Spring Transplanting

Have you been nurturing seedlings indoors and wondering when and how to transplant them? Read on!

Anytime in the temperate zones your temperatures consistently hit the 70s (and your nights don’t go below 40) is a good enough time to do some transplanting of your favorite crops!

Here are some quick transplanting tips to ensure success!

What do I transplant first?

    • Transplant cooler crops before warm weather crops.

      Just note that the window on planting certain cool weather crops like peas, spinach, broccoli, turnips, collards and brussel sprouts may be closing.  To get a feel for what cool weather crops are still feasible during springtime planting, take cues from our Mid-Spring Transplanting Cheat Sheet available for download at the bottom of this post. If you’re on our mailing list, you most likely have this handy sheet in your inbox already!

Teaser Mid-Spring (1)

  • Transplant tomatoes before eggplants and peppers.  Herbs like rosemary and lavender can’t hack the mid-spring night temperatures quite yet.

When do I transplant outdoors?

  • Check your Moon Phase

According to those who plant by the phases of the moon, the moon’s “second quarter” (specifically, two days before the full moon) are the best times for transplanting crops that have their “seeds inside the fruit” such as beans, melons, peppers, squash and tomatoes.  These kinds of plants happen to be mostly summer crops. If you don’t get this moon phase quite right, do not fret.  Be governed more importantly by…

  • Temperature / Weather
    • Transplant when the weather is consistently above freezing and within the allowable germination temperature range of your plant. Most summer crops germinate at a temperature above 60F and most cool weather crops around 40F.  Even if your day time highs are above 60F, your night time lows may still be dipping below these preferred temperature ranges, so pay close attention to both your highs and lows.
    • Transplant before (or even during) a rain event.  The second best day to transplant would be after a rain event. Also plant during the cooler times of the day to avoid “transplant shock.” This is a very good example of “working with nature” and not against it.  If you transplant during rainy weather, you don’t need to worry about watering your plant!


  • Check your Seedling’s Status
    • Make sure before transplanting that your seedling has (2) two “true leaves.”  True leaves are the leaves that come sometimes after the initial seed’s cotyledon leaves come out.   If this becomes confusing because not all plants have obvious cotyledon leaves, transplant after you see at least 2 sets of leaves (4 leaves) grow.
    • Harden your seedlings outside before your transplant them.  Even just one day of hardening helps.
    • If your seedling are becoming leggy (too long) that is a sign that they are outgrowing their current trays or pots and are longing for more soil in which to grow.  If you cannot yet transplant outdoors due to temperature, transplant them into a larger tray or pot as soon as you can.

How exactly do I transplant?


  • What you will need:
    • Use a “dibber.” What is a dibber?  A dibber is basically any “hole poker” that you can trust to make indentations in the soil with so as to accommodate the pants root system.
    • Spade
    • Filled watering can or hose with nozzle spray
    • Your plant
    • Usually for transplanting, I do not wear gloves as the roots are sometimes so fragile that I want to have full control of how I handle the plant.
Dibber made by Gary at Rustic Workbench on Etsy!

Beautiful dibbers made by Gary at Rustic Workbench on Etsy!

Recently, I transplanted a fig tree into a tiny hole and Dave dubbed the whole operation “Mt. Vesuvius!”  Too much of the fig was above ground and it sort of looked like I created a volcano in the garden.  Luckily for me, Dave re-dug the hole and now it’s root system is well covered and totally underground. To prevent this from happening to you follow the directions below:

Transplanting Tips (1)


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