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7 Tips For Outdoor Seed Transplanting Success

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We are approaching that time of year when it is time to put our precious seedlings into the big wide world. Time for them to leave their cosy spots and stretch their legs.

Many things can go wrong here, but follow my seven tips below, and you will be just fine!

1. Check The Forecast

This is the most important one; make sure you have a look at the forecast for the next couple of weeks before planting out. I know the long-term forecasts aren’t all that accurate, but they should give you a general feel for how the weather will be. If storms are forecast, then now is not the time to plant out!

Keep an eye out for frosts in particular, as these will kill many young seedlings and even some established plants. Also, remember your last frost date for planting tender plants.

Again last frost dates are just a guideline, and with the warmer weather we get now, they are also often a little pessimistic. I tend to plant out a few weeks before my last frost date as long as the forecast is good.

Seedlings Shocked By Frost
Seedlings Shocked By Frost

2. Harden Off

This is essential if you want a successful transplant. Hardening off is a simple but slow process and one that can be all too tempting to skip entirely, but please don’t!

Hardening off is simply acclimatising your seedlings to cooler conditions by leaving them outside for longer periods of time and then bringing them back in overnight.

If your plants go from indoors to out in an instant, then the shock can often be enough to kill them; you have to get them ready.

I often do this by moving them into my greenhouse for a couple of weeks before planting them outside, a sort of lazy middle ground.

Hardening off seedlings on a garden table
Hardening off seedlings on a garden table

3. Careful With The Roots!

Be gentle with those roots when removing your seedlings from their pots. If you can, then push them up from the bottom and handle them by the leaves.

The stronger the roots, the quicker your seedlings will establish themselves and start to grow again.

If you do damage the roots, then still plant the seedling, they will often recover, but it will set them back by a few weeks.

Strawberry Roots
Strawberry Roots

4. Planting Depth

Different plants have different planting depths, but many will benefit from being planted deeply. Just have a quick Google of the plant you are transplanting before popping them in.

Tomatoes thrive when planted deeply, but something like strawberries wants their crown above the soil surface to prevent rot.

Planting Tomatoes Deep
Planting Tomatoes Deep

5. Water Well

Watering your seedlings well after planting serves two purposes. For starters, it gives your seedlings a good drink, which is particularly important if you have damaged the roots at all.

But it also closes the soil up around the roots and removes any air pockets, which will help the seedling establish itself quicker.

Water Seedlings In Well
Water Seedlings In Well

6. Label, Label, Label

The number of times I have planted out some seedlings and not bothered to label them, swearing down that I will remember what I planted. I never remember and soon have no idea what I have planted.

So now I label everything, including the variety growing so I know what is doing well and what isnt.

Label Your Seedlings
Label Your Seedlings

7. Spacing

Different seedlings need different spacing when planted. This can be hard to stick to as it can be difficult to see just how large some plants are going to be when they are but tiny seedlings.

Again a quick Google of the plant you are transplanting will give you a good idea of the spacing required.

This is just another guideline, and I often find that people are a little over-cautious with their spacing. I tend to go a little under what everyone says so I can squeeze more plants in!

Space Seedlings Out Properly
Space Seedlings Out Properly

And there we have it, seven tips for seed transplanting success. What are your top tips? Let me know in the comments below.
Daniel

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Elaine Evans

Wednesday 17th of May 2023

I started veg growing last year. It was a bit hit and miss. This year I planted lettice in my raised bed as a dosent matter if slugs get it and leave other stuff alone. They haven't touched it, why? I read to do this in a veg book

Martin Peters

Thursday 20th of April 2023

Hi Daniel, I have just come across your website and have subscribed to it. As a beginner gardener I have valued your advise and help. I particularly like the way you keep things simple. Many thanks and keep up the good work

Daniel

Thursday 20th of April 2023

Thanks Martin, That is very kind of you to say!