Flowering In 3-gallon Pots (Avoid This mistake)

Flowering In 3 Gallon Posts

Are you wondering whether you can grow and flower cannabis in a 3-gallon pot?

Picking the right pot size is essential for healthy cannabis plants that produce big yields. 

While you can definitely flower cannabis in 3-gallon pots, there are some pros and cons to consider. 

Read on to learn the pros and cons of flowering cannabis in 3-gallon pots including some common mistakes to avoid.

Is it OK to use a 3-gallon pot for flowering? 

As a general rule of thumb, bigger pots mean bigger yields. So while you can use 3-gallon pots for flowering, they will limit your plant’s yield. If you’re growing indoors or have limited space to work with, 3-gallon pots will still produce a decent yield. But if you have the extra room or want bigger plants, consider upgrading to 5-gallon pots. 

3 Benefits of flowering in 3-gallon pots

Let’s look at some of the benefits of flowering in a 3-gallon pot instead of transplanting to a larger pot.

1. Your plants will avoid potential transfer shock

cannabis transfer shock symptoms
Transfer shock symptoms

The term ‘transfer shock’ refers to the stress plants endure when they are moved from one location to another. 

A cannabis plant’s roots are incredibly important for its development, especially during the flowering phase.

While transplanting gives a plant’s roots more room to stretch out and can help prevent root lock, there is some risk involved to the plant. 

If transplanting isn’t done correctly, you risk disturbing the healthy root system of your plants.

This can stunt your plant’s growth and, in extreme cases, it can even kill your plants!

To avoid undue stress, cannabis plants should be transplanted as few times as possible.

One of the major benefits of growing and flowering your plants in the same 3-gallon pot is that you skip the risk of transfer shock entirely. 

If your plant isn’t showing any signs of being rootbound or it’s already into its flowering phase, it might be best to stick to your 3-gallon pot throughout the flowering phase and avoid the risks of transplanting altogether. 

2.  Your plants will flower faster

smaller posts flower faster
In my experience, a plant in a 3-gallon pot will start flowering much sooner than the same plant in a 5-gallon.

If you just can’t wait to get to your final product, then keeping your cannabis plants in 3-gallon pots might help them flower faster. 

When some strains of cannabis first enter the flowering stage they go through a crazy period of growth called “flowering stretch”. During this time, your plants will continue to grow as they did during their vegetative state. 

One way you can reduce this growth and force them to flower faster is by limiting their ability to grow through the size of your container. 

By keeping your plants in their original 3-gallon pot, your plant’s roots won’t have any extra room to grow. This can lead your plant to skip this extra burst of growth and finish flowering faster. 

3. Less space required

different cannabis pot sizes
If you use a 3-gallon pot, you can expect your plant to be up to 12 inches shorter than if you use a 5-gallon pot.

If you are growing indoors or have limited space, a 3-gallon pot might be the ideal choice for you. 

In general, smaller pots produce smaller plants. So if you’re limited on space or light coverage, 3-gallon pots will produce plants that you can more easily manage in your growing environment. 

If you’re worried about the size of the yield, you don’t need to be!

You can generally expect about 1 foot of plant growth for every gallon of your growing container.

So a 3-gallon pot can produce a plant that’s at least 3 feet high. Not bad for an indoor grow!

Remember that this is also just a general guideline and not a rule set in stone.

The size of your plant is determined by many factors including the strain, light, nutrients, and growing medium.

Many expert growers have achieved massive yields growing in 3-gallon pots, so the sky’s the limit! 

How to water 3-gallon pots during flowering

Watering 3-gallon pots
Watering 3-gallon pots

If you decide to stick with the 3-gallon pot to flower in, then you need to keep a close eye on your plants to ensure that they are getting enough water.

Plants in smaller pots require more water because the soil dries out faster than in larger pots. This is especially true for large plants in smaller pots, which love to guzzle water. 

The general rule for watering any pot size is that you should use roughly 25-30% of the volume of the pot.

So for a 3-gallon pot, you’ll need about 1 gallon of water for each watering session. 

Water your 3-gallon pot until it’s fully saturated and water is running out of the bottom. 

In general, 3-gallon pots like to be watered every 2 – 3 days. 

Remember that too much or too little water is equally bad for plants.

No matter what size growing container you’re using, you should always test the soil before watering to make sure that it needs it. Stick your finger 1-2 inches in the soil and only water when the soil is completely dry. 

When should you transplant to a larger pot?

