How to Transplant Seedlings Starts?

Apr 28, 2012 by


how to transplant seedling startHave you ever tried to transplant a seedling only to watch it struggle and nearly die? I have actually had this happen to me several times. When I started gardening, I didn’t know a lot about transplanting seedlings. I would start a seeds inside, and then move it outside too early (I was really excited about planting back then). If you move a seedling outside before the soil and air temperatures have gotten warm enough, or the temperature differs greatly from the temperature inside your home, then you’re going to have a bit of trouble. New seedlings can be very sensitive. Here in Idaho, they say that the snow has to be off of the mountains before you can plant your garden. Well, I think that  is pretty much true everywhere. Once the snow is off the mountains, the temperature are less likely to drop below freezing. If you are unsure about whether or not to plant, you might as well wait. Your starts will continue to grow in their containers. They will be easier to transfer after the outside temperatures have warmed up.

It is a good idea to let them become acclimated to the climate outdoors before planting them. This acclimation process is also called Hardening. You can do this by taking an indoor plant outside for a few hours every day. Put them in a shady spot where they won’t get direct sunlight. They should not be exposed to heavy rain or wind, or they are going to have trouble adapting. After about a week of acclimation, your new seedlings should be safe to plant them.


Don’t plant seedlings if the average nightly temperatures are anywhere near freezing. Some plants love warm weather. I recently left a new cucumber seedling outside overnight, and I lost half of its leaves.

Before you transplant your plants you need to make sure that the soil is wet. Also, add a little water to the seedlings once you have planted them. This will ease the growth of the roots into the new soil. One gardening book I read suggested that you add about 2 teaspoons of salt to 1 gallon of water and then water your new seedlings with this mixture. They said that it would prevent your seedlings from growing for a few days so that they could establish themselves faster.

You can also use colons to protect your new seedlings from heavy rains or from cold weather. Be careful not to over water your new starts, but make sure to water them often. If you are very careful with the roots on your new seedlings when you are transplanting them, your plants will have a much easier time adapting to the change and keep growing at their regular rate.

I have heard other gardeners talk about using potting soil around the new starts. Then your average soil, so it will help your seedlings to continue growing during the first two or three weeks after transplanting them.

A Few Types of Plants That Hate Being Transplanted

how to transplant seedlingsThere are a few plants that hate being replanted. If you are going to replant corn, beans, cucumbers, squash, or you need to be extremely careful that you do not tamper with the roots in any way. It could take the plant weeks to recover if you do. Also, these plants are great to start from a seed in your garden. That way, they are already activated when they start growing. Peas and beans are extremely easy to start and so is corn and squash. I would recommend that you start these from seed and not buying them as starts for planting them indoors.

Another possible solution is to use recyclable pots that can be transplanted outside. As long as your plants get enough water, this is a great way to do it.

The best way to do this is to use an old newspaper and a glass jar or a metal can. All you need to do is to wrap the newspaper around the pot and then tape it together on the side and underneath. Make sure that the paper is a couple of pages thick. Now you have a temporary pot that you can use for to 6 weeks and then plant in the soil with your seedling. This method is simple and save money. It also makes it easier to transplant your starts.


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