Begginers guide to cannabis growing / common mistakes made by first time growers

10 posts in this topic

what are common mistakes made by first time growers ......

First time growers frequently:

Overwater their medium based plants. When you pot your plant, judge its weight dry by hefting. Then, water the plant thoroughly, until water runs through the drain holes. Heft it again. When your pot feels as nearly as light as it did dry, its time to water again.

Overfeed their plants. As MrSoul says, beginners rarely under do anything. When all else fails, follow the directions on the fertilizer bottle. [Editor's note: dont follow GH's instructions! Use @ 1/4 their recommended strength, or follow recipes in the FAQ]

Overanalyze their grow. A first grow is like a first born child: you pay attention to every little thing that happens. Further, you worry at the first sign something may be wrong. Pay attention to what happens in your grow, but do not try and find a remedy for every yellow leaf. Frequently, the remedy of flushing your medium causes more problems than it solves. Be responsive when things go wrong, but be conservative in your remedies.

Overspend on grow supplies. New growers frequently commit themselves to unrealistic and expensive first grows. It is much more efficient to learn to grow and then invest in high end equipment rather than the other way around. Most experienced growers don't have room for all of the grow paraphernalia they aren't using. As you will see throughout this FAQ: K-I-S-S.

Overpost. Try the search engine first. Chances are good that any question you can think of has been asked and answered before.

Talk about their grow. Don't tell anybody that does not have to know. How can you expect anybody else to keep a secret that you cannot.

1. Don't Overwater

Overwatering kills marijuana plants. Water once the top few inches of the soil dries out.

Hydroponics is harder to over-water than soil, due to the abundance of water roots.

2. Don't Tell People

Why? They will only be jealous. People love to feel important and that is why they will tell other people; because others will listen to them.

Keep it to yourself.

3. Touch/kill Germinating Seeds

It can take up to 10 days for a seed to sprout. The paper towel method is not recommended because you must handle the seeds when transferring them from the paper towel to your growing medium.

4. Grow seeds from seeded marijuana (hermaphrodite seeds)

Unless you are prepared for possible disappointments don’t use "unknown" seeds. This is why people buy seeds from seedbanks.

Self-seeding MJ is produced from hermaphrodite plants or a very stunted and late flowering male the grower did not notice. Flowered hermi seeds will produce tall late flowering females coupled with early flowering males.

5. Don't Over-fertilize

Fertilize after first 2 spiked leaves appear.

Start with 25% of recommended label strengths and work your way up. If the leaves suddenly twist or fold under, Leach and Spray with pure water for several days!

Don’t fertilize your plants every time you water! (Soil)

A common watering schedule is to fertilize at full strength, then water at half or quarter strength. This prevents excess salt buildup, leaf and root burn. In addition, don’t water at full strength if the medium is too dry – root burn can occur.

As a precaution, leach the plants with lots of pure water every 2-4 weeks.

6. Don't Under-fertilize

Under-fertilizing is less common. If you prefer to give the plant ‘just enough nutrients’, use a organic soil mixture with blood meal and bone meal or some slow release fertilizer with micro nutrients.

7. Don't Start with Clones

Start with seeds. Bugs are a pain, as are plant diseases. Many growers are able to grow indoors without pest problems for years. Another grower’s cuttings are almost guaranteed to have diseases &/or pests.

8. Don't Provide A Bad Environment

Always provide air circulation and fresh air even during the night cycle. All the air indoors should be replaced every 5-10 minutes.

Humidity between 30-70% temp aim for around 75-85' Even seedlings need a gentle fan to strengthen the stems.

9. Don't Harvest Too Early

25% of the weight will form in the last 2 weeks. Begin flushing with 100% pH’d water when the pistil are 25% brown. Harvest when the plants have totally stopped growing and the white pistils are at least 50-75% brown.

*NOTE: Outdoors if security is a factor make your own call on when to sacrifice the fields. Also take buds continuously in case of thieves.

Common questions:

Q. Can marijuana grow in a northern climate?

Marijuana plants can grow anywhere corn can grow. All it needs is three growing months - seed to harvest. 2 if started indoors!

Q. Why do I have to buy seeds? Why can't I use my own that I picked from my own stash?

Most people desire, and want to be guaranteed, certain characteristics in their mature female plants. The seeds from any weed will all grow into something different. This is unprofitable and inefficient. As opposed to knowing the single set of requirements for your entire crop, you must provide a different set of requirements for each of your plants.

