Growing and transplanting seedlings is an easy task to do. Plants may be divided into two basic groups depending on the way their seeds form.
Overview of Two Types of Seeds
Monocotyledons, or monocots, are commonly represented by corn and grassy types of plants. Dicotyledons, or dicots, such as beans, have two halves to the seeds.
The cotyledon is a part of the seed used to store food, such as starch, sugar, oil, and protein. These are necessary for growth until the seedling can produce its own food from sunlight through photosynthesis.
When a dicot germinates, the two cotyledons stay attached to the newly elongating stem of the seedling. They turn green and look like leaves for a short time; they are called cotyledonous or seed leaves. When true leaves form, the two cotyledonous leaves shrivel and drop off. This distinction between cotyledonous leaves and true leaves is important when time to transplant.
Monocots do not have easily recognizable cotyledonous leaves. Leaves produced by monocots are considered true leaves. Once a monocot seedling produce two or three visible leaves, it is ready to transplant.
When to Transplant
Proper transplant timing is important to the survival and growth of seedlings. The bes time for transplanting is just after the first set of true leaves forms. There is little transplant shock at this stage of development.if you transplant seedlings too early, you risk seedling damage and death of the young plants. Transplanting too late may break roots entangled with others growing close together, resulting in transplant shock as the roots regrow.
How to Start Seeds
You will find various types of seed starting equipment to make your job easier. You should start the seeds in a container or flat to conserve room and allow more precise bottom heating and watering. After the first set of true leaves forms, transplant the seedlings to individual containers to develop healthy root sysytems and provide more room for top growth. From the individual containers, transplant them directly into the garden or into larger containers in the case of houseplants.
Proper transplanting produces the least amount of damage to the seedling. First prepare the containers and growing soil mix. Use a soil mix similar to that used for seed germination. Moisten the soil mix before placing it in the containers’ moist soil mix is easier to firm around the root system than dry soil mix. Using a dibble, poke a hole in the soil mix of each container. Make sure the hole is large enough for the root system to fit without bunching or coiling.
Don’t worry if your seedlings seem easy to pull out of the soft germination soil mix, avoid pulling on the top of the seedling to remove it from the soil mix. Most of the roots maybreak off or the stem may break, killing the seedling. Many of the important root on a seedling are no larger than a human hair.
The easiest way to avoid damaging the seedling when transplanting is to insert a pencil, tongue depressor, row label, or similar tool at a 45-degree angle into the soil mix under the seedling. Gently lift upward on the tool, steadying the seedling by gently holding onto the leaves.
Carefully lower the root system into the prepared hole in the transplant pot to the same depth it was growing in the germination container. Gently firm the soil mix around the roots to prevent the seedling from falling over the first time it is watered.
Transplanting Seedlings in a Few Quick and Easy Steps
- Avoid pulling seedlings from the soil by their leaves. Pry the plant from below with a pencil or wooden label.
- Once seedling are removed from the soil mix, hold the gently by the leaves to prevent damage to the tender stem.
- Place seedling roots in holes large enough to accommodate the roots. Gently firm soil around the seedling and water in.
*Transplant containers can be found in assorted sizes and with various carrying trays.
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