Growing plants from seeds is great but transplanting seedlings can be tricky if it’s not done correctly.
All seedlings require a considerable amount of light, so make sure you have a sunny, south-facing window. If seedlings don’t get enough light, they will be leggy and weak.
It’s important to get the timing right with transplanting seedlings.
Goal for Starting Seeds
The goal with seed starting is to have your seedlings ready to go outside when the weather is favorable. Start by looking at the seed packet, which should tell you when to start seeds inside.
Usually it will tell you when to start seeds indoors and to plant outdoors when all danger of frost is past.
The seed package will also tell you how long it takes before the vegetable or fruit is ready to harvest.
Kale, for instance, typically takes 5-14 days to germination and 55 days to harvest. So you can sow the seeds indoors two weeks before last frost.
Growing plants from seeds can be a rewarding and exciting way to add new varieties to your garden, especially when it comes to herbs. Many unusual herbs are not available in your local nursery, so your only option to is grow these plants from seeds.
A common question is knowing when to transplant your seedlings.
It isn’t how tall your plant is but how many true leaves it has that will determine when you transplant.
You’ll want your precious seedlings to be prepared for transplanting so all your work and time isn’t lost.
If you put your seedlings out before they are ready, they may have a hard time surviving the elements.
If you wait too long, your seedling may become pot bound in its original container.
When it comes to how to transplant seedlings, there is no hard and fast rule to how tall a plant should be before you put it out in the garden, due to the fact that different plants grow to different sizes.
Also, the amount of light a seedling gets can influence how quickly a plant grows in height when you are raising plants from seeds. If there is not enough light, a plant can grow very tall very quickly, but this plant may or not be ready for planting out. The best way to judge if a plant is large enough to plant out in the garden is to look at the number of true leaves.
True Leaves on a Seedling
The best way to know when to transplant seedlings is when the plant has three to four true leaves.
When you plant a seed, the first leaves to emerge are the cotyledons. These leaves tend to look different from leaves that will grow later. The purpose of these leaves is to provide stored food to the seedling for a short period of time.
True leaves grow soon after the cotyledons. The true leave emerge and start generating energy through photosynthesis that will help feed the plant for the rest of its life. Having enough of these leaves is important to keep the plant sustained for proper growth when transplanting seedlings.
Hardening Off Seedlings
You can’t take your seedlings from a warm, stable environment one day and plant them directly in the garden the next day. The shock may be too much and the seedling can die in the hot sun or in strong winds.
You’ll want to get your seedlings used to the outside weather little by little by a process known as hardening off. Put the seedlings outside for a few hours on the first day.
The next day put the seedlings outside for longer. Be sure they are in a protected area away from strong winds and hot sun.
The third day put the seedlings outside for most of the day, then on the fourth day leave them out overnight.
The whole process should take about a week and by then it’s safe to for transplanting seedlings directly into the ground.