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