Q. What is better for a new grower - hydroponics or soil?

I believe the all around "better", more convenient setup is soil. Hydro makes plants grow faster, but won't make your buds more potent than soil. Hydro should be attempted after you have a few successful soil crops under your belt.

If you are starting from seed and growing for personal, soil is the practical growing medium. If the crop is started with clones and is commercial, a hydroponics setup is more practical.

Q. Why are my seedlings stretching?

Low light conditions. They also need a gentle wind. Plants will also stretch when subjected to conditions of high humidity.

Q. What kind of lights should I use?

Cheap 4 ft. cool white fluorescent tubes : for germination/seedlings

400 watt Metal halide/HPS : for personal home growers

1000 watt Metal halide/HPS : for some personal growers and commercial growers.

*Use at least 40 watts per sq. foot of grow space.

Q. How far should the lights be from the plants?

Fluorescent: tips of leaves almost touching bulbs

400 watt halide : two feet away from seedlings and one foot away from grown plants

1000 watt halide: four feet away from seedlings and two feet away from grown plants

Q. How often should you water?

Once a week or once every two week for soil and twice a day with a hydroponic flood and drain system.

*When top 2 inches of the soil dry out.* Occasionally provide periods of extra dry and wet soil.

*Allow 10% extra water to drain out of the bottom of the tray.* This will prevent toxic fertilizer build up.

Q. How long do your seeds last? What's the best way to keep them?

Seeds can last over 5 years if kept cool and dry. They may last up to 10 years if sealed and frozen, but fewer will germinate.

What is Vegetative growth?

Vegetative growth is the second stage in the life of a plant after it completes germination and begins photosynthesis. During this stage a plant will be photosynthesising as much as possible to grow as large as it can before the onset of the flowering (Generative) phase. In essence it is the period of growth between germination and the beginning of sexual maturity characterised by flowering.

All plants have a vegetative stage where they are growing as fast as possible. It is almost standard practice to grow Cannabis plants with no dark period, and increase the speed at which they grow appreciably. Plants can be grown vegetatively indefinitely (Mother Plants for clones). It is up to the gardener to decide when to force the plant to flower.

What are preflowers?

Preflowers, as opposed to full blown flowers, generally appear after the fourth week of vegetative growth from seed. Check carefully above the fourth node. Please note that preflowers are very small and and almost impossible to differentiate without magnification. A photographer's 10x loupe is handy indeed when examining preflowers.

As the images below demonstrate, the female preflower is pear shaped and produces a pair of pistils. Frequently, the female preflowers do not show pistils until well after the preflowers have emerged. Thus, don't yank a plant because it has no pistils. Pistillate preflowers are located at the node between the stipule and emerging branch.

Also, some female preflowers never produce pistils. A female preflower without pistils is difficult to distinguish from a male preflower. Thus, hermaphodite issues should not be resolved by the appearance of preflowers, without pistils, on a plant otherwise believed to be a female.


^ female (Pistillate)


^ female (Pistillate)

The male preflower may be described as a "ball on a stick." However, its most recognizable feature is its absence of pistils. Sometimes, a male plant will develop mature staminate flowers after prolonged periods of vegetative growth. These appear in clusters around the nodes.

The following image shows a male plant in early flowering. Staminate flowers are located at the node between the stipule and emerging branch


^ Male (Staminate)


^ this is showing what a male pre flower looks like.... a male pre flower looks like almost a little nut of a acorn. its very small but it will not put out any white hairs - pistols


^ this is showing how to identify a female pre flower. a female pre flower will show a calyx with 2 little white hairs coming out which are called the pistols

How do I foliar feed?

Foliar feeding instructions:

You can use any full spectrum nutrient to foliar feed your plants. To avoid nutrient burn, your nutrient solution strength, should be no more than 1/3rd of the maunufactures reccomended dosage.

* The best temperature is about 72 degrees (when stomata on the underside of the leaves are open); at over 80, they may not be open at all. So, find the cooler part of the day if it is hot and the warmer part of the day if it is cold out.

* Use a good quality sprayer -- should atomise the solution to a very fine mist.

* Always be sure your light is off and cool before foliar feeding! For extra safety, wipe your bulb with a dry cloth after spraying and make sure H.I.D lights are raised to a safe distance (double the distance is a good rule of thumb) to prevent burning.

* Make sure the PH of your solution is between 7 and 6.2.

