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Planting cannabis seeds in 5 gallon pot

Transplant or just start seeds in 5 gal pots?

Feminized seeds, so the soil wont be going to waste. Why is it not better to just pop a seed in a 5 gal pot and just let it grow? Seems like there would be less stress from no transplanting. No paper towel germination. Less risk too?

I have FoxFarms Ocean Forest and Light Warrior. I was thinking of just layering some FFOF on the bottom 2/3 and some Light Warrior on the top, so my new seedling wont get burnt. When it grows big enough, it will tap into the FFOF nutes on the bottom.

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The perfect way to grow would be in the final pot with no transplant. But now you have to remember that in your watering & feeding process that you will have to keep 5 gal of soil at the same moisture level as a cup. At the start using just straight water there is no impact. But once you start feeding (lets say 4 plants) in cups or 1 gal pots (used in the 1st transplant) make up less than a quart/ or 1 gal of feeding water(in 1 gal pot) In 5 gal pots 3 to 5 gal of feeding water increasing as they grow. Cups will need water every 3 days the pots 5 days. So this is strictly a monitory decision.

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If you have the ability to run your grow from seed to finish in a 5 gallon pot, then sure, plant them right into the big pot. If you’re only growing a few plants (especially outdoors), then doing it this way would allow for fastest growth early in the plant’s life and avoid the need for later transplanting.

But if you’re trying to grow dozens or hundreds of plants, you probably won’t have the space to keep them in pots that large. Its simply not efficient to put really small plants into big pots.

The pots themselves take up lots of room, meaning they’re not space efficient. If you’re running a separate vegetative room (as most commercial growers do) big pots will take up a lot more space than the small plants inside need, requiring a lot more light, and making your vegetative area a lot bigger than it could be. Filled 5 gallon pots also require a lot of soil to fill, a lot of water to maintain, and they’re a pain in the butt to move around.

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Cups are cheap, require very little soil to fill, take up very little space, and are easy to move around.

In cups, you could put 10 newly planted seeds in the area the size of a shoebox, move them from place to place with one hand, water all of them with a 1-liter bottle, and run all of them under 1-2 compact fluorescent lights.

You’re not going to pull off any of that with even one 5-gallon pot.

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planting seeds in a giant pot are like counting your eggs before they hatch. 5 gal buckets take a lot of soil and you might end up overcompensating when it comes to watering. do the sure thing and grow them in party cups, the roots will be able to get more air and flooding helps roots settle into a pot and spread out, and if they become root bound move them to a 2 gallon, and eventually the 5 gallon. you also might want to see if one of the plants is growing right or if the seed even germinates. if your seed doesn’t root, your left with 5 gallons of wasted soil.

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planting seeds in a giant pot are like counting your eggs before they hatch. 5 gal buckets take a lot of soil and you might end up overcompensating when it comes to watering. do the sure thing and grow them in party cups, the roots will be able to get more air and flooding helps roots settle into a pot and spread out, and if they become root bound move them to a 2 gallon, and eventually the 5 gallon. you also might want to see if one of the plants is growing right or if the seed even germinates. if your seed doesn’t root, your left with 5 gallons of wasted soil.

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I have to toss the males and have limited space so I use the cups to start. If I were going clone or female seed I would start in the final pot.

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Would I Use The Cups Through The Whole Vegatative, Than move them too 5 gallon? If not, when should I?

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Transplant them when you see roots trying to grow out of the drain holes. Once you see that, let the cups dry out really well and then slide the plant/root ball out of the cup and inspect the root ball. If it is pronounced, transplant it. If you transplant into 1 or 2 gal pots, then repeat the above procedure before transplanting into 5 gal pots. As long as the soil is dried out, inspecting the root ball is fairly simple, just don’t go doing it every week and stressing your girls.


It has to do with the root ball. Its the believe of some people (I cant confirm or deny) that allowing a root ball to form will help the plant grow stronger n faster once transplanted. I planted straight into 1 gallon pots and went through hell went transplanting into 3 since its damn near impossible to form a root ball that big that soon.

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Aside from the convenience and space factors that have been mentioned several times, I see the waste from leaching out the nutrients in 5gal of soil before the plant ever gets to use them. Transplanting from a cup to a 1-3gal and finally to a 5-7gal lets me veg without having to feed. Not sure if Id be able to say the same about planting into the final pot, the soil doesnt have much, if any, nutrients left after about a month depending on watering level, and thats not as long as I veg.

