How and when to transplant cannabis plants

How and when to transplant cannabis plants
Luke Sumpter

As a cannabis grower it's important to know how and when to transplant your plants into bigger pots. Read everything about transplanting at CannaConnection!

Transplanting is the process of repotting your plants from small containers used to begin the grow cycle, into larger pots, containers or grow spaces, that enable them to grow larger roots, form an increasingly stable base and uptake more water and nutrients in order to eventually produce the largest and most resinous sticky buds possible.

Transplanting your cannabis plants is a vital part of the growth cycle required to optimise size and allow your plants to reach their full potential with enough space, nutrients and soil.


Starting your plants off in a small container is a good idea for several reasons. It allows you to create a nursery area, where you can have many plants developing side by side, and smaller containers means you can maximise the amount of plants you are starting within a specific area of free space.

As well as increasing crop size, smaller containers mean easier management. It is easier to avoid overwatering, which can damage your plants in a multitude of ways, including stunted growth, wilting and yellowing of leaves.

If larger containers are used during this period, excess water may build up, as the plants small root system cannot uptake all of the available water, increasing the chance of damp and rot which may seriously harm your plants.

With this said, the time eventually comes when a smaller contain will be detrimental to the health and progress of your weed plants. Your crop will soon outgrow their tiny homes, their root systems will engulf all of the available soil and their requirement for water and nutrients will skyrocket in such a restricted environment.

This is when your plants become root bound, you will be able to tell this is happening primarily because your plants simply looks too big for its container, and may even start to tip it. Other symptoms include stunted growth, stretching, needs extremely frequent watering, wilting and red stems.


The time to transplant occurs when your plants have passed the seedling stage and are beginning to enter the vegetative phase of the grow cycle. This will involve transplanting your crop from their initial containers into larger ones to continue proper growth.

However, the need for transplanting may not stop here. It makes sense to transplant your crop into increasingly larger containers over time to ensure that the container isn’t too small and limiting growth, and isn’t too big that it might pose the threat of rotting.

Therefore you can keep transplanting your crop throughout the vegetative phase to ensure this balance is maintained. If you are growing your crop under intense lighting or frequent and strong sunlight, this may need to be done regularly, as growth will occur at a much faster pace.


Knowing how to transplant properly is essential to avoiding any unnecessary damage. Pulling your plant out of its container can obviously cause a large amount of stress and even serious damage if not done correctly, which may reduce the yield, if time, that could contribute to the flowering process, is instead used by damaged plants to recover from trauma and stress. To begin, obtain containers, that are significantly larger than the previous ones used.

For example, if you started your plants in a typical pot size of 1 litre, the next step up from here would be to transplant them into containers with a volume of 2 litres. When your plants eventually outgrow these containers, you can double the pot size to 4 litres, 8 litres, and then up to 12, 16 and even 20 litres.

The pot size you choose to stop at will depend on the rate of your plants' growth over the vegetative phase, sativa plants are genetically prone to grow much taller and larger than indica strains and will probably require a larger pot size over time.

Available space is another dictating factor in which pot size a grower will choose to stop transplanting at.

Before transplanting out of the original container, fill your next pot half way up with soil or any growing medium, that you have chosen to use, leaving enough space to ensure, that your plants and their root systems entangled with the soil volume from the previous pot will fit inside comfortably. Pat the soil down slightly.

Before the next step, water your plant and leave it to dry out for a couple of hours. This will help to protect your plant's root system from damage during the transplants. Transplanting from soil, that is too dry, may result in crumbling, whereas soil that is too wet greats the risk of the root system breaking apart.

Now grab your plants at the base of the stem, tip them upside down gently and in a controlled manner, your plant and its root system should slowly and steadily slide out of its now previous home.

If you have judged the transplant time well, the root system should hold all of the soil together in the exact same shape as the old pot. Place this structure into the new pot and fill up the empty space with soil.

To reduce any stress and shock, that your plants may receive from this process, you may choose to lightly dose your plants with some nutrients to help them settle into their new home. Light intensity can also be lowered temporarily to reduce any possible stress.

Luke Sumpter
Luke Sumpter

Luke has worked as a cannabis journalist and health science researcher for the past seven years. Over this time, he’s developed an advanced understanding of endocannabinoid system science, cannabis phytochemistry, and cultivation techniques.