Richters Free Lecture Series


Transplanting Seedlings

When you have nice, healthy seedlings transplanting into plug or cell packs is easy. Take the small end of a dibbler (or use a pencil instead) to carefully "dig out" a small clump of seedlings from the flat.

[Digging Out Seedlings]

These lavender seedlings have a very nicely developed root system.

[Root System]

But as nice as these roots are, they need to be pinched back a bit. This will help the roots to grow straight and strong as the seedling develops in the cell pack.

[Pinching Roots]

Start with flats with cell packs or pots filled with a light-weight sterilized growing mix. If you water before planting, and allow to stand 5 minutes, the soil will wet enough to plant into. If you start with dry soil, it will be harder to water transplants later. The small end of the dibbler is used to make a hole in the soil.

[Making Hole]

After the seedling is placed in the hole, the dibbler is used to gently but securely press the seedling into place. The seedling should end up at the same depth as it was before you dug it out of the seed box. It is important that the seedlings are not planted too deeply or they will rot, and not too shallow or they will not be anchored enough in the soil and will fall over more easily.

[Planting Seedling]

After transplanting your seedlings, try what we call the "tug test". Gently pull on one or two leaves of each seedling. If any come out of the soil easily then you didn’t press the soil around the seedling enough. Replant any that do come out, this time making sure to firm the soil around the roots.

[Transplanted Flat]

After transplanting, water with a fine misting nozzle or a gentle spray. The seedlings are watered enough when the soil surface glistens with water. If any seedlings fall over, use the dibbler to "flick" them back up.

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