Fraser Horton
Fraser Horton
Last Updated on September 3, 2021

Cultivating weed plants isn’t as simple as it sounds, but it’s not very hard either. As with every other plant cultivation, some processes require more care and attention to achieve good results, while others not so much. One process you need to be careful with is transplanting the cannabis seedlings from a smaller to a larger pot to give the new plant enough space to develop. Growers may repot their plants a few times before the flowering stage, depending on the needs of the particular cannabis strains they’re growing.

Albeit transplantation into a new pot is a delicate process because the plants’ roots can be vulnerable, but with enough practice, it can be perfected. As a grower, you’re highly encouraged to repot your plants to support their growth, so in this article, we’ll talk about when it’s the right time to do so and how to do it. 

Why Is Transplanting Your Cannabis Plants Good for Them?

Transplanting your cannabis plants helps them to grow healthy and strong, and reach their full potential. As cannabis grows from a seedling to a full-grown plant, its roots also grow and spread out to absorb nutrients from the growing medium. This allows the plant to thrive as it spreads freely in its current container.

After a while, though, there won’t be enough room for the roots to freely spread and they will start getting cramped and growing around the edges and towards the bottom of the grow medium. In other words, the plants will become rootbound, and their growth will be significantly stunted.

If you notice stunted growth, wilting of the leaves, or reddening of the stems, and if they get nutrient burns easily (even from low % nutrients solutions), or they need watering too often, it’s probably time to repot them.

The pot size determines how much the roots can stretch out, and small containers are limiting. That’s why it’s crucial to repot the plants to a larger container to encourage healthy root development. A healthy root system also means healthy vegetative growth, which also means healthy flowering.

When Is the Right Time to Transplant Your Cannabis Seedlings?

The seedlings develop after the germination process when they have already sprouted and started developing little roots. Some growers germinate their seeds in moist tissues before potting them into a container to take roots, while others germinate them in a small pot where they will continue to grow. 

Whatever the method, once the seedlings have grown and developed a strong root system, they’re ready for the first transplant. You’ll notice this when you see the roots growing out from the drainage holes at the bottom of the container. They should be white as this indicates that they aren’t cramped. If they’re darkened, you’re likely dealing with a rootbound plant and should transplant it immediately.

Another sign that it’s time for repotting is if your plants have developed a few sets of leaves (usually 4-5 sets of leaves). By this time, your plants may look like they have outgrown their current container and it will be obvious that they need a larger vessel. Some cannabis strains grow very fast, so always inspect your plants closely. The more leaves they have developed, the more they’re ready to be transplanted.

How Many Times Should You Transplant Your Weed Plants Before They Flower?

Transplanting your weed plants is highly recommended, but it shouldn’t be overdone. Technically, your plants could survive in only one container, but it will significantly impact their vegetative growth and their flowers. 

Ideally, you should transplant them at least once, but no more than 2-3 times because of transplant shock. Repotting too frequently is not only unnecessary, but it’s too much for the plants’ delicate roots. It may do the opposite and kill your plant (since each repotting requires a few days of adjustment for the root system). The plants always need time to settle in their new home, so overdoing it will harm them.

Therefore, inspect your plants closely and adjust accordingly. Some strains will only need to be repotted once and that will be their final container, while others will need a couple of repottings.

Why Not Plant Cannabis Seeds in the Bigger Pot From the Start?

Planting in a large pot from the start is not a good idea because there is a risk of waterlogging. When there is a lot of soil in the container, the small and delicate roots of the young marijuana plants won’t be able to reach all the water when you water the plants. This poses a risk of mold, root rot, or any other pathogen because the water will sit for too long in the soil. 

If you’re resolute about potting the seeds in a large container from the start, then make sure to water strictly around the main stalk, or as close to the roots as you can.

Transplanting Cannabis Plants – A Mini Guide

Let’s see how you can transplant your cannabis plants into their new home. Before you begin, make sure to wash your hands to avoid contamination (or wear clean gloves). Also, be very delicate when handling the plant because the roots will be very sensitive.

  1. When transplanting cannabis seedlings, water them 2 days before you transplant them. For seedlings, it’s best that the soil is a little moist. However, for grown plants, the soil should be on the drier side. You should only water them after transplanting;
  2. Fill the new pot with the new soil. You can use a plastic pot or a fabric pot, depending on your preference. Fill the pot with soil but don’t overpack it. Water it with a small amount of water and make a hole in the center for the new plant;
  3. To remove the plant from the previous container, cover the soil with your hand and carefully flip it over. It should come out fairly easily, but if it doesn’t, gently squeeze the container to loosen the soil up a bit;
  4. Once you take the plant out, place your hand under the root ball as you transfer it into the new container and gently place it down in the hole you’ve made previously. Fill in any gaps with the surrounding soil and pat lightly;
  5. Finally, water the plant, but be careful of overwatering it. It will take a few days until it adjusts to the new environment.

The Takeaway – It’s Recommended That You Transplant At Least Once

Transplanting your marijuana plants is a delicate process, but your plants will thank you for it. Keeping them in pots that are too small for them will lead to stunted growth and will affect the final yield. Repotting them at least once will allow them to develop healthy roots and thrive during the vegetative stage. Since the plants’ roots will be susceptible to transplant shock, you’ll have to be really careful when you repot them and follow our instructions.


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