Author: Kaitlin Vermaak Now that the weather is getting warmer, it's time to start thinking about transplanting your seedlings into the garden. When we refer to "transplanting," we mean the act of moving seedlings or small plants from their pots outside into the garden soil. 1. When to Transplant
Different plants have different ideal transplant times depending on if they prefer warmth or coolness. Not only is air temperature critical, but soil temperature matters as well! As you prepare for transplanting, keep an eye on weather forecasts; cold snaps could delay your plans. Heat-loving plants shouldn't be outside until night-time temperatures remain above 15°C (60°F).

2. Prepare the Garden and the Plants
  • Start loosening and amending the soil to get your garden ready for planting. This will help it to retain moisture, drain well, and be more hospitable to seedling roots. You may also want to work in some organic matter to a depth of about a shovel, which will help drainage and aeration. Remove any rocks or roots of weeds that you come across.
  • Help your plants adjust to the shock of the cold ground by raising the soil temperature. You can spread black plastic or landscaping fabric across the site a couple of weeks before planting.
  • Taking care not to compact the soil when walking around the garden is essential. This makes it more difficult for small roots, water, and air to penetrate. Instead, create paths or boards to stand on.
  • Last week before transplanting them outdoors, withhold fertilizer and water from your plants less often to condition them for the harsher outdoor life.
  • Seedlings and start plants that have been indoors must slowly adjust to being outdoors, or they will experience shock. To harden plants, begin by watering them well approximately seven to ten days before transplanting. Set the seedlings in an area with dappled shade for a few hours each day. Gradually increase their exposure to full sun and windy conditions.
  • Water the seedlings regularly throughout the hardening-off period. Dry air and spring breezes can cause rapid water loss, so keeping the soil moist is crucial.
3. Transplanting from Pot to Soil tips
It's best to transplant the plants on a warm, overcast day in the early morning. This allows them to get used to the new soil without being immediately exposed to the intense midday sun.
  • Check the moisture of the soil. The soil should be moist but not soaking wet.
  • Dig a planting hole slightly bigger than the plant's rootball and just as deep.
  • Turn the pot upside down while supporting the soil side with your other hand. Gently tap the bottom of the pot until the seedling falls out.
  • Place the seedling in the hole and cover it with soil until only the top of the plant is visible.
  • Tamp down the soil around the plant to ensure good contact between the roots and the soil.
  • Immediately after transplanting, water the plant thoroughly to settle the roots and eliminate air pockets.
Once you transplant, keep the soil bed moist—never allowing it to dry. Water gently at the soil level with a watering can (NOT from above) until the plants are well established. This usually means watering once daily, so the soil surface never dries.