Transplanting Your Seedlings

Transplanting Seedlings

If you started vegetable plants indoors from seeds, here is advice on transplanting your seedlings.

  • Check our Planting Calendar to see local frost dates.
  • Be sure the plants harden off; that is, gradually get used to unsheltered life outdoors.
  • During their last week indoors, withhold fertilizer and water less often.
  • 7 to 10 days before transplanting, set the seedlings outdoors in dappled shade that is protected from winds for a few hours each day, gradually increasing their exposure to full sun and windy conditions.
  • Keep the soil moist at all times during the hardening-off period. Dry air and spring breezes can result in rapid transpiration.
  • If possible, transplant on overcast days or in the early morning.
  • Set transplants into loose, well-aerated soil that will capture and retain moisture, drain well, and allow easy penetration by seedling roots. See when soil is ready for planting.
  • Soak the soil around new seedlings immediately after transplanting.
  • Spread mulch to reduce soil-moisture loss.
  • To ensure that phosphorus—which promotes strong root development—is available in the root zone of new transplants, mix two tablespoons of a 15-30-15 starter fertilizer into a gallon of water (one tablespoon for vining crops such as melons and cucumbers), and give each seedling a cup of the solution after transplanting.
  • Anything that raises soil temperature will help plants adjust to the shock of cold ground. Try raised planting beds and plastic mulch to boost soil temperature.

Reader Comments

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Down with Molly Coddling seeds!

Best pumpkins and squash we ever had came when the seeds hadn't germinated in their little pots, so in disgust I took them out to an area we call No Man's Land and just dumped the lot. Seeds and dirt just helter skelter. Guess what germinated, grew like mad, and gave us so much produce we set boxes along the road with "Free" signs posted. Lots of fun, so -- I happily agree with Jeff. No Molly coddling!


I have gone through all this trouble several times ...however ,what I have found is that I get great results from sowing directly in the ground,after all farmers do this and don't Molly coddle ...just get to it...key is soil prep, weed eradication and I sieve my soil in small beds after adding manure. I water to keep uniformly moist (crucial) I start very early Georgia Piedmont zones7-8 ground rarely freezes so one can soil prep in January and plant mid March

I bought the 2015 Almanac. I

I bought the 2015 Almanac. I want to grow an indoor lemon tree, I have good seeds. I also want to grow an indoor Avocado tree. I see schedules for veggies, not citrus or avocado. Am I correct that the next above ground time will be approx the 13th-16th?

The best days to plant

The best days to plant above-ground crops is in "the light of the Moon", between a new and a full Moon. The Moon will be full on Sept. 27. You can plant the seeds any time before the full Moon date. The very best days are Sept. 16-18.

In the best days to plant

In the best days to plant calendar, is this to plant the seeds or actual seedling plants? We plant mostly seeds so I wasn't sure how to apply these dates. Thanks.

The planting by the Moon

The planting by the Moon calendar is for planting outside. If you have started seeds indoors move the seedlings outside on these dates. If you sow the seeds directly in the ground use these dates to plant the seeds.

Is it alright to plant

Is it alright to plant jalapeno & serrano hot pepper seedlings in pots to be kept outdoors rather than beds? I only find guidelines for mild peppers & habaneros.

You certainly can! Be careful

You certainly can! Be careful when handling the peppers--wear disposable gloves. Serranos may grow 2 to 5 feet tall; jalapenos, about 2 to 3 feet, so use an appropriate container for your variety. You might consider 5- to 7-gallon pots.

Good Morning, This is my

Good Morning,
This is my first time planting seeds indoors, I planted Zinias and Flox in a peat mixture. Currently they are being kept in my laundry room, the area is warm and provides indirect sunlight. The majority of my plants have sprouted and range in height from 1-3 inches. I see that they are straining towards the sunlight. Would it be premature to place the seedlings in an area of direct sunlight? Any thoughts or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!
Amy Erfort

Hi Amy, The seedlings need as

Hi Amy,
The seedlings need as much light as they can get. Move them to a sunny spot and turn the seed tray so that they get equal amounts of sunlight on all sides. When the seedlings get bigger transplant them into bigger pots.

All the information I have

All the information I have found is great for vegetables, is there a table like the vegetable table for herbs? I'd like to get a jump start on production and want to know how early to start.

The seedlings I started

The seedlings I started inside are very small (3 to 4 inches). The ones in the store are much bigger. Should I continue with mine, or buy new ones?

New to site and tad confused.

New to site and tad confused. If I start my seeds indoors by the moon favorable dates for indoors when do I transplant them outside?

what are the best days to

what are the best days to transplant seedling trees in the fall

Fall and spring are good

Fall and spring are good times to plant trees. If you are looking to plant according to the Moon, the best time is after the Moon is full and before it is new again.

I have been following your

I have been following your chart of moon favorable dates for starting seeds indoors. Do you have a chart that tells me when (Moon favorable dates) to set the seedlings in the outdoor garden beds? Thanks.

How late can you start pepper

How late can you start pepper and tomato seeds in the house? i was hoping i could start them in April as we have been having light frost the last few days.

You can start peppers indoors

You can start peppers indoors 8 to 10 weeks before the last spring frost and tomatoes 6 to 8 weeks before. If you look at our Starting Seeds Indoors page, you can use our frost chart (it's linked on the right side under the picture) to figure out when your last frost date is and then see if it's still ok to start to your seeds indoors.
You can also use our Vegetable Growing Guide  to help you get started.
Hope this helps!

You are probably thinking of

You are probably thinking of the "planting by the moon" chart, it tells you the best time to plant above ground and underground crops according to moon phases. Happy gardening!

I'm looking for the page with

I'm looking for the page with the dates of do's and don'ts for planting and other things. I saw it March 4, 2010 and can't find it again. One thing it meantioned was plant underground harvest on the 4th and 5th, but not the 6th and 7th. (I think). can you direct me to that page again? thank you. ie

See the "planting by the

See the "planting by the moon" chart on this sight.