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If you do the 5gal mix, I wouldnt put OF on bottom. I’d recommend filling the whole pot with OF. Make a hole like you would for a transplant, and fill that with LW or a 50/50 mix. I’ve germed and cloned directly into plain OF mostly without issues, only 2 strains showed any burn, but it wasnt severe and got better after a couple days. So all you need is a week or so worth of something milder, not the majority of the pot.

If you dont want to do that, putting the OF on top would still be a better choice than bottom IMO. The leaching nutrients from the OF will have a buffer zone below instead of being wasted. And youll get a more mild OF, and a slightly hotter LW.

Or you could always just mix 50/50 for the whole pot.

If you go with cups instead, clear ones let you see exactly when to transplant

How to Water a Seedling in a Big Pot

Sometimes you want to start your cannabis seeds or clones directly in their final container. This saves time transplanting from smaller containers to big ones. However, when seedlings are growing in a big pot, you need to make sure you’re watering plants properly. Read on to learn exactly what to do.

Note: Plants may grow a little slower at first when you start them in a too-big container (though good watering practices should help).

How to water seedlings or clones in a too-big container

When starting seedlings in a big container (bigger than 2-gallon), it’s important to slowly give just a little bit of water at a time until your seedling “grows into” its pot. This prevents overwatering, which slows down seedling growth.

By watering the right amount in the seedling stage, you can speed up growth significantly, especially during that first week or two.

For new seedlings, you should give water in a small circle around the plant instead of saturating the whole container.

Give seedlings only a little water at a time, and pour it in a small circle around the base of the plant

Small seedlings can’t drink more water than this!

Don’t give water again until the top inch of potting mix is dry to the touch (which should be less than a few days if you did your job right). This makes sure your seedlings get a perfect mix of air and water so it grows as fast as possible.

Make sure to give water slowly in a small circle around seedlings until you get runoff water out the bottom of the container. This makes sure that water is getting to your plant’s roots but isn’t over-saturating the container.

After plant has started to “grow into” it’s container, the top inch of potting mix will start drying out quickly (less than a few days). At this point, you can start normal cannabis watering practices which means you saturate the whole growing medium until you get about 20% runoff water

Summary: How to water cannabis seedlings or clones in a too-big container

Beginning Stage

This is for when you’ve just planted your cannabis seeds or clones in a too-big container. By giving your young plants less water at a time following the steps below, you prevent overwatering which can slow down seedling or clone growth in a too-big container.

  • Pour water slowly in a small circle around the base of the seedling (I first pour my water into a solo cup so that it’s easy to pour water around each plant).
  • The circle should be ~2 inches in every direction from the base of your seedling (or if your seedlings are bigger, about the width of the leaves).
  • Every time, make sure to continue watering slowly in a circle until you get runoff water out the bottom of the container. Make sure to remove runoff water so it doesn’t get re-absorbed through the bottom of the container.
  • Don’t water again until the top inch (up to your first knuckle) is starting to feel dry to the touch.

Regular Watering Stage

Once your marijuana plants have established healthy root systems that can support the size of your container, you can start watering as normal.

  • Once the top of the growing medium is drying out quickly, in less than than 2-3 days, you’re past the beginning stage.
  • Switch to normal watering practices. This means that you are watering the entire container until you get 20% runoff every time. Then don’t water again until the top inch (up to your first knuckle) is starting to feel dry to the touch.

Important: Always wait until the top inch (up to your first knuckle) is starting to feel dry to the touch before watering your plant again. This prevents both overwatering and fungus gnats ?

Transplanting for faster growth

Transplanting means that you start your plants in a relatively small container, and then transplant the plants as needed so that their roots never run out of room.

Transplanting will provide your plants with faster growth if done right. This is because transplanting allows you to set up an environment where your roots are getting access to plenty of water and air. However, transplanting can stress your plants (and slow down growth) if not done properly. When transplanting, it’s important to carefully move plants so that their roots are not disrupted in any way. This means moving plants before they get root-bound, and creating a hole in the potting mix of their new container so the plants can be placed right in without disturbing the roots.

If you plan on starting your plants in a small solo cup and transplanting your plants to bigger containers as needed, take a look at this transplanting guide.

While transplanting makes it easier to give your young plants access to plenty of water and air, it can stress the plants if not done right, and it can also be too much work for some growers. So many growers start their plant in it’s final container.

