Transplanting & Vegetative Growth

  • After a clone has taken roots, or a seedling has sprouted – it should be spend 2 – 4 weeks in a small pot (~1 gallon size.)
  • Depending on pot size and grow rate.
  • This will allow the juvenile plant to grow vigorously in its new environment, and establish a nicely structured “root ball.”
  • When a plant spends too much time in a small pot, the roots begin to wrap around the inside of the pot because they can no longer grow outward.
  • As this happens, the plant will become more and more stunted. This is commonly known being “rootbound,” and it must be transplanted.


  • Transplanting is one of the most stressful experiences a plant can be put through.
  • Done properly however, this stress can be quite minimized. Extreme care should be taken with the root system throughout the entire process.
  • For best results water the incoming plant a day or two prior to transplanting. This will ensure the soil is at a level of moisture that is workable, yet not too dry and friable.

Transplanting: Dig yourself a hole

  • Fill target pot with soil until approximately 2” from the brim.
  • Thoroughly water target pot and let drain completely.
  • Dig a hole in the center of the target pot. The hole should be large enough to contain the incoming plant.
  • Use the pot of the incoming plant to test the freshly dug hole, and ensure it is of adequate diameter and depth.
  • Its topsoil should be level with that of the target pot when sitting in the hole.

Dig a hole in pre-watered soil or coco.
Test failed! Not quite deep enough, more digging is needed.

Transplanting: Uprooting

  • Now, we need to separate the root ball from the surface of the pot.
  • To do this, carefully cut down one side of the pot. This will allow the pot to loosen up around the surface of the plant.
  • Place your palm over the surface of the soil and lightly pinch the stalk of the plant between your middle and ring finger.
  • Using your palm to hold the soil in place, turn the plant upside down.
  • Gently pull the plant out of its pot by its stalk, using your free hand to support the root ball.

Transplanting: The Final Destination

  • Gently place the plant in the freshly dug hole and backfill any gaps with soil.
  • Water the fresh transplant thoroughly.

You’re all done!

Hands on Practice Time!

Practice Transplanting

  • Identify a plant in need of transplanting
  • Prepare target pot
  • Remove plant from source pot
  • Place plant in target pot

Vegetative growth

  • Once your plant has outgrown the “young plant” stage (after week two). It will begin vegetative growth.
  • It will form many new shoots, bud sites, and fan leaves.
  • Brand new growers should not let their plants spend too much time in the vegetative phase (no more than 3-4 weeks) and should consider growing smaller plants for their first few harvests. Plants that spend too long in this phase can become too big with overly crowded canopies. Over-crowded canopies often lead to a lot of stretchy competitive growth, and overly shaded bud sites, which greatly limits yields.
  • As a general rule, your plants should grow vegetatively until they’re just under half the final desired harvest size.

Controlling Vegetative Growth

  • Growers should familiarize themselves with the use of plant ties, and trellis systems as soon as possible. These indispensable tools may be employed to help growers control the canopy.
  • Trellis netting is usually spread over a home-made PVC frame or secured directly to the grow space walls. Constructing a PVC frame is cheap and easy. PVC elbows and piping are widely available at nearly all hardware stores.

This over crowded canopy was introduced to a trellis. With a little help, each shoot will grow into its own space and competitive stretching will be very limited. Any branches that grow to far above the rest may be tucked below the trellis, or carefully bent over and secured with a plant tie (below).

Defoliating for Control

  • A good rule of thumb for defoliation is that no light is wasted unless it touches the grow floor.
  • That is to say, if you remove a part of the plant, it should be to clear the path for light to land on another part of the plant.

18/6 or 24/0 During Vegetative Growth?

Generally speaking, we recommend growing plants in 24hr photoperiods during the plant’s vegetative growth phase.Effects on Morphology

  • Internodes elongate much more in low light and during all dark periods (A. Lecharny 1979).

Growth Rate Difference

  • Faster during 24/0 – more photons = more photosynthesis.
  • Stored starches are still used at a rate determined by a 24hr circadian clock, that continues even in the absence of photoperiodic cues (A. Graf et al. 2010).

Growers may opt to use 18/6 or other photoperiods if the grow room is experiencing heat issues, or when desiring a lower energy bill.

Flowering: Nutrient Additives

  • Cannabis grown in quality organic pre-mixed potting soil can derive complete nutrition from the soil alone.
  • In most cases, there is enough nutrients in the potting soil for growth well into two-weeks of flowering (usually around week 8-10). At this point, the plant can greatly benefit from supplemental nutrient fertilizers.
  • Most fertilizer companies offer a three-part line up.

Tips for adding nutrients to water:

  1. Do not premix nutrients
  2. Stir in one at a time
  3.  Add in accordance with the fertilizer’s label.

Vegetative Nutrition

  • Vigorously vegetating plants require a good balance of nutrients, which can be derived from high quality soil.
  • When growing in coconut husk or hydroponically, an entire lineup is required.
  • This is usually no more than 1 – 3 ML per gallon of any one nutrient in a lineup.
  • Pictured right is the CCS vegetative nutrient schedule for coco/hydro. We always recommend starting low, and working up from there.

Hydroponic Nutrients

Makes use of combinations of salt minerals mined from the earth to achieve complete plant nutrition
Dissociate when diluted in water

  • Nutrient become “available”

Recombine in the absence of water

  • Not necessarily into the same compounds

Affects the acidity by contributing or acquiring hydrogen at varying degrees

GH is a common and well-known hydroponic nutrient line.

Mined phosphorite is refined to elemental phosphorous.

PH (Potential of Hydrogen)

  • PH is a scale of acidity between 0 and 14(measurement of H ions applied to a logarithmic scale)
  • Closer to 0 the more acidic, and the closer to 14 the more basic.
  • Nutrients change form as acidity changes. At some acidity levels, many nutrients are unavailable to cannabis.
  • It is important to maintain your soil PH level between 6 and 7.
  • This requires that you PH balance your nutrient-rich water before giving it to your plant. This is not necessary when feeding with plain water.

PH Electronic Pen

  • Electronically measures PH ($80)

PH Dropper Test Kit

  • Uses litmus dyes to measure PH ($7)

PH Up (Base)

  • Raises PH of solution

PH Down (Acid)

  • Lowers PH of solution

Easier nutrient options: “No PH” and “2-part”

  • A few products have hit the market with a nutrient lineup that you don’t have to PH. An example is “PH Perfect” by Advanced Nutrients.
  • Other products have combined complete nutrient lineups down to only two bottles, such as General Hydroponics’ Flora Duo.
  • Advanced Nutrients’ Sensi Grow/Bloom claims the best of both worlds as a two-part system that you don’t have to PH balance.

Watering with nutrients

  • After nutrients have been mixed, and the PH is within an acceptable range, the solution is plant-ready.
  • Plants should be watered evenly over the soil.
  • Continue watering until 15-20% runoff flows out of the bottom of the pot, this will help avoid salt-build up/nutrient lockout.
    All runoff water should be removed immediately so it is not re-absorbed.

  • Care should be taken not to splash nutrient-rich water on leaves. Doing so will result in a nutrient-burn. Affected leaves should be rinsed immediately.
  • Remember: Water keeps nutrients available to the plant. The more nutrient rich the soil is, the more important it is to not allow it to dry out. Dry, nutrient-rich soil can do a lot of damage to a plant (nutrient burn).