Now that your seedlings are hardened off it’s time to transplant them. You may think that all you have to do it plunk it in the the garden and you’re good to go, but that is not the case. Transplanting is stressful for little plants. We all know that stressed out plants aren’t as healthy and can succumb to diseases and insect problems more quickly than healthy plants. It would be a tragedy to go to all that hassle of starting and nurturing seeds, harden them off and then lose them because of transplant shock. There are a few things that will help your plants make it through transplanting with less stress.
The first thing you want to consider when transplanting is to MAKE SURE IT’S THE RIGHT TIME. You don’t want your seedlings to experience too stressful of weather conditions (depends on the type of plant, cabbages can take colder weather, peppers can’t). Make sure the threat of frost is over and that the night time temperatures aren’t too low. When the weather is right, pick out the spot in the garden for your plants and make sure it’s amended, free of weeds, and ready for your plants.
Of course you want to MAKE SURE YOUR PLANTS ARE PROPERLY HARDENED OFF, this is probably one of the biggest mistakes people make. They put the plants outside for a few days and assume they’re ready for the full-sun garden area. Take your time when hardening off your seedlings, they’ll do so much better if you’ve been patient during the hardening off period.
Pick an OVERCAST DAY to transplant your seedlings, or transplant them in the evening when the sun isn’t as hot. Your little plants will already be stressed from being disturbed during transplanting, don’t exacerbate the stress by planting them out in the morning on a hot sunny day.
Make sure you TREAT YOUR PLANTS GENTLY. Handle your plants by their leaves, they can do without a leaf or two, but breaking the stem can mean the end of the little plant. Disturb the roots as little as possible when you take them out of their pots to plant them in the ground. When you break and disturb the roots the plant loses it’s ability to take up minerals. There are many people that recommend watering with a weak fish emulsion or foliar fertilizer after transplanting. I usually water them in with a weak seaweed fertilizer.
You also should make sure you TRANSPLANT AT THE PROPER DEPTH. Some plants, like tomatoes & peppers can be planted deeper because they’ll grow new roots along the stem wherever they touch the soil. I always transplant my tomato seedling deeply, usually level with the bottom of the first set of leaves. Plants like lettuces like to have their root balls a little higher than the surrounding soil level, but most plants like to be planted at the same depth they were in their pots.
Have you ever lost any transplants due to weather, not hardening off, or improper planting?
The rest of the Seed Starting 101 Series
Why Start from Seed
The Needs of Seeds
Diseases and Problems
Learn More Each Season
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