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Transplanting Tips

Thu, Feb 8th, 2024, created by W. Garrett Owen

The time has come to plan or begin transplanting plugs (seedlings) and liners (rooted cuttings) for spring production. For many, plugs and liners are transplanted by hand into flats, containers, and hanging baskets. While this is a busy time, it is important to take a few moments to review and remind yourself and your greenhouse plant support team how to properly transplant young plants. General transplanting tips and reminders are listed below, and these can be adopted or adapted into your current transplanting plans.

Transplanting Tips and Reminders

  1. Irrigate plug trays 2 to 3 hours before transplanting so the plug’s root ball will easily lift or pop away from the plug tray cell wall.
  2. Avoid transplanting dry or water stressed plugs and liners.
  3. Pre-fill flats, containers, and hanging baskets with substrate and avoid nesting into each other so you preserve the air space within the substrate. Gently dibble holes into the substrate so the plug or liner root ball can be easily inserted. Avoid applying excessive pressure when dibbling holes to ensure you preserve the air space within the substrate.
  4. Handle plugs and liners carefully. Avoid pulling plugs or liners by the foliage. Use a plug popper or utensil to dislodge root balls by inserting into the drainage holes of the tray and applying gentle upward pressure until the plug is released.
  5. Avoid transplanting or the temptation to plant too deep, especially stretched plugs. The root ball of the plug or liner should be even with the substrate. Some tomato varieties can be transplanted deeper, but maintaining optimum environmental and cultural conditions during plug production should alleviate the need to transplant deeper.
  6. Gently pinch the substrate around the root ball to ensure substrate-to-root ball contact.

 Proper transplanting techniques are essential for successful production. By following these general guidelines such as pre-irrigating plug trays, handling young plants carefully, and avoiding planting too deep, greenhouse and retail garden center businesses can ensure healthy growth this spring season.

About the Author:

W. Garrett Owen

Assistant Professor of Sustainable Greenhouse and Nursery Systems, The Ohio State University

W. Garrett Owen is an Assistant Professor of Sustainable Greenhouse and Nursery Systems in the Department of Horticulture and Crop Science at The Ohio State University. He has an appointment in research, teaching and Extension. His area of expertise is plant nutrition; plant growth regulation; and production problem diagnostics.

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