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Horticulture 1000
HT1021 - Practical skills - Transplanting seedlings
Caring for seedlings

Transplanting seedlings

Once your seedlings have  developed a good root system and have at least two to four true leaves they can  be gently transplanted into your vegetable plot.

 A lettuce  seedling ready for transplanting beside a lettuce seedling ready for pricking  out

A lettuce  seedling ready for transplanting beside a lettuce seedling ready for pricking  out.

However  before they are transplanted, the seedlings should be hardened off.
    Seedlings  which are to be planted outside should be gradually hardened off to help  prevent transplanting shock and any slowing of plant growth. Hardening off means the seedlings  gradually get used to the conditions they will experience once they are  transplanted.

To  harden them off, expose the seedlings gradually to the same environmental  conditions they will have in their final planting position. They will need  gradual exposure until they are in the final conditions for 24 hours.

Seedlings  could be placed in a cold frame that is left open for more hours each day or  they could have a protective cover on them for part of the day and at night.  This cover is gradually removed altogether.

After 5–7 days of hardening off, the seedlings will be  ready to be transplanted to their final growing position.


When a seedling is planted in a new growing position  it experiences transplant shock.  This  can be reduced by:

  • hardening off seedlings  gradually
  • watering the plants before  and after transplanting
  • handling the plants gently
  • keeping as much medium as  possible around the plant roots
  • holding the plants by the  leaves so the tender stem isn't crushed.

Transplanting video

Watch the transplanting video


Write an entry into your diary about transplanting your seedlings Write an entry into your diary about transplanting your seedlings.

  • what you did
  • any problems you had
  • how many seedlings you transplanted.

Remember to include the date.

Key points

  • Seedlings in containers should be hardened off before  they are transplanted into their final position.
  • Hardening off allows the seedlings to gradually get  used to the environmental conditions of their final planting position.
  • Hardening off, watering seedlings before and after  transplanting, handling the seedlings by their leaves and leaving as much media  around the root system as possible, are all things that will reduce  transplanting shock.
  • The less transplanting shock, the faster the plant  will grow.

What's next?

  1. Complete the self-assessment in the inside back cover of your HT1021 workbook and the cover sheet details on the back of your HT1021workbook.
  2. Return your labelled diary and your HT1021 workbook to your teacher.
  3. Now start work on HT1091 Plant propagation 1
Caring for seedlings