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Sunday, 29 May 2011

How to transplant plants

How to transplant plants

Transplanting simply means moving a rooted plant from one place to another. If you prick out tiny tomato seedlings from a propagating tray into individual pots, you’re transplanting.  If you decide to move ta large established rosemary from one position in the garden to another you are transplanting.

If you start seeds in propagation trays transplant the seedlings when they are still very young. Watch for the emergence of the first pair of true leaves and transplant the seedlings soon after this. The choice of planting containers ranges from peat type pots, to plastic cell packs and plastic or clay pots. Peat type pots are useful because the pots can be transplanted with the plant which means the roots are not disturbed, but try to avoid peat because of the unsustainable nature of the peat industry. Plastic and clay containers are much greener as they are reusable.
Before you start, collect the items you need for transplanting and put down a layer of newspaper to catch the compost for re-use.

Follow these steps: 

Fill the containers with potting mix. The depth of the soil depends on seedling size, fill your container nearly to the top for small seedlings but start with about 2.5cm of soil for large ones, since you fill the rest of the pot as you transplant.

Pour warm water onto the soil and let it soak through the soil. Moist potting soil prevents seedling roots from drying out.

Carefully dig out either individual seedlings or small groups of seedlings. A toothpick makes a good tool for digging, lifting, and moving tiny plants. A teaspoon or narrow trowel works well for larger transplants.
Hold each seedling by the leaves and not by the stem, as you may damage the tender stem or damage the plants growing tip.
For very young seedlings, poke small holes into the soil mix with a pencil. For larger seedlings, hold the plant in the pot while you fill in around the roots with soil. Firm the soil gently with your fingertips.
After transplanting keep your seedlings in a darkish area for a day or two to allow the seedlings to recover from the move. If seedlings wilt from the stress of transplanting, lightly spray with water and cover loosely with a plastic bag for a day or two. Return your plants to lighter conditions after the seedlings are established and gradually introduce to sunlight.
Keep the soil moist but not soggy by pouring water into the tray holding the containers and feed regularly with a weak solution of water-soluble organic fertiliser.
As the plants grow, pinch out or snip off any extra seedlings, leaving only the strongest plant to grow on
If you miscalculated your planting out dates or if the weather turns bad, you may need to transplant your plants again to larger containers so they won’t stop growing and become stunted. Roots pushing through drainage holes are a clue that it’s time to move the plants on again.

Toughen your plants for outdoor growing conditions by gradually hardening off. Two weeks before outdoor transplanting, stop feeding and slow down on watering. About a week before you plan to plant out the seedlings, put them outdoors in a protected area, out of direct sun and wind. Leave them outdoors for a few hours at first, then more, then a morning, until they out all day in a sunnier position and out at night.  
Transplant your plants on a cloudy day or in early evening to avoid the sun’s heat and give the plants some time to recover. Water the plants before you start. Dig a hole slightly wider but to the same depth as the pot and add some fertiliser to the hole. Some plants, such as tomatoes, benefit from being planted deeper, so more roots form along the stem.

If your transplants are in plastic or clay pots, turn the pots upside down and slide out the plants or tap the pot with your trowel to dislodge. Plants in peat type or home made paper pots can be planted with their pots, as the roots will emerge into the soil very quickly.

Gently place the plant in the hole, and spread out roots of plants that are not in pots. Slit the sides of peat type pots to open them up for better root penetration after planting. Fill the hole and tamp with your hands, forming a shallow basin to collect water. Slowly pour plenty of water at the base of the transplant. Keep transplants watered well until they become established and start showing new growth.

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