How Do We Know It’s Time To Transplant Our Plants To Larger Pots?

Picture of very small seedlings, lobelia.

So, how do you know when it’s time to transplant from seedling trays into larger containers? This isn’t always obvious! We often provide the guidance of “when you see the first true set of leaves.” But, even this is pretty vague and doesn’t work for all plants universally. Like, what if your plant doesn’t even have leaves, like with leeks and onions?

Different plants grow very differently from one another. Some grow a bit tall, some are super compact and even others are just a single stalk, like onions and leeks. While eventually the gardener gets the hang of transplant timing, it can be a bit challenging to figure this out as a newer gardener.

The most reliable way to tell when you need to transplant to a larger pot is when you see roots coming out of the bottom. This is always a great indicator that your plants need more soil to grow into. We frequently check the bottoms of our seeding trays to assess our plants need for transplanting. When we see roots coming out the bottom, that’s a certain sign the plant is ready for a larger pot!

There are times when we need to transplant a seedling well before it is truly ready. For example, if we’ve cleared an entire seeding tray, but have one particularly slow grower left in the entire tray. We want to get that seeding tray “over with” so we have more room in our growing space. You can transplant rather immature seedlings, but you have to be super careful with them! The process is just like normal transplanting, but with the utmost gentle touch. We generally try to avoid it, when possible, but most seasons we end up having to transplant a few immature seedlings.

We are looking forward to our livestream with you all tomorrow! We got everything tested up today, so hopefully no technical glitches. See you tomorrow at 3PM, link for the event is in the comments!

Tomato seedlings growing in seeding tray

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