What’s the Best Pot? Containers Explained
Table of Contents
Which growing container works best for cannabis? What is it that makes some containers better than others?
The answers are contained in the roots of your cannabis plants. The idea behind choosing the right container is to pick one that is going to provide the best possible environment for your cannabis roots. Your roots are like the “heart” of your of your cannabis plant. They need to be healthy for your plant to get nutrients and grow.
What do marijuana roots want?
Happy cannabis roots want…
Moist at all times – roots die when they dry out! Good watering practices combined with a great growing medium will make sure your roots never dry out
Oxygen – your roots “breathe” oxygen, so one of the best things you can do for them is make sure they always have access to plenty of oxygen – more oxygen to the roots = faster growth
Nutrients – your roots “find” nutrients at the roots, and then deliver them to the rest of the plant, so making sure your plant has easy access to nutrients will help your plants thrive and make buds
pH Management – Some nutrients are sensitive to the pH of their environment. When exposed to the wrong pH, the molecular form of these nutrients actually changes. Nutrients in the wrong chemical form become unavailable to your plant roots. Exposing nutrients to the correct pH reverts them back to a form your roots can take in.
Bottled Cannabis Nutrients
Managing pH is especially important when using bottled nutrients.
Using bottled nutrients gets the nutrients to your plant faster (which equals faster growth), but it also means you are in charge of managing the pH.
These systems deliver nutrients directly to the plant roots in their simplest form, but there is no “middle man” between you and the plant roots, leaving you in charge.
So if you’re using bottle nutrients, make sure you manage your pH!
Amended & Composted Soil
When starting your cannabis grow with properly amended and composted soil, pH isn’t as important for you to manage. Instead of managing pH, you need to manage and care for the bacteria and microorganisms in the soil. In a proper composted soil setup, the microorganisms deliver nutrients to your roots in the right form. They become the “middle man.”
Types of Containers
There are many kinds of popular rowing containers for cannabis gardens…
Standard plant container with saucer
Here’s a breakdown of those different container options…
Standard plant container with saucer
This is a container with a hole at the bottom for drainage, plus a saucer to catch the water.
Tried and true method
Easy to find at any gardening store
Saucer captures runoff water for easy disposal
Smart pots (fabric containers)
More oxygen to the roots
Prevents plants from getting “root-bound” via “air-pruning” from the sides
Since growing medium dries out from the sides, smart pots make it difficult to overwater your plants, but that also means you will end up watering more often
Since smart pots dry out faster than regular cannabis containers, you should get double the size as your normally would, and it’s recommended your final size should be at least a 5-gallon container (anything smaller than that dries out in just a day or two!). So if you would normally get a 2-gallon container, you’d want to get a 5-gallon smart pot.
Need an extra large saucer or a tray to capture runoff water – smart pots don’t come with a saucer or tray and they seep out water from the sides
More oxygen to the roots
Helps prevent plants from getting “root-bound” via “air-pruning” from the sides
Since growing medium dries out from the sides, air pots make it difficult to overwater your plants, but that also means you will end up watering more often
Although water seeps out the sides when watering, air pots are tall and thin so you can use a regular size saucer for each container
Like a regular plant container except instead of having drainage holes out the bottom, they are located near the bottom on the sides
This leaves a small pool of water in the bottom of the container after watering
Need to water less often with hempy buckets, which is a great advantage when growing larger plants that drink a lot
Can sometimes lead to root or nutrient problems since stagnant water can sit at the bottom of the container and any nutrient buildup never gets rinsed out
How to Catch Water Runoff
The two most popular ways of capturing runoff water in small containers are…
Individual saucers for each container
Trays to catch runoff from several containers
Most regular plant containers come with a matching saucer. These are placed under the plant and catch the runoff water for each individual plant.
When using a container that lets air in through the sides (such as a smart pot or air pot), you will need a larger than normal saucer to capture all the runoff water, since water will be seeping down the sides of the container.
One of the problems with saucers is you usually remove them from under the plants to empty the runoff water (always remove runoff – never let it sit so it’s seeped back up into the growing medium!). This is easy with just a few plants, but can become a problem when growing with a lot of plants in a small space. It can be difficult to get to the saucers in the back after the grow space has been filled up with plants.
