How to Transplant and Harden Off Cannabis Plants for Outdoor Growing

By Karen Lloyd
Published: March 17, 2021 | Last updated: May 25, 2021 11:29:17
Presented by Hygrozyme
Key Takeaways

Keep all of nature’s elements in mind when hardening off your cannabis plants for transplant outdoors, whether they’re growing above ground in a container or buried in the ground.

It’s that time of the year again when the northern hemisphere tilts its face toward the sun and growers here start prepping their seedlings for the great outdoors.


When it comes to outdoor cannabis cultivation, there’s a lot more to the job than simply planting your seedlings in some dirt and patiently waiting for them grow. As much as they are, and do grow like, weeds, your cannabis plants must be prepared for all kinds of weather, beyond balmy. Low humidity, intense sunlight, high temperatures, and strong winds (or hot conditions that are also humid) can all negatively impact your outdoor crop. Some plants may recover from early exposure to the outdoor elements but their growth will be set back a few weeks at best. At worst, your plants will die.

A robust and healthy outdoor cannabis crop starts well before summer. Choosing the best strain and soil for your climate is paramount, along with regular nutrient feedings and the application of chitosan. Among a myriad of benefits, a unique chitosan formula like HYSHIELD can increase your plant’s resilience to survive in high heat and cold stress environments as well as reduce plant transpiration on humid days without lowering crop output.


Grower transplanting young cannabis plantYour plants are ready for transplanting when they've sprouted four to five sets of leaves.

When Is the Right Time to Transplant a Young Cannabis Plant?

Young plants started in small containers like four-inch cups or one-gallon pots in early April should be ripe for transplanting by the first of May—typically a few weeks after bursting through the earth, or, more specifically, when they’ve sprouted four to five sets of leaves. You’ll also notice a healthy white root system through the drainage holes at bottom of the plant’s container.

At this point, if you’re growing your cannabis above ground in containers, you’ll need to dig a hole in the receiving container and, gingerly, start the transplant process. Turn the small pot upside down then carefully squeeze its side. When the plant pops out, place it in the new container, add a bit more soil, water generously and celebrate. Your plant is ready for some fresh air and filtered sunshine.


(Read also: The (Light) Cycle of Life: Solstices, Equinoxes, and Growing Cannabis)

When the plants have grown at least five or more sets of true leaves in their new home, they can be moved into full direct sunlight for brief periods during early morning or late afternoon. After about a month, and just in time for summer solstice, your cannabis plants will be able to handle full and direct sunlight, all day.


To maximize your plant’s full growth potential, you may consider transplanting your cannabis, once again, to a larger finishing pot in the final two weeks of vegetative growth. With a substantial amount of space for further root development, you can expect your plants to explode both in size and volume.

cannabis seedling outdoors in a potHardening off plants grown indoors or in a greenhouse helps prevent the plant from undergoing shock from a sudden temperature or light change.

How to Harden Off Your Cannabis Plants for Outdoor Growing

At first, it’s hard to understand why it’s worth the time and effort to carefully transplant and harden off your plants for outdoor growing but when they’re eventually the size of trees boating colossal buds, it should be obvious.

Keep all of nature’s elements in mind when hardening off your plants for the outdoors, whether they’re growing above ground in a container or buried in the ground.

In addition to intense sunlight, high winds, heavy rain and humidity, young cannabis plants also face another challenge outdoors, in the form of pest and pathogens.

While the use of organic fertilizers will certainly help to support the development of strong and healthy plants, chitosan can keep pathogens at bay by activating the plants’ systemic acquired resistance (SAR). Similar to an immune response in humans, the SAR reaction helps to ward off garden pests and pathogens, organically. Additionally, the application of chitosan as a foliar spray or root drench has been shown to increase the production of flavonoids, terpenoids and cannabinoids in plants for an impressive yield.

Preparation is Key

Your crop’s distance from the equator and weather are two key factors that will determine how successful your outdoor cannabis grow will be. Knowing the potential height of the cannabis strain you’re planning to grow, as well as whether you’re growing in the ground or containers is also helpful. Do your research ahead of time.

Transplanting your cannabis seedlings can either have a detrimental effect on the growth and development of your plant or a substantially positive one. While the act of moving your plant from one home to another poses a great risk for root damage and agitation, a properly executed transplant can lead to stronger root development and impressive flower production.

(Read next: Want Big Cannabis Buds? Start at the Roots)

Hygrozyme logo Hygrozyme is a manufacturer of a variety of natural and safe to use products for the agricultural marketplace. To learn more, visit or contact [email protected]


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Written by Karen Lloyd | Freelance Writer, Digital Marketing Expert

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Karen Lloyd is a freelance writer, digital marketing expert and hippy at heart in the city with a small studio, spacious deck and enormous passion for all things cannabis, urban gardening and food equity in Toronto.

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