* To prevent the water from beading up (acting as small prisms) and thereby burning the leaves, for each gallon made, add half of a teaspoon of liquid detergent (wetting agent).

* Spray leaf surface -- the tops and the undersides -- until the liquid begins to drip off the leaves. Stop spraying 2 weeks into flowering -- use sparingly on bud sites.

* Dispose of excess spray according to manufactures instructions— home made fertilizer sprays will be fine for at least 2 weeks.

* Spray one time a week every week, if any white residue is found, rinse the foliage with plain ph'd water to reduce salt build-up.


Personally, I do not foliar feed in any situations other then those mentioned below, as, IMO, it does not seem to be necessary if using a well-managed hydroponic set-up. The reasons I foliar feed, are mainly to reduce nutritional stress situations. I avoid spraying bud sites, as nitrate salts (the "n" in NPK) are very unhealthy to smoke, fish emulsion smells, and Bat guano could be highly unsanitary so stick to hygenic solutions.

Benefits of foliar spraying:

* To provide a quick nutrient fix for root-zone nutrient problems or deficiencies; this allows more time to solve the problem(Drunk.

* To prevent excess yellowing on clones.

* To instantly provide nutrients via the leaves, which reduces stress on the suffering plant.

Flushing: A Tutorial by Papa Green

The WHAT, WHEN, WHY and HOW to Flush Your Plants

I know when I started growing, I had never heard of "Flushing", then I heard a lot about flushing and it was confusing. Even some warnings not to flush.

So, for new growers out there, here's the What, When, Why and How to Flush your Cannabis plants.

First the WHAT and WHY:

Many folks think flushing is about cleaning out the plants. In an indirect way this is true, but its really much more about your soil and roots and res. When you flush the plants, you are running large amounts of water through the system. Sometimes you will add something to that water to assist - more on this below.

So what exactly happens that you might want to flush? Lets look at the way the plant takes up nutes. Lets use an imaginary nute that has 3 minerals the plant wants : A,B,C. When you buy this nute they know the plant is not going to want the same amount of everything so they balance it for you and put in 10 units of A, 5 units of B, and 1 unit of C.

When you use the nute - the plant loves you for it. You see immediate results. You say to yourself this stuff is giving the plant exactly what it wants. This is unlikely. What is probably happening is that the plant is using what it needs from the nutes, but there is likely some that is not being used as much as others.

So after 3 days your plant may have only used 8/10 units of A while having used up all the B and C minerals. So you look at them, and your ppm meter says feed them - so you add more nutes. Now you have the same original mix of B and C, but there is still A left from before and you've just added more.

So, again, the plant takes what it needs. 8 units of the A and all the B and C. Now you have again used all the B and C, but there are 4 units of A remaining in the soil or res.

This would not be a bad thing if the plant could continue to operate this way. Just make sure she has more than she wants, let her take what she needs and its easy right? Unfortunately - its a little more complicated than that.

What happens is that certain minerals interact with other minerals. And when they are in balance you get good consistent growth. But if they are out of balance you will see a deficiency. What is important to understand here is that the deficiency may not be caused by a LACK of one mineral - but an OVER-ABUNDANCE of another. Its odd to think that putting in too much of one will limit another, but this is what's known as "Nutrient Lockout". It is much more prevalent in Salt-Based nutrients but can affect anyone.

Just changing the res every 7-10 days is a great way to sort of reset these imbalances. You've likely seen PitViper's magnificent work - he is religious about changing his res every week.

So experienced indoor gardeners (check out ******420 - he hasn't even changed the res in 80+ days as of this writing, let alone a flush, and his colas are thicker than beer cans) can get away with much less flushing because they know how to balance the nutes individually. Outdoor in-the-ground plants are even luckier. Mother Nature is taking care of the flush for them with a crazy thing she does called rain.


For the rest of us, there are some times when its good to flush. Both McBudz and SettingSun include a flush in their schedule and they are Grow Support. Both of their journals are clinics in proper technique.

Like all things in growing - too much of a good thing is bad. And too much flushing is not only a waste of time and money, but you can flush away stuff that can be good for the plants.

There are three basic times/reasons to flush:

1. Pre-Harvest Flush - many folks agree that this will improve the flavor of the cured bud. If you're using Clearex then you can flush as close as 3 days before harvest. Other methods should be done a week to 10 days before harvest and repeated three days later.