If you’re having trouble emptying out all your plant saucers, you may want to consider an alternative to regular saucers…
If you want to capture the water from a lot of plants in one space, I recommend using a tray set one a slight incline, so the part of the tray furthest away from you is raised slightly off the ground.. With even a tiny incline, the runoff water will pool at the front of the tray, and a wet vac can be used to capture all the water from the plants. This can be a lot easier than emptying saucers, depending on your setup.
As a bonus to using a tray, you won’t have to move your plants around as much, which results in better and faster growth. Plants don’t like being moved around if you can help it.
How to pick up the water from your tray?
- Wet/Dry vacuum
- Water transfer pump
I found the “Bucket Head” attachment at Home Depot which costs about $25 and can be attached to any standard bucket, turning it into an ultra-cheap wet/dry vacuum.
Which Size Container?
Final Size Container for Desired Plant Size – General guide
When choosing the size of your containers, you must think about the final size of your plant. Bigger plants will need bigger containers, while smaller plants grow best in a relatively small container. You need to match the size of your plant with the size of your container.
A general guide is to have up to 2 gallons per 12″ of height. This isn’t perfect, since plants often grow differently, and some plants are short and wide instead of tall, but this is a good rule of thumb.
So if your final (desired) plant size is…
2-3 gallon container
3-5 gallon container
6-8 gallon container
8-10 gallon container
12+ gallon container
Lots of different types of containers will work for growing cannabis as long as it has good drainage holes out the bottom
If you’re using a Smart Pot (fabric pot) or any container that lets in oxygen from the sides, you’ll get faster growth than a hard-sided container. However you will also need to water your plants more often since the soil will dry out more quickly.
Therefore it’s recommended to get twice the normal size if you get fabric pots so the soil doesn’t dry out as fast.
Get twice the normal size if the container lets oxygen in from the sides (like fabric pots and air pots)
Which size container should you start with? Start Small
To start, your plants will do best in a relatively small container. This helps prevent the chances of overwatering (since the container is so small) and since a small container dries out quickly, it will deliver more oxygen to the roots.
Many growers start their plants in a solo cup or a 1-gallon pot.
As mentioned earlier, some growers start their marijuana plants in their final container, which is usually larger than a 1-gallon pot. Starting in a big container isn’t as simple as starting with a small container, and can cause slower growth at first, but here’s you can take to get a seedling to grow quickly in a large container.
Once the leaves reach the edges of the solo cup it’s time to transfer to a larger container. These seedlings are getting close!
How to water seedlings or clones in a too-big container
When starting seedlings in a big container (bigger than 2-gallon), it’s important to slowly give just a little bit of water at a time until your seedling “grows into” its pot. This prevents overwatering, which slows down seedling growth.
By watering the right amount in the seedling stage, you can speed up growth significantly, especially during that first week or two.
For new seedlings you should give water in a small circle around the plant instead of saturating the whole container.
Don’t give water again until the top inch of potting mix is dry to the touch (which should be less than a few days if you did your job right). This makes sure your seedlings get a perfect mix of air and water so it grows as fast as possible.
Make sure to give water slowly in a small circle around seedlings until you get runoff water out the bottom of the container. This makes sure that water is getting to your plant’s roots but isn’t over-saturating the container.
After plant has started to “grow into” it’s container, the top inch of potting mix will start drying out quickly (less than a few days). At this point, you can start normal cannabis watering practices which means you saturate the whole growing medium until you get about 20% runoff water
How to water cannabis seedlings or clones in a too-big container
This is for when you’ve just planted your cannabis seeds or clones in a too-big container. By giving your young plants less water at a time following the steps below, you prevent overwatering which can slow down seedling or clone growth in a too-big container.
- Pour water slowly in a small circle around the base of the seedling (I first pour my water into a solo cup so that it’s easy to pour water around each plant).
- The circle should be
2 inches in every direction from the base of your seedling (or if your seedlings are bigger, about the width of the leaves).
Regular Watering Stage
Once your marijuana plants have established healthy root systems that can support the size of your container, you can start watering as normal.
