There are four vital points you must consider while planting the seedlings, such as time to transplanting, transplanting method, transplanting depth and how to protect the seedlings after transplanting.
Germination is a process of physiological change from seeds to sprouts or new plants, marked by the emergence of cotyledon leaves and roots. After germination, you will have seedlings that can be transplanted into pots. Unfortunately, only a few people understand seedling care after transplanting. Some need help understanding the method and importance of plant seedling in a fresh growing medium after germination. Hence, we are here to give tips on how to transplant seedlings after germination.
We will also include a guide in successful care for seedlings, along with the factors that may influence this process. That way, you will not only understand seedling transplanting step by step.
Interested in knowing how to transplant seedlings after germination and how to give proper seedling care after transplanting? Let’s dive in!
Table of Contents
- Introduction About Seedling Transplanting
- Preparing for Seedling Transplanting
- Transplanting Seedlings
- Seedling Transplanting Aftercare
- Final Thought
- FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
Introduction About Seedling Transplanting
Before transplanting your seedling or even taking further steps to discuss tips on successful care for seedling, you must have a glimpse of understanding about this process.
Knowing the importance of transplanting young plants in a new pot will give you insights that these seedlings need broader spaces to grow and develop. Without any further ado, let’s find out!
1. What Is Seedling Transplanting?
As the name suggests, seedling transplanting refers to transplanting young plants from a seedling tray into a growing medium after germination. This step is crucial because it provides better space for seedlings to absorb nutrients and water as well as grow their roots deeper.
However, many mistakenly think transplanting seedlings is similar to direct seed sowing. In fact, they are entirely different. Seed sowing is more about sowing the seeds directly on the growing medium, like garden soil.
Meanwhile, seedlings include several processes before being transplanted to a new pot. The seeds will be planted in seed starting trays or placed on wet paper towels indoors. Their environment must be damp and lack light if you want to speed up the germination.
After the seeds sprout indoors, you must wait until around 3-4 true leaves appear before transplanting seedlings into a fresh container. Don’t be fooled by the height of the seedlings. The most important thing is the number of true leaves because they are the place where the photosynthesis process takes place, which will produce energy to thrive.
2. Importance of Seedling Transplanting
Like humans who grow up and need new places to continue developing, so do seedlings. They will require space to produce roots vigorously and absorb the abundant nutrients they need to grow and thrive. Also, their roots need to breathe as your previous seed starter tray only has a narrow space, making the roots overcrowded.
In addition, seedling transplanting allows early harvest as they can mature faster than those planted with direct seed sowing. This is because they grow and age evenly simultaneously, so you can increase the chance of successful planting. You can plant a seedling in an individual container. Make sure you choose a pot size that fits your plant.
3. Factors To Consider Before Transplanting Seedlings
In addition to better understanding the importance of seedling transplanting, you must know the factors that influence seedling transplanting. One of the most important is the growth of true leaves.
You can remove the seedling and plant it in a new pot only if the young plant has 3-4 true leaves. The growth period of these kinds of leaves depends on the plants. However, some will grow true leaves around 4 weeks after sowing the seeds. True leaves are essential as the medium for photosynthesis, a process that involves chlorophyll, sunlight, and oxygen to produce food.
Besides that, knowing the best time to transplant is also vital to ensure proper growth. Transplanting seedlings after frost, especially in early spring, is preferable as the soil has melted and the temperature gets warmer.
Nonetheless, avoid hot weather and dry conditions as such an environment will make your seedling suffer from heat shock. Besides, too much light will cause leggy seedlings. Also, protect the seedling from windy conditions.
Preparing for Seedling Transplanting
You better know about several preparatory steps that are required before moving your seedlings from seed starter trays to pots or gardens. It is also an important step before further discussing how to transplant seedlings after germination.
They are crucial to minimize mistakes during transplanting. Thus, you can have better plant growth and plenty of harvests afterward.
