How to Plant a Seedling


Greenhouses overflowing with brightly-colored flowers and vigorous young seedlings fill the heads of gardeners with images of lush gardens brimming with fresh fruit. Although purchasing on impulse is fine, planting on impulse is sure to bring disappointment. Before you plant your seedlings take the time to test and amend the soil to balance nutrients, adjust pH and improve texture so your young plants have everything they need to grow into the garden of your dreams.

Step 1

Harden off seedlings once weather warms and the danger of frost has passed in your area. Move seedlings outside to sheltered location for several days and bring them inside at night to acclimate them to the outside growing conditions.

Step 2

Gradually increase exposure to direct sunlight and winds. Place in direct sun for a short period for the first few days and increase until the seedlings tolerate full sun without showing signs of wilting or scalding leaves.

Step 3

Water plants to saturate the roots before transplanting.

Step 4

Make a hole in the prepared garden bed large enough to accommodate the root ball of the seedling.

Step 5

Place the seedling in the planting hole to the original planting depth and fill in around the roots with soil. Firm the soil around the plant to remove air pockets and provide support for the seedling.

Step 6

Space seedlings to the recommended spacing for the plant. You can find this information on the plant identification label.

Step 7

Water to moisten the soil to the root level and keep soil evenly moist until new growth appears.

Step 8

Reduce water to once a week once plant is established. Fertilize following the recommendations for your specific plant.

Things You'll Need

  • Trowel


  • TAMU Aggie Horticulture: Timely Tips for Starting Seedlings at Home
  • Arizona Cooperative Extension: Transplanting and Handling

Who Can Help

  • Utah State University Extension: Preparing Garden Soil
Keywords: transplant seedlings, set out seedlings, plant seedlings

About this Author

Nannette Richford is an avid gardener, teacher and nature enthusiast with 4 years experience in online writing and a lifetime of personal journals. She is published on various sites, including Associated Content. Richford holds a Bachelor of Science in secondary education from the University of Maine Orono and certifications in 7-12 English, K-8 General Elementary and Birth to age 5.