Planting seedlings is a valuable part of the process of growing new trees, shrubs, and garden plants. A person should not begin planting seedlings until after his or her region’s last frost date has passed. Otherwise, the seedlings can suffer harm from the extreme cold. When planting seedlings, an individual needs to understand how to let seedlings adjust to outdoor conditions, place them correctly in the ground, and care for them.
Prior to putting seedlings in the ground, people need to harden them off. The process of hardening off seedlings means that individuals slowly allow the seedlings to acclimate to outdoor temperatures and light conditions over a period of about two weeks before leaving the plants outside full time. When hardening off seedlings in preparation for planting them, a person should leave the seedlings outside for just a few hours in the beginning and gradually increase the number of hours that he or she leaves them outdoors.
Another important part of planting seedlings is ensuring that the seedlings’ growing area is adequate to sustain them. For instance, an individual must read the label on the seedlings that he or she purchases from a nursery to find out if the plants require full sun or mostly shade. In addition, the person should collect a sample of the growing soil and have a horticulturist test it to find out the level of acidity and basicity — or the pH level. Doing this will help an individual to know whether he or she needs to add amendments to the soil to improve its quality prior to planting seedlings.
When putting a young plant in the ground, an individual also must pay attention to how he or she situates the plant. For instance, he or she typically needs to dig a hole that accommodates the roots of the seedling and then cover the hole with fertile topsoil. Also, although the part of the plant where the seedling root and stem meet typically has to be flush with the soil line, some plants require this area to be slightly above or below the surface of the soil. The seedling label directions should provide this information.
Giving a plant water and food is critical to help new plants survive as well. When planting seedlings, an individual needs to give them enough water to make the soil moist. About an inch of water a week usually is adequate for seedlings. New seedlings also should receive fertilizer each year to help them continue to thrive.