How to Transplant Vegetable Seedlings


Instead of sowing vegetable seeds directly into the garden, many gardeners start the seedlings in pots for future transplanting. They often do this to get a head start on the growing season before the outdoor soil is warm enough for tending, according to Oklahoma State University. Most vegetable seedlings are prime for transplanting within six weeks of germinating.

Step 1

Harden off the seedlings to prepare them for growing in the outdoor temperatures and humidity if they were started indoors, according to Oklahoma State University. Set the plants outdoors for an hour on the first day, then for an extra hour on each consecutive day until the seedlings can spend 10 hours outdoors.

Step 2

Prepare the gardening space according to the specific needs of the vegetable species to which the seedlings belong. Most species will respond positively to well-tilled soil amended with 2 to 3 inches of compost.

Step 3

Prepare the seedlings for transplanting. If multiple seedlings were grown in a single tray, the University of Florida recommends cutting the tray's soil into evenly sized squares with each square containing one seedling. If the seedlings are in individual pots, the University recommends watering the pot to moisten its soil so removal from the pot is easier.

Step 4

Dig a hole in the prepared gardening site that's the size of the seedling's original pot or soil square.

Step 5

Place the seedling into the hole. Pour loose loam into the hole to fill in its sides.

Step 6

Water the transplants with a homemade seed starter fertilizer made by dissolving 2 tbsp. of 10-50-10 fertilizer in a gallon of water, according to the University of Florida. This helps the plants to quickly become established and also settles the soil better than patting it down manually; physically compacting the soil can smash the transplant's sensitive roots.

Things You'll Need

  • Potted or tray-grown vegetable seedlings
  • Spade or tiller
  • Compost
  • Fertilizer
  • Water


  • "Burpee: The Complete Vegetable and Herb Gardener"; Karan Cutler, et al.; 1997
  • University of Florida: Starting the Garden With Transplants
  • Oklahoma State University: Growing Vegetable Transplants
Keywords: transplant vegetable seedlings, transplant young vegetables, grow vegetable seedlings

About this Author

Josh Duvauchelle is an editor and journalist with more than 10 years' experience. His work has appeared in various magazines, including "Honolulu Magazine," which has more paid subscribers than any other magazine in Hawaii. He graduated with honors from Trinity Western University, holding a Bachelor of Arts in professional communications, and earned a certificate in applied leadership and public affairs from the Laurentian Leadership Centre.