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How to Transplanting Seedlings

You have pampered your baby seedlings indoors, painstakingly giving them water, nutrients and as much sunlight as you possibly could. You took them on the deck on warm, sunny days, and brought them indoors on cold nights.

Finally, the last frost date in your area has just past. Your healthy, vigorous seedlings are ready to "move out", and cozy into their summer home. You want to do so, while avoiding transplant shock, which can slow down the growth of your plants.

So, its time to review Seedling Transplanting Basics..............

Let's start with a quick overview of what causes transplanting shock:

  • Disturbing and damaging roots, as you plant your seedling. Tiny feeder roots are easily broken.

  • Cold temperatures. Your young plants were cozy indoors or in a hot house or greenhouse. Freezing weather may kill them. And, cold weather can stunt their growth. Hopefully, you have been hardening off your seedlings.

  • Dry or wet soils. Young seedling, needs moist soil. If wet spring weather has left your soil soggy, allow excess water to drain a bit, before declaring today as "Transplanting Day". You may also want to raise the garden soil a little, to help excess water to drain off.

  • Hot sunlight can cause your young transplants to wilt, especially if their roots have been disturbed.


How to Transplant Seedlings:

  1. Prepare the garden in advance of transplanting day.

  2. Mix ample amounts of compost and peat moss into the soil. About Peat Moss

  3. Check soil pH. Adjust, as needed. See soil pH

  4. Transplant frost-sensitive seedlings after the last frost date in your area. Cold weather can slow the growth of your plants. If cold weather is still forecasted, hold off transplanting for a day or so.

  5. Select a cool, cloudy day. Hot sunshine, warm temperatures, and dry winds, can temporarily wilt transplants. If you can't wait, provide shade cover for a day or two.

  6. Dig a hole twice the size of the roots. Set the roots into the hole. If you are using peat pots, just set the pot right inside of the hole.  The roots will be completely undisturbed, and will quickly and easily penetrate the pots and grow into the garden soil.

  7. If you are using plastic pots, loosen the soil around the inside of the pot with a knife. Then, very gently remove the roots from the pot.

  8. Fill in the planting hole with a combination of garden soil, compost and peat moss.  

  9. Press down ever so gently, but be careful not to stress or damage the roots.

  10. Sprinkle a light application of fertilizer around the plant. Or, water with liquid fertilizer.

  11. Water the plant thoroughly. Then, keep the soil moist for several days, to help the roots to re-develop.


Peat pots are organic, as they are made from peat. Peat is compressed into round or square pots of varying sizes, from 2 -1/2 inches to 5 inches in diameter. The peat pots are organic and porous, yet strong enough to hold seed starting soil and your  favorite, young seedlings. At planting time, transplant seedling in the pot right into the garden, minimizing transplant shock. Roots will easily grow through the pots.   Buy Peat Pots 

Did You Know? Jiffy was the first company to produce peat pots, beginning in the early 1950's.


Peat pellets - are compressed peat held together in a string-like netting. Add water and it expands. Peat pellets are popular for their ease of use. They also minimize transplant shock. While it is made from peat, peat pellets are not completely organic. They have a small charge of fertilizer in them. The netting is made of nylon, cornstarch and cotton.  Buy Peat Pellets


Related Topics

About Peatlands and Peat Bogs

About Peat Moss

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