- Once the top of the growing medium is drying out quickly, in less than than 2-3 days, you’re past the beginning stage.
- Switch to normal watering practices. This means that you are watering the entire container until you get 20% runoff every time. Then don’t water again until the top inch (up to your first knuckle) is starting to feel dry to the touch.
Important: Always wait until the top inch (up to your first knuckle) is starting to feel dry to the touch before watering your plant again. This prevents both overwatering and fungus gnats 🙂
Transplanting for faster growth
Transplanting means that you start your plants in a relatively small container, and then transplant the plants as needed so that their roots never run out of room.
Transplanting will provide your plants with faster growth if done right. This is because transplanting allows you to set up an environment where your roots are getting access to plenty of water and air. However, transplanting can stress your plants (and slow down growth) if not done properly. When transplanting, it’s important to carefully move plants so that their roots are not disrupted in any way. This means moving plants before they get root-bound, and creating a hole in the potting mix of their new container so the plants can be placed right in without disturbing the roots.
If you plan on starting your plants in a small solo cup and transplanting your plants to bigger containers as needed, take a look at this transplanting guide.
While transplanting makes it easier to give your young plants access to plenty of water and air, it can stress the plants if not done right, and it can also be too much work for some growers. So many growers start their plant in it’s final container.
When seedlings or clones are started in a large container, it can be difficult to get enough air to the roots until the plant is bigger and drinking a lot. Thisis because when the potting mix gets soaked, the seedling roots just won’t be able to drink it fast enough, and the roots will end up sitting in stagnant water with very little acces to oxygen. The growing medium has to dry out on it’s own, which can take a while, and your plant will be droopy and overwatered until the roots start getting access to air again.
Some growers start their seedlings or clones in a bigger pot, or even the final container they plan to use. While this can slow down growth of young seedlings, you can minimize this effect by watering young plants correctly when they’re started in a too-big container.
Here’s a very quick breakdown of some of the most common cannabis growing mediums for a hand-watered grow. This is not a comprehensive list, but should give you a place to start your research. Each of these different growing mediums have pros and cons.
Soilless (coco coir, perlite, vermiculite, etc)
Easy to find at any gardening store
You can start with nutrient-rich soil and transplant several times throughout the grow to give your plant what it needs after it’s used up all the nutrients in the soil in it’s current container. If you choose not to continue transplanting to give cannabis more nutrients, you will need to use cannabis nutrients to make sure plants are getting what they need
You will need to manage and adjust pH for a soil grow, especially if using bottled cannabis nutrients
Composted Soil – learn about composting your own soil
You will need to amend and compost your soil to use this method, which can take a lot of time, or buy amended and composted soil from a quality source
When done right, there’s no need for bottled nutrients or adjusting pH
Many growers claim that composted organic soil provides the best bud taste and smell
Soilless Potting Mix – (coco coir, perlite, vermiculite, etc)
Faster growth than growing in soil
Starting at the seedling stage, you will need to use cannabis nutrients made for hydro, since soilless mediums do not come with nutrients
Managing and adjusting pH is crucial to success in a soilless growing medium
Less likely to get pests or bugs
How much grow medium to get?
In the USA, a “3-gallon” plant container usually holds less than 3 gallons (same with 1-gallon, 2-gallon, 5-gallon, etc.). It’s a weird convention in the USA which means a direct conversion between listed gallons and gallons of soil (or conversion to liters) isn’t accurate. A “trade” gallon holds about 3/4 of a “real” gallon. This makes it easy to buy a lot of extra grow medium. To make things more confusing, in the USA not every 3-gallon pot actually holds the same amount of grow medium (it’s not totally standardized). Additionally, smaller companies often give the actual amount. Other factors change how much grow medium you need, including how high you fill the pot and how much it gets compacted. When in doubt, get the listed amount and you’ll always end up with enough or extra grow medium.
What’s the Best Pot? Containers Explained Table of Contents Which growing container works best for cannabis? What is it that makes some containers better than others? The answers are
Best Pots For Growing Weed
If you know even a little about pots or growing containers, you’ll be well aware that they are not all the same. Each has a particular design that matches the grower’s needs. Similarly, growing pots don’t just differ in terms of size. Different kinds of containers are present in the market, ranging from regular to advanced pots.
