Once the warm weather hits young plants are ready to be set into their permanent places in the garden, once they have been hardened off. Here are some tips to keep them safe and grow as healthy as possible.
Transplanting seedlings into the garden
Transplant only when the soil is moist. With a trowel or your fingers, lift a single plant or a row of plants from the container or directly from rows in the cold frame. (It sometimes helps to separate the plants in a container by running a knife between them.)
Separate into individual plants, taking care that each retains as many roots as possible.
With a trowel dig a planting hole that is wide enough and deep enough to accommodate the plant’s root system and add two to five millilitres (1⁄2 to one teaspoon) bone meal to each hole.
Insert the plant so that the base of its stem is level with the surface of the soil.
Fill the hole and firm the soil with your fingers, leaving a slight depression that will collect water.
Water after planting to settle the soil around the roots and to minimize wilting. Shade if necessary.
Protecting seedlings from dogs, cats, and birds
Unfortunately, there is no foolproof way to keep animals out of flower beds. A specially treated rope to repel dogs can be strung around the bed’s perimeter, and there are cat-repellent sprays of varying effectiveness. To deter birds, insert low stakes around the perimeter of the bed; tie black thread to one, and loop it crisscross over the bed. Or use netting sold for supporting pea vines.
Pinching seedlings to encourage branching
Pinching off a plant’s growing tip will encourage any plant that is not normally bushy to produce several stems and more blooms. Here’s how:
- Using your thumb and forefinger, pinch just above a set of leaves. Side shoots can be pinched later to make the plant bushier.
- This can be done in the seedling stage, while the plants are indoors, or after setting out in the garden. Either way, give the seedling a few days to recover from being transplanted before pinching.
- Pinching plants set out in the garden delays blooming slightly — you probably pinched off the embryo buds — but gives you more flowers because the plants develop side shoots quicker.
Following this advice will give you healthy and bigger plants once summer hits.