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How to Transplant Seedlings to a Bigger Pot

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If you've started seedlings indoors in a cold climate, they may need to be transplanted to a larger pot and grown indoors a while longer before they can move out into the garden.


Here are tips for moving them up:

Move seedlings out of a flat and into larger pots after they have developed one or two sets of their true leaves (different from their very first seed leaves, or cotyledons).

Plants that will go into the garden within a few weeks can move into two- or three-inch pots, while heat-loving plants that have a longer time to wait should go into 6- to 9-inch pots.

Use a lightweight potting mix or a soilless mix. If using a soilless mix you may need to feed your seedlings. Dampen the mix, fill your containers and poke a hole for each transplant.

Water the seedlings a few hours before you transplant them, so that the stems and leaves are turgid and the growing mix will stick to and protect the roots.

If you have several seedlings growing close together, select just one to grow on and snip the others off at soil level before transplanting the selection. Alternatively, gently pry them up together and untangle them, handling them by their leaves and using a nail or other sharp-tipped instrument to tease the roots apart.

Gently dig the seedlings up from their original container using a popsicle stick, pencil or other improvised tool. Handle the seedlings only by their leaves, never by their stems. 

Plant them into their new containers deeper than they were growing, gently firming the growing media around their roots. Planting them all the way up to the first set of leaves is fine to do.

Love propagating your own plants? One of my favorite reference books for all kinds of propagation techniques and plants to try is Plantiful by Kristin Green.

Image credit: bertconcepts/CC BY 2.0