When is it safe to transplant cannabis clones?

Published May 25, 2020 11:00 a.m. ET
iStock / Kimberly Delaney

Generally, cannabis clones are temporarily placed into small pots that allow for hundreds if not thousands to be lined up in a very small space while they get themselves established, but most growers can’t wait to switch their new babies over to vessels that are more suitable for a long term stay. The thing is that if you transplant them just a tad too quickly, then you could risk causing irreversible damage or killing them outright, and it's a costly mistake that no one wants to experience.

Luckily, there are a few things that you can watch and check for that will let you know if your little cannabis clones are ready for the big move, and we want to help you out, by laying them out in a simple checklist, that every grower, both new and experienced should always keep in mind. So, don’t forget to bookmark this page for reference as you go through what can be a stressful yet exciting time that you don’t want to accidentally rush through.

1. Seven or more days for established roots

Clones don’t take very long to transform into a nice and stable little marijuana plant, but if you try to transplant them too soon, there will be sudden disruption to the root system that is trying so hard to grow and establish itself. The roots are absolutely imperative for your marijuana plant to absorb water and nutrients from the soil, and if they’re disturbed before they’re ready, that one simple decision could be enough to stunt or kill it, and the best way to avoid that, is by waiting at least 7 days before making the big move.

2. No more wilting

When you first make clones, it’s a shock to the small piece of the marijuana plant, and understandably so, as it was just freshly chopped away from safety and comfort, and this tends to cause significant dropping and to wilt that is easy to see by eye. If the small leaves are hanging in a downward direction, and have yet to perk back up, then chances are pretty good that it’s still way too early for transplanting.

3. Brighter colors

Clones don’t exactly change color just from being cut away from the mother plant, but once they’re established, they do tend to brighten up a bit in color. This happens because new growth occurs that is so minor, it’s nearly invisible to the naked eye, but a slightly new and more vibrant shade of green is a really good indication that your marijuana plant is well established and that it’s very likely ready for the big move.

4. New growth

Whether you see new tiny leaves or the development of other possible growth or production such an increase in crystals or height, then this is a really good indicator that your clones are strong and healthy, and could probably tolerate a move to a more permanent residence. You will not see any new growth until well after the root system is established, because, in order to flourish like this, it needs to be able to eat, which it can’t do until it has a grasp on the soils and nutrients inside of the pot. If you do see new growth, then know that this is an excellent time to transplant your brand-new marijuana plant.

5. When the garden, lights, or pots and soil are ready and available

Some growers, and in particular, those who are new to the art, tend to rush the experience, but this can be very costly in the long run when your cannabis clones begin to fail, so it is important to make sure that you have all of the tools you’ll need on hand long before you consider transplanting clones. You can’t grab just any old soil or dirt from the garden and hope it will be good enough, because this is a developing seedling that needs some extra love and care, and that is why, we highly recommend waiting until you have nutrient-dense soil, lights, and everything else you might need for it to flourish before you start.

Is there ever a good time to ignore these guidelines?

There are extraordinary circumstances in which it may be best to transplant your cannabis clones early, and one good example of that is if you see mold begin to form on the surface of the soil, or pest start to nest around the stem. Both of these things can seriously damage and even kill your marijuana plant, which is why their presence might warrant fast action that goes against these guidelines. However, in the majority of situations, you should do everything within your power to ensure that it rests long enough to recover from the traumatic process, so try your best to be patient and wait unless danger is imminent.

Can this process go faster with the help of fertilizer?

We all know that a good dose of fertilizer to your marijuana plant can be super beneficial if it’s done at the right time, but when it comes to cannabis cloned, it is the last thing you’ll want to use. Even the most helpful nutrients and chemicals can be abrasive, especially if they're poured directly onto an open wound that remains from the cutting, so avoid fertilizers and additives that are not intended for cloning at all costs.

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