Containers, Transplanting and Flushing
When choosing an appropriate marijuana container for growing it is important to take into account space and time constraints; namely, how big a plant is desired and how long is available before harvesting. Below some of the advantages and disadvantages of types of containers are outlined, and how these can affect transplanting and flushing.
Traditionally the plastic pot has been the most popular in the sphere of growing medical marijuana. Of course these provide a cheap and easily movable option; however, size and possible transplantation need to be taken into account. A larger pot will allow more space for the roots to grow, thus leading to more growth topside as well and in turn more output. This is true in terms of circumference of pot as well as depth. A general rule on sizes would be:
2×2 inches = plants up to 6 inches tall
4×4 inches = plants up to 1 foot tall
5×5 inches = plants up to 2 feet tall
6×6 inches = most mature plants
Trays are also a useful alternative since they allow more space for roots to explore and more plants can be potted in the same tray. The disadvantage of a tray is that it becomes nigh on impossible to transplant a single plant to another point since the roots will more than likely have become intertwined with those of its neighbouring plant and transplantation will invariably damage the other plants in the tray.
More recently, fabric containers have become popular. The advantages they offer are plentiful; not to mention being easy to use and to transplant, the porous nature of the fabric allows for easy drainage of water on all sides of the plant and also ventilation into the soil of the plant. Newer models are also coming equipped with Velcro straps which ensure that transplanting the plants into bigger containers becomes as simple as stripping away the Velcro and moving the plants – roots intact – into the desired receptacle.
Transplanting is another key part of the growth stage. Roots need space to grow out and if the plant is potted in too small a container, the roots will branch out to the side of the pot and encroach on each other. By transplanting into a bigger container, you can ensure that the central area of the soil is used and that the roots have sufficient space to grow and mature.
It is important to transplant at the correct time. This should be when the roots have filled the original pot but before they have curled back around the plant and constricted its growth with its own roots. If a plant is transplanted too early there is a danger that the roots will not have matured sufficiently to hold together with the soil when they are removed. If it is done too late, the plant may become root bound which means that its rate of growth will depreciate and also is prone to suffering from micro-deficiencies or dehydration.
Short guide to transplanting
1) Water the plant thoroughly and let drain for a couple of days if need be.
2) Transplant just before going to bed so that the plant will have a full night to recover.
3) Moisten the soil at the bottom of the new container using a mister or similar tool. Do not use a hose as this will clump the soil together and hamper the plant’s integration into its new home.
4) Gently flip the plant upside down and ease it out of its pot. If it does not slip out easily try to tease it out by massaging the roots, taking care not to damage them.
5) If the plant has become root bound, try to free the major, central roots. Sever those constricting it only as a last resort.
6) Place it in the new pot.
7) Fill the sides and top with new soil though composed of the same medium. It is imperative to use the same type as altering could cause the plant too much stress.
8) You may want to use filtered, softer lights for one or two days after transplantation to allow the plant to focus less on growing leaves and more on recovering and adjusting to its new home.
The main advantage of transplantation is that the plant will now have more room to develop and grow. Another benefit is that roots can be buried deep in the new pot if space is a constraint. Furthermore, if several plants are being transplanted they can be buried at varying levels to accommodate their individual heights and ensure that they all begin their second stage of growth in their new pots with an even canopy.
Flushing is the practice by which immediately before harvesting the plant is fed water rather than a fertilised or nutrient-laden concoction. This will cause the plant to seek nutrients from within itself (a process called translocation) which uses up the existing internal nutrients and leaves the plant purer. This in turn would allow for a smoother, less chemical taste when the plant is harvested.
Flushing is achieved most commonly by simply replacing the nutrient mix that has previously fed the plant with pure water. However, there are several artificial flush products on the market which claim to not only yield a purer bud but in some cases actually increase growth in the final stages. This is achieved by “stressing” the roots of the plant, forcing it to expend energy and in the process use up any remaining nutrients in its tissue.
Short guide to Flushing
1) Determine when your plant will be ready to be harvested. Flushing occurs at different times in different mediums; in soil, 2 weeks before harvest is when to start flushing. In hydroponic growing only a week is necessary. When using organic soil flushing is not necessary at all.
2) Decide whether to use a flushing product or simply distilled water.
3) Make sure you do not use tap water as this will contain impurities and chemicals. Distilled water which has been treated with reverse osmosis is best.
4) Water the plant with this instead of the nutrient mix for its final two weeks.
5) When growing in soil, stop watering altogether 2 days prior to harvest. This will dry out the buds more effectively.
After a successful flush, the plant will have used up any remaining nutrients and chemicals in its tissue, giving it a cleaner, smoother taste and allowing it to ignite better.