When to transplant seedlings

Published Feb 21, 2019 12:56 p.m. ET

While there are plenty of different options to choose from to grow your own marijuana at home, what many don’t realize is the importance of transplanting. Most will invest in the most reliable lights, the best soils, and the most expensive seeds, but take little care when it comes to moving their precious plants around. Here we will show you when the best time is to transplant your seedlings as well as how to plant them and move them later in life with the least adverse effects. The first stage of growth paves the way for a cannabis plants future making these early days just as important as the rest.

When to transplant seedlings

Cannabis seedlings are delicate and need to be treated with the utmost care. During the germination stage and the first growing phase, the plant’s entire focus is on producing a healthy and bountiful root system. There are a few things you will want to check off your list before you even begin contemplating when to move your seedlings.

Environment - To have the healthiest seedlings to transplant you will want to provide the ideal setting for them to thrive in. This means an 18-hour light schedule and having a light that is MH, LED, or CFL. Though natural light can also work, we are aiming for ideal here, not just barely enough so if you have the option; it’s always best to invest in a good light source for your seedlings. The substrate they are grown in will also make a difference in the roots’ strength. The easier it is for the tiny roots to push their way through the dirt, the sturdier your seedling will be.

Pots - if you know you will need to be transplanting cannabis seedlings than you may as well start planning for the move right from day one. Planting seeds in a cube or pellet that have been made specifically for this purpose will always make transplanting them later so much easier. That is because biodegradable options for germinating will decompose quite quickly over time. So instead of having to disrupt the root system by knocking them out of a pot, you can just drop them directly into the soil. The casings will slowly disappear as they are exposed to water and the plant roots will have no problem making it through them once they are ready to.

Now after ensuring the very best start for your marijuana seedlings, you can focus on choosing the right time to transplant them. The ideal time to be transplanting cannabis is when the plant is about to outgrow the container it is in. If you use small pellets or cubes than you will notice little white roots piercing the casing trying to escape. As soon as you see this happening it is time to transplant them. Waiting too long can hurt the plant. If you use pots, then you might notice a substantial amount of growth or roots peeking out of the drain holes. The average best time to transplant a marijuana plant is usually 10-12 days after a seed has been planted.

How to transplant seedlings

Transplanting cannabis seedlings that were started in pucks or pellets are the easiest. Just dig a hole into whatever growing medium you are using that a tiny bit bigger than the inflated puck and bury the very base of the plant to cover the entire top of the casing. If you are using pots instead you will need to release them from the containers gently. Usually, a gentle squeeze from a couple of different directions is enough to loosen the soil. If you find that alone is not working, you can add water which will soften the substrate. Once it is free, you can dig a hole that is a little bit bigger than the original pot and plant it in the center of a new large one. 2 gallons or larger are most recommended as destination pots for marijuana plants.

How to transplant a mature cannabis plant

Transplanting cannabis plants that are nearly full grown is another difficult matter. That is because the root system will be quite established by this point making any movement detrimental to the plant. However, if you must move a cannabis plant later in life, there are a few tricks to remember to make things a little easier.

Water- Pour as much water as you can into the pot. This will help to loosen the soil and prime the root system for the big move. Use lukewarm and not cold water so that it isn’t shocked or damaged.

Pot removal- To pull the pot off the cannabis plant you have one of two options. In some cases, you might get lucky and have no problem simply squeezing and manipulating the container to free the soil. In others that are more rootbound, it may not be so easy. Take a large butter knife and use it to pry the edges of the dirt from the pot. Working your way around the entire circumference of the container as close to the edge as humanly possible. Now try to tip the plant on its side while supporting the top plant growth as much as you can. One of the biggest mistakes people make here is forgetting that a marijuana stalk is only so strong and if the plant breaks there is no going back. Once you have loosened the pot enough to slide it off remove it.

Planting- Planting is essentially the same for a mature plant as it is for a seedling, with one major difference, which is that a mature cannabis plant will require way more water to properly establish itself. Add a few gallons of lukewarm water to a hole that is a bit larger than the pot you are removing the plant from. Once most of the liquid has been absorbed into the ground you can plant the entire base of dirt that contains the roots. Try your best not to break it apart as it can cause damage to the plant by destroying sections of the root system. Spread some fresh soil around the base of the stem and add another gallon or two of water to the area around it. This will help the moisture stick around in the garden which keeps it soft while the plant’s roots take hold a re-stabilize.

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