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how to transpoant cannabis seeds

How to transplant a cannabis plant

Transplanting is the process of re-potting plants into new, larger containers. Transplanting is a delicate process, and can be tricky to get just right for beginner growers.

This basic guide covers why, when and how to transplant or “re-pot” your cannabis plants, for growers using soil, coco or soilless mix.

Why should cannabis plants be transplanted?

When your plants are small, keeping them in small containers trains the roots to grow at an even rate, and to remain shorter, denser and more evenly-branched. This fills up the container and utilises the maximum amount of soil.

A small container also prevents over-watering; overly-large containers can cause damp rot in small plants if too much water remains in the container without being absorbed by the small root system.

After a while, however, your plant will outgrow its small container and its growth rate will sharply decline and cease, unless it is given a larger container with more soil for its roots to expand into. When there is no more space for the roots, the plant is considered “root-bound”.

Therefore, transplanting your plants into incrementally larger containers throughout the vegetative period provides the optimum balance between encouraging short, dense roots, while ensuring that sufficient water and nutrients are always available.

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When should cannabis plants be transplanted?

Your cannabis plants will make it quite obvious when they need to be transplanted. Your plants will start to dwarf their container and will require very frequent watering, often draining their container of water within hours of their last feed. They will also wilt more easily if left without water for too long.

If growing outdoors in warm, sunny climates (or indoors under high-intensity lighting), transplanting may need to occur relatively frequently due to the rapid rate of growth—as often as once per week at first is quite typical for indoor grows, with frequency dropping off to once per fortnight for larger plants closer to flowering.

You can choose how many times to transplant your plants based on the length of your growing season (more relevant for outdoor grows) and your space limitations (often more of a problem for indoor growers). As long as your plant has sufficient hours of light per day, it will continue to increase in size as long as it has space to expand into.

How should cannabis plants be transplanted?

The process of transplanting cannabis plants is simple, but care must be taken to avoid damaging delicate roots and stems. First, you will need new containers that are substantially larger than the last ones.

Typically, the first containers used will be small pots with a volume of one litre or less (typically around 8-15cm in diameter). A container with a capacity of 2 litres (typically 15-20cm diameter) is the obvious next step, followed by 4 litres, 10 litres and finally 15 or even 20 litres. Most indoor growers will stop at somewhere between 10 and 20 litres due to space considerations.

Half-fill your new container with soil or soilless mix, ensuring that the existing root ball will fit comfortably inside. Lightly press down the soil to ensure a firm consistency that will allow good drainage.

Take your plant and firmly grasp it by the base of the stem, while gripping the base of the pot. Upend the container—this can get messy if soil is loose, so this step should be done outside or on plastic sheeting.

Lightly tap on the base of the container with one hand, while gently pulling the plant with the other hand. All going well, the plant should gently slide out with little resistance.

The root ball (which should retain the shape of the container) must then be placed in the new container. Soil should be added to the container to surround the root ball, and stamped down to ensure that it is firmly packed in.

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Other things to consider when transplanting

To minimise the stress of transplanting, some growers recommend leaving plants unwatered for 24 hours prior to the process. Allowing the soil to become too dry is not ideal, but if it is too wet, it may break apart more easily and the roots may be disturbed.

After transplanting, some growers will lightly water with a nutrient solution half or two-thirds the usual strength. Some growers also reduce the light intensity to provide a low-stress environment for the plants.

Most cannabis plants are hardy enough to endure a simple transplant without undergoing too much stress, and do not need to be treated any differently than usual. However, some strains (particularly sativas) may be more delicate than others, and when cannabis plants are very small, they are delicate no matter the strain. Following the above steps will ensure that the process is as stress-free as possible, both for your plants and for yourself.


9 thoughts on “How to transplant a cannabis plant”

a little too detailed, but follow this and you’re transplant will go well – remember to use some Great White or Clone Ex or B12 powder in the hole you’re placing the new root ball into tho for best rooting and then some Klean Kelp or your algae compliment lol afterward

Decent article, Decent site! I’m happy I found it!… Just did my first transplant and all went very well having followed directions and fired up :). Ya Mon!

That’s all fine and dandy but what happens when you got outdoor plants and you have to move your garden. How do you transplant those plants; dig them up and transplant?

Thank you for your comment ? Unfortunately, for legal reasons we cannot respond to grow questions on the blog, but we do have the Sensi Seeds Forum where you can ask a thriving community of gardening fans for advice, share your experiences, and see if your question has already been covered. I hope this helps.

With best wishes

I transplanted a plant and cleared away probably half the soil from the root ball because the soil was just poor quality. Still left half on – do you think this will stress the plant?

Thank you for your comment ? Unfortunately, for legal reasons we cannot respond to grow questions on the blog, but we do have the Sensi Seeds Forum where you can ask a thriving community of gardening fans for advice, share your experiences, and see if your question has already been covered. I hope this helps.

How to Transplant Your Cannabis Plants for Maximum Growth

Logic begs the question: Why not plant your cannabis seeds in their final pot from the start, rather than move them from pot to pot and risk transplant shock? Because the proper transplanting routine will actually make young cannabis plants grow faster in the vegetative state. The reason? It’s easier for tiny plant roots to get the ideal mixture of air, water and nutrients when they’re not waterlogged in an oversized pot.

Starting small, however, requires growers to transfer their plants into larger containers at the ideal time, making sure delicate roots have ample space to expand. If they lack the appropriate room, these roots will begin to circle and form a wall around the edges of the pot. Eventually – if left in the container – this causes a cannabis plant to become rootbound. When the roots aren’t able to absorb the right level of water, oxygen and nutrients, they’ll become wrapped tighter and tighter and will impede growth rather than facilitate it.

