Plant Parenting: How to Know When to Transplant

June 8, 2020

Two common mistakes that new plant propagators make include transplanting young seedlings or clones before they've developed a large enough root system -- or waiting too long to transplant. If you’re not sure how to gauge when a young plant is ready for transplanting to a larger container, the root system will tell you.

These tomato seedling shave started developing their first set of true leaves. Time to check their root growth!
PC: Leslie F. Halleck

After gently removing two plugs from the growing tray, I can see that the tomato seedling on the left has rooted completely to the bottom of the cell and is ready for transplanting. The plug on the right belongs to a slower-growing dwarf variety; its root system hasn’t quite filled the entire plug and some soil has fallen away when I removed it.

PC: Leslie F. Halleck

If you transplant too soon, you risk failure,since the root system isn't big enough to handle the disruption or a bigger pot with more soil.

Waiting too long may stunt the plant & they may not recover.

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