A cannabis plant being transplanting

Mastering the art of cannabis transplanting: a complete guide to success

De: Contributor Grow

If you’re looking to get the most out of your cannabis grow, transplanting is a key step in the process, as it allows for greater development of the plants’ root system and more efficient nutrient uptake. But when should you transplant cannabis and how should you do it? Keep reading to learn more about how to carry out this process at the right time.

Transplanting a cannabis plant is more than a simple gardening task: it is a rite of passage in the fascinating journey of cannabis growing. Just as a growing child requires bigger shoes over time, a thriving cannabis plant demands more space to stretch its roots. By ensuring timely and careful transplanting, growers not only prevent their beloved plants from having limited space for their roots, but also set the stage for a vigorous growth cycle.

Because when you grow cannabis, you usually have one goal in mind: to grow the strongest and healthiest plants possible. And a good technique to achieve this is to transplant your cannabis plants into larger pots throughout their vegetative cycle. Here we will cover everything that you should and shouldn’t do to transplant your marijuana plants successfully.

What is cannabis transplanting?

Transplanting is simply the process of moving a plant from one growing medium to another. This may involve transferring your plants from a smaller pot to a larger pot, or even directly to the ground outdoors. When you transplant your plants, you should pay special attention to several factors, including the size of the new pot, nutrient levels, the soil’s pH, or the amount of light that the plants receive.

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Benefits of transplanting cannabis plants

Strong and thick roots translate into large and potent flowers. Because the roots expand in the growing medium as they look for nutrients and oxygen, once they reach the edge of the pot they begin to grow around it, becoming tangled as they follow the pot contour. This means that the trapped roots essentially drown, giving rise to sickly plants with lower flower development, reddening of the stem, a drooping appearance, and even stunted or completely stopped growth.

By moving the plants to larger pots as they grow, their roots have more space to stretch and stay healthy, which results in greater and more efficient nutrient absorption. This also helps prevent pests or diseases that may occur in aged or overused soils.

What’s more, transplanting your cannabis plants at the right time can help you perfect your irrigation cycle. With the right size of pot, there’s no need to water the plants more than necessary to ensure that the roots get the right amount of nutrients and water, which wouldn’t be possible if the container were too small or too large.

When should I transplant my cannabis plants?

As with many other things in cannabis growing, choosing when to transplant your marijuana seedlings or vegetative plants is largely intuitive, so you need to keep some signs in mind to decide the best time. Normally, growers transplant their cannabis plants at least 1 or 2 times.

  • For instance, a seedling needs to be transplanted from a small pot to a larger one after it’s been grown in a rockwool cube or initial seedling pot for 1-2 weeks.
  • If the seedling has not yet been transplanted to its definitive pot, another good time to do so is when it has developed a robust root system and several nodes. This generally occurs once it’s grown three nodes or around four to five sets of leaves, although this may vary between strains. Plants can also be transplanted in their vegetative phase (2 weeks before the flowering at the latest), but this is a much riskier practice.

Can a flowering cannabis plant be transplanted?

Cannabis plants shouldn’t be transplanted when they are in the flowering stage: During this phase, plants transfer their energy reserve to the bud areas and don’t have enough energy left for the development of their roots. Besides, plants don’t have enough stored energy to recover from the impact produced by transplanting, which increases the chances of their yielding potential being compromised.

Roots in a need of a transplant
Appearance of healthy roots that are desperately in need of a transplant

How to know when it’s time to transplant cannabis

The timing of transplanting can also vary depending on the exact size of the plant, the capacity of the pot, or the space in the grow room. Here are some indicators to consider:

  • Keep an eye on the size of the plant and the number of nodes: If a plant seems too big for its pot, it is probably time to transplant it. You’ll also want to check the number of nodes to determine the transplanting time in preparation for the flowering phase.
  • Use the life cycle as a reference: Similarly, you can also use your plant’s life cycle time as a way to decide when to transplant. Most growers automatically transplant their plants when they go from the seedling to the vegetative stage, or from the vegetative to the flowering phase.
  • Check root development through the drainage holes: If you see the roots growing out of the bottom of the pot through these holes, then it’s definitely time to transplant your plants. This may be harder to spot with fabric pots because, as the roots reach the edge of the pot, the exposed tips are pruned naturally. Therefore, be sure to watch for signs such as fallen leaves or yellowish spots which aren’t caused by a nutrient deficiency.
  • Dry pots that can tip over: When the growing medium dries quickly, it means that the plant is drinking more water than the amount that the pot can contain. This can cause the pot to tip over, which in turn leads to some unnecessary stress for the plant. If you notice that the substrate dries faster than usual, it is probably time to transplant.

