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best time of day to transplant seedlings

Transplanting and Moving Garden Plants

Planting and transplanting are two garden tasks that have a big effect on how well your plants grow.   Summer is never the best time to move or transplant garden plants. The sun is too intense and the heat can be relentless. However, sometimes you have no choice but to move your plants during the hot months. With a bit of extra care, you can successfully transplant garden plants at any time of the year.

How to Lessen the Shock of Transplanting

  • Water the garden plants to be dug and/or transplanted the day before you plan to lift them. This ensures that the whole plant will be hydrated, roots, leaves and all when it’s time to transplant. Make it a good, deep soaking so the roots can take up as much water as possible. (This will also make it easier for you to dig. A nice bonus.)
  • If you are planting something you received plant bare-root, allow the roots to soak in a bucket of water for a couple of hours.
  • Dig and/or transplant when it is overcast or during the cooler evening hours. This will give the plant the entire night to get adjusted in its new spot before being exposed to the heat and bright light of the day. This is especially important when transplanting small seedlings.
  • Water the plant again immediately before digging or removing from its pot. You want the soil around the rootball the well-saturated so that the soil will adhere to the roots when it is dug from the garden. This prevents the roots from being exposed to drying winds.
  • Never leave the roots exposed to sun, heat or wind. It’s tempting to remove all plants from their pots and place them where you want them to go in the garden, but roots will desiccate quickly. Remove each plant just before planting.
  • Water the hole before you place the transplant into it. You want the soil so saturated it turns to mud. This is sometimes referred to as puddling.
  • Place the transplant into the hole, fill it halfway with soil and then water again. Allow the water to settle the soil around the roots and then finish filling the hole.
  • Lightly firm the soil around the transplant. You want to close any air pockets in the soil, but you don’t need to press so hard that you compact the soil. Let the water settle things rather than stomping with your foot.
  • Once again, water the whole plant, leaves and all. This probably sounds like too much water, but you would be surprised how much water can evaporate during the planting process. If you are working on a cool, still, overcast day, you can get away with a little less water, but never skip the final watering once the plant is in the ground.
  • If possible, shield the new transplant from direct sunlight for 3 to 5 days. Use a floating row cover or lean a board in front of the transplant to block the direct sun. This is for transplanting a new seedling or plant into the garden during the hardening-off process. This is not for moving/transplanting a plant.

After Care

Check the plant daily for the first couple of weeks. Transplants may need watering every day, if not more.   Depending on the weather and the plant, you may need to water twice a day until it becomes established. The larger the plant and/or the fewer roots to top growth ratio, the more water will be needed. Check the soil for dryness a few inches below the surface to determine if more water is needed. If the plant is wilting, water it immediately.

All of this may seem extreme, but the shock of being uprooted is stressful to plants at any time of the year. In the heat of summer, this extra precaution is vital to easing the transition for your transplants.

A major factor in successfully planting or transplanting in your garden is water. Learn tips for how much and how often to water new plantings.

Plant Vegetables in the Morning or Evening?

Related Articles

To reap the rewards of a bountiful vegetable garden, you need healthy plants. The health of your vegetables at harvest depends largely on the early stages of their life cycle. Beyond healthy soil, correct moisture and adequate sunlight, the time of day in which you plant your seeds and seedlings can affect if and how your vegetable plants thrive.

Starting With Seeds

Seeds need warm, moist soil in order to germinate. While you can plant seeds in morning or evening, your seeds will not germinate if the ground remains cool due to extreme nighttime lows or extended periods of cool and cloudy days. However, you can plant your seeds on a sunny day, a cloudy day or in the evening when you are certain that warm and sunny days are in the forecast.

Seedling Shock

Seedlings give you a jump start on the growing season, but be careful not to rush things. Transplanting your seedlings from container to soil on a warm, sunny day or on a windy day may cause them to go into “transplant shock.” As moisture is lost from wind and sun, the seedling’s development becomes stunted, and the plant may never fully recover. It is better to plant your seedlings on a cloudy day or in the late afternoon or evening when winds are calm to avoid transplant shock.

Stronger Transplants

Exposing your seedlings to sunny and windy conditions a little at a time before planting them in the ground is referred to as “hardening off.” Placing your seedlings outside in a structure like a cold frame before transplanting them into soil allows seedlings time to develop stronger stems and roots in a semiprotected setting. Your transplants will acclimate to the garden quicker, even if planted on a sunny morning, after a hardening-off period, which should last two weeks prior to planting.

Water Wisely

Whether you are starting with seeds or transplanting seedlings, the time of day you plant determines how you water your vegetables. If you are starting with a bed of seeds, keep the soil evenly moist through the day. If you are starting seeds in a bed with existing crops, an overhead watering system is fine for the morning; however, in the evening, water the soil, not the leaves, of the existing plants to prevent the development of plant diseases. This is true of watering seedlings, too. Be sure the stems and leaves have adequate time to dry before the sun goes down, because the wet leaves and coolness of night are the perfect recipe for molds and viruses. If evening is the only time you can water your seedlings, do not use an overhead watering system; instead, water the base of the plants.

Plant Vegetables in the Morning or Evening?. To reap the rewards of a bountiful vegetable garden, you need healthy plants. The health of your vegetables at harvest depends largely on the early stages of their life cycle. Beyond healthy soil, correct moisture and adequate sunlight, the time of day in which you plant …