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When seedlings or clones are started in a large container, it can be difficult to get enough air to the roots until the plant is bigger and drinking a lot. Thisis because when the potting mix gets soaked, the seedling roots just won’t be able to drink it fast enough, and the roots will end up sitting in stagnant water with very little acces to oxygen. The growing medium has to dry out on it’s own, which can take a while, and your plant will be droopy and overwatered until the roots start getting access to air again.

Some growers start their seedlings or clones in a bigger pot, or even the final container they plan to use. While this can slow down growth of young seedlings, you can minimize this effect by watering young plants correctly when they’re started in a too-big container.

How to Germinate & Transplant Cannabis Seedlings

In this tutorial, you’ll learn how (and when) to transplant your new cannabis seedlings so they grow as fast as possible!

Did you know that seedlings in solo cups often grow faster than seedlings started in big containers?

The reason some growers transplant their plants instead of starting them in their final container is that seedlings usually grow faster during the first few weeks of their life if you start them in something small like a solo cup. The growing medium dries out much faster in a smaller container, which means your seedling roots are always getting access to lots of oxygen at all times. It also makes it more difficult to overwater your plants!

If you start seedlings in a solo cup, you should try to transplant to a bigger pot around the time the leaves reach the edges of the cup. This seedling is ready for transfer!

If seedlings get too big for their cups before transplanting to a bigger container, you may accidentally limit your plant’s root space. This slows down growth and can cause puzzling deficiencies! So if you do start in small containers it’s important to transplant your seedlings on time to avoid letting them become rootbound!

“Rootbound” seedlings are often droopy and may display odd symptoms that are hard to explain. If seedlings are rootbound you’ll see during the transfer process that the roots have wrapped all the way around the outsides of the container, preventing the plant roots from doing what they need to do. Try to transfer to a bigger pot before this point!

For many growers, it’s simpler to start plants in their final containers. Although your seedlings may grow slightly slower at first, you never have to worry about transplanting them. You also avoid the possibility of shocking them during the transplant process.

That being said, if you want the fastest growth from your seedlings and don’t mind transplanting, starting in small containers like solo cups may be the way to go.

The truth is, your seedlings will thrive whether you start in a big or small container as long as you take good care of them! Neither way is the “best” method; it’s more a matter of personal preference.

How to Transplant Seedlings

1.) Germinate Seeds with Paper Towel Method

Before you can start transplanting, you need to germinate your seeds. I recommend the “paper towel” method for germination because this method is easy and hard to mess up! Learn About Other Ways to Germinate Seeds!

  1. Place your seeds inside a folded wet paper towel, and place it between two paper plates (or regular plates) so that they don’t dry out.
  2. Check on your seeds every 12 hours but try not to disturb them. When they’ve germinated, you’ll see the seeds have cracked and there are little white roots coming out.
  3. They should germinate in 1-4 days, though some seeds can take a week or longer (especially older seeds).
  4. Keep them warm if possible. One thing you can do to get seeds to germinate a little faster is to keep them in a warm place (75-80°F). Some people use a seedling heat mat but in most cases that’s unnecessary.

These seedlings were sprouted using the paper towel method!

Once your seeds have germinated, gently plant seeds in a solo cup about an inch deep, roots down.

Make sure to cut plenty of holes in the bottom of the solo cup first, so water can drain out the bottom easily!

Add your potting mix to the solo cup. Dig a small hole about 1-2″ deep and gently place your sprouted seed, root down, into the hole you made. Lightly fill around and cover with soil. You’ll see a seedling emerge a day or two later!

Here’s a quick cheat sheet for the paper towel germination method!

2.) Allow leaves to grow to edges of the solo cup

Your seedlings will take off in a day or two, and soon it’ll seem like they’re growing more and more each day!

Once your seedlings have grown enough that their leaves have reached the edges of the solo cup, it’s time to transplant to a bigger container!

These seedlings are begging to be transplanted to bigger pots (especially that big one on the bottom!)

Transferring to a bigger container at this stage will prevent your seedling roots from becoming rootbound and “choking” themselves because they get all wrapped around the outside of the soil. The outside circling of the roots prevents the plant from using water and nutrients properly, so you often end up with droopy seedlings and hard-to-explain nutrient deficiencies.

3.) Transplant seedlings to a 1, 2 or 3-gallon pot (then to an even bigger final container if you desire)

Instead of pulling the whole plant out of the container, sometimes you can just cut away the solo cup when you plan on transplanting. This is one of the advantages of starting in disposable cups – it makes transplanting easy and stress-free. You can also gently run a butter knife around the outside to help loosen the soil, turn it upside down and pat out the seedling, soil and all!