One of the best ways to prevent your plants from becoming rootbound is to use aeration pots, like the fabric & plastic ones RediRoot offers. These containers give your cannabis roots maximum exposure to oxygen while air pruning roots, or allowing the root tips to dry out when they meet dry air, prompting the plant to produce new feeder roots. The result is a healthy, vigorous root structure.

But, in order to maximize growth in the vegetative state, you don’t want to start with a two or three-gallon pot. So, let’s start at the beginning.

It All Begins with the Seedling or Clone

Whether you grow from seed or from a clone, the most crucial part of the cannabis plant’s lifecycle is at the beginning. After your seed is germinated or your clone is cut, this bean or cutting needs a nurturing environment to plant its roots and develop a healthy root zone. Seedlings and clones that struggle from the beginning often don’t stand a chance at fully flourishing later in life.

Traditionally, growers would choose rockwool or oasis cubes, jiffy plugs or a coco-based plug. These options come with a small hole that make it easy to place a seed or cutting (you can make the hole bigger if needed for hearty stems). With proper care, roots will grow out of the bottom, and you’ll be ready to easily transplant into your container.

Old-school soil growers might opt for a tried-and-true approach: utilizing a simple seed starting soil mix in a standard six pack. For those who want to get techy, try a RediRoot plastic aeration cell. Or, simply use the seed starting mix with 3.5-to 4-inch pots or plastic cups (be sure to cut holes).

First Transplant: From Seedling or Clone to Bigger Pot

The seedling/cloning phase can take anywhere from two to six weeks. As your babies begin to grow, pay attention to their root development as the white strands emerge from the cube or other growing medium. Once your seedlings have sprouted their 4 th or 5 th set of leaves, it’s time to choose a successor container.

Make sure your receiving pot is filled with your grow medium, that your soil is moistened (fresh roots don’t enjoy bone-dry soil), and there is ample space to safely transplant. If you’re potting into a bigger container with dirt, leave enough room in the larger pot so that you can water sufficiently. For growers using rockwool or oasis, gently pull apart the cubes while being careful not to disturb the roots. Carefully dip your roots in to your mycorrhizae (we like VAM by BioAg) and place in the new container. If you opted for soil or another loose growing medium, turn it upside down and gently tap the bottom to loosen the seedling. Starting with the roots, gently slide the cannabis plant from its former home, and into the larger pot. Put a bit of fresh soil (to account for any lost in the transplant process) all around the sides and on the top and add a healthy amount of water.

To prevent transplant shock, avoid intense light, don’t disrupt the roots and be sure your hands are clean or wear gloves to protect the fragile roots from any potential contamination. The first transplant presents the biggest risk for shock, so be sure to keep your surroundings sanitary and take the time to carefully perform this initial transplant. Another way to help reduce transplant shock is to use Mills Vitalize and Start R, at half strength.

Vegetative Transplanting

While seed starts are used for outdoor growing or mother plants, clones are used for any short-growing style, which includes indoor and light deprivation greenhouses.

A good rule of thumb is that your cannabis plants need two gallons of soil for every 12 inches of growth in the vegetative stage. From here, all subsequent transplants should be based on root expansion and whether you’re growing from seeds (primarily outdoor) or clones (indoor/greenhouse) – this will make the biggest difference between pot sizes.

If you’re growing outdoors or making mother plants, your cannabis will need to veg between four and six months in order to reach maturity and may be up potted more than once before reaching their final home. Growers may transplant their outdoor plants from 4-inch pots to 1- or 2-gallon pots, to 5- or 7-gallon containers, and then into 100+ gallons for the remainder of for the rest of the season. The largest size pots will house the plants for months prior to flowering.

For shorter growing cycles, clones are ideal because they’re already proven phenotypes that you don’t have to sex – they’re all guaranteed females. Clones are as old as the plant from which the cuttings are taken, and often take just one to two weeks until they’re rooted. This means you won’t need as big of a container for plants. For an indoor or greenhouse application, it’s a good idea to transplant one, even two weeks before you flip your lights to the 12 hours off / 12 hours on flowering cycle. Doing this will allow your cannabis plants to maximize their growth in that particular pot before they advance.

Keep in mind that each environment and growing style will vary, naturally. Whatever your chosen method, be sure to transplant before your plants become rootbound. With RediRoot containers, this is never a problem. The company’s innovate design reduces circling roots and prepares plants for transplantation, thanks to the air pruning capabilities. If you’re not sure what size pots are ideal for your grow, the Garden Rebels team can listen to your goals and help you determine the best time to up-pot, and which size pots would be ideal for your situation.

Final Transplants

When you’re finished vegging and ready to flower, now is the time for the final transplant – this is where your crop will remain until harvest. Make your final container has plenty of space to allow for full development.

The right size pot depends on a number of factors: indoor, light-dep, full season? From seed or from clone? Growing inland or on the coast? There are so many factors that will determine your final container size. For example, if you’re growing full-season cannabis from seed, you might want a 600-gallon fabric pot. If you’re growing indoor from a clone, you might opt for a 7-gallon plastic pot. A light-dep run from a clone might utilize a 7-gallon fabric pot (or raised beds), while 10-gallons would work on the coast. Pro tip: Always ask yourself “will the plant be in the container long enough to fill the pot with roots?” If the answer is no, you’re wasting money on soil.

Be sure to transplant before your plants start to flower, as transplant shock can eradicate your crop. Also, give your crop at least one, if not two weeks after the transplanting is complete before you initiate flowering, as this gives them enough time to adjust.

All in all, if you transplant with care, the benefits can be significant – a healthy, fast-growing crop that generates big yields.

If you need advice on transplanting or are looking to purchase air pruning pots for your cannabis grow, contact Garden Rebels today. We offer special pricing for commercial grows and can help ensure a thriving, successful crop!