Transplanting Your Cannabis Plant

Last blog post, we highlighted some classic germination techniques for germinating cannabis seeds. Today we want to extend that feeling of the start of spring, and provide some tips for transplanting your marijuana plants, one of the first step of the vegetative process.

Transplanting is a general term used in agriculture and gardening. Transplanting or replanting is the technique of moving a plant from one location to another. With cannabis, there are multiple factors that indicate when they are ready to be transplanted.

Leafly lists some indicators that let you know your 'plant is ready for a new container:

Number of Leaves

Young plants sowed in small containers are ready to be transplanted after they’ve sprouted 4-5 sets of leaves (not including the cotyledon). This may vary in some strains, but at this point, roots have typically overgrown their starter cup.

Root Development

When checking perforations at the bottom of a container, a plant should have a healthy and visibly white root system. Any discoloration or darkening may indicate that the plant has become root bound, and a transplant must take place immediately.

Vegetative Stage

Many opt to transplant to a finishing pot in the final two weeks of vegetative growth before a plant transitions into the flowering phase. At this point, a plant will explode both in size and volume and will require a substantial amount of space for root development."

Once you know your plant is ready, something to consider is the size of container you want to use. Commonly, indoor growers use 3-5 gallon containers for medium sized plants. Outdoor plants in the ground (or several hundred gallon containers) can give some cannabis strains the potential to grow to the size of a small tree. (Here's an example.) A good rule of thumb is to use a container, double the size of your starter pot. This also minimizes the amount of transplanting done, and decreases the risk of 'transplant shock' to your plants.

Transplant shock is described as stress on the root mass of your plant, during the replanting process. You can also consult the seed bank of the strain you are cultivating, to find out how tall the plant will grow and in relation--the size needed for the root mass.

Below are some great transplanting tips by Leafly:

  • Wash your hands and/or wear gloves to prevent contamination of the delicate roots. Keep the surroundings as sanitary as possible.

  • Try not to water plants the day before their transplant. This will allow the soil to stick a bit when being removed from the starter container.

  • Make sure the receiving pot has been filled with your grow medium and there is enough space to safely transplant.

  • Do not disturb or damage the roots when transplanting. The first transplant poses the greatest risk for shock, and this occurs as a direct result of root damage and agitation.

  • Avoid intense light when transplanting. This will help prevent transplant shock as well.

  • Always administer a healthy amount of water after a transplant.

  • Plants should maximize the space in their current containers before a new one is chosen. This process may continue for as long as a grower intends to keep their plant in a vegetative state. Oftentimes “mother” plants–used for cloning­–are transplanted into larger pots so that they may continue to vegetate for long periods of time.

  • Always monitor plants for symptoms of distress or overcrowded roots.

  • Growers administering nutrients should cut the input in half before transplanting to avoid shock.

  • Avoid over packing the grow medium into a container during and after the transplant. This can compromise drainage and may damage root systems."

After incorporating the above tips into your technique, follow these 3 simple steps to success:

Step 1: Gently move your plant, root mass and the medium covering it, into the receiving pot filled 1/3 to halfway full with grow medium.

Step 2: Gently mix the root mass grow medium in with the new grow medium and fill the container with more grow medium. Don't over pack and ensure that it is well aerated.

Step 3: Lightly water your newly transplanted cannabis plant and even out the grow medium for the plant.

Good job! Your plants have now been transplanted and you can repeat this process and fine tune your technique as you continue to tend your cannabis garden. Growing cannabis is a great way to foster your relationship with the cannabis plant. We definitely enjoy it!

Information courtesy of

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