Tips on Transplanting From Hydroponics Systems into Soil
There are a number of reasons as to why cannabis growers are in a position to transplant their plants from hydroponics systems into soil. For starters, hydroponic systems prove quite useful for cloning methods. Most notably of these are mist propagation systems and domed incubation trays featuring rockwool cubes. Each of these hydroponically oriented propagation techniques are easily compatible with soil growing systems once said cuttings have rooted.
On quite a different note, cannabis cultivation is an unpredictable affair. To this end, CEA and outdoor growers are occasionally forced to change their approaches to cannabis cultivation without much notice or planning. These forced infrastructural garden alterations usually have to do with moving cultivation locations or some environmental, equipment, or financial constraint inhibiting the continued use of hydroponic gardening.
Whether or not one has to transplant from a hydroponics system to soil is out of choice or necessity, there are a few pointers for different hydroponics scenarios that can help with this sometimes daunting task:
Cannabis Cuttings and Clones
Many modern growers choose to grow their cannabis plants from clones or cuttings, as opposed to seeds. There are several reasons for this approach to nascent plant growth. Most of them are founded on the preservation of a genetic line as well as plant sexing. For many growers, it takes years to find that perfect blend of environment, nutrients, and genetics. Therefore, many cultivators choose to keep a “mother” cannabis plant to preserve a genetic tradition and ensure consistent harvest of cannabis flowers. Moreover, for a majority of indoor gardeners, growing a garden directly from seeds is not even an option. Because, as most indoor growers place as many as 12 plants per 1,000 watt light in a grow room, its wholly unpractical to attempt to grow all these plants from seeds that could be either male or female.
Hydroponics Systems and Rockwool
Rockwool is a favorite growth medium for the modern agronomist. This notion holds true whether they use it for cannabis cloning or full-fledged plant growth. Often times, those cultivators whom choose to use rockwool for the propagation of clones do so with the intentions of transplanting into soil. Conversely, when using larger (6in or 9in) rockwool cubes for vegetative growth or flowering in hydroponics systems, growers don’t generally plan on relocating the plants into soil.
As mentioned in the introduction, these larger rockwool cube transplant scenarios often fall into the “unexpected life occurrences of a grower” category. Nonetheless, for both cannabis seedlings in small rockwool cubes and sizable plants in large rockwool cubes, the dynamics of transplanting into soil are the same. To begin with, dig a hole into the soil a few inches wider and deeper than the intended rockwool transplant and sprinkle microryza over the surface of the hole. At that point, simply place the entire rockwool cube into the hole and fill in around it with soil. Finally, water the entire soil container thoroughly—as done in any other transplant situation. Finally, to help avoid “transplant shock,” raise the lights slightly higher for an indoor garden and put the plants in a shaded area for outdoor cultivation until they seem settled.
Mist Propagation Hydroponics Systems
Mist propagation systems are a favorite choice among growers for the propagation of clones or cuttings into individual plants. With these hydroponics systems, cannabis growers place cuttings into foam “pucks” that feature slits from the middle to the end of the puck. The pucks are on the top or lid of the mist propagation system, with a reservoir and misting system functioning internally. With the right mix of rooting hormone and fertilizer, the bottom stem of the cutting protruding from the puck eventually sprouts its own roots. At this juncture in time, the cannabis plants are ready to be transplanted into soil.
For most growers, the transplant process starts with filling a dixie cup about ¾ full of soil than sprinkling it with microryza. Next, remove the rooted cutting out of the foam puck through the side slit and hold it over the dixie cup, with the roots touching the soil. After that, fill soil in around the roots and stem of the cutting until the new plant stands on its own. When finished, water the dixie cups thoroughly and take the necessary precautions to avoid transplant shock.
It is safe to assume that any well-planned cannabis cultivation operation doesn’t consist of transplanting full grown plants from hydroponic systems into soil. This notion is heightened concerning hydroponic baskets. Because, when growing plants in hydroponic baskets, the roots become wholly entwined within the holes of the plastic netting. As a result, trying to remove the delicate root system from these baskets for transplanting into soil is virtually impossible without killing the plant. Therefore, if one is forced to transplant out of hydroponic baskets and into soil, they should strive to do soil when the roots are just sprouting from the stem of the plant and not yet grown into the sidewalls of the basket. However, if one must transplant fully developed plants out of hydroponic baskets and into soil, they should just dig out a large enough hole in the soil, add microryza, and plant the entire basket.
This article originally appeared in the October 2017 edition of Maximum Yield Magazine.