How to Plant a Seedling
Ensuring seedlings have a good start in life is essential to their success in the garden. Proper care here ensures that your plants will be resilient to disease and have good growth and productivity. Likewise, damage and stress to plants early in life can ruin their chances of becoming your garden's most healthy and productive members.
Tips To Ensure Seedling Health
+ Start With Good Soil - When starting your own seeds, you want to take extra care when preparing your soil for seedlings. It needs to be nutritious, loose, and easy for the young roots to colonize. A classic recipe for this is 45% worm castings, 25% vermiculite, and 30% coco coir. Alternatively, you can mix worm castings 1:1 with a well-draining sandy soil.
+ Keep Seedlings Well Watered - Seedlings are fragile and can easily dry out in hot weather. Make sure to keep them well watered to avoid any unnecessary stress. This being said, make sure to water gently with a light spray or mist and don’t overwater. Too much water can alter the loose and airy soil structure that is ideal for young plants.
+ Have Proper Shade - Seedlings don’t like full sun. Keep them well shaded, especially when they are first germinating. After 1-2 weeks in full shade you can move them to partial shade to avoid lanky growth.
+ Transplant In Time - Good timing is important when transplanting seedlings. The exact time really depends on the pot and type of plant, but for annuals it is usually within 2 to 4 weeks after germination.
+ You want them to be well rooted enough to have developed the soil structure that allows you to remove them from the pot without having the soil collapsing. This will be detrimental to the root structure of the young plant.
+ Avoid transplanting too late when the plant becomes root bound. This means that the roots have twisted and curled around the pot in ways that can severely stunt the plant's growth.
+ Acclimate Your Plants - If possible try to acclimate your plants to their new location before planting. This means putting them out in the garden for 2-3 days without transplanting just so they can adjust to the new location without the shock of a transplant.
+ Transplant With Care
+ Transplant in the evening once the heat of the day has passed.
+ If necessary add extra compost beneath and around the soil where you will be planting.
+ Make sure the plant's base is aligned with the soil surface. Transplanting too high can result in exposed roots and soil erosion, while transplanting too low can damage the plants in heavy rain.
+ Loosen roots if necessary. Only do this if you notice that the roots are at all root bound. Try to spread them out and place them deep in the soil.
+ Provide extra shade after transplanting. This can be done with a shade cloth or by placing a small pot or improvised shade structure above them.
+ Water regularly after transplanting. If the soil surface is still moist this isn’t necessary, but if it dries quickly then it is best to water for 1-2 weeks until the plants have become well established.