How To Transplant Cannabis Plants: A Quick Guide

Growing your own cannabis garden is highly rewarding, both as a free source of weed and as a hobby. But like any other labor intensive engagement, growing cannabis comes with its fair share of unavoidable tasks, starting from the first-time seeds are planted to when leaves are harvested for consumption. 

One such task is transplanting, which happens after seed germination and is very necessary for proper plant growth. When done wrong, it can destroy your whole cannabis garden in one day. When done right, it guarantees the yield you always dreamed of. 

The guide below helps you understand the basics of how to transplant cannabis plants for maximum yields.

What is transplanting?

Transplanting is the process of moving newly sprouted seedlings or young plants from their original growth medium into another, as necessitated by increasing growth demands that the original growth medium can no longer fulfill.

The process of transplanting involves digging up a sprouted seedling or young plant along with some of its current soil mix and moving them to a new already-dug hole in the new growth medium.

Why do you need to transplant cannabis plants?

Transplanting seems a bit unnecessary and tedious, but cannabis growers still do it because of the reasons below:

To prevent plants from getting root bound. Plants get root bound when their roots outgrow their current growth medium, usually growing all around its edges instead. The problem with root bound plants is that they start to get stunted, start wilting, turn red at the stems and grow rather slowly, usually ending dead.

To foster faster growth. Transplanting is a way to trigger further growth of cannabis plants. New growth mediums are always larger in size, providing more room for plant roots to expand and ably support necessary plant growth processes such as flowering. 

It prevents root rot. Transplanting would be easy to skip, but skipping it exposes plant roots to the risk of root rot, which happens when seeds are planted directly in the final growing medium and they fail to expand, later absorbing all the moisture in the soil and rotting instead.

When to transplant cannabis plants

Transplanting cannabis plants isn’t all about moving sprouted seedlings from one growth vessel to another. Factors such as timing are crucial and have to be considered to avoid any error.

How you can tell cannabis plants are ready for transplanting

Visible root growth

When you see the plant’s new healthy white roots reaching the edges of or passing through the bottom of their current growth vessel, the plant is ready for transplanting. That’s because the next step after reaching the vessel’s edges is getting root bound, which is dangerous.

Rapid leaf growth

When there’s faster development of leaves, and you can see about 4 to 5 leaves on the sprouted seedling, consider it ready for transplanting.

Strong plant stem

It’s time for transplanting if you touch the cannabis plant’s stem and find it harder or sturdier than it was before.

The vegetative phase

When the plant is clearly in the vegetative phase, you need to prepare for transplanting so that it doesn’t enter the flowering phase before it’s moved to a bigger growth vessel.

What stage of growth is transplanting most common in?

The simple answer here is during the vegetative growth phase because, at the germination stage, the plants are tender and might suffer more transplant shock. Additionally, this is the stage where there is a sudden increase in growth speed and hence increased demand for bigger root space.

What stage of growth is it safest in?

Transplanting can be done right after germination and during the vegetative phase, but it’s undoubtedly safer in the latter because the plant itself is more fit for the move and needs it for better growth.

How to transplant cannabis plants

The basic process of transplanting a cannabis plant seems pretty easy but there’s lots of room for error. The outlined process below is a good process you can follow for each form of transplanting.

Prepare your new growth vessel by filling it with enough growth medium (such as soil). Make sure it’s bigger than the current growth vessel. Then create a big enough hole in the middle for the new plant arrival.

Wear your gloves and use an appropriately sized trowel to scoop the plant out of its current growth vessel and medium, minding its roots the whole time.

Fit the transplant into the hole in the new growth vessel and quickly cover it with the new growth medium, minding the roots still.

A few notes to remember:

  • Don’t water your plants a day or two before transplanting them.
  • Always water the plant right after it’s been transplanted.
  • Avoid touching the roots in any way when transplanting. Scoop the plant with enough soil to cover the roots as you move it.
  • Avoid transplanting under intense sunlight or lots of artificial light.

The best methods to transplant cannabis plants

For maximum results, experts recommend following the method below when transplanting:

Carry out the first transplant: Make the first transplant as soon as 4 to 5 leaves appear to develop on the newly-sprouted cannabis plant. Make sure the roots have visibly developed too.

Carry out a vegetative phase transplant: The next transplant should happen when the cannabis plant appears to be about to exit its vegetative growth phase. During the vegetative phase, the plant grows rapidly and uses up more soil space for root development. 

As it approaches the flowering stage, it should be transplanted again, this time to a final, finishing vessel/growth medium that will be sizable enough to support the increasing demands.

The best materials to use

Transplanting requires the best materials as much as it does the best soil if maximum returns are to be attained. We recommend the materials below:

A trowel, for safely scooping plants and their immediate soil during transplanting

Gloves, used to avoid contamination of fragile roots by bare hands

Spacious containers, designed to fit each level of transplanting, especially finishing pots.

Enough water for watering plants after a transplant

Stakes for supporting weaker plants for a while after transplanting.


There’s no doubt that planting your own cannabis will be a thrilling experience. But the growth process is quite long and requires a bit of extra effort from you for better results. We hope the guide above helps you understand the basic aspects of transplanting your cannabis plants for maximum yield.

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