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Transfer seedling into a new container by digging a hole the size of a solo cup, and gently placing your seedling in the new hole without disturbing the roots at all if possible, like this!

How to Avoid Transplant Shock

The process of transplanting from one container into a bigger one can shock your cannabis plants, especially if you wait too long to transplant.

You don’t want cannabis transplant shock!

You can help avoid causing your cannabis plants stress during transplant by following these principles:

  • Transplant your cannabis plants after their roots have begun to fill container (to help hold all the growing medium together) but before the roots have started wrapping around the edges (plants have become rootbound).
  • Water your cannabis plants 1-2 days before transplanting. This will help the growing medium stay together (since it’s moist), but still slide out easily (since it’s not soaking wet).
  • It’s better to transfer too early than too late!
  • If the roots haven’t grown all around the sides of the root ball (plant isn’t rootbound), avoid disturbing the roots if possible. There’s no need to shake out dirt, just carefully move entire root ball directly into the next pot.
  • Make sure your plants are in their final container at least 1-2 weeks before you switch them over to the flowering stage, and avoid transplanting plants during the flowering/budding stage if you can since the stress may affect your final yields.
  • If your cannabis plants seem like they are suffering from transplant shock (leaf symptoms, drooping, slowed growth), it can be helpful to use a seaweed kelp extract (often available as a liquid fertilizer) to help your cannabis recover more quickly. If transplanting seems scary, it’s okay to plant your seed or clone in its final destination right at the beginning, just be wary of overwatering until the plant has a few sets of leaves and is growing vigorously. You can increase the amount of oxygen available to your plants by adding extra perlite to loosen the soil and allow water to drain through more easily. after they’ve been transplanted for the best results!

If you follow all these steps, you may notice that your plant doesn’t show any signs of stress at all!

Now you just allow plants to grow!

4.) Transplant to an even bigger container if desired

If your cannabis plants double in height while still in the vegetative stage, you may want to consider transplanting them into an even bigger container for the best results. The final size of your cannabis plant is constrained by the pot size. If you keep your plants in small pots, they simply won’t grow as big as they would in bigger pots.

If you’re trying to keep plants small, small containers can actually be a good thing. But if you want to grow bigger plants, you need to give their roots enough space to “spread out”

What Size Final Container?

A general guide is to have at least 2 gallons per 12″ of height. This isn’t perfect since plants often grow differently, and some plants are short and wide instead of tall, but this is a good starting rule of thumb.

So if your final (desired) plant size is…

12″ ~ 2-3 gallon container

24″ ~ 4-6 gallon container

36″ ~ 6-8 gallon container

48″ ~ 8-10 gallon container

60″ ~ 10+ gallon container

Go Bigger If You Need to Spend Time Away From Your Cannabis!

If you plan on being away from your plants for more than a day or two during the grow, it can’t hurt to go up a size or two. The bigger the container, the less often you need to water. So even if you get slightly slower growth in a too-big container, you will definitely be able to spend more time away from your plants without having to water them!

5.) You’re Done!

That’s it. You’re done transplanting your weed plants!

Now you just need to worry about taking care of your plants until you’re ready to start flowering/budding. Remember plants will usually double (or even triple) in size from when you first initiate the flowering stage!

Note: You can skip transplanting if it seems like too much work for you. Just make sure you’re careful not to overwater small plants in too-big containers. Once plants start growing vigorously, you don’t need to worry as much about overwatering. Learn more about common seedling problems.

Should I start in a solo cup or in a bigger pot?

I think it’s a matter of preference. Just as a quick summary: It’s easy to give too much or too little water to a very small seedling in a big pot. With a solo cup, you just soak the grow medium and the roots get a lot of both oxygen and water at all times because the medium dries out quickly. The downside is you have to transplant a seedling as soon as the leaves reach the edges of the cup, or its growth starts slowing down. Also, if you’re not careful you could possibly shock the plant during transplant.

Seedlings started in solo cups take less room in the grow space, and tend to grow a little faster! But if you’re careful about watering plant in a big container, you can get seedlings to grow almost as fast without having to worry about transplanting.

I’ve done it both ways and each method will serve you well. In the end, don’t stress too much. Your seedlings will come out fine as long as you pay attention to them