Let’s briefly look at how to transplant tomatoes into pots and some of the things that will produce a better crop for you.
Too tall seedlings will be buried right up to the first set of true leaves
Transplants Are Fed Full Strength
We’re now at full strength feeding once a week or half strength twice a week.
Bigger is better With Pots
While you can transplant into cell packs you’ve saved from year to year, I transplant all my seedlings into 4-inch pots for maximum growth. Plant research shows the maximum growth of a plant is obtained in the largest pot possible.
Some gardeners have been taught to slowly move their plants “one pot size up” to maximize growth (for all their plants). This is NOT true (for any plant btw – outdoor or indoor) My seedlings go from the seed starting tray to the 4-inch pot I’ll grow them in.
How Full Do You Fill The Pot?
- If you’re using dry soilless mix – fill right to the rim. The soil will settle to the right level as soon as you water it.
- If you’re using damp soil, leave approximately 1/4 inch from the top of the pot to the top of the soil so water has some place to settle and not run out of the pot.
Until you’ve handled millions of plants, always handle young transplants by the mature leaves. If you rip them, it doesn’t matter because new ones are coming along. If you handle them by the stem (like I often do) you may bruise the stem and this will retard your plant’s growth.
Adjusting the Height Of The Seedling
This is where you “shorten” the seedling if you need to.
Simply bury the too-long stem leaving only 3-4 inches of plant above the soil. The stem will quickly root and the plant will continue growing.
Beginners sometimes think they have to remove all leaves that might get buried. While this is a good practice – it’s not absolutely necessary. If you’re only transplanting a dozen or two, feel free to remove them. If you’re transplanting twenty-thousand, you may want to pass on taking the time. 🙂
Can you curl the seedling around? Yes. You can make that stem contort in any way you like to get it into the pot.
What you can’t do is bruise the stem or put a crinkle into it. If you do that – toss it and use another one. The seedling may not die right away – it may survive but it will lose too much time and be slower than your other plants. The only time to keep wounded seedlings is if a) it’s really rare or b) you don’t have enough.