Alicia DeVore

Walking into a big box store like Home Depot or Lowe’s or a nursery near me, you may be confronted with all the things to buy to add to your veggie backyard garden. But the problem is that these stores are just trying to sell what is available even if it is the wrong timing for planting or even the wrong season.

You need to know when to plant out your garden for each season of growing not according to what they want to sell you, but according to what is right for your garden in that season. You also need the understanding of knowing how to transplant so that your garden will grow successfully.

In this blog post, I am going to share with you the best time to transplant seedlings outside for success in your garden.

THE BEST time to transplant seedlings outside for success in garden

Timing is Everything

Timing is everything when transplanting seedlings to an outdoor vegetable garden. It can make the difference between successful and unsuccessful growth when should i transplant my seedlings.

Transplanting too early can cause seedlings to suffer from shock or they aren’t strong enough for their roots to continue growing strong.

To ensure that your seedlings have the best chance at thriving through the gardening season, it’s essential to pay attention to weather conditions like temperature, wind speed and direction, soil moisture levels, and sun exposure before you transplant seedlings outdoors. Nurseries near me often have the wrong plants for the wrong season. Know what plants work in the seasons before you waste your money.

blue shirt with green seedling
Seedling ready to plant.

Cool Season Timing for Spring and Fall

For Cool Season Vegetables or to know how to grow in winter check out this blog post for the best timing for transplanting seedlings outside in spring and fall is when the temperature is no lower than 40˚F and no higher than 70˚F and the plants have been hardened off by acclimating to the outdoor environment. Know your last frost date for spring and plant 6-8 weeks before that date. Also know your first frost date for the fall to plant cool season crops 6-8 weeks before that date to let the roots establish before the cold.

It’s important to transplant small seedlings before or after any expected rainstorms and be prepared to protect your seedlings from wind or extreme cold to give them their best chance of thriving in their new home.

Cool Season Crops to Transplant:

Some vegetables that are best transplanted during cool seasons include broccoli, cauliflower, celery, kale, cabbage, chard, spinach, lettuce, and spinach.

Other cool season crops that you can directly seed in the ground include root crops like beets, carrots, and radishes. Other seeds to plant directly in the ground that are leafy greens include arugula, lettuce, greens, bok choy, and spinach.

It’s also important to note that these vegetables need to be hardened off before planting outdoors; this involves gradually acclimating them to outdoor temperatures and conditions over the course of several days or weeks. More on hardening off in this blog post.

seed sprouting out of the ground
Seedling sprouting out of the ground.

Warm Season Timing

For Warm Season Vegetables, the best timing for transplanting seedlings outside is when the temperature is consistently between 60˚F and 80°F, the plants have been hardened off by acclimating to the outdoor environment, and there are no more expected frost warnings. Know your late spring frosts dates to know how to protect your plants.

This season is perfect to plant herbs safely, to give them time to root before the heat of summer makes it hard to grow.

Warm Season Crops to Transplant:

Warm season vegetables that you can transplant outdoors after starting seeds indoors include tomato seedlings, peppers, eggplants, and sweet potatoes.

A warm season crop that you can directly seed in the ground is cucumbers.

Warmer temperatures may help the crops to germinate more quickly, however it’s important not to rush the process prematurely as unexpected cold snaps can still occur during the late spring and early summer months.

lots of seedlings in a set of trays growing
Seedlings with getting stronger and growing to be planted in outside garden.

Hot Season Timing for Summer

For Hot Season Vegetables, the best timing for transplanting seedlings outside is when the temperature is consistently between 70˚F and 90°F, the plants have been hardened off by acclimating to the outdoor environment, and there are no more expected frost warnings.

Protect from too much sun by using sunshade to give your transplant seedlings more time to acclimate to their new environment without needing to just survive.

Hot Season Crops to Transplant:

Some crops that thrive in hot weather and can be transplanted during the summer months include okra, corn, and sunflowers.

Other hot season crops that you can directly seed in the ground include summer squash, winter squash, melons, bush beans, pole beans, and long beans. These do not need to be planted indoors first. They like it hot and do well directly planted in warm soil.

If you are growing these crops in a climate with mild temperatures, you will need to start them indoors roughly six weeks before planting outdoors.

