When to transplant seedlings into the garden?

heavenlyfarm(zone 6b)February 23, 2014

Okay, tho none of my containers have sprouted, we are getting warm days now and all the snow has melted so I'm anticipating seedlings!!! Tomorrow I'm peering through each container....anyways, when do you transplant your seedlings out? I of course, would prefer they be a decent size before i do transplanting but can it be done early then the last frost date? mine is may 15th this year but could i plant the perennials out any earlier or into individual pots? I'm just afraid of doing it to early and having all my hard work be ruined (well alot easier then inside sowing that is lol) but I really don't want to have to baby them either like providing cover for every flowerbed if we get a frost or something....

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docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)

Any perennials can go out as soon as the ground is workable. I transplant as soon as I have time and the weather cooperates (ie wind, rain, cold). The smaller the seedlings are, the less transplant shock they seem to suffer. Also, early planting gives them time to establish deeper roots before the dry heat of summer hits, so they tolerate less frequent watering.


    Bookmark   February 24, 2014 at 6:20AM
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kilngod z6b(Zone 6b)

I wait until seedlings are of a handle-able size, in general when they have at least partly filled the milk jug. They look bushy, and I can see this through the jug. 4-6" tall is my preference, even for perennials.

When full looking, I will put jugs into a big rubbermaid bin to bottom water them. Cycles of 6 jugs for about a 10-20 min soak. That seems to take care of their needs.

I am not good at babying tiny seedlings outside the jug. That is where I'm more likely to loose them to drying (or the barn cat's digging). I sow much more than I need, but even in jugs of 10 tomatoes, I prefer them to have 3-4 sets of leaves.

The trump is: if it is time to plant out tomatoes (past last frost), they get planted out. By this point, most of them are itching to be free of that jug.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2014 at 7:55AM
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terrene(5b MA)

I usually wait until seedlings are at least 1 - 2 inches in size. Seedlings are so vulnerable to drought, disturbance, and pests like slugs - they can be wiped out very easily. They are a little more resilient when they're larger.

On the other hand, the earlier you get them in the ground, the bigger they grow and the greater the chance you will get a few blooms the first year (on perennials).

Sometimes I pot up some seedlings and let them put on some size and then transplant later in the season. I usually do this with Foxglove.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 10:56PM
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heavenlyfarm(zone 6b)

Thanks for the answers :) btw, have another question lol When is it possible to pot them up into containers? Some I would like to pot up, till they get bigger before transplanting and I'm not sure when to do it, could I do it now? Today I am opening up all my containers as we are going into the 70s today!!! :) i just got to remember to close all of them later lol i'm afraid i'll forget and lose all of them!

P.S. I'm just trying not to screw this up lol this is the best results i have had with seeds ever!!! and I'd prefer to keep it that way! ha

    Bookmark   April 12, 2014 at 11:00AM
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caryltoo Z7/SE PA

In my experience it's better to leave the tops on the jugs unless it's going to be in the 80s for a few straight days. Last year I made the mistake of taking the tops off way too early when we got some early warm weather and then it got cooler. I'm convinced my tomatoes suffered for it. They just sat there refusing to form second leaves for the longest time. This year, the only thing I've opened so far is the lettuce and kale since they like cool weather. As long as the containers don't dry out most can stay covered for quite awhile yet.

Not sure where in PA you are, but here we're expecting night-time lows in the low 30s on Wednesday. If anything you've uncovered is at all tender make sure you get those tops back on.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2014 at 6:28AM
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I leave the tops on the jugs until the growth has reached the top. Also, I don't transplant until they are well-grown with several sets of true leaves. If you do it too early, you might as well just plant the seeds in the ground -- your work will be the same.

I'm surprised in Z6 that you don't have sprouts in all (or most) of your jugs by now. Check them again today. I am in Z5a and have sprouts in all but one. Snow showers today and in the 40's but I think they will be fine enclosed in their little terrariums.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2014 at 9:39AM
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heavenlyfarm(zone 6b)

I am really bad with babying seedlings so I will see alot of the containers back up today, before the rain and cold (suppose to go down to 40s and 50s later in the week) comes again but it was nice to give them some air and more sunlight lol I actually checked today again, and many more are coming up now!! finally, my orange and yellow milkweed is coming up!! it's a large portion of my new gardens and i was despairing at about 10 containers of nothing....i also have various containers with just a seedling or two which i didn't count yet lol.

I must say tho, i couldn't find good potting soil as i started late and I did buy a bag or two of some potting mix and i think that mix and i think some of the miracle grow soil containers look kinda gross....it could be my fault but I do love this new organic potting soil I found a month ago and I think I will also buy the Pro Mix Soil this Fall for next year's containers!!


    Bookmark   April 14, 2014 at 12:50PM
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caryltoo Z7/SE PA

LOL, Michael. I think most of the containers look kind of gross -- moss and such and the freezing/melting cycle takes a toll. The plants will still be healthy. Wait until you see the roots on some of those puppies. And I think Ryse is right -- the years I've had the best results are the years I left the tops on for a long time and didn't fuss too much.

Also, I wouldn't push the planting up too far before your last frost date. A few years ago we were having a warm spell in early May so I planted my tomatoes out a few days early. Then lo and behold, a frost warning the night of the last frost date. You don't know fun until you try to rig up a covering for a 30 ft x 6 ft. garden. Now I pay more attention to the 10-day forecasts as mid-May approaches and if it looks like a night might get close to freezing I'll hold off.


    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 8:44AM
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ellenr22 - NJ - Zone 6b/7a

I found my seedlings did really well with Pro-mix. Unfortunately the garden center where I used to get it, stopped carrying it! What's up with that? Don't customers know good stuff?

Michael - I gave up on trying to get milkweed to seed. Tried it and never got any results.
Do you do anything special? When do you sow?


    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 9:10AM
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