1. Selecting A Transplanting Site
Apart from knowing the best time to transplant your seedling, choosing the right transplanting site is no less crucial. It will be a source of water and nutrients for them to grow. You can plant your seedlings in a pot filled with garden soil. Nonetheless, we strongly recommend doing further soil testing to find out whether your soil’s quality can meet your seedlings’ needs.
You can measure the soil pH with an electronic pH meter and check the composition of the soil. There are several soil types, such as clay, sandy, loamy, stone, or even mix. Make sure it meets the specific requirements your plants need.
Apart from that, you must ensure light exposure to the transplanting site. Seedlings love to soak under the sun for around 12-16 hours. However, excessive light will make them droop. Besides, it will raise the temperature. So, it would be best to pick a spot with partial sun or dappled shade to protect them from hot weather.
Furthermore, you must also consider water sources. Ensure that the planting site is close to a water faucet or water sprinkler where you can prevent them from dry conditions. To protect them against windy conditions, we recommend transplanting one into your greenhouse. Or, if you grow them in pots, you can use your patio for a while to rescue seedlings from extreme weather.
2. Choosing The Right Container
As previously discussed, transplanting seedlings is necessary to give the young plant a fresh start in absorbing nutrients and water. Not only that, but this step also provides proper space to grow. Hence, choosing the right container matters.
There are two things you must consider before buying a seedling pot. One of which is the size of your plant. You’d better buy a big pot if it is likely to grow large. It will let the plant produce a more profound and wider root system.
On the other hand, smaller seedlings, for example, from basil, can quickly grow in tiny pots. You can use salvaged pots from your previous herb plants or paint and food containers to create DIY containers. But in this case, you must create drainage holes at the bottom to avoid constant wet conditions that potentially rot the roots.
3. Preparing The Soil or Growing Medium
Transplanting seedlings after frost may require you to prepare garden soil a bit harder. The soil will likely freeze due to extreme cold weather. Not to mention the wet conditions that cause the planting needs extra effort. In this case, you need to loosen the soil.
But before that, we recommend removing weeds, rocks, or debris from the planting site. Then, dig into the soil to provide better aeration and loosen it up. You can dig around 8 to 12 inches deep so the roots can grow better. By doing so, you also help transplanting seedlings without damaging the roots.
Add compost or other natural fertilizers and blend them with the soil to offer organic matter before planting. Also, spread landscaping fabric to maintain a warm temperature. If you live in the Northern Hemisphere with constant cold weather, you can make garden beds. This way, you won’t struggle with frozen soil and roots.
4. Watering The Seedlings
Seedlings love moist soil but hate constant wet soil conditions. Considering this fact, watering is crucial to maintain soil moisture. Your seedling needs water to ensure proper photosynthesis and produce food to grow.
In addition, moist soil is vital for seedlings because they have not been able to retain moisture as established plants due to their roots which have yet to fully develop. So, they rely on soil moisture for their water supply. You can water the planting site regularly and evenly to keep it moist, around twice a week. Meanwhile, it is necessary to water the plant or seedling at least once a day.
5. Hardening Off The Seedlings
This is basically a way to make seedlings adapt well to their environment. It is especially beneficial for seedlings sown indoors. You can take the seedling trays outdoors and place them under a shade tree, protecting them from the scorching sun and windy conditions.
We recommend doing this practice 7-10 days prior to transplanting. As time passes, you can gradually introduce them to spots with sunlight and wind exposure. Even though it seems unnecessary, the hardening off the seedlings will help them survive the shock.
Now that you know the factors that influence seedlings as well as the preparation, we are jumping into seedling transplanting step by step you can easily follow. There are four vital points you must consider while planting the seedlings. They are related to each other, so make sure you don’t miss one.