Plants ready to get planted in the garden
Plants ready to go out into the garden.

When to Replant Seedlings Outside?

Here is a 5-step process in transplanting your seedlings outdoors. For more details on each of these basic steps keep reading through this post to get more information.

1. Choose Suitable Plant Varieties

When deciding which seedlings to transplant into your backyard vegetable garden, it’s important to select plants that can handle the climate and environment of your area. Sometimes the plant nursery near me has the wrong plants for the wrong seasons. Know your seasons.

Different plants have different needs, so make sure you are familiar with each plant’s particular requirements before choosing. Use the information above to know what to plant with the temperature of each month. To start seeds indoors, check out this article.

2. Prepare Your Soil

For optimal success in planting and growing, ensure that the soil is prepared prior to transplanting. Add a layer of 2-3 inches of organic compost and natural nutrients for best results. If you want to learn more about composting, check out this blog post.

3. Transplant Seedlings

Once you have planted your seeds, if you choose to only start plants from seed, wait until the seedlings are well-established before transplanting them outside from their seed tray. This means waiting for at least two sets of true leaves to appear on the seedling or until it’s about an inch tall or higher. Or you can grab seedlings at your local nursery to plant into the garden. I use a product called Oganic REV to help grow the roots, check out more information in this article.

4. Harden Off Seedlings

Don’t transplant the seedlings into your garden immediately because they must first be “hardened off” by gradually introducing them to outdoor conditions over a one-week period.

Start by placing tender seedlings outdoors in their containers in indirect sunlight during the day and bringing them back indoors at night and gradually increase the amount of time they spend outdoors so they can acclimatize without getting sunburned or otherwise damaged from too much direct sunlight or cold weather exposure too soon. This process can take 8-12 days.

5. Plant Seedlings

Once your seedlings have had time to harden off and seem ready for full-time outdoor living, it’s time to plant seedlings in their new home: your backyard vegetable garden.

When a seedling is placed into the soil, the root ball acts as a protective barrier between the soil and the delicate roots of the seedling. This root ball helps reduce transplant shock and ensures that the new seedling can quickly start adapting to its environment. You can use a root stimulator called Organic REV during this process. For more information, check this out.

Be sure to find a spot where seedlings will receive enough light according to their individual needs and water regularly as they become established in their new environment.

plants and roots ready to get planted
Plants with roots developed and ready to transplant to garden.

Support Needed for Transplanting Seedlings

Proper Watering

Consistent and proper watering is essential when transplanting seedlings into your garden. Avoid over-watering, but make sure the soil around them is kept moist while they are becoming established in their new environment.

Sun Protection

It’s important to choose a spot where your transplanted seedlings can receive the enough direct sun. You may need to provide some protection from direct sunlight for more sensitive varieties of plants during the first few weeks after transplanting.

Mulch

Adding a layer of mulch around your seedlings can help retain moisture and keep weeds away. You can use any type of mulching material, but I prefer to use compost as a mulch that gives back to the plants and the soil.

Support

Depending on what type of plants you’re transplanting, you may need to provide additional supports such as trellises or bamboo stakes so that they don’t get damaged by wind and rain once they become tall and heavy with fruit or flowers.

Pest Control

Unwanted pests such as insects and animals can also damage your transplants, so it’s important to take precautions against them before planting by using organic pest control methods if possible.

Planting a tomato plant in garden soil
Planting a tomato plant in garden soil.

Root Growth Supporting Transplanting

Using a root stimulator when transplanting plants is beneficial for several reasons. It helps the plant’s roots establish more quickly and securely in their new environment, resulting in healthier, more vigorous growth.

It provides essential nutrients to the plants which can help them thrive after being transplanted but does not replace organic fertilizers or other essential nutrients. Root stimulators are also effective at protecting plants from pests and diseases, as some formulas contain natural repellents or fungicides. I use this especially when transplanting tomato plants.

The root builder that I recommend is Organic REV. You can get $10 off your first purchase. And here is an article on why it is important to plant growth. You can not find this product at a garden center but can order it online.

picture of REV spray with 3 bottles of REV concentrate
Organic REV for the garden transplants.

