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Transplanting

If you take good care in transferring your plants from a seedling tray or pot into the ground (or a larger pot) they will likely repay you with healthy growth for months to come.

transplanting
The Lotan community planting gardens on Earth Day.

Just as we might want to be careful when we move to a new house, plants need to be handled with care when they are moved. Young plants can be fragile and are still developing their root systems. Transplanting needs to be done delicately so as not to damage the young roots.

When?

It is best to transplant in the early morning or late afternoon/evening such that the young plant is not exposed to mid-day sun immediately after being moved. The reason for this has to do with how plants take in water and transpire water through their leaves. Trying to limit the amount of transpiration that a plant needs to engage in after a transplant is a way of offering that plant some time to recover and get used to its new surroundings without having to work so hard.

It is common for plants to wilt in the day or two following transplanting. Don't worry - they almost always perk up once they get established.

How?

A plant is ready to be relocated if it has at least 3 sets of leaves. Waiting until this stage in a plant's growth ensures that it is strong enough to make the change. In some circumstances very young plants (with fewer leaves) can be moved without being damaged but it is less desirable.

transplanting
The younger the plant, the harder it is to transplant.

Before taking the plant out of its container make a hole slightly larger than the plant pot or portion of the container that the seedling is coming from. Don't make the hole too deep because except in very special circumstances you will want to place the seedling in the ground at the same depth that it is growing in its container.

Always reach around the plant from the side and scoop it up from underneath its roots. Try to get as much soil as possible together with the roots, this will help guarantee a less traumatic move for the plant. Never take a plant out of its container by pulling on the leaves or stem.

transplanting

Once you have the plant out of its container, place it gently into the prepared hole. Cover the plant's root ball with the soil that was removed to make the hole or with mature compost. Be certain to pack the soil around the transplant without placing direct pressure on the area where the stem meets the roots.

Water newly transplanted seedlings well for the first few days to help establish their growth and to make up for a slightly lowered functioning of roots due to breakage.

Resources:


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This work by Center for Creative Ecology, Kibbutz Lotan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at www.kibbutzlotan.com.