While 3-gallon pots generally work for most indoor grows, there are times when you may benefit from transplanting your cannabis plants to bigger pots. 

Here are 3 reasons to consider transplanting your plants to a larger pot.  

  1. Your plant is showing signs of being ‘rootbound’
Rootbound plants signs and symptoms
Rootbound signs and symptoms

Cannabis plants grow long, winding roots that need lots of space to grow. If your growing container isn’t big enough it can lead to a problem known as “rootbound” plants.

Rootbound plants occur when the plant’s roots have become restricted due to outgrowing their contained space. If roots can’t grow properly, they can start to lock out nutrients and stunt the growth of the plant. 

Not great if you’re looking for happy, healthy plants that produce big yields!

There are several signs that you can look out for if you suspect your plant is becoming rootbound. These include:

  • Stunted growth
  • yellowing,
  • Brown spots
  • Crumbled or wilted leaves  

Another telltale sign of rootbound is when your soil dries too quickly.

If you find yourself having to water consistently every 1 or two days, your plant probably needs more water than its container can hold. 

If you’ve already excluded other issues like incorrect PH levels or nutrient issues, transplanting your plants to a bigger pot could solve your issues.

Just remember to recycle a bit of soil from your old pot to help prevent transfer shock.

  1. You have the space and want bigger yields

Since larger pots generally result in bigger yields, there’s no reason to limit your plant’s potential if you have the space!

One way you can increase the yield of your plants is to transfer them into a bigger pot before the flowering stage. 

By moving your plant into a bigger pot, you’ll be providing it with more room for its roots to expand. This encourages healthy growth during the late vegetative and early flowering stages. A healthy root system leads to a healthier plant – and bigger yields. 

If you do decide to transplant your plant to a larger pot, you should always do so at the end of the vegetative phase before flowering. Ideally, you want to give your plants a week or two to get used to their new pot before flipping them to the next stage of their life cycle.

  1. You have enough light coverage
Make sure your lighting can handle a larger canopy before transplanting to a larger pot.
Make sure your lighting can handle a larger canopy before transplanting to a larger pot.

Before transplanting your plants to bigger pots, you need to make sure your grow space can accommodate the bigger canopy. 

The canopy area of your grow is simply the uppermost layer of leaves on your plants. Transferring your cannabis plants to larger pots is going to result in more growth and a larger canopy area. 

If you don’t have enough adequate lighting to cover this new, larger canopy, it can significantly reduce your plant’s ability to absorb light at the lower levels. This can lead to lower yields. 

Remember that your canopy needs to receive between 50-75 watts per square foot of canopy. Each plant in a 3-gallon pot will need about 4 square feet of space to grow and mature. 

Make sure to calculate how much light coverage you have in your grow space and whether you can accommodate larger plants before making the decision to transplant. 

Best Strains For 3-Gallon Pots

northern lights 3 gallon pot
Northern Lights is the perfect strain to grow in 3-gallon pots thanks to its short stature

One of the biggest mistakes growers make while using 3-gallon pots is that they choose strains that grow too big for their containers.

This can cause root lock, nutrient deficiencies, and generally unhappy plants. 

By choosing strains that work well with 3-gallon pots, you can avoid many of these headaches. 

Start by choosing strains with an average plant height between 60 – 100cm.

Indicas and Indica-leading strains are a good choice since they are known for their shorter heights. Some popular Indica strains include:

  1. Northern Lights (60-80cm)
  2. AK 48 (50-70cm)
  3. Black Domina (50-70cm)

Auto-flowering strains are also a good choice. Their shorter vegetative and flowering phases usually result in smaller plants. 

If you can’t give up on your Sativas, there are some Sativa strains known for their shorter heights. You can read more about our top recommendations for short Sativa strains here


The main takeaway here is that flowering in a 3-gallon pot is perfectly fine, as long as your plant looks healthy and is not displaying symptoms of being ‘rootbound’. Many growers actually prefer to grow in a 3-gallon pot as it stops the plant from getting too large for their grow space and lighting setup.

Just keep in mind that if you stick to flowering in a 3-gallon pot, your yield will likely not be as good as if you transplanted it to a larger one.

Please let me know in the comments if you have any questions.

Happy Growing


James Alexander James Alexander
Hey, I'm James! The founder and head writer here at GreenBudGuru.com. I started this site to share my passion and knowledge of all things cannabis. I used to work as a budtender in central Amsterdam, and have over 7 years of growing experience.

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