transplant seedlings after germination

Ep. 9 – Successfully Transplant Seedlings after Germination in 2024

If you started seeds for the first time this year and are now wondering what happens next, then this is the episode for you! Learn how to successfully transplant seedlings after germination so they become productive mature crops in your garden! 

I can hardly believe I am already to the place of preparing for planting seedlings out in the yard! I swear, I was just mulching for the fall, but here we are, and it is both exciting and a little nerve wrecking. Especially if you are someone who is new to gardening, OR have had troubles with this part of seedling care, and that is transplanting! In today’s episode, we are going to discuss exactly what you can expect after germination of your seedlings as well as some best practices for transplanting!

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Reasons why we Transplant Seedlings

Hey ya’ll!! Welcome to another episode of the garden things with friends podcast! We’re slowly diving right into the thick of gardening season and I cannot be more excited! I’m starting to see signs of life in the garden, chives and sorrel are waking up, clover is starting to sprout, and the garden is staring at me wondering when I am going to start dusting off the mulch and filling it with life!

But before I pop those seedlings into the elements, there are a few things that have to happen! And today we’re going to talk through the steps of successfully moving your seedlings from the trays indoors to their permanent home in the garden!

So what is this transplanting all about?? Transplanting is basically the process of moving your plants from one place to another, and there are typically two reasons why we would transplant our seedlings. 

1. They outgrow their cell trays

As our seedlings grow and get their second set of leaves, eventually the roots of the seedling start to take over the space in their seed trays. This is a good sign that they have a healthy root system, but it also means that they need a bigger pot to continue their healthy growth. If left in their starting tray for too long, the roots can become root bound and this will hinder their growth.

2. It is time to move into their final home

Another reason we need to transplant our seedlings is because it’s time for them to move into their final home – the garden! Once your seedlings have grown strong and healthy and outdoor conditions are stable, they are ready to be planted into the ground or a larger container where they will continue to grow and produce fruits or vegetables.

I would like to note that if you use soil blocks to start your young seedlings you may not need to pot up your seedlings, because the seedling’s roots will be air pruned. 

How to Transplant Seedlings after Germination?

Now, lets look at how we go about transplanting seedlings after germination. Remember there are generally two reasons we are transplanting our crops so we are going to talk about each respectively. 

I do want to note that you do not have to complete both of the transplant methods. In fact, if you get your timing correctly, your seedlings can go straight from their seedling trays to their in garden location. 

Last year I actually started tomatoes and peppers far too early and spent a lot of time babying them in the greenhouse, so my goal this year is to avoid that! 

Either way, lets talk about the first method we can use to transplant seedlings after germination, and that is potting up.

Seedling Transplant Method 1: Potting Up into New Containers

Potting up is what we do when our seedlings have outgrown their small germination trays and need to go into larger containers.  This gives them more room for their roots to grow and also helps with air circulation around the plants.

To pot up your seedlings, you will need:

  • Larger containers such as pots or trays
  • High quality potting soil mix (I recommend using a mix specifically designed for seedlings)
  • A trowel or spoon or 

1. Select a new pot

When selecting a new container for your seedlings, make sure it is clean (wash containers thoroughly that have been used before) and has drainage holes at the bottom to prevent water-logging and fungal disease. You can use larger pots or a tray with larger cells, whichever works best for the size of your seedlings. Choose a size that is slightly larger than your current cell packs to allow the root systems adequate space to continue to grow. Peat pots are another great option as they can be planted directly into the garden in early spring.

2. Prepare growing medium

The next step is to prepare your potting soil. The best soil for plant health at this tender stage is a potting mix designed for seedlings. You want your soil pre-moistened, and I like to use the growth stimulant Organic rev! Organic rev is a growth stimulant that contains natural plant hormones and vitamins to help seedlings establish quickly. You can mix it into your potting soil or use it to water your seedlings after transplanting.

3. Fill new container

Once your soil is adequately moistened, you’ll want to fill your new container, leaving room for your seedling. Additionally make sure to remove any air pockets in the soil.

4. Remove seedling from tray and place in new container

With their new home prepared it’s time to remove your seedlings from the tray and transplant. You want to make sure not to disturb the sensitive root structure, using something like a spoon or fork to remove the plug from the tray is a great way to minimize damage and prevent the risk of transplant shock. 

5. Back fill and water well

Once seedling is in the new container, you can backfill with soil, gently pressing down to make sure there are no air pockets around the roots. Finally, water well and place in a warm location with proper lighting.

And that’s it! Your seedlings should now have plenty of room to continue growing strong and healthy.