Repotting is Needed

Repotting is essential after seeds sprout and should happen for most plants around 3-4 weeks after sprouting for indoor and outdoor plants. By repotting it gives the tender seedlings more space in a larger pot, which allows their roots or root ball to spread out and develop better.

It also helps replenish the soil with vital nutrients, as well as create a better environment for drainage and air flow to help keep the plants healthy.

repotting seedlings into pots for next stage of growth
Putting seedlings into larger pots to continue the growth before being put into the garden.

Hardening Off Seedlings

Here are 5 steps to hardening off your seedlings for success in the outdoor garden:

  1. Start your seedlings outside with short periods outdoors in a sheltered location, such as a cold frame or shady spot.

  2. Increase the duration of time spent outside each day.

  3. Protect seedlings from strong wind, excessive heat, and direct sunlight during this process.

  4. Check soil moisture level regularly to make sure they don’t dry out while adjusting.

  5. After a week or two of hardening off, your young seedlings should be ready to transplant into the garden.

Mint plant in pot with soil

Get Your Soil Ready

This is how you get your garden ready for transplants:

  1. Remove any weeds and large stones from the soil.

  2. Add organic matter such as compost with beneficial fungi to improve structure and nutrient content of the soil as part of your soil prep. If you garden beds or containers have settled down, then add potting mix that you can get from your local nursery to those garden areas.

  3. Test your soil’s pH level and adjust if needed with this SOIL TEST .

  4. Water the soil a few days before you plan to plant.

roots and plants about to be transplanted

Transplanting Tips

Choose a cloudy, wind-free day and make sure the seedlings are well-watered before planting.

Dig a planting hole to accommodate the root systems of the seedlings, making sure not to disturb the roots before putting in a planting hole. There should be enough room for planting holes in the garden area with loose soil so that plants grow with a healthy root system.

Firmly press the soil around each seedling and water them immediately after planting.

What to do with Transplant Shock

If your plants have transplant shock which looks like wilting or drooping leaves, discoloration or yellowing, a decrease in photosynthesis, and stunted growth, after going in the garden, there are a few key steps you can take to help them bounce back.

First, verify that the soil pH is balanced and amend soil test recommended above.

Second, give each plant either liquid fertilizer or slow-release fertilizer to provide essential nutrients. Don’t overdo this step. Follow the instructions on the package. More is not better when it comes to the garden.

Third, check for adequate drainage around the root system and water as needed to ensure plants don’t dry up.

Finally, avoid any drastic pruning; instead, carefully trim and shape the plants without removing too much foliage.

seedlings ready to be planted in garden
Seedlings ready to be planted in the garden.

Ways to Start Seeds for Success

Starting your own seedlings from seeds is a great way to get a head start on the growing season.

To begin, gather the necessary materials such as trays, soil, and seeds. Fill the trays with soil and sow the desired seeds in each pocket. Add water to ensure moist soil and keep away from direct sunlight while they sprout.

Move the plants to 16 hours of LED lights per day CHECK OUT how to start seeds indoors or Starting seeds in a closet. Lastly, transplant them into larger pots or directly into the soil moist your garden when they are ready to be moved outdoors.

Seed Starting Cells

Seed starting cells are a great way to start your seeds for several reasons. They make transplanting easier as the seedlings come out in one piece and can be placed straight into the ground or a pot.

They also help to protect against pests and disease, since each cell is its own contained environment. The individual cells create warmer temperatures that promote faster germination of the seeds, leading to shorter wait times to see your little sprouts emerge.

Soil Blocks

Soil blocking is a great way to start your seeds and can be used in conjunction with seed starting cells. With soil blocking, you don’t need the individual trays or cells; you simply use a soil block maker to press pre-moistened potting mix into small blocks.

These blocks are then placed on a flat surface or tray and seeds are added, which gives them extra room for root growth, creating stronger plants that are hardier and more resilient when transplanted into the garden. You don’t have any more plastic pots or containers, it’s an eco-friendlier method of starting seeds.

woman working in the garden and planting seedlings
Planting lettuce seedlings in the garden.

What Pests to Look out For

After transplanting into your vegetable garden, it’s important to keep an eye out for pests that can damage your crops.

