Transplanting your seedlings Transplanting plants to your garden from inside or from one place to another is often a tricky proposition. You may be moving a large flowering shrub, a seedling tomato or a zinnia that you've planted from seed but the procedure that you follow is similar for all. Watering those transplants is probably the most important--and most neglected part of the process. Houseplants and potted plants are especially susceptible to transplant shock. If you remember two words--gentle and
frequent--you should have success.
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Double-check the planting date on the seed packet, in a comprehensive garden book or on the plastic tag stuck into the soil (for plants you bought at a nursery). You must hold off planting most flowers and vegetables until all danger of frost has passed. Some cold-tolerant varieties such as cauliflower can go into the ground a bit earlier; heat lovers such as tomatoes should wait until the ground has thoroughly warmed up.
'Harden off' your seedlings by leaving them outdoors for longer and longer periods. Start by sheltering the young plants under a porch or bench by day, then bringing them back in by night or during inclement weather. After two or three days, you can safely keep them in the sun for half a day. By the end of a week, they'll be tough enough to soak up the rays all day.
If you can, transplant the seedlings to the garden on an overcast day to ease the shock of transition from pot to ground. If a light mist is falling, so much the better. Water both the outside ground and the plants before you move them into the garden.
Remove each plant from its pot by turning it upside down and tapping lightly on the bottom; it will slide out easily. Gently run your fingers through the roots to loosen them a little.
Use a trowel to dig a hole about twice the size of the rootball and set the plant into the hole so the rootball will be covered by about 1/4 inch of soil. Press the soil firmly around the roots to ensure good soil-to-root contact.
Space the plants according to the directions.
Water well immediately after transplanting and again every day until the plants are well established and growing - usually within a week. If some plants show signs of wilting, shield them with a lath screen or a piece of lattice until they perk up, which shouldn't take more than a few days.