2. When you dramatically change the nutrient schedule - usually when you start Flowering, some flush entering Veg as well. This is a preventative flush. Again - not mandatory, but not a bad idea. Also, in soil, this is about the time the plants have sucked all the nutes from the soil, And before you go jacking it up with your own mix - its not a bad idea to sort of zero it out.

3. If you are experiencing Nutrient Lockout. Usually (NOT ALWAYS!) when you have a dramatic nutrient imbalance the cure is not to try to figure out the exact one, but flush the plants, and add a fresh WELL BALANCED and MEDIUM STRENGTH dose of nutes. Now don't go flushing at every burned leaf or tinge of yellow. Use common sense. But if you see dramatic problems, and there are no obvious signs of another problem like heat, cold, grey goop in the res, root rot, etc - then its prolly not a bad idea to flush the plants and re-fill the res.

Now that you understand the WHAT, WHY and WHEN of flushing - let's talk turkey and get to the HOW.

I have experience with the 3 basic techniques: Plain Water, Water with extremely low nutes, and Clearex - there is a time and place for all of them and the method is basically the same. And remember if you have plants in multiple containers - feel free to experiment with multiple methods on the same grow.

I use Clearex and will describe that method in detail. Clearex is a brand name flush from Botanicare. Many folks use plain water or a very, very mild nutrient/water mix just as effectively. I won't try to make a suggestion on ppm for what a very light mix is, but let me tell a quick story to illustrate.

I had 5 plants in 5G soil that were ready for harvest. I thought. 4 plants did indeed finish in the next 4 or 5 days after the Clearex flush and it was perfect. They tasted great after an 8 day dry and 2 week cure.

The fifth plant, however, was not quite finished. So I decided to give it one more feeding, then wait three days, then flush again using the low ppm method as a test. All the plants had been receiving about 1250ppm the week before. So I fed this one 750ppm with very little runoff. Then three days later I gave it 100ppm with about 50% runoff. Then 4 days later I gave it plain water with about 50% runoff. Then 3 days later I cut it. So the timeline at the end was: Wed - Clearex 5 plants; Sun - Chop 4, feed 1 750; Thurs - feed 100; Sunday - plain water; Wed - Chop. This was wrong. I had not allowed enough time at the end, nor used enough plain water.

I dried that plant exactly the same 8-10 days as the others - 'til her stems snapped fine, then the cure. After a two week cure the smoke was still extremely harsh on the exhale, and the buds crackled when burned. BTW - this is the sure sign of a bad cure or flush - if the smoke tastes fine on the way in but becomes ridiculously harsh on the way out. So I put that bud back in to cure and left it for the last to be smoked. six weeks of curing later - for a total of TWO MONTHS OF CURING - it was still snap, crackle pop and tasted harsh. So I can't give you an estimate on what low ppm means, but I can tell you what I did was NOT enough of a flush. Perhaps someone who uses the low ppm method effectively can add to this. Now back to our regularly scheduled program with a method that I have had 100% success with.


Remember - when you are flushing, you are trying to get rid of that buildup of nutrients. Most of that buildup is NOT above the ground. You are trying to flush the roots and soil. So try to do it at the beginning or end of the day when you can mist the plants with plain water. This will lower their transpiration and keep them from sucking up more flush water than they need. This step is not required, but its on the Clearex label so I do it.

Step 1 - Drain your res and refill. Add Clearex at about 20-30ml / Gallon. pH balance to 5.7-6.2 depending on whether you're hydro or soil.

Step 2 - Run this mix through your plants. If you are doing containers you want to achieve significant runoff. Far more than your standard watering. The bottle calls for AT LEAST 80-90% runoff. So if you have a 5 gallon pot, you will want to put 3-6 Gallons of water through depending on how dry the soil is when you flush, and how much drainage. With a little experience with your soil you can skip the rest of the steps and call it done right there. If you really want to be sure then use the ppm measuring described below.

If you are doing hydro, saturate the system for 5-15 minutes then allow it to drain back to the res. No need to drain the res.

Step 3 - Measure the ppm of the runoff.

Step 4 - Run the same Clearex/water through again.

Step 5 - Again measure the ppm of the runoff. The ppm should be the same or higher than the first time. This is because you are sucking all those excess nutes out.

Step 6 - Keep repeating this cycle until you see little to no change on the ppm. For me this is usually two times, sometimes three.

How can I tell whether my drooping plant is overwatered or underwatered?

Leaves that are drooping from underwatering will look limp and lifeless.

Leaves that are drooping from overwatering will be firm and curled down, even from the stem of the leaf.

