Transplanting cannabis: why, when and how

August 4, 2022

Since the number of countries that have passed laws to legalize marijuana is increasing every year, online sales of cannabis seeds are becoming popular and helping people buy planting material for a new kind of hobby – grovelling. Therefore, the topics of growing cannabis are more relevant than ever. In this article we will focus on one of the most difficult operations for both experienced and novice growers – transplanting cannabis plants. At the same time, it is far from an extraordinary event. With few exceptions, transplanting is a planned agronomic activity that is included in the grower’s plan in advance. And since this is the case, it is better to prepare for it in advance than to sit, fearing the inevitable, and at the necessary moment to ruin everything.

Anyone can cope with a transplant. It requires only a certain theoretical preparation (which this article will give you) and some practical skills (you will easily work them out on your own, following our recommendations).

We will start the narrative with a closer look at the roots of the plant, since the actions performed in the context of transplanting are directly related to them.

What is the cannabis root system
The root system of the cannabis plant is shaped like a rod. The main root of the bush goes deep into the soil in search of moisture. At the same time, closer to the surface, the plant forms additional branches that absorb nutrients from the upper layers of the soil.

This structure best contributes to the two main functions of the roots – to be a reliable and solid support for the plant, to supply it with moisture and nutrients. As it grows, the roots need more and more space, which is one of the reasons the marijuana plant needs to be repotted in a bigger pot.

The underground part of the plant prefers a stable temperature in a fairly narrow range of 18-22℃, which is also easier to provide in a larger container. During transplanting (a rare occasion when you can see the roots of the plant), you should pay attention to their appearance. If they are white and resilient, everything is fine. Brown or gray color, sluggishness, stiffness – indicate problems.

When the plant needs replanting

This operation is carried out at least once in almost every grow. It is necessary in the following cases:

Planting seedlings in the ground. Residents of regions with short summers often start grovelling at home in advance so that when the weather warms, the plants are already mature enough to be planted in the outdoors. This allows them to bloom before the cold weather arrives. This activity is not much different from pot-to-pot transplanting, especially since more and more outdoorsmen are using growbags (as well as indore growers).

Scheduled transplanting as it grows. As the plant develops, it grows taller and stronger. Not surprisingly, the bush has to be periodically transplanted into increasingly larger pots to ensure full growth. Experienced growers plan the transplanting in advance and it most often goes smoothly. When cultivating large shrubs, this procedure is repeated several times.

Detecting problems with the root system. In a tight space, the roots twist and tangle, starting to grow in a spiral along the walls of the pot. Because of this, they can not fully perform their functions. The plant definitely needs replanting if:

The soil dries out too quickly, literally in a day or two – your pot simply does not hold the amount of water the plant needs

The bush is wilting and yellowing, although you are sure that the watering regime is correct – the roots do not assimilate moisture well because of the tightness

a plant has been in the same container for a long time – for example, a mother plant may have been there for months

The marijuana plant has grown so big that the pot is tipping over – this is a sure sign that the bush has become crowded.

Don’t be afraid to transplant plants. If you do it carefully, it will not be a critical stress for them. It is much worse if you ignore the problems that have already arisen. They will not “dissolve”, but will only increase if you do not take timely action.

The difference in transplanting photoperiodic varieties and autoflowers

The operation should be done during the vegetative stage, before flowering begins. This is done so that the plant can recover from the stress (the strength of which depends on how well the grower acts, but it will not be stress-free at all). The good thing about photoperiodic varieties is that the grower has complete control when they start to flower. After replanting, he can give the bush enough time to recover.

By the way, when deciding on the size of the final pot in which to flower, you should take into account that the plant will continue to grow even after it has finished growing. Some varieties will grow just a little and some may stretch out twice as much. Take this into account beforehand, otherwise you will have to transplant an already flowering bush which is highly undesirable.

Autoflowering varieties do not have a chance to prolong their vegetation period; they bloom by their own internal “timer”, and there is nothing you can do about it. For this reason, there is an ongoing debate about the advisability of transplanting autoflowers. Indeed, if you grow a “baby” that is about 30-40 cm tall by the time it matures, you can immediately plant it in a suitable pot and not complicate your life. On the other hand, many modern autics stretch out to a meter or more. In this case transplanting is likely to be necessary. The task of the grower is to do it as gently as possible, causing the plant as little stress as possible. This is possible with skill.

How to organize the process
Now that we have the general information about cannabis transplanting, it is time to proceed to a more detailed breakdown of this operation.

Choosing and preparing a new container

The volume of the pot for transplanting should be 2-3 times larger than the previous one. So that the new container is not too large, but at the same time takes into account the potential for future growth. After the arrangement of drainage, a layer of soil is poured on the bottom. Its level should be such that the lump of soil and roots from the old pot was 2-3 centimeters below the surface. It is desirable to use a soil mixture similar in composition to the one used before.

Adjust the soil level by using the old pot: it is put in the new pot and filled with the prepared growing soil in a circle (after the lower level has already been poured) or pressed into a recess in the still loose mixture. The new soil should be slightly moist, but not damp. The easiest way is to pour it in layers of 10-15 cm and moisten each one with a sprayer.

Preparing the plant for transplanting

The most important thing is to set the correct moisture level of the soil. It should not be too dry, otherwise the clod of soil will crumble and complicate the work with it. But it should also not be too wet (as immediately after watering), otherwise the soil will again not hold its shape. The best option is to water the hemp a day or two before the planned transplanting date. A slightly damp clump of soil retains its shape best, and it is easiest to manipulate.

Moving the plant from the old pot to the new one
When all the conditions described above are met, you must make sure that the roots of the plant are not exposed to light and air for too long during the transplanting process. This is not quite the right environment for them, and unnecessary stress neither we nor the plant is completely unnecessary. Then we proceed as follows:

Lightly tap the old pot (if it is soft, you can crumple it a little), so that the soil moved away from the walls.

Put the palm of one hand so that the stem goes between the middle and index finger.

Turn the plant over and remove the old pot with your free hand. If anything, tap or gently rotate it.

Carefully turn the clod of soil with the roots and put it in the prepared for him deep in the soil of the new pot.

Fill it with soil, filling all the cavities – you can pat a little (do not tamp it down!).

However, better to see once than read a hundred times. See how easily and effortlessly Jorge Cervantes does transplanting (those who are not interested to listen how he talks about the benefits of textile pots and air pruning of the roots, can immediately move the tray to 1:50, although he says very useful things):

Here you can also see what healthy cannabis roots should look like and how densely they fill the pot when it gets small. The soil is generously diluted with perlite or vermiculite for better aeration. After transplanting, he puts keramzit on top to keep the top layer of soil dry, keeping it moist and soft. In the last seconds you can clearly see how well the drainage in the textile grog works.

The post-transplant period.
The first watering after transplanting should not be too abundant – the roots are coming off the stress and “settling in” to their new place. Reduce the amount of water by 20-30% compared to normal for this size pot. Same with growing fertilizer – let the plant come to its senses. It will have time to catch up later.

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