Transplanting Your Annual Flower Seedlings Part 2
How and When to Transplant Transplant when the seedlings begin to crowd each other. You may be transplanting directly to the specific garden spot where you desire them to grow depending on time of year, weather conditions and type of flower or plant. Or possibly to a pot or cold frame to encourage further growth before putting them outside in their final growing spot.
If to a final growing spot, it is advisable to “harden” the flowers off first. This is placing them outside in a partially-shaded, protected spot for an increasingly longer period every day so as to acclimate them to outdoor conditions. Start with 20 minutes or so and work the time upwards. It is much like your first exposure to the sun every spring and summer. It will be a balancing act to begin this before the seedlings become really crowded.
Water the soil several hours before transplanting in order that as much as possible of it will stick to the roots. It is better to choose a cloudy day for moving tender seedlings. If the sun is shining, the seedlings should be covered with newspaper or flowerpots after transplanting so that their tops will not dry out. Two other precautions are advisable: (1) puddling the roots and (2) shortening the tops.
If you can, make a thin mud of clay and water and dip the roots of the plants into it. A layer of mud soup will envelop the roots and check evaporation. This precaution is especially valuable when the soil is dry. Of course, you will water your seedlings after transplanting. This puddling process will help protect them throughout the transplanting process especially if you are doing many at once.
Whenever we dig a plant we injure its roots and break or cut off some. Since this is the case, it is generally advisable to cut off a portion of the leaves to create a balance between the injured roots and the leaf area. The above ground mass, leaves, should balance the below ground mass, the roots.
If these things are done plants may be moved at any time if watered thoroughly and shaded immediately thereafter. Good luck and enjoy digging in the dirt.