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How to transplant cannabis successfully

Naturally, you must also keep in mind that cannabis plants can suffer from transplant stress, which can lead to delayed or defective growth and negatively affect their overall health. Here are some basic steps for successful cannabis transplanting:

Choose the right pot

A pot that’s too small will restrict the growth of the roots, whereas a pot that’s too big can cause excess moisture and stunted growth. As a guide, you’ll always want to make sure you double the size of the pot you’re transplanting to. In general, these are the recommended sizes according to the height of the plants as they grow:

Plant height (cm)Pot size (L)
0 – 150,5
15 – 304
30 – 6011
60 – 10020
100 – 15040
150 – 30075

Prepare the new pot

Before transplanting your plant, it’s important to sterilise the pot to prevent possible pests or diseases. Clean it with a mild bleach solution and rinse it well with water. Before transplanting, fill it with a light base of soil or other growing medium, which should be fertilised and have a similar pH to that of the soil where the seedlings have developed to avoid shock. You can sprinkle mycorrhizae on the new soil, which is a beneficial fungus that promotes the absorption of nutrients by the roots and optimal overall growth.

Water the plant before transplanting it

Make sure your plant is well hydrated before this process (about two to three hours before). This will help the roots get established in their new environment. The amount of water should be enough to moisten the roots without drowning them. It is easier to transplant cannabis plants when the growing medium is moist but not drenched.

Carefully remove the plant from the old pot

You can do this by turning it over and hitting the bottom with your hand, so the plant slowly slides out of the pot. If you have trouble getting it out, do your best not to disturb the roots: gently squeeze the sides of the pot and tilt the plant upside down to remove it carefully and slowly. If the plant has attached or tangled roots, use your fingers to loosen them gently. Avoid cutting the roots unless they are severely damaged or sick.

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Transplant the plant to the new pot

Once the plant comes out with its root ball, it’s time to transplant it carefully to the new pot. Make sure the ground level is the same as in the previous pot, although it can also be a little deeper. Gently press the soil around the base of the plant and give a few small strokes round the outside of the pot so that the soil fills all the gaps.

Water again after transplanting

After transplanting, water the plant well and closely monitor its progress. The immediate moisture will help close the air pockets in the substrate, providing greater contact between the substrate and the roots so that the plant can recover more quickly. You’ll also want to avoid tamping down the soil in excess to allow the roots to grow freely and vigorously.

What’s transplant stress and how to avoid it

A key piece of advice is to avoid extreme temperature changes during the transplanting process, as this can cause stress to the plant. It is also essential to provide the plant with a stable environment with constant lighting conditions. Always transplant indoor plants in a room with little light, and always avoid intense light during this process.

Transplanted plant suffering from lack of irrigation
Plant one day after being transplanted suffering from water stress due to lack of irrigation

Proper aftercare is crucial to minimise transplant shock. This includes watering the plants regularly and providing them with the right nutrients to support healthy growth. Some growers also find that using a transplanting solution can help reduce the impact and give the plants an additional nutrient boost.

Avoid moving the plant frequently and always leave a minimum of 2 weeks after transplanting for it to recover. Avoid applying any training techniques during this period.

Do autoflowerings need to be transplanted?

Autos usually have a shorter life cycle and don’t need as much attention as photo-dependent strains. However, if you notice that the plant is outgrowing its pot or is showing signs of stress, it can be transplanted to a larger pot, although this involves a greater risk. So, if you can help it, it is best to avoid it, because all the time that the plant invests in recovering after being transplanted is lost time from its programmed life cycle. The most pragmatic thing is always to germinate the seed or transplant the seedling to its definitive pot without transplanting a second time.

In summary

The key to a happy plant is a healthy root system. By transplanting your cannabis plants at the right time, you can maximise root growth and nutrient uptake. And, as a result, you’ll enjoy tastier buds. Learning to transplant is not an advanced technique: it is simply something that all growers should master. And now that you know all the theory, why not buy some seeds, start growing cannabis, and put it into practice?

Kannabia Seeds Company sells to its customers a product collection, a souvenir. We cannot and we shall not give growing advice since our product is not intended for this purpose.

Kannabia accept no responsibility for any illegal use made by third parties of information published. The cultivation of cannabis for personal consumption is an activity subject to legal restrictions that vary from state to state. We recommend consultation of the legislation in force in your country of residence to avoid participation in any illegal activity.

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