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How to Plant Transplants (step-by-step video)

Transplants ready to be planted in a row

Transplants or seedlings started in containers are a great way to get an early start in the vegetable garden especially in short season climates.

If you are ready to plant the transplants you purchased from a nursery or the ones you started on your own several weeks ago, watch my video for the step-by-step process as well as see my outline below for additional information.

1. Before your expected planting date, be sure to harden-off your seedlings by exposing them to the elements. Do this by setting them outdoors for a few hours each day for about a week or so.

2. When you are ready to plant, try to time your planting in the evening, early morning or on a cloudy day to help reduce transplant shock.

3. Layout your transplants at the correct spacing for the crop. This information can be found on the seed packet.

4. Prepare a hole or depression for the transplants at the same depth as the original root ball in the container.

5. Gradually remove the seedling from the container by lightly squeezing the sides of the pot. This will separate the root ball from the container. Then turn the container over and tap the bottom. As the plant slides loose, cover the top of the root ball with your fingers so that the soil does not break apart.  

6. To free each plant in a multi-pack, use a knife to cut the plastic. Then follow the steps outlined above.

7. If the roots are tightly wound, delicately break them up with your fingers or cut them with a sharp knife or pruners. This will help prevent the roots from binding and instead, root out through the soil. However, be sure to only do the outside roots as you don’t want to damage all of the root ball. If your plants are lightly rooted, then do not disturb the root ball as this can lead to transplant shock or death.  

8. Next, place the plants in the hole at the same depth as they were in the container. If plants are planted too deeply they can suffocate- the exception being tomatoes which should be planted extra deep for better root development!

9. Now, gently pack the soil around the transplants watching not to compact the soil too firmly. Level the soil as you go.

10. Finish by watering your baby plants with a soft spray.

11. To further ease transplant shock, add a layer of mulch as well as shade seedlings with cardboard or screens for the first few days.

If you’re planting vegetable seeds this season, see our post on seed planting with step-by-step video instruction: click here


  1. Marilyn

    Good morning . This is your Aunt Marilyn again. I also have had a dear friend who’s father was the master gardener at Covent gardens in London England. An awesome experience to know such a person.


    1. April

      That’s wonderful, Marilyn! Thanks for sharing.


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