About Wet - Dry Cycles

While I am a proponent of wet/dry cycling, I do not suggest waiting until leaves begin to droop or wilt. As Mr.Ito stated, this causes unnecessary stress.

Beginners should definitely rely on judging by the weight of the container, or a moisture meter... although one must test several areas in the containers to get an accurate idea of total moisture.

It is important to the growth of a healthly and strong root system to let plants dry out quite a bit between waterings. It can take several years to understand your plants and their needs enough to feel safe drying containers longer than a few days. However, with gained knowledge and a moisture meter you can easily push your girls to their limits without fear of stress.

How do I Determine my Watering

Schedule for Container Plants?

I use and recommend the single probe Rapidtest moisture meter. It is available from most of the major garden centers for under $20. This meter reads consistently without using batteries. It is invaluable for determining watering schedules, which vary tremendously from plant to plant, overwatered conditions, and uneven moisture distribution within the container. Rapidtest also sells a shorter, two probe model which should be avoided. Make this investment, monitor conditions regularly, and reap the rewards at harvest.

Growers that allow their medium to dry out to the point at which the leaves "droop" are reducing their final yields and quality. The medium contains a certain amount of salts that dramatically increase in concentration as the water dissipates. The roots can be repeatedly stressed going through this technique called "wet/dry cycle". The plant is being deprived of moisture that would be available to fuel additional growth and suffers.

The moisture meter's probe should be inserted to various depths to accurately assess conditions. The Rapidtest has a 1-4 scale on the meter, but what is imporatant is relative moisture. The lower potion of the medium in the container should not be so consistently and constantly moist as to "bury the needle" at the top of the scale. The middle depths of the container should be kept in the upper half section of the meter's range and the top should be allowed to dry out to the lower half of the range before rewatering.

This is far more accurate to the lifting and guessing game played by many. The weight of the container does not indicate where the moisture is inside. A grower would never really know if things at the bottom were oversaturated without a probe to tell them. If the bottom is soaked and never dries out, the container feels "heavy" even though other areas may be quite dry. Many grower use large, tight grids of 3-5 gallon containers which can amount to 40-100+ containers. How could they use the lift and guess method, if they can hardly reach some of my plants just to water and prune them. It would be impossible and bad for their backs to use anything except a moisture meter. In other situations the plants are attached to fixed supports, such as SCROG or simply tied up prohibiting movement. There is no more accurate or versatile way to determine your watering schedule.

I am one of those that plays the "lifting and guessing game" and I will always recommend that you use your senses to judge and understand your plants rather than trusting in a $8 Wal-mart toy.

If a grower has 40-100+ large containers then they are likely experienced and likely growing mostly the same crop. When you know your plant and your system you don't use a moisture meter. No serious grower that I've met personally does.

Moisture meters are fine for beginners IF you use multiple sample points in each pot. It's too easy to hit a pocket of perlite or just rub the sensor the wrong way. I'd rather judge by visual and tactile response rather than entrusting a wavering needle on an inaccurate meter. You know that when you lift up your container, is it wet? or is it dry?

Why do my plants droop after flushing or heavy watering?

They droop after flushing due to lack of O2 in the rootzone. Take a thin wood dowel or pencil and poke some holes down into the mix for aeration.

What is Nutrient Lockout?

Nutrient lockout happens when your plant can not access specific, or all nutrients in the growing medium, this is due to a chemical reaction within the medium/solution which prevents nutrients from being absorbed by the roots.

Aged nutrients can precipitate in the bottle, causing some of the ingredients to become solids or even evaporate, the same problem may also occur in the growing medium.

Lockout will display the same symptoms as nutrient deficiency; to help control this problem dispose of old liquid feed containers as you would old medicine and use fresh nutrients from a bottle that has been recently opened.

The following points can also be responsible for nutrient lockout.

* PH is incorrect or fluctuates.

* Single pack hydroponic solutions.

* Salt build up.

* A chemical reaction between 2 or more nutrient

solutions that are mixed together.

For acute deficiency symptoms caused by toxicity and nutrient lockout a first Aid program should be immediately administered.

Step 1)

Leach the plants roots and growing medium using a professional leaching agent to thoroughly leach away metals, calcium, sodium, chlorides, sulphates and many other compounds, which can build up in the growing media.

Step 2)

Feed with 1/4 strength high quality complete plant food mix along with a high quality vitamin B-1 product such as Superthrive (1 drop per gallon).

