When To Transplant Seedlings

Growing crops from seeds is not only cheaper but can be exciting as you anxiously wait to see those first two leaves sprout. As much as you can buy seedling, you won’t find some of the best and most unusual varieties of vegetables as seedlings and your only option is to grow them from seeds. So, how much do you know about planting seeds? How do I know when your seedlings are ready for transplanting?

Transplanting your seedlings

Transplanting seedlings out in the field at the correct time is crucial to their development later on. If you transplant before they are ready, they may have a hard time surviving. On the other hand, if you wait too long, your seedlings may become bound in their original container and can die after transplanting.

There is no hard and fast rule when it comes to transplanting. Most people will tell you to look at how tall a plant is before you put it out in the field. However, this can’t be a determining factor due to the fact that different plants grow to different sizes. In addition, the amount of light a seedling gets can influence how quickly a plant grows in height. In little light, a seedling can grow very tall very quickly, but this plant may or not be ready for planting out.

How to tell if a plant is large enough to transplant

You have to look at the number of true leaves. The general rule of thumb is that when a seedling has three to four true leaves, it’s large enough to plant out in the field (after you harden it off).

You see, when you plant a seed, the first leaves to emerge are the cotyledons which 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 shortly 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.

If you ensure that the plant has enough of these leaves, you will keep it sustained when you plant it out in your field. Just remember, it isn’t how tall but how many true leaves your plant has that will determine when you should be planting seedlings out. But even when your seeds are big enough to plant out, make sure you harden off your seedlings before planting them.

How to harden off seedlings

“Hardening off” is the process of gradually introducing seedlings to strong sunlight, cool nights and less-frequent watering over a 7-10 day period. On a mild day, start with 2-3 hours of sun in a sheltered location. Protect seedlings from strong sun, wind, hard rain and cool temperatures. Increase exposure to sunlight a few additional hours at a time and gradually reduce frequency of watering, but do not allow seedlings to wilt. Avoid fertilizing and keep an eye on the weather. Be sure to water plants after hardening them off.

When growing crops from seeds, you want them to be very prepared to grow into beautiful cops that will provide you with a bumper harvest.

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