What are the proper ways to go about transplanting cannabis?
Wouldn’t it be much easier just to pop a seed into a big pot to begin with? The truth is that plants tend to fare better when growers start them out in a protected environment under ideal conditions. Starting cannabis plants out in a small pot helps cultivators avoid germination problems. It can also help protect plants from diseases and pests that target them while they’re young. Overall, small pots help allow cannabis plants to firmly establish themselves.
But, when your cannabis gets to a certain size, transplanting is a must. Here’s how to do it.
With some care and under ideal conditions, cannabis plants will quickly begin to thrive. The main idea of transplanting is to provide the roots room to expand. When cannabis plants continue growing in a pot that’s too small, the roots quickly expand into the soil in an attempt to seek out the nutrients. The roots often begin to run circles around the constricted perimeter of the under-sized pot and become what’s known as “root-bound.” When cannabis plants become root bound, it restricts growth and ultimately leads to lower yields.
Transplanting Cannabis: The Importance of Timing
There are various indicators that growers can use to judge when their cannabis plants require transplanting. One of the simplest ways to gauge the timing is by watching for sprouting leaves. Cannabis plants in small containers are generally ready for transplanting by the time four or five sets of leaves sprout
The color of the roots is also a giveaway. By examining them through the drainage holes, they should appear healthy with a vibrant white color. If they are discolored or dark, then it’s possible that the plant has become root-bound and that it’s already past time to transplant.
There are some growers who like to transplant into a larger pot during the final two weeks of vegetative growth. This allows the roots yet more room to expand and fuel the plant for the all-important flowering phase that follows.
Whatever strategy growers opt for, it’s important to ensure that the cannabis plant is already in its final pot before it enters flowering.
Signs You’ve Wait too Long for Transplanting
Experienced growers know when to transplant, but common symptoms of root-bound plants screaming out for some more space include the following:
- If the soil is drying out a day or two after watering, then the soil can’t support the plant’s water requirements, and it’s time to change it up.
- Nutrient deficiencies will begin to show up with root-bound plants. This causes them to become droopy or exhibit a yellow discoloring on the leaves.
- A reddening of the stem, stunted flowers, and weak new growth also signify that the plant requires a larger pot.
Transplant Shock: The Risks of Transplanting Cannabis
Transplant shock refers to the stress that a cannabis plant experiences when uprooted and given a new home. Depending on the soil conditions and the cultivator’s skills, transplant shock can manifest in a variety of ways that range from mild drooping to wilting, and even death in severe cases.
Transplant shock is due to two main factors. One is the root damaged incurred during transplantation, and the second is the difference in the soil conditions and temperature in the new home. The more the two differ, the more intense the shock is.
It’s difficult to avoid some form of transplant shock with cannabis, but there are things that growers can do to minimize it.
- Know when it’s the ideal moment to transplant. Transplanting too early or too late will increase the risk of shock.
- If growing outdoors, then always transplant in the late afternoon when the sun and wind are less of a factor.
- Limit the disturbance to the root system by exercising extreme care while transplanting cannabis. Try and keep the soil surrounding the roots intact when moving the plant.
- Regular watering and the application of a nutrient solution after transplanting will limit transplant shock and provide the root system with the best chance of a quick recovery.
Pot Size and Transplanting Cannabis
When transplanting, a good rule of thumb is to place it in a pot that’s at least twice the volume of the previous one. The size of the pot used is always dependent on the cultivar of cannabis in question. Cultivators generally start plants out in a four-inch pot and work up depending on how many times they choose to transplant. For most indoor grows, a three to five-gallon container should be enough as a finishing pot.
For outdoor grows, the demands on pot size are somewhat greater. Most growers should opt for a pot size of ten gallons or more, as outdoor plants don’t flourish in smaller pots.
To ensure a successful transplant, the key tips to remember are:
- Ensure plenty of space in the new container for the roots to expand.
- Ensure transplanting occurs at the right time to avoid root-bound plants and associated problems.
- Carry out the final transplant two weeks before flowering to ensure optimal root development.
- Remain vigilant in the hours and days after transplanting. Be aware of transplant shock and provide the plant with plenty of water and nutrients if required.
You’ve got this! Get all of your transplanting materials ready ahead of time, move swiftly but gently, and sing them a sweet little song as they are moved to their new home.