Like most other plants, transplanting is critical to the healthy growth of a cannabis plant.
But, for most gardeners, this is also the trickiest part of growing cannabis, or any other plant per se, because it leads to transplant shock.
What is Cannabis Transplant Shock and Why Does it Happen?
The term transplant cannabis shock refers to the stress plants suffer from when they are moved from one location to another.
It usually happens because of the change in temperature, soil, or growing conditions.
Whether shrubs or trees, all plants suffer from transplant shock when they are moved from one place to another.
However, the effects of the shock can vary depending on its severity.
Some plants may only droop a little while others may wilt completely, turn yellow, or, at worst, die.
The greater the difference in a plant’s old and new environment, the severe the transplant shock will be.
Transplantation also causes a disturbance in the root system of a plant.
If not done carefully, it can cause damage to healthy roots.
Both of these factors also lead to transplant shock.
Why Is Transplanting Important for a Cannabis Plant?
Knowing about the risks involved in transplanting cannabis (or any other) plant, many new growers of cannabis wonder why is it important?
As mentioned above, transplanting is critical to the healthy growth of a cannabis plant.
Unlike hydroponics or deep water culture growing techniques, growing a cannabis plant in a solid growing medium, like soil or coco coir fiber, makes it necessary to repot the plant from a small container to a bigger pot as it grows.
Otherwise, it will get root-bound.
For those who do not know, the term root-bound refers to the condition when the growth of a plant’s root system gets restricted by the pot size.
When the rootball of the cannabis plant does not have enough space to grow and spread, it will cause:
- Stunted growth
- Stem discoloration – reddening
- Growing medium drying out too quickly, which then will require you to water the plant more frequently
- Slow or stunted flower production
- Smaller blooms
- Flimsy growth
- Nutrient sensitivity – root-bound plants easily get burned even when fed with weak nutrient solutions
According to experts, marijuana plants is protected from getting root-bound by growing them in air pots or smart pots (fabric pots) because they let air in from the sides.
Is it Possible to Prevent Cannabis Transplant Shock?
While you may not be able to completely avoid transplant shock, it’s possible to significantly reduce it.
Knowing when to transplant your cannabis plant is the most important factor to prevent or reduce transplant shock.
Transplant at the Right Stage and The Right Time
To minimize the chances of transplant shock, move your cannabis plant to the new container before it gets root-bound.
Waiting until the plant outgrows its current container will increase the chances of root damage.
For example, the young plants, grown from cannabis seeds, are ready for transplantation when they have produced 4 to 5 sets of leaves.
The root system, at this stage, should be healthy and white.
Most gardeners choose to transplant their cannabis plants two to three times during the initial growth stage before they start to produce flowers, to encourage healthy and better veg growth.
Make sure there is plenty of space available in the final container for the plant to fully develop.
With regards to the time of transplantation, experienced gardeners recommend doing it at the beginning of the spring or at the end of the fall season.
Never transplant your cannabis plants during the summer season.
Whether you are transplanting seedlings, small plants, or large ones, experts recommend doing it in the late afternoon, when the sun and wind have calmed down.
Some Other Measures Which Can Help Prevent or Reduce Cannabis Transplant Shock
Here are some more tips and tricks to make sure your cannabis plant doesn’t get severely affected by transplanting:
- Limit the disturbance to the root system – While you cannot move the plant to a new location without disturbing the plant roots at all, you should try to minimize it as much as possible.
- Try your best to keep the root ball intact when taking out the plant (turning the container upside down might help).
- Also, do not shake out the soil or let the root ball dry out.
- Water regularly – Water the plants immediately after transplanting – it will help the root system to recover from the damage or shock.
- Feed with a root booster – Help the newly transplanted plants to the environment and encourage their root development by feeding them with a transplant boosting fertilizer meant for promoting root growth.
How To Cure Cannabis Transplant Shock?
In most cases, the plants gradually recover from the transplant shock, on their own.
However, help speed up the process by undertaking the following measures:
Trim the Plants
Cutting back the foliage will reduce the stress as well as the loss of moisture and nutrients.
It will also help the plant focus and utilize its energy on developing the roots.
Do not let the soil of your newly transplanted cannabis plants get dry.
Water the plant regularly, but only enough to keep the soil moist.
Be careful to not overwater.
Also, make sure the new soil is moist and the new pot has good drainage holes – newly transplanted plants should never be left in waterlogged grow medium or standing water.
Give It Time and Care
As mentioned above, most plants recover from transplant shock on their own.
But, this doesn’t mean you should leave them on their own.
In fact, you should give extra care to the newly transplanted plants and make sure they are getting the right amount of water, sun, and nutrients.
Adding extra perlite to loosen the soil will also help the new plants to adjust to the new environment.
When re-potting a cannabis plant, experts recommend using about 3 to 5 times larger containers than the previous ones.
Also, keep the young plants protected from pest infestations, as they are susceptible to them.
Using a natural insecticide, like neem oil, has found to be highly effective.
Simply use it as a foliar spray once every 2 to 3 weeks until the plants are established at their new location.