Step 3)

Spray a professional stay green formula on the leaves. After 24hrs, spray the leaves with a quality vitamin B-1 product.

Feed at 25% of recommended fertilizer dosage until first signs of growth.

Maximizing root growth in soil containers

Root growth/mass(all other factors being equal).

Space is also one of the major concerns for indoor growers, who generally cannot move to bigger and bigger pots to allow for bigger root masses.

However, a lot of container space often goes unused, because roots will not grow into the top inches of soil that are often dried out from powerful lights and low humidity. In addition, since MJ soils are typically very airy and light, when watering the top inches of soil are easily disturbed as the dirt is pushed and moved around by the water. This also inhibits roots from growing into the top inches of soil.

In a 1 foot tall pot the top 3 inches of soil will not allow root growth, you are wasting 25% of your soil mass that could be used for roots. In pots that are wider at the top than the bottom, this wasted soil could be even greater!

How then to use this soil? We need to prevent the soil from being disturbed and keep it moist, and hydro growers have been using an ideal product for this for a long time - Hydroton clay balls!

1. Hydroton clay balls are LIGHT.

They won't compact your soil the way putting pebbles on top would.

2. A layer of hydroton clay balls on top of the soil will help the soil underneath it lose moisture through evaporation and low humidity.

By adding a layer of hydroton on top of the soil, soil disturbance is prevented since the water does not directly touch the soil until it has filtered through the layer of hydroton balls. Soil moisture is then trapped underneath the hydroton and less likely to evaporate due to heat and/or low humidity.

This way it is possible to grow plants with roots stretching up all the way to the top of the soil. Those roots will rapidly provide nutrition to the plant when it is watered. It also will help the plant be able to go a longer time without watering since moisture that would have been lost to evaporation is now available to the plant.


Use a root stimulator during veg growth to help accelerate the root growth process and make sure there is a strong root mass in flowering. The last things you want in flower are wimpy roots (unless you want wimpy yields).

What size pots should I use?

The general rule is that blooming plants require minimum of one gallon of soil for each foot of height.

Seedlings and freshly rooted clones do well in 3.5" square pots.

From the 3.5, transplant up into 5 inch square pots, which do fine for general vegetative and mother plant duty.

Two gallon rectangular dollar store trash cans make fine flowering pots. Just drill a bunch of 1/8 inch holes in the bottom for drainage.

Why Do I Need to Transplant?

Roots grow outward for stability, so they naturally collect at the edges of the container and leave much of the soil in the middle of the pot unused. This will cause slowed growth because the roots may restrict each other. Transplanting allows for a more efficient root mass, as the space in the middle of the final container will be used.

Allowing the roots to collect at the edges of your 1-gallon pot, will ensure a more efficient root mass when transplanting to a 3-gallon pot. Each time you transplant, you can also bury the plant up to the first node or branch to shorten it's overall height.

Added by: Kunta wears a sarong

It might be worth mentioning that you can bury the plant low or high in the pot you are transplanting to as well; that way all your plants will start off being the same height. Transplanting high might be a good idea for patio growers in high rainfall conditions - this will help drainage.


Transplanting should be done a day after watering because moist roots and soil (not soaking wet or bone dry) will slide out of the old pot easier. The soil will hold together better, and less root damage will occur.


You should loosen the root bound roots from the bottom and lower sides of the root ball by teasing them out loosely and gently - this will help the transition. if there are too many hanging down after teasing, then it is ok to cut or tear a few handfuls of roots away. If the roots are wrapped around the root ball in the shape of the original pot, then it's best to cut these away to promote faster root penetration into the new pot.


The secret is the timing of the transplant; you want when the roots have filled the original pot, but before the roots have wrapped around and the plant has become root bound.

The danger of transplanting too early is that when you up can the pot and lift off the pot some of the soil and young roots may become damaged due to the fact that there is insufficient amount of roots to hold all the soil together.

The danger of waiting too long before transplanting is that growth will slow, as the plant has insufficient root room to match the above ground growth – ultimately yielding less. In addition, micro deficiencies, dehydration and other problems occur more frequently with root bound plants. Root-bound plants also take awhile to become vigorous again.

My Technique

My preferred method of transplanting is to moisten the pots I'm going to transplant, moisten the new soil at the bottom of the new pots with a garden mister (the pump up models are best - misters are by far the best way to moisten the soil because they act like rain and do not compact the soil).