1. Timing The Transplanting
Early spring or fall is the best time to transplant seedlings. This is not without reason knowing the fact that those two seasons have favorable temperatures which are not too hot or cold for the seedlings to thrive (52°F – 73°F, depending on the region and climate). Besides that, the ground has yet to freeze, making it easy to handle and plant the seedlings in your garden or pots.
Moreover, you have to consider the number of true leaves that grow. Generally, you need 3-4 true leaves before deciding to remove the seedling. Some gardeners also consider the height, which is about 3 to 4 inches, before transplanting.
2. Transplanting Techniques
Transplanting technique means you remove an active growing young plant from its initial planting site to another fresh one to provide better growth. It also gives room for the plant to grow.
While you can transplant various plants you want, the transplanting method generally stands for these steps:
- Choose the planting site. Make sure it has proper sun exposure but not too much and moist soil.
- Loose the soil a bit by digging it. It also provides better soil aeration for the roots to grow.
- Dig the soil with a depth and width about twice the size of the pot or trays where the seedlings were previously grown. Make sure it makes a hole.
- Remove the seedlings from their trays. Tease off the soil that is wrapped around the roots.
- Place the seedlings in the hole and bury them. Now, firm the soil surface with your hands.
- Lastly, water the seedlings evenly to keep the soil moist.
The above steps apply to houseplants, herbs, and perennials. But if you are into agriculture transplanting, for example, rice, you may choose a random or straight-row method. Random transplanting refers to planting the seedlings without considering the space and distance to each other. Meanwhile, the straight row follows the provided straight line that is neater.
3. Transplanting Depth
Depending on the plants, transplanting depth usually requires around 4-6 inches to ensure the roots are well-covered with growing medium. The true leaves must be a few inches above the soil line. These leaves are essential for photosynthesis. So, burying them is never an option.
Moreover, we recommend hand-firming the soil sparingly. While it is important to ensure the roots are buried under the soil, compact soil is not good for them as it will suffocate the roots due to lack of oxygen exposure. Hence, it will be better to lightly pack the soil to allow better water absorption and aeration. Loosening the soil also allows transplanting seedlings without damaging the roots.
4. Protecting The Seedlings After Transplanting
Seedlings are young plants that require adaptation after planting. To reduce shock after transplanting, we will always offer water. You can water the plant or seedling daily. It is beneficial to keep the soil moist and offer an adequate water supply, especially during hot weather. But please don’t overwater because they can feel overwhelmed.
Apart from that, we also installed wind cloches to protect the seedlings from windy days. Intense winds can potentially sweep away the topsoil and even uproot the seedlings from the planting area. In addition, we recommend introducing nutrient boosts for the roots to grow faster. You can use natural fertilizer, which is rich in phosphorus.
Seedling Transplanting Aftercare
Besides knowing how to transplant seedlings after germination, you must know how to take care of them. Otherwise, they will die or grow slowly, not following your expectations. Here are some tips to give proper care for seedlings that are much needed.
1. Monitoring The Seedlings
Even though you know how to transplant seedlings after germination and have successfully transplanted your seedlings, that doesn’t mean you can just leave them be. It is always better to monitor their growth. So, whenever there’s a problem, you can spot it quickly and find a solution.
If you notice that your seedling’s leaves droop and turn yellow, you can assume this plant is getting excessive sunlight. The discoloration may get worse into brown on the edges spreading to the veins if you don’t take immediate action to rescue them into a shady area.
Apart from that, you have to pay attention to the water supply. While watering is essential to lock soil moisture, too much water will lead to root rot. The signs of rotting are wilting and browning leaves. So, it would be wise to only water once daily and allow the surface to dry out a bit before adding more water.
2. Fertilizing The Seedlings
One of the ways to take care of your seedlings is by fertilizing them. You can offer additional nutrients around 2 weeks after transplanting. We recommend purchasing one with high nitrogen and phosphorus content to speed up the growth. It will be best to dilute the fertilizer to half the strength to avoid burning fertilizer in the young plant.
