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What you need to know about: transplanting cannabis plants
Transplantation refers to the method of repotting your weed plants from the small containers or trays used at the beginning of the grow cycle for germination, into larger pots, containers or grow spaces. Transplanting cannabis plants is done to allow them to grow more extensive roots, form a more stable base and to absorb nutrients and water more effectively. This will enable your plants to end up producing the most massive and resinous buds possible.
If you haven’t planted your seeds directly into large containers, learning how to handle your cannabis plants safely is an essential skill as transplanting is a vital part of the growing cycle, necessary to maximise the size of the mature plants and to enable them to achieve their potential with sufficient soil, space, and nutrients.
Why is transplanting weed plants necessary?
Starting your plants in small containers is advisable for several reasons. Small trays or containers enable the creation of a designated area for seedlings. You can have multiple plants growing next to each other, and small containers mean you can maximise the number of plants you throw in an area of open space. Feminized autoflowering seeds are the exception to the rule as they generally have such a short growth cycle; it is advisable to plant the seeds straight into the soil or containers.
Easier to take care of your plants
In addition to increasing the size of your crops, smaller tubs allow for easier management. It’s easier to provide your plants with the correct amount of water, which is important as overwatering can cause harm, such as stunted growth, curled or yellowing leaves.
Suppose large containers are used in this period. In that case, excess water can accumulate, as the small root system of the seedlings cannot absorb all the available water, which increases the risk of moisture and mould, can severely damage your plants.
Repotting cannabis plants for a better grow
That said, there will come a time when a small pot will start to impede the health and development of your young cannabis plants. Your crops will soon overtake their compact homes, their rapidly growing root systems will encompass all available soil, and their water and nutrient needs will explode in such a tight environment.
This is when the roots will block your plants, and you can observe if this is the case mainly because your plants will look too big for their container, and might even cause it to overbalance. Other signs that your plants need a new home include a lack of growth, lankiness, and wilting.
When is the best time to transplant weed plants?
The time to transplant is when the plants are past the young growth phase and begin to head into so called “cannabis vegetative phase“. It would be best if you then transplanted your cultures from their original containers to larger containers so that they continue to grow well.
But the need to transplant doesn’t end there. Many cultivators choose to transplant their plants several times into increasingly large containers over a few months to make sure that the tub is not restrictive of growth and that it is not too large, which could pose a risk of mould.
If you are growing your plants under bright lights, or frequent, intense sun, you may need to do this regularly, as growth then takes place at a much faster rate.
How to safely transplant cannabis plants
Knowing how to transplant correctly is essential to avoid unnecessary damage. Taking your plants out of their containers can cause a great deal of stress and harm if not done in the correct manner, which could reduce yields if the time that could be used during flowering is instead spent recovering. Roughly yanking a plant up by its roots causes trauma and stress, and damaged plants.
To get started, get containers that are at least a size larger than the ones currently in use. If you begin your weed plants in a pot of 1-litre, for example, the next stage would be to repot them into 2-litre containers. When your plants eventually grow too big for these containers, you can double the size to 4 litres, 8 litres, then 12, 16 and even 20 litres.
The size of the pot that you intend to be the final base depends on the rate of growth of your plants during the growth phase. Genetically, Sativa plants are more likely to grow taller than Indicas and are more likely to need a larger pot over time.
Another factor that determines the pot size at which the grower decides to stop transplanting is available space.
Before moving your plants out of the original pot, fill your next container half full with soil or whatever growing medium you have chosen to use. Leave enough space to ensure that your plants’ root system tangled with the volume of soil from the vacated pot will hold up well. Lightly pat the soil with your fingertips to prevent any large air cavities without overly compacting the soil.
Before the next step, water your plants and let them dry for a few hours. This helps protect your plants’ root system from harm during the process. Transplanting from dry soil can cause it to crumble, while soil that is too wet runs the risk of breaking the roots.
Now take your plants gently at the base of the roots, and tip them upside down, controlling the movement. Your plant and its roots should now slide slowly and smoothly out of their former home. You could use a pencil to penetrate the base of the pot by poking it through the drainage hole. Take great care when handling the stem; it might be preferable to hold the bottom wing leaves.
If you have correctly estimated the time of transplanting, the root system should maintain the soil in the exact shape of the old pot. Place carefully in the new pot and fill the extra space with soil.
Tip: Prevent cannabis transplant shock
To lessen the stress and shock your plants may experience during this process, you may choose to give your plants some nutrients to help them settle into their new home. You can also temporarily reduce the light intensity to mitigate any possible stress.
And that’s all there is to it! Learning how to transplant young plants is another step in the road to becoming an experienced cannabis cultivator.