Start Your Seeds with Confidence!

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Get ready to cultivate thriving transplant ready plants with confidence!  Get Your FREE Seed Starting Cheat Sheet today!

Seedling Transplant Method 2: Transplanting Outside

The next method of transplanting seedlings we are going to do is transplanting outside. This method does have some similarities with the previous with one very different element, and that is the element of the outdoors.

Your seedlings new home has more variability of temperature, the addition of winds, heavy rains, and pests to contend with, so we want to take this into account.

The first thing you will want to do is make sure that average outdoor temperature is acceptable. This is mainly determining where you are in relation to your frost date. For frost hardy plants, you may be able to plant them outside before your last frost date with some protection. 

For Frost tender plants, you’ll want to wait until the threat of frost has passed before moving them into the garden! 

Also Read: Ep. 3 – A Complete Guide to Frost Dates for Beginners

1. Harden off seedlings

Another step that is imperative to transplanting seedlings outside is the hardening off process! Hardening off is the process of acclimating your seedlings to the outdoors, slowly exposing them to sunlight, wind, and temperature changes over the course of a week or two. This helps prevent transplant shock and allows your seedlings to adjust to their new environment.

Also Read: 5 Simple Steps for Hardening off Seedlings

2. Prepare garden bed

While hardening off your seedlings, you can also prepare your garden bed for planting. Clear any debris and weeds, add garden soil, compost with a lot of organic matter and fertilizer. Make sure to loosen the soil as well. This will create a welcoming environment for your seedlings to grow in and improve the overall health of your plants. 

I like to place a slow-release organic fertilizer directly into the transplant hole for a long-term fertilizing solution. 

Also Read: How to Apply Fertilizer to Your Vegetable Garden: A Complete Guide

3. Soak your Root ball

Now this is a step that I swear by after using it with some of my seedlings last year, and that is to soak your root ball in a solution of organic rev and water prior to transplanting. Organic rev really helps to improve the hardiness of your seedling and allows you to transplant your seedlings successfully!

4. Gently remove from container

After the new garden location is prepared you can gently remove the seedling from its container. If you have seedlings in trays then you’d follow the same method as before by using a spoon or fork to tease the plug out of the tray! 

If you have potted up your seedlings and they are in individual pots, you can gently squeeze on the container to loosen the seedling and remove it that way. 

5. Place transplants in planting holes and back fill

From here, simply place your plant babies in the hole, filling with soil and gently pressing down around it to remove any air pockets. Give it a good watering and you are all set!

Remember to keep an eye on your transplanted seedlings for the first week or so and make sure they are adjusting well. If you see any signs of stress, you may need to provide some extra

6. Monitoring and continued care of seedlings

After transplanting, it’s important to continue monitoring and caring for your new transplants. Keep an eye on their growth, water regularly, and protect them from pests or harsh weather conditions. With proper care, your seedlings will thrive in their new outdoor home.

When should you transplant seedlings into the garden?

Now let’s talk a little bit about when we should transplant our seedlings! We touched on some reasons earlier in the episode, but I want to dive a little deeper into them to highlight the delicacy of seedling transplant, especially when determining when to move seedlings outside. 

So the first indicator of needing to transplant your seedlings is the number of true leaves.  These are the leaves that will grow after the initial seedling leaves. Once your seedlings have 1-2 sets of true leaves, they are ready for a larger home!

Another indicator is if your seedlings are becoming root bound in their current container. If you notice roots poking out through the bottom holes or circling around inside the pot, then it’s time to transplant.

Lastly, if you are transplanting outside, it’s important to wait until after your last frost date or provide protection for frost tender plants. This will help ensure the survival and success of your seedlings in their new outdoor environment.

As always, make sure to handle your delicate seedlings with care during the transplant process and continue to monitor and nurture them as they grow. 

What plants should not be transplanted?

I want to take a bit of time to discuss some contraindications to transplanting seedlings. Root vegetables should be started outdoors instead of trying to get a head start and sowing seeds indoors. Additionally, tender seedlings, such as cucumbers, spinach, and cilantro may not adapt well to the transplant process because of their long and sensitive tap root. 


Alright guys, that is going to conclude our discussion on  transplanting seedlings. Remember, whether you are transplanting indoors or outdoors, it’s important to handle your seedlings with care and provide them with a proper environment for growth.

By following these methods and tips, you can ensure the successful transplant of your seedlings and watch them flourish into strong, healthy plants. 

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Happy Gardening and Remember It’s never the wrong time to Grow where you are!

transplanting seedlings after germination
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