Mist each 3-inch layer of soil - lightly sprinkle around the old root ball in the new pot - this will create the best conditions for new growth. Roots will reach out and grow much faster into a light, airy moist soil than the compacted mud created by a hose or watering can to wet down the soil

I believe that many problems are caused initially by compacting the soil.

Lightly moisten your soil before and after transplanting. If a lot of water is pouring out of the holes in the bottoms of your pots when transplanting, then you are probably over wetting the soil and creating soil compaction.


If your soil is lacking in soil conditioners (e.g. sand, rock gravel, perlite, vermiculite etc) and the roots have penetrated the new soil - then water again. In normal conditions this would be 4 - 7 days after transplanting. Try to emulate the natural action of rainump up misters, watering wands, sprinkler type watering cans are best - forget about using a hose as this may compact the soil and it is also very easy to over water (quickly leaching out nutrients from the soil).

All the soil mix ingredients should be mixed in dry.... never stir or mix wet soil mixes, as they will turn to useless mud.

What is Root-Bound?

Root-bound is where the roots of your plant outgrow the container they are contained in.

The following symptoms may be observed if you allow your plants to become root-bound:

1. Stunted Growth.

2. Stretching.

3. Smaller and slower bud production.

4. Needs watering too often.

5. Easy to burn with low % nutrient solution mixtures.

6. Wilting.

Here are two ways to remove your plant:

Before you start, always run a transplanting trowel or a long, flexible knife (dedicated for gardening only) between the old pot and your plant's root-ball.

For a root-bound plant with a strong, woody stem: hold the stem firmly and lift up so the pot is off the ground. Tap down around the pot rim with a rubber hammer or piece of wood until the pot lets go.

Another way is to turn the plant and pot upside down, holding the plant so it won't crash on the ground when it comes free of the pot. Make sure there's enough clearance to the ground, or you'll smash your plant. (One way to do this: cut a cardboard disk the size of the pot opening, cut a slit to accommodate the plant stem and slip the disk over the top of the pot before turning the pot upside down). Have your friend or family member pull upward on the pot. If you're working alone, tap the rim down on the edge of a table or bench. You may have to do this all around the rim before the roots let go of the pot. (The plant may come free from the pot all at once, so hold on!)

Once you've freed the plant from its old pot, inspect its roots, if the roots run in a tight circle around the outside of the root ball, you got there just in time. Dig your fingers into the outside 1/2" of these circular roots, loosen the ends up and pull them gently outward. If the roots are very tight, cut two or three 1/2" incisions from top to bottom on the outside of the root-ball. (Space the cuts around the root-ball.) This process may seem cruel, but it gives the roots an opportunity to stop their circular growth habit and begin to grow outward.

If the roots are extremely tight, slice a thin layer off the outside of the entire root-ball. Set the root-ball into its new pot, hold the foliage out of the way and add soil. Do not forcefully pack this new soil as you want the soil to be settled (with no air pockets) but loose enough to allow root penetration. One way to achieve this is to water the new soil in layers as you add it and this is also a great time to add SUPERTHRIVE.

Do not cover the top of the root-ball with a thick layer of new soil; IMO the surface of the old root-ball should also be the surface in the new pot. Once your plant is settled into its new pot, clean the foliage as dust keeps light from reaching the leaves and makes the plant more susceptible to mites and other pests. Make sure all H.I.D lights are switched off and give your indoor plant a shower in lukewarm water or dust the leaves with a soft, damp cloth.

Outdoor plants can be sprayed with a garden hose or spray bottle. If the potting soil you used doesn't contain fertilizer and you didn't add a root stimulator/fertilizer solution, give the plant a light feeding of diluted fertilizer. It is important that your newly re-potted plant receives the right level of light, newly re-potted plants will suffer if placed directly under your H.I.D lights or in direct sunlight. It may take a up to 2 weeks for your plant to become accustomed to its new accommodations so until you begin to see signs of new growth use reduced levels of light.

How can I transplant my plant into a bigger pot?

Here you see that I have already prepared the soil in advance. The pot is about 2/3 full with a bowl made in the bottom about 4-5" down slightly off center. I used water and a bit of Epsom salt to wet the soil as I saw a slight (maybe mg) yellowing on some other plants. (Preventative measures?)

Note: If you are using a soil mix with organic ferts it MUST be prepared at least 7-10 days before using it (the time needed for the micro fauna and flora to develop). Of course, if you just mix plain potting soil (pre-fertilized) with neutral additives like perlite, this is less important.

