine stick to your list of requirements as best, you can. It can be very tempting to buy a bigger and or fancier model.