What Do Cannabis Roots Want?
As far as pots go, cannabis requires one thing more than any other, and that’s a healthy and safe place to develop its roots. Cannabis fails to thrive optimally if the roots are not healthy, the reason being that the roots take charge of nutrient absorption, water retention, helping with vegetative growth and serving as an anchor for the plant.
Here are the 3 major elements that all cannabis roots require.
As you may know, retaining water is vital to the health of any plant. Without water, cannabis doesn’t thrive and ends up dying after withering for a certain period. Of course, the growing medium is a key part of this process, so choosing the right container to house your plants could do you a world of good. Therefore, make sure to mitigate any damage by providing proper drainage access to your roots. If you want to figure out the quantity of water your plants require, consider factors like plant size, overall plant health, outside temperature and plant growth stage.
Cannabis Roots Guide
Just as moisture is vital for a plant’s health, so is oxygen access just as crucial. Keeping this information in mind, go for containers that offer sufficient oxygen to develop the plant’s roots while ensuring they don’t allow the plant to gain too much exposure to harmful elements. Various container varieties provide the roots with extra oxygen exposure through an assortment of perforation styles.
The plant’s roots use oxygen by absorbing it directly from water or soil that contains dissolved oxygen. The quantity of dissolved oxygen present in water depends on the water’s temperature. Cold water contains a higher quantity of oxygen while warm water has lower amounts.
Roots need optimal conditions to absorb nutrients effectively. Nutrient availability, optimal temperatures and pH balance play a key part in effective nutrient absorption. Just like animals, plants also go through various stages of life. They need different nutrition in all stages to thrive and grow. Of course, using an optimally-sized pot and excellent soil is vital, but nutrition is just as important.
New growers often wonder whether they should take the chemical or organic route for their plant’s nutrition. The reality is that both have their place. Each offers a different option, which means you need to decide which to use according to the particular requirements of your plant.
Cannabis Nutrients 101
Types Of Pots
Tons of options are out there when it comes to pots. The place where you’re growing your cannabis, how you plan to grow it and the type of pot you want to utilize are the main determinants. As mentioned earlier, every pot is different. Let’s take a look at the different types of pots that growers prefer.
Standard Plastic Pots
This is one of the most common pot types. You can find them easily almost anywhere and they are also quite cheap. In fact, standard pots are mostly available in plastic form. In case you go for these standard plastic pots, make sure you get a matching saucer to go with them. It will come in handy to catch runoff water present beneath the pot.
A vital thing to keep in mind about standard plastic pots is that they should contain drainage holes to prevent water logging. Drainage holes are present at the pot’s bottom. Not every pot has pre-bored holes, so you may need to create these yourself before beginning to utilize the containers for growing your plants.
Best Soil For Growing Weed
- Transplanting is affordable and simple
- Drainage is quite solid
- Overhead costs are very low
- Could have airflow issues (depending on growing medium)
- Durability is on the lower side since structural damage and cracks could occur over time
- Standard pots are unable to prevent temperature fluctuations by shielding root systems
Standard Terracotta Pots
Also referred to as ceramic containers, standard terracotta pots are similar to standard plastic pots. The only difference between the two is the material. However, terracotta pots are highly beneficial for growers who plan to grow weed in warm climates. Terracotta pots are also heavier in comparison to plastic pots. This pot type is naturally able to store and soak up extra moisture, creating a cooling effect. This is the reason why hot climate growers prefer it so much.
- Pot’s heavy weight comes in handy to anchor bigger plants
- Retains low temperatures and absorbs moisture on hot days
- Heavy weight of this pot sometimes creates difficulty in transporting plants
- Drainage is not at all optimal, and drilling holes is a labor-intensive task requiring the use of special tools
Fabric (Smart) Pots
Fabric pots and smart pots are one and the same. Their purpose is to ensure that plants do not become root-bound. Instead of growing in cycles as growers usually do with standard closed pots, fabric pots air prune all the roots once they reach the container’s sides. Because of this, the roots can grow without any hindrance, in turn improving plant growth. Fabric-growing bags or pots also have another advantage – they make sure you do not overwater your cannabis plant by a single drop.