I use the handle of a spoon or knife to go around the edge of the pot to loosen the soil. I could feel the resistance when I came upon a lot of roots and went around them. If you use an up/down motion it will loosen the soil as well.

After you have gone around the plant entirely, turn the plant over using your hand to support the stem and soil coming out. I put the stem between my fingers and cover as much surface of the soil as I could.

In the bottom of your pot I use the drain holes to push out the soil. Go around once and gently shake and lift the pot away from the soil. (I cheated a bit in that I placed a coffee filter in the bottom of the planter prior to adding soil, and yes the roots went through no problem).

Now take what you have in your hand and gently try to loosen the soil a bit. (It’s not a big deal if only very little comes apart.)

Place this into the hole you created in the new pot, you should be about 3 inches below the top of the pot.

Now you should give it about a cup or so of water. I would advise to water around the plant, not directly at the base. Soaking the medium is really useless, plus it won't promote fast root growth.

Then I top it off will some more soil until it’s almost to the top and just give it a good spray to wet it down a bit.

There you go stretch; this will be you home until your day comes. It only took me 12 minutes from start to finish. You should start to see growth again in a few days.

How Big of a Pot should I Transplant into?

A good rule of thumb is 12" of height/per gallon and to double the size of your existing pot on transplanting. Other factors involved in determining pot size are your grow room footprint size, the amount/intensity of light plants receive, where plants are in the grow cycle and if the are from seed or clones.

Grow room area size: If your grow room foot print size is small and horizontal space is at a minimum then BOG's (Bushy Older Grower) doubling potting method is a good alternative. Rather than repotting into a larger diameter pot your existing pot is set on top of another pot a few inches more in diameter. Thus giving your plants a lot more vertical root volume of soil to grow into and less horizontal volume.

Amount of light and intensity: Plants that are under low wattage lights (70-250) tend not to grow as big and as quick as plants under high wattage lights (400-100), thus one can scale back pot size slightly. Also if your plants are under a 24/0 cycle or an 18/6 cycle this will affect growth rates and repotting sizes.

Growth cycle: The average grower will find that they must repot usually every 2 weeks while in the veg cycle. Going from a 1-1.5 gallon to a 2-3 gallon in the third/fourth week of the veg cycle. From a 2-3 gallon pot to a 4-5 gallon in the 5-6 week of the veg cycle. Note it is always best to repot 1-2 weeks before you flip your lights to the 12/12 flowering cycle and to let your plants finish off in that last transplanted pot size.

Seed or clones: This will make the biggest difference between pot sizes. Since one must veg up to 4-6 week from seed to reach plant maturity. Cloned plants need not be veg as long 1-3 weeks. This will drastically reduced the pot size needed for a cloned plant.

These guide lines are by no means written in stone, all environments are different and will produce different growth/repotting rates this is just a basic outline.

How Will I Know When my Plants Need to be Repotted?

When you see root tips protruding from the bottom drainage holes in the planter it will be time to repot your plants.

Added by: Kunta wears a sarong

...another way to tell if your plants need to be transplanted into bigger pots is when they require watering more than 5 or 6 times per week - this is a sure sign that they need transplanting.

Seedling taproots can reach out through the holes in the bottom of the container well before the need to transplant.

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good stuff, my friend;

I do not agree with all of it, but, hey, that is growing, and it does cover the subject well;

happy harvests,


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Thanks for work @biggreenbuds, but is copy - paste text  (you can chek here ).


Anyway, even if copied content, it's interesting for all growers :)

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copy paste forum guides is great way to spread growing myths disguised among the partly correct information in the post, like the darn defoliating guide and mainlining tutorial, people need to read the time tested sources and think before trying to take the short cuts with short guides


if the proper research is not made and the same old incorrect guides are not updated whit correct information the copy pasteing does more harm than good to new grower

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suffice it to use google, and is chock full of this information, thank you for the effort, but you could also save ...  :D

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Strain Hunters is a series of documentaries aimed at informing the general public about the quest for the preservation of the cannabis plant in the form of particularly vulnerable landraces originating in the poorest areas of the planet.

Cannabis, one of the most ancient plants known to man, used in every civilisation all over the world for medicinal and recreational purposes, is facing a very real threat of extinction. One day these plants could be helpful in developing better medications for the sick and the suffering. We feel it is our duty to preserve as many cannabis landraces in our genetic database, and by breeding them into other well-studied medicinal strains for the sole purpose of scientific research.

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