Tips for Transplanting and Potting Plants

Potting and transplanting are two of the most common greenhouse activities along with watering, fertilizing, and pruning. Even this simple task can have a big impact on crop health, productivity, and yields though! Most importantly, growers need to choose the right pot to make sure that roots do not become restricted. Each type of plant and grower will have their own preferences, but there are some basic tips and guidelines to be aware of, especially for newer growers. 

Effects of Root Restriction

  • Roots compete with themselves
  • Reduced leaf, seed, and flower production; crop yield decrease
  • Poor water utilization and drought stress
  • Poor nutrient uptake and utilization
  • Oxygen uptake and diffusion decreased
  • Photosynthetic rates decline
  • Growth hormone production is inhibited
  • Delayed maturation and floral growth

Avoiding Transplant Shock

Plants go into some degree of shock when they are transplanted. This is normal, but when a plant dies, as a result, it is called "transplant shock." Here are some tips that can help you avoid transplant shock.

  1. Start with healthy plants that have a good root system established
  2. The seedling phase is the ideal time to transplant most plants
  3. Transplant during cool weather
  4. Avoid disturbing roots as much as possible and try not to rip off any
  5. Water plants with care after transplanting
  6. Remove only dead plant material and don't prune right before or right after transplanting

When to Transplant Short-Day Plant Clones

Most clones are ready for transplanting after about ten days of growth. The short-day plant at this stage has usually sprouted 4-5 sets of leaves and has visible roots. You will want to use a pot that is large enough for the mature plant's root system (or plan on transplanting a second time). This prevents plants from getting  “root bound,” which is a condition that can make the plant very sick. 

How to Transplant Established Clones

Prepare enough containers for all the clones by filling them with uniform amounts of loose and slightly moist soil. When working in teams it is very important that everyone is consistent in how much soil they are using. They need to be sure that they are not compressing the soil too much. If that happens, you can end up with different soil volumes which will result in different irrigation needs!

Other Transplanting and Potting Tips and Tricks

  • Use fresh soil for each plant, old soil can harbor pests, pathogens, and nutrient residues
  • Clean and sanitize pots before use or use a new container for each plant
  • Be sure that containers will allow for drainage to avoid waterlogging (drowning) the roots
  • Estimate container size of 2-gallons per 12 inches of the anticipated plant height
  • Use black or light-proof pots to keep light away from roots to prevent very unusual growth, and deter pathogens and algae
  • Use good soil that will not compact easily, retains moisture but drains the water, and is appropriate for your nutrient plan
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