Medically Reviewed by
Jason Crawford

Article Last Updated on January 6, 2023

In order to become a marijuana growing expert, one needs to get familiar with all the important steps of taking care of this versatile plant. From seedling to harvest, your marijuana plant will need to go through a few phases, and each requires some specific conditions. As you grow your plants, you’ll initially start with small pots during germination, and move to bigger pots in the next stages. But how do you know when to move your cannabis plant to a bigger pot?

To help you get your marijuana plant from the seedling stage to the harvest stage, this article will focus on what you need to do in order to transplant marijuana seeds successfully. We’ll go over the conditions that a seedling needs at that stage, as well as guide you through which pot sizes you need to become the best marijuana grower.

Growth Stages of Cannabis Plants

To create the ideal cannabis growing conditions, you first need to get acquainted with the cannabis growth stages.

From seedlings to harvest, the cannabis growth stages are as follows:

  • Germination stage (3-10 days);
  • Seedling stage (2-3 weeks);
  • Vegetative stage (3-16 weeks);
  • Flowering stage (8-11 weeks).

Seed Germination

The first stage begins with a hard and dry cannabis seed. The seed needs to germinate, and after that, it should be placed in a growing medium to start developing a root system. As the roots develop, the stalk rises and the seed becomes a seedling.

Seedling Stage

Once the cannabis plant gets to the seedling stage, it starts developing fan leaves and starts to mature. During this stage, the plant has small roots and just needs a little water and plenty of light. 

Vegetative Stage 

During the vegetative stage, the plant is transplanted into a larger pot and needs more water and nutrients. This is the stage during which you can tell if you have a male or female plant.

Flowering Stage

This stage is the final one during which the marijuana plant becomes ready for harvesting. The amount of light is reduced to about 12 hours of light per day, and it takes about 10 weeks for cannabis plants to get to this stage (Indicas take about 10 weeks, while Sativas might take longer).

Cannabis Seedlings and Optimal Conditions

The seedling phase is very important for the proper growth of marijuana plants as this stage is similar to the toddler stage when raising children. During the seedling stage, the plants are very delicate and small changes to temperature or humidity can significantly harm the seedling. For optimal growth, seedlings need a lot of light (no less than 18 hours per day), a temperature of about 20–24°C, and about 70% humidity. 

Why Should You Transplant Cannabis Seedlings?

Transplanting seeds is essential because otherwise, they might get rootbound. That means that the roots will grow all around the container because it’s not big enough. To avoid rootbound cannabis plants, you’ll need to transplant to a larger container when the time is right. Sometimes the plant might need transplanting twice, depending on how much the roots have grown.

You should transplant your cannabis plants as soon as they have established a sturdy root system. Transplanting cannabis plants to a larger container will ensure that they develop into healthy plants (and produce a good yield).

Transplanting a Cannabis Seedling 101

Moving your cannabis seedling to a larger pot is very important for the overall growth of the plant, although the process of transplanting doesn’t come without risk. A common risk when moving plants to bigger pots is the fear of transplant shock which can cause your plants to turn yellow, wither, and eventually die. 

First Transplant

To prevent transplant shock from happening, follow our suggestions below:

  • Young plants should first be planted in a 4-inch starter pot, a one-gallon pot, or a solo cup where they will remain for a few weeks before transplanting.
  • The first transplant shouldn’t be done before the seedling develops 4 or 5 sets of leaves. 
  • Before you move the plants to a new home in the final pot, make sure you wash your hands and equipment as well as wear gloves to prevent the delicate roots from getting contaminated.
  • Be careful not to damage the roots when you’re transplanting. Fill the larger pot with new soil while also allowing enough space for the new plant to grow. Make sure you water the soil before you move the plant.
  • Once you transplant, avoid intense light as it can result in transplant shock.

Second Transplant

Some weed plants may need to be transplanted twice for optimal growth. This should be done before the flowering stage, and in order to transplant successfully, follow the advice below:

  • Wait for about 1-2 weeks after transplanting before initiating the flowering phase to give your plant enough time to adapt.
  • The final container for indoor plants should be between 3-5 gallons, while outdoor containers should be larger than 5 gallons in order for your plants to have enough growing room to produce THC and CBD-rich buds (make appropriate modifications depending on the cannabis strain you’re growing).
  • Add vertical stakes if needed in order to support the vertical growth of the stem.

Why Is Transplanting Marijuana Seedlings Important?

As we’ve previously mentioned, transplanting your seedling is important for avoiding rootbound plants caused by small containers. Rootbound plants have stunted growth, develop fewer buds, need more water, and may also wilt. To prevent this from happening, make sure your plants have enough space to expand, are watered properly, and have enough light and humidity.

When Should You Transplant Your Cannabis Seedlings?

The most important indicators that your plant is ready to be moved to a larger pot include:

  • Having 4-5 sets of leaves.
  • A visible white root system (darkening of the roots may be a sign that your plant has become rootbound and will need to be transplanted immediately).
  • The cannabis plant being near the end of the vegetative phase. The last few weeks of vegetative growth would be perfect for transplanting because this will result in substantial growth in size and volume.

Final Thoughts on Transplanting Marijuana Seedlings

To ensure your plants are thriving at every stage during the cannabis growth cycle, make sure you’re well informed about the specific conditions required for growing the particular cannabis strain that you’ve decided to grow. 

It’s also important that your marijuana plants have enough growth space after you transplant them, which means they need at least double the space of their last container. You should also ensure that there’s proper root development before you move the plants to a new pot.

And last but not the least, choose a grow medium that you’ve researched thoroughly. That’s how you’ll make sure you’re growing high-quality cannabis plants, while also preventing transplanting shock in the seedling stage.

A passionate advocate for the benefits of cannabis. Fraser Horton, who has a background in botany and a strong love of nature, has spent years researching how cannabis affects the body and mind. He established Leaf Nation in 2020, where he has devoted himself to educating people about the legalisation of marijuana and its safe and responsible use. Fraser is committed to highlighting cannabis’ potential for improving wellness and working to dispel the stigma associated with its use.


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