Today’s blog is all about getting your new seedling transplants out to the garden successfully. You’ve spent weeks caring for them. From the time your seeds germinated to the time they developed their first true leaves; don’t let your hard work go to waste. Read on for some advice on planting transplants into the garden. If you need tips on germinating seeds indoors, and maintaining seedlings as they grow indoors, please see the included links.

Tomato transplants need to be bumped up to larger containers.
New tomato transplants finding their new homes in the garden.

6 Tips for Success Moving Transplants to the Garden

Be Gentle with your Transplants

Remember, your transplants are not mature plants with sturdy roots yet; they are still fragile in their transplant state. When removing your transplants from their pots, hold the bottom of the pot with one hand and gently slide the stem base between your first and middle finger on the other hand. Gently turn pot over and slightly squeeze the sides of the pot to allow transplant to slide out upside down. Now you can use both hands to cup the soil and place transplant into garden hole.

If your transplant still needs to be protected inside longer but has outgrown its first pot, bump it up to the next sized container until the weather is right for it to go in the garden.

Right Planting Depth for Transplants

Don’t bury your transplants too deep in the garden soil (tomatoes are an exception). Your transplants should be planted at the same depth that they have been growing at in their transplant pots. Soil line in your transplant

Water for Young Transplants

Make sure that your transplants AND your garden has been watered a day or two before planting your seedling transplants and then water again after planting. Seedlings don’t quite have an extensive root system developed yet, so giving them this moist environment to start with will help young transplants root well in the soil. Do not let your transplants dry out, without an extensive root system they may shrivel up and die.

Jumpstart Vegetative Growth for Transplants with Fertilizer

After planting your transplants, water them in with a diluted water-soluble fertilizer to give your transplants a boost of nutrients to start off with. We like Grow Big® from FoxFarm. Water-soluble formulas will penetrate to the roots for quick plant uptake. Just make sure that any fertilizer given at this first, early stage is diluted to prevent any type of burn to the young transplants. Liquid seaweed and kelp are great options for reducing the risk of transplants shock and for creating strong healthy plants.

Weather Protection for Young Transplants

Make sure you have appropriate weather protection for your transplants from a late/early freeze, and also when planting in hot weather. (Ex: We plant transplants of tomatoes early in both spring and fall so they need protection from both cold and hot weather.) Have your weather protection on hand for the first month or two after transplants are in the garden. 

Protection for Transplants from Critters

There is something irresistible about tender young transplants that have the pests circling your garden like sharks. Lightweight grow webbing can lock the pests out while still allowing sunlight to come in. Tricks like inserting sticks vertically next to a planted stem, or using a cut cardboard roll as a shield around stems, can keep cutworms from access to your transplants. Baits keep pillbugs, snails and slugs at bay. Always keep a close eye on newly planted transplants as they are very susceptible to pest damage.

For more in depth information on planting from seed, you can visit past Happy Gardener posts on grwoing from seed.

~ The Happy Gardener, Lisa Mulroy