Cannabis cultivators often agonise over which growing medium and lighting system to use, but your seeds aren’t going to get very far if you don’t have anything to put them in. And while choosing a pot might not seem like that big of a decision, there are in fact a number of different cannabis growing containers to select from, each of which brings its own unique advantages.
Why Use A Cannabis Growing Container?
While you could just sow your seeds straight into the ground, doing so leaves a lot to chance and makes it much harder to control certain variables. By growing cannabis in containers, however, it becomes easier to ensure that the roots of each plant receive enough water and oxygen, while also having enough space to avoid becoming rootbound.
Using cannabis growing containers also makes it possible to plan out one’s growing space, ensuring you end up with the maximum harvest from the available area.
Types Of Cannabis Growing Containers
The first and most obvious container to consider is your bog-standard plant pot. These can be made of plastic or ceramic, but will always have solid sides and holes underneath to allow for water to drain away. This feature is particularly important, as you don’t want the roots of your plant to end up sitting in stagnant water with no access to oxygen.
They may not be particularly exciting or high-tech, but there’s a reason standard plant pots are so widely used. They are reliable, cheap, and easy to come by.
That said, many growers opt for smart pots, which are made of fabric and therefore allow air and water to permeate their sides. This allows for better oxygenation, which can help plants to grow faster. The continual air flow from the sides of the pot also ensures that the roots don’t extend all the way the edge of their environment, thereby preventing them from becoming rootbound and choking.
At the same time, this air flow ensures that the growing medium dries out considerably faster than it would do in a standard pot. This can be useful as it reduces the risk of overwatering, which can leave the roots swamped in water and prevent them from receiving oxygen. However, for this same reason, plants grown in fabric pots need to be watered more regularly than those grown in standard pots, which can add up to a considerable amount of extra work if there are lots of plants to tend to.
Next up are air pots, which are plastic plant pots with holes in the sides. Similar to smart pots, air pots are designed for increased air flow, and therefore bring many of the same advantages and disadvantages as fabric containers. It’s worth noting, though, that air pots tend to be tall and narrow compared to smart pots, which are often wider. As such, cannabis growing containers that are made of fabric are often used for housing very large plants, as they provide a wide, steady base that isn’t likely to tip over.
Cannabis Growing Containers: How Big?
Many growers transplant their plants between cannabis growing containers as they enlarge, starting with a solo cup or a one-gallon pot for a recently-germinated seed. It’s true that some cultivators immediately place their seedlings into their final container in order to eliminate transplanting, but this can be problematic as a young seedling can’t absorb the amount of water that is required to saturate such a pot. It’s roots may therefore end up waterlogged, with no access to oxygen.
Additionally, starting a cannabis plant off in a small container helps its roots form into a sturdy and compact root ball, which will stand it in good stead throughout its life span. However, the seedling will need to be transplanted into something bigger before these roots outgrow their environment. One way to tell if it’s time to switch up is by looking through the drainage holes on the underside of your container in order to check the state of the roots. Failing that, it’s normally worth transplanting once about four sets of leaves have appeared.
When selecting cannabis growing containers, it’s worthwhile having a rough idea of how large your plants are likely to get once they reach maturity. This will depend on the cultivar you are growing and the techniques you plan to use, and will help you decide how big your container needs to be.
If your plant isn’t going to be massive then you can go ahead and transplant it directly into its final container at this stage, although if you’re growing huge plants then you’ll need to keep them in an intermediate pot during the rest of their vegetative phase. As a general rule, a flowering plant should have roughly two gallons of growing medium for every 12 inches of height, so if you know that your cannabis plant will reach a final height of 72 inches then your container will need to be able to hold at least 12 gallons.
As previously mentioned, if your final container is likely to be too large for a seedling then you should place into something smaller for the remainder of its vegetative stage, transplanting it into the final container about ten days before flowering begins. This will give the plant time to adjust to its new environment and overcome any transplant shock, thereby ensuring it is in good health once it gets down to the serious business of producing bud.
Transplant shock occurs when the roots of a plant are disturbed or damaged as it being moved around, which is why it’s so important to handle your cannabis with extreme care. It is sometimes said that autoflowering strains are particularly susceptible to transplant shock, which is why some growers choose to start these plants off in their final containers, thus eliminating the need to transplant at all.