How To Water Cannabis Plants
- Fabric pots have ideal drainage, which is perfect for well-maintained gardens
- Roots receive more airflow in these pots
- Storing fabric pots is very convenient
- Promotes strong roots
- Plant support can be tough because of the flimsy structure, as these pots tend to dry out fast
- Needs more maintenance and attention
Air pots are quite similar to the smart pots discussed earlier. They are plastic containers that possess side openings which help with automated pruning of your cannabis plant’s roots. However, as with fabric pots, you have to water air pots regularly, as they tend to dry out quickly in comparison to plastic pots. Air pots are quite sturdy, so you don’t need to worry about them tipping over. Because air pots tend to leak water from side openings, make sure to keep them higher than regular size saucers.
- Perfect airflow and drainage
- Excellent perforation helps to prune and catch roots effectively
- Air pots are slightly expensive because of their complex design and material
- They need extra care and watering in comparison to regular containers
Hempy buckets are just simple buckets that contain a hole on both sides. These buckets are filled inside with coconut coir soil and perlite. The bucket works as a passive watering setup by retaining a decent amount of water in the section that contains pure perlite. The reason why hempy buckets use perlite is because of their light weight and perfect water drainage abilities. Essentially, it tricks the plant into thinking that it has a natural pocket of water.
- It would be wise to go for a bucket that is not transparent, as algae tends to grow in transparent buckets due to sunlight exposure
- Hempy buckets do not require frequent watering and attention, so are perfect for growing bigger plants
- Using hempy buckets could lead to nutrient or root problems once in a while due to the presence of stagnant water at the container’s bottom. The more water there is at the container’s bottom, the more nutrients tend to rinse away.
Maintenance Of The Pot
Although pot maintenance sounds like a daunting task, it really isn’t. In fact, it would be fair to say that this is quite easy. Consider your pot’s material before you begin to maintain it. Make sure it provides adequate drainage so that water can easily pass through. You would also benefit from pairing your containers with trays or saucers. The reason for this is that by design, they catch runoff water as it passes out from the holes. It is vital to collect moisture at the end of every watering session – some growers choose automated or vacuum systems for collecting water.
Transplanting Cannabis Plants
What Container To Grow Seedlings In
The most important thing to guarantee a healthy grow is to make sure your container provides sufficient drainage to the seedlings. Mostly, seedling pots tend to be quite small and do not hold a large quantity of growing space. Because of this, the soil dries out much faster than you might imagine, which decreases the risk of overwatering. Party cups or solo cups are also quite common among growers, and are excellent options to grow seedlings effectively. Remember to cut a couple of drainage holes below the cup. You may need to transfer the larger grows to a different container later on if and when they become larger.
Which Size To Choose For Indoors/Outdoors
Always using the same type or size of container simply doesn’t do the trick when growing weed. For instance, since autoflowering varieties are not too tall, you can easily store them inside medium or small size containers. When you choose the size of growing pot, think about your cannabis plant’s final size.
A pot size of around 2 gal (7.5 liters) would be an ideal starting point for a plant close to 1ft (30cm) in height. Just keep in mind that every cannabis variety grows differently. While some strains are slender and tall, others can be bushy and wide. It could help you to find the correct size of pot right from the start.
How Does Pot Size Affect Yield?
The size of a pot has a major impact on the yield. A plant’s roots require adequate space in order to properly grow. Without enough space, plants become pot-bound, which deteriorates your yield quality. Keeping a rough estimate of the yield’s final size is a wise choice, as this helps you to choose an adequate pot size that won’t negatively impact your yield.
Selecting a pot is a decision that most experienced growers base on maintenance. Some containers need less maintenance, as you do not need to water them often. Other containers may require frequent maintenance, and you may need to water or monitor them regularly. It all comes down to how much time you can dedicate to the container on a daily basis.
Finally, it would also be advisable to consider transplanting. You may need to learn this skill, as some yields grow larger and require transplanting to separate containers.
When you’re looking for cannabis pots, there’s a lot of options available, from plastic and terracotta to fabric pots. But what are the best weed pots to help you get the best yield? Here’s how to choose one that works for you.