Plant and Seedling Transplant Shock

Seed Tray

How to Minimize and Avoid Seedling Transplant Shock

Plant and Seedling transplant shock is a common occurrence when transplanting any type of plant. We most often think of transplant shock when planting garden seedlings, both store-bought, and home-started seedlings, outdoors in the spring. However, it can also occur when digging up and replanting any established plants. Common examples are rose bushes, lilac bushes, and small trees. So, let’s explore the causes, symptoms, and how to minimize transplant shock.

The plant propagation method of “Plant Division”, can also result in transplant shock. Plant division is where overcrowded bulbs or perennials are dug up, separated into smaller groups, then re-planted into a new area.   

Did You Know? Moving plants indoors in the fall can result in a form of transplant shock, as your potted plant accustoms itself to its new, indoor environment. The most common sign of houseplant transplant shock is Leaf Drop

The good news is, that transplanting shock can be minimized, and often avoided entirely.

Transplanting Shock Causes and Cures:

Roots are Disturbed

Symptoms: Plant wilts, leaves drop

How to Avoid/Minimize:

Seedlings: Use peat pots. Keep plant in the peat pot at planting, eliminating this cause entirely.

Established Plants: Dig deeper and wider, to capture more roots intact. Remove up to 1/3 of plant foliage.

Cold Frame Double

Frost or Significantly Lower Temperatures

Symptoms: Plant slows down, stunts, or dies

How to Avoid/Minimize:

Seedlings: Delay planting until warmer weather, harden off plants before transplanting, and use hot caps, frost covers, or row covers on cool and cold nights.

Established Plants: Usually not a transplant problem.

Hot Temperatures

Symptoms: Plants Wilt

How to Avoid/Minimize:

Seedlings: Plant in cooler weather, provide temporary shade cover, keep the soil moist, and use a sprinkler to cool down plants at midday.

Established Plants: Keep soil moist.

Sunlight is Too Intense

Symptom: Plant wilts, leaves scald or burn

How to Avoid/Minimize

Seedlings: Plan transplanting for cloudy days, provide shade cover, and keep the soil moist.

Established Plants: Remove up to 1/3 of plant foliage, and keep the soil moist.

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