What You Need To Know About Successful Transplanting

In the springtime, transplanting is a very important part of getting your garden started. Whether you purchase seedlings or grow your own, it’s imperative that you transition them safely from their indoor winter start to a thriving outdoor life.

In this article, we provide tips on transitioning, planting, watering and providing a transplant fertilizer.

Watering with a Transplant fertilizerPin

Avoid Transplant Shock

No matter how carefully you move your plants from indoors to outdoors, they will experience some measure of transplant shock.

This type of setback is inevitable, but if you transition and transplant your seedlings wisely, you can minimize negative effects and minimize transplant damage and recovery times. 

10 Tips To Reduce Transplant Shock 

#1 – Time your transplant well. Transplanting seedlings that are too immature or too mature can cause stress and shock.

Seedlings that are ready for transplanting will have ample roots to form a solid root ball without clinging to the insides or growing out of the drainage holes of the seedling flat.

You should be able to tip the seedling out easily without spilling a lot of loose soil. 

#2 – Plants with dry soil experience more shock than watered plants with moist soil. Be sure to water your seedlings thoroughly before transferring them to your landscape or containers. 

#3 – Overheated plants experience more shock. Don’t allow seedlings to sit out in the sun for extended periods of time.

Keep them in the shade before planting and provide shelter from the hottest rays of the sun until your seedlings have become established. 

#4 – Dig your planting holes in advance and fill them with water.

You want to pop the seedlings into the holes and cover them with moist earth as quickly as possible to protect the roots and reduce shock and stress. 

#5 – Fully cover peat pots. If you’ve started your seedlings in peat pots instead of flats, be sure to bury the rims of the pots.

If they are exposed, they will wick moisture out of the soil around the seedlings’ roots. 

#6 – Help members of the nightshade family grow stronger roots. You can plant pepper, eggplant and tomato seedlings quite deep.

The buried stems will grow adventitious roots, which will provide a sturdy root ball that prevents toppling and improves nutrient and water uptake. 

#7 – Avoid root rot in greens, such as radicchio, escarole, endive, chicory and lettuce by planting shallowly.

The root balls of these plants should be a bit higher than the soil in your garden bed or container. This provides better air circulation and guards against root rot. 

#8 – Apply mulch as needed. Organic ground cover, such as leaf mulch, wood chips or partially composted organic matter will help hold moisture into the soil while slowly feeding your plants as it decomposes.

#9 – Water thoroughly to be sure of good contact between roots and soil.

Even if the soil is already moist, it’s important to provide a good, deep watering immediately after transplanting garden plants. 

#10 – Apply transplanting fertilizers. When you water your plants in, add a diluted water soluble fertilizer to the watering solution. 

Remember not to use any fertilizer that is high in nitrogen. A high nitrogen level will burn tender young roots. 

Look for a transplant fertilizer that is high in phosphorus. A fish or seaweed based fertilizer is ideal. 

Examples include:

  • SeaCom PGR Seaweed Concentrate (0-4-4)
  • Neptune’s Harvest Fish Fertilizer (2-4-1)

Start With Good Soil

It’s important to note that all of the recommendations above are offered with the assumption that you are starting out with a good quality container mix in container gardens or a good basic soil in your raised bed or traditional veggie garden. 

If you have problem soil, you must amend it to improve its condition before transplanting any seedlings.