After that, you can bottom-feed the seedlings. In addition to boosting root development, fertilization also ensures healthy plants and thus makes them resistant to pests.
3. Pruning The Seedlings
Despite being young plants, pruning the seedling’s leaves is necessary to boost growth. It is because dead leaves consume too much energy that could be used for new leaf growth and root development.
However, you must wait until a few sets of true leaves grow. This doesn’t include the cotyledons that first appeared during sprouting. After that, you can use sharp scissors if you’re unsure how to pinch the seedling’s stem. We are strongly against pinching down exactly the point where the leaves grow and connect to the branch because that can be a spot for new leaves to grow.
4. Pest and Disease Management
Your seedlings may be susceptible to pests and diseases if they are planted early in the season. The reason is simply that they have no chance to build up a natural defense and immunity against these culprits.
Moreover, seedlings grow smaller and more delicate leaves, two characteristics that pests really like, such as caterpillars, aphids, whiteflies, spider mites, to chew. Usually, we use cloches to throw away these pests from invading our garden. You can also grow companion plants that naturally repel pests.
In addition to pests, seedlings are not resistant to disease. In general, diseases that infect seedlings are soil-borne due to improper care. You must avoid damp or wet soil, a favorite environment for Rhizoctonia spp., Fusarium spp., and Pythium spp.
They can cause root rot for seedlings and crow root for well-established plants. Therefore, you must ensure the planting site has good drainage. If you grow them in pots, you must have drainage holes to allow water to escape the soil.
Tips on how to transplant seedlings after germination depends on the factors affecting their growth. The most important ones are temperature, light exposure, and moisture. In addition, you also have to pay attention to care after transplanting.
Like babies, these seedlings are young plants prone to various issues, especially concerning pests and diseases. These two problems can be easily solved if you give proper care. Moreover, transplanting seedlings must also consider seasons and climates. The best season is early spring because the temperature is warm, and the humidity is suitable for the needs of seedlings.
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FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
Which way do you plant a seed after germination?
While you can plant seeds in their original shape, you can also consider grow once they sprout. In this case, you must know how to position the seeds after germination so they can grow healthy seedlings. You can plant it with the roots downwards, so the seedlings can produce roots vigorously. Also, make sure the sprouts have cotyledon leaves and hook shape before planting one.
How big should seedlings be before transplanting?
You probably get so excited once you notice that your seedlings grow true leaves. However, you will require around 3 or 4 true leaves before transplanting your seedlings. It usually happens around 3 weeks after seeds sprout indoors. You can remove the seedling and transplant to individual containers to provide better growing mediums.
Do seeds need sunlight after germination?
Unlike seeds in the germination stage that do not need sunlight to thrive, sprouted seeds in the seedling stage require sun exposure to support their growth after germination. They will grow best under south-facing window boxes with around 12-16 hours of sunlight.
Why do seeds germinate better in the dark?
Contrary to common belief, seeds actually do not need light to speed up germination. They, in fact, grow better in the dark. Light will break down carbonic acid gas that is necessary for the seed growth. It also expels oxygen that seeds will later use to stimulate germination.
Hence, you better put your vegetable seeds in seed starting trays and arrange them in an area with minimum sunlight exposure to boost their germination.
What color light helps seeds germinate?
If you consider growing your vegetable seeds under grow lights, we highly recommend choosing one that has a blue-green label. This kind of light will help your seeds germinate and sprout faster. However, you better not overlook these seeds since blue-green light will make the sprouted seeds grow stunt.
How do I know if my seedlings have too much light?
One of the most important things in seedling care is to provide adequate light. Generally, seedlings need around 14-16 hours of sunlight exposure to thrive. Hence, window boxes are the best spot to set your seedling tray or individual containers.
Nonetheless, excessive light is never good for the seedling stage. You may notice droop and yellowing leaves if your seedlings are exposed to too much light. On the other hand, lack of light exposure causes leggy seedlings.