On the quest for an affordable and reliable source to buy clones online in canada, Torontonian Katy Perry realized there was a clear solution — she’d have to start growing her own. Except without a natural green thumb, there were some casualties along the way.

“I wanted to make sure my clones were perfect, but I practically gave them a bath,” says Perry, laughing at the memory. “Needless to say, they all got mouldy and died.”

Ten years have passed since then. Now, Perry teaches others how to master the art of cannabis cultivation at her store, Grow Op Hydroponics.

For those lucky enough to live in a province where it’s legal to grow cannabis plants at home (sorry, Manitoba and Quebec), it’s both cheaper and more rewarding – and the easiest way to get started is with clones. We spoke with Perry to learn more.

Wait. What exactly are clones?

Sometimes erroneously referred to as seedlings, clones are cannabis-grower speak for “cuttings.” Cut from a “mother” plant (a well-established plant in its vegetative state), a clone is nearly identical in THC and CBD levels to its parent. Got a favourite plant? Cuttings or clones will enable you to grow this same plant time and time again.

The main advantage of using clones over seeds is that it ensures your plant is female (male plants don’t produce the coveted flower buds). It also eliminates the weeks needed for seeds to sprout and establish, putting you further ahead in the cultivation cycle.

How to buy clones In Canada

As of writing, it’s still hard for recreational growers to find a legal source of clones (seeds are available in several provinces, but may be low in stock). Currently, Cannabis Newfoundland is the only provincial retailer offering clones for sale online, and many of Canada’s medicinal growers are also reporting shortages. However, if you’re eager to get growing, your best bet is to find a generous benefactor: You can be gifted the equivalent of 30 grams of legally grown dried cannabis.

Before you accept donations or trades though, find out more about the source.

“If you don’t know the garden they come from, they can be infected with bugs and powdery mildew, which is something you might not notice until later,” says Perry. This will not only affect the life expectancy of your new plants, but also their potency and terpene profile. If the plants are mouldy, they are toxic — regardless of your preferred consumption method, fungal spores have adverse health effects.

Inspect your new clones for signs of pests (bites on the leaves or spotting on the stem) and distress (too much discolouration on the leaves). Finally, healthy white roots indicate a cannabis plant’s ability to absorb nutrients — and ultimately, survive.

If in doubt, it might be best to buy from a licensed producer (LP), as regulations prevent them from selling contaminated cannabis products. It’s predicted that clones will be available for sale mid-2019. (Grow Op Hydroponics’ Commanda line of clones will be released in summer 2019.)

Once you receive your clones

Once available from LPs, clones will be shipped in packaging designed to ensure the live plants remain in their vegetative state. However, if your new babies look a little shell-shocked straight out of the package, Perry says not to be alarmed.

“Transportation with do that,” she says. The key is to get them into a pre-prepared clean grow space and under a propagation light as soon as possible. After two to three days of recovery time, the plants should begin to adjust to their new surroundings. Once the little ones have settled in, you can start to care for them as you would any other seedling.

Propagating your own clones

Playing god is actually pretty easy. If you want to make your own clones, all you need is a healthy mother plant, a sharp blade, hydrogen peroxide (to sterilize your cutting tool), rooting gel or powder (to dip the cutting in) and a starting medium like rockwool or peat moss. (You may also drop your clone directly into water until roots develop, if you prefer.) Finally, some growers swear by rooting hormone to get the clone started.

Once cut though, keep your thumbs (whether they’re green or not) well away from the plants. Perry says the biggest mistake she sees new growers making is getting too handsy and eager.

“The best course of action is to limit your interaction with them,” she says.

That includes watering. While humidity is key, your new buddies will only need to be spritzed with pH-balanced water about twice a day — otherwise you risk mould.

Even with proper care, be prepared for failure. Perry says that new growers typically experience a 90% mortality rate with clones, which can be frustrating particularly when you’re legally limited to four plants per household.

But for those who persevere, there will be payoff in the end.

“Don’t be discouraged; you’ll get it,” says Perry. “Just remember to keep the process simple.”