Common pests include aphids, caterpillars, and slugs/snails. If you find these pests on your plants, take action immediately as they can quickly multiply and wreak havoc.

You can use organic methods such as insecticidal soaps or neem oil to control these pests. Regularly checking your plants is key in keeping them healthy and safe from pests. And adding organic compost to help soil health will help your plants fight off bad bugs.

seedling getting raised to the sun with light filtering through

Soil Health

Soil health is essential for successfully growing new transplants as it provides essential nutrients, water, and air to the plants. Healthy soil can also help with water retention and aid in preventing garden soil erosion on the soil surface.

Having healthy garden soil will reduce the risk of disease and pest infestations in your garden. Making sure that your garden bed and soil is rich in organic matter and composted material is an important step when starting a vegetable garden or transplanting new plants in their root growth.

In Conclusion:

Transplant seedlings successfully into a vegetable garden with careful preparation and attention.

Following these steps to planting out your seedlings can ensure that your transplants have the best chances of thriving in their new environment. And then you get to enjoy a garden of food to last you throughout each season. If you want more information about gardening in just a few minutes a day, check out this blog post.

To find 54 encouraging gardening quotes, check out this blog post as you continue to garden.

planting seedlings out in the garden with success

FAQ’s

What is a seedling?

A seedling is a young, immature plant grown from a seed. It typically consists of a root system, stem, and leaves. You can grow a seedling yourself from seed indoors or you can find garden centers near you. A garden center will have varieties ready to plant out.

Seedlings can take anywhere from weeks to months to reach their mature shape and size depending on their species and growing conditions. Seedling plants are a common sight in gardens as well as greenhouses or indoor seed starting stations where they are often cared for until they are ready to be transplanted into the ground.

How do you take care of a seedling?

Caring for a seedling plant requires providing the correct amount of light, water, and fertilizer. Seedlings need a lot of bright light to grow, so they should be placed in a location that gets at least 16 hours of direct light per day.

For watering, it is important to saturate the soil until water runs out of the bottom of the pot with each session. Watering too frequently can cause root rot, whereas not watering enough will dry out the soil and stunt the growth of the plant.

Regular organic fertilizing can help promote healthy growth and should be done according to the instructions on the bag or bottle based on what type of fertilizer you are using.

woman wearing white while holding a seedling in hands

When do you need to repot?

Repotting plants is necessary when they outgrow their container, as it allows them to access more nutrients and water. Transplant seedlings outside a 2-4 weeks later. For house plants, you will not need to repot for a year or so if you get a big enough pot from the beginning.

How long should seedlings grow before transplanting?

The amount of time that seedlings should grow before being transplanted depends on the type of plant. Generally speaking, most veggie plants should be 3-4 inches tall and have 1-2 sets of true leaves before they can be safely transplanted into a larger pot or garden bed.

What temperature should it be outside to transplant seedlings?

For most seedlings, the ideal soil line and temperature for transplanting is between 65-75°F. If the soil surface and air temperatures are too low, it can slow down the growth rate of the plants, making them more vulnerable to pests and diseases. It is important to make sure that there is no danger of frost before transplanting as this can damage or kill the young plants.

It all depends on what season the plants you are growing like to live in. Read above about the timing to know what to try each season.

Is it better to plant seeds or seedlings?

It depends on the plants and the gardener’s goals. For inexperienced gardeners, planting seedlings is an easier option than starting with seeds because they don’t require as much time or effort to take care of.

On the other hand, planting seeds allows you to control what varieties of plants you grow and can be more economical if you are growing a large quantity of plants. Some plants also do better when started from seed instead of transplanted from a seedling. Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference and the type of plant being grown.

More Resources to Help:

Using a Root Stimulator

What to Plant in Pots in Fall

What to do in Veggie Garden: February Edition

10 Minute Gardening Tips

Recommended Gardening Products and Resources

Read Other Posts

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About the Author

Alicia has been teaching her whole life from elementary teacher to workshops for beginning gardeners.  Go HERE to read Alicia's story into gardening from plant killer to pro grower and garden coach.  If you want to send Alicia a quick message, then use her contact page HERE.

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