Know when To Transplant Seedlings To Get The Best Crop

A process as challenging as transplantation requires a careful knowledge of when to transplant seedlings. It is, nonetheless, very beneficial for gardening enthusiasts and gives you the satisfaction of having full control over the plant growth at every stage. There are certain crucial things that you must know about seedling transplantation and we are going to help you with that in this article.

We will break down the entire process into simple sections to allow you to understand better. Read on.


About transplantation

The process of transplantation involves the shifting of the young plants from one medium to another where the elements of the new home are slowly introduced to the plant. This enables the plant to grow healthier foliage and stronger root system in the initial stages. It also facilitates the growth of the seedlings in a controlled and safer environment and easy establishment.

There are several benefits of it-

  • Promotes safe growth of the plant
  • Extends the growing season
  • Gardeners can get a better head start

It is very important that the process is carried out with caution as any stone left can cause significant damage to the plants by way of transplant shock. The stem or root of the plant is harmed and it loses its nutrients. Watch the video to understand.

Some facts about seedling transplantation

To begin with, there are no strict rules about transplanting seedlings because every plant grows differently and that would affect the right time for transplantation.

The question of when to transplant seedlings itself points to the most important aspect- Timing. If it’s not the proper time, then the seedling might fail in facing the new environment as they are not ready or just become too pot accustomed to adjusting to the new conditions.

The right way to judge if the plant is ready for transplantation doesn’t depend on its height but how many true leaves the plant has. The thumb rule is that a seedling is ready for transplantation if it has got 3-4 true leaves already.

The true leaves grow after the first leaves or the cotyledons. They start photosynthesis and grow further to keep feeding the plant throughout its life. This is why these leaves are important for the sustenance of the plant when they are moved out.

Timing and preparation before transplantation

It is important to start with a proper plan that has the right timing and a nice preparation method. We are going to tell you how to do that.

when to transplant seedlings

For the proper timing

  • Check the essential individual conditions of the growing plant that it needs outdoors.
  • Check the local frost dates of spring as they are the prime factor for deciding the timing of both starting the seeds as well as transplantation.
  • Keep tracking the local weather changes for serious cold snaps as they can prove detrimental to the seedlings.
  • Keep a record of the entire process of transplantation and seed starting for future reference.

For the prepping of the seedlings

  • Decrease water and fertilizer supply.
  • Gradual temperature increases are necessary and try things like mulching, raised beds, or row covers.
  • Loosen and aerate the garden soil.
  • The seedlings must be hardened off. Read the next section.

Hardening off

Hardening off is needed before you transplant seedlings in their new environment. This denotes facilitating the adjustment of the seedlings to the new environmental conditions which is a slow process. The idea is to gradually increase the exposure time of the young plants to the new conditions.

You start with 1-2 weeks prior to transplantation. Bring the plants outdoor every day and keep them moistened and in dappled shade for a certain time period which you gradually increase every day. This allows them to slowly adapt to the humidity, temperature, and other things outside.

The plant doesn’t go any significant appearance change during hardening as the change happens inside in the cellular structure of leaves and stem.

Transplanting method

Let us give you the steps for proper transplantation method:

  • Firstly, dig a hole in the soil bed which must be a little bigger than the pot both in terms of depth and width.
  • Cover the pot with your hand in such a way that the stem is held between the fingers. Tap and squeeze the bottom of the container to loosen the soil and gently push it upwards. This is done to keep the original soil around the plants as intact as possible.
  • Keep rotating and squeezing the pot until the plant comes out fully with the soil lump intact. Note here that the clump must be sticking together in a whole lot which indicates that the roots are rightly developed. In any other case, you go ahead with transplanting anyway.
  • Put the seedling into the hole we dug in the ground and fill it with the potting mix only or a quality soil. Bury the stem parts as it will promote new root growth. Don’t bury any leaves or you can remove the lower leaves for keeping rotting away.
  • Don’t press the soil of the hole at all. Let it be as it is.
  • Water the plant nicely and ass any compost, mulch, or topsoil of your choice.

There are some things to consider while transplanting that make the process more effective. Try performing the process in early mornings to avoid instant exposure to high sun. Water the transplanted seedling immediately for settling the roots.

If you ask us when to transplant seedlings to bigger pots, it depends upon the individual needs of the plant as they might need more space to grow before final transplantation.

Regular phosphorous supply generally promotes good initial growth and you can add the suitable fertilizer to the seedlings for a few initial days. Keep a check over the weather and cover the plants as needed.

Transplanting pepper seedlings

This section will be enlightening you about tips related to when to transplant pepper seedlings.

After the sprouting of the pepper seeds started indoors, they need to be shifted to larger pots after 3-4 weeks. This gives them time to grow their third set of true leaves after which they can be transplanted. The timing can differ according to the pepper variety.

To ensure that the plants are ready, check for a hardball with white roots.

You will need certain items for transplanting the pepper seedlings- pruning shears, pots, and potting soil.

Moisten the soil enough and then fill it into the pots at around 1:3 ratio. Pull the seedling out gently from the trays and loosen the rolled roots lightly. Put them into the new pot and cover them with the new soil.

Tap the soil around the rootball gently and top the pot with soil. Water the plant lightly. You must prune away any additional shrub growth prior to planting.

The soil must be nutrient-rich and fed with suitable fertilizers which help in the development of a healthy structure and foliage.


Now that you know all about when to transplant seedlings, you can easily go ahead with the plant of your choice and start it. Just be careful about the factors we laid out and trust us, nothing will go wrong unless any unprecedented situation occurs. When done rightly, transplantation will give the necessary strength to the plant for flourishing till long.

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Tom Rico

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