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How to Transplant Flowers

By Jenny Harrington ; Updated September 21, 2017
Prepare the garden bed prior to transplanting.

One of the quickest way to add flowers to the garden is by planting nursery seedlings or mature plants. These plants flower in less time than ones you plant from seed directly in the bed, quickly completing the garden. Both annuals and perennials flowers can be transplanted. Annuals only survive for a single summer, so they must be replaced yearly. Perennials, on the other hand, bloom year after year so they may need to be transplanted from an old bed into a new one as your garden design changes over the years.

Transplanting New Flowers

Set the transplants outdoors in an area protected from direct sunlight and high wind. Leave them outside in this area for seven days, bringing them back indoors in the evening. Gradually move the plants into direct sun over the course of the week, so that the flowers have a chance to adjust to outdoor conditions.

Water the flowers in their pots thoroughly the morning you plan to transplant. Allow the pots to drain for 30 minutes to one hour.

Place your hand over the top of the pot so that the stem of the flower emerges between your fingers. Do not apply any pressure to the stem. Turn the pot upside down and squeeze the bottom with your other hand, releasing the flower from the pot with the soil ball intact.

Dig the planting hole as deep as the soil ball and slightly wider. Set the flower into the hole so it is planted at the same depth in the garden that it was at in its nursery pot.

Refill the hole around the flower with soil and lightly firm it into place with your hands. Water thoroughly after transplanting so any air pockets in the soil collapse, allowing the roots to instantly begin absorbing water and nutrients.

Moving Existing Flowers

Dig around the plant with a trowel, taking care not to damage the plant's roots. Slide the trowel under the plant and lift it out of the ground.

Divide bulb plants after digging. Examine the bulbs for offset bulbs, which is a second bulb attached to the first, and twist the two bulbs apart to divide. Insert the trowel into the center of the root clump to divide fibrous rooted plants. Cut through the roots, separating the plant into two.

Replant the flowers into a well-drained garden bed that receives the amount of light necessary for the type of flower you are planting. Plant the flowers at the same depth they were at previously, spacing them as required for the type of plant you are transplanting.

Water the bed thoroughly so it is moist to a 6-inch depth if you stick your finger into it. This collapses any air pockets around the roots and limits the chance of shock.

Lay a 2-inch layer mulch around the plants after transplanting and watering. Mulch prevents weeds, preserves soil moisture and offers some protection from winter cold.


Things You Will Need

  • Trowel


  • Check the plant labels for directions on how to space the plants, when to to transplant them and how much sun they require.
  • Dig and transplant existing plants in early fall, and transplant newly purchased or grown flowers in spring.
  • Transplant on a cloudy day when possible to prevent sun damage to the plants on their first day in the garden.


  • Only purchase healthy transplants that are compact and bushy. Check the leaves thoroughly for signs of disease or insect damage, as you do not want to bring any pests into your garden.

About the Author


Jenny Harrington has been a freelance writer since 2006. Her published articles have appeared in various print and online publications. 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.