How to Plant Vegetable Seedlings


Whether you grow your own or purchase them from a garden center, vegetable seedlings must be transplanted out to the garden. Many vegetables benefit from being started indoors then later planted out, as this gives them a chance to grow strong and healthy before being subjected to the rigors of the garden. Seedlings must be prepared then transplanted properly or they may experience transplant shock, which can lead to stunted growth or the death of the plant.

Step 1

Set the seedlings outside in a protected area once all danger of frost has passed in spring. A covered patio or other area out of direct sunlight is optimal.

Step 2

Leave the seedling outside for two to three hours the first day then bring them back indoors. Continue to set them outside each day, gradually increasing the time outdoors and gradually moving them into brighter light each day. Continue to do this for seven to 10 days.

Step 3

Prepare a well-drained, full-sun garden bed for planting. Lay a 2-inch layer of compost and any fertilizer recommended for the vegetable variety over the bed and till it in to a 10-inch depth.

Step 4

Dig the planting holes as deep as the seedling pots and twice as wide, following the spacing requirements for the specific vegetable type. If plants are in peat pots, dig the hole 1/2 inch deeper than the pot.

Step 5

Pull the pot off the seedlings, unless they are in peat pots which are left in place. Set the seedling in the hole so it is at the same planting depth it was in the pot, except for peat pots, which must sit 1/2 inch beneath the soil surface. Peat pots break down in the soil.

Step 6

Refill the hole around the seedling with soil and firm it in place with your hands. Water each seedling immediately after planting to collapse any air pockets in the soil around the roots.

Tips and Warnings

  • If a frost is expected after planting, cover the the seedlings with upturned boxes or buckets to protect them.

Things You'll Need

  • Compost
  • Fertilizer
  • Power tiller
  • Spade


  • University of Tennessee Extension: Growing Vegetable Transplants for Home Gardens
Keywords: planting seedlings, vegetable transplants, starting a garden

About this Author

Jenny Harrington has been a freelance writer since 2006. Her published articles have appeared in various print and online publications, including the "Dollar Stretcher." Previously, she owned her own business, selling handmade items online, wholesale and at crafts fairs. Harrington's specialties include small business information, crafting, decorating and gardening.