How to transplant plants without killing them is a question many gardening enthusiasts struggle with because plants, such as marigolds, daylilies, and zinnia (among others), are fragile and need to be handled with great care. The methods of transplanting your favorite plants differ slightly, depending on whether you will take mature plants or just the seedlings.

How to Transplant Plants

While it is essential to move your plants outdoors so they can grow without any barriers, transplanting can result in premature death if they are not handled carefully during the process.

In the following guide, we will be looking at the precise steps you need to take to ensure that you are going through the whole process with accuracy and care to allow your plants to enjoy their environment properly!

How Can I Transplant Mature Plants Without Killing Them?

You can transplant mature plants without killing them by choosing the right time, depending on their type. After checking the foliage and the roots, you need to prepare a spot in your garden. Once this is done, you may transplant the plants with ease.

1. Ensuring the Right Time for Transplanting

If the plants you want to transplant are already mature, remember that the best time for transplanting them is in the winter. This is because the plants will be generally dormant during this time, which gives them plenty of time to become active and adapt to their new environment at its pace.

While winter is the ideal season for transplanting a mature plant, you can also do so at a reasonably cool time of the year. This could also be early spring, when the temperature is usually low, or in the fall season, when the temperature has already begun to cool down considerably.

2. Inspecting the Foliage Condition

To transplant mature plants, it is essential to inspect their foliage condition. You can transplant mature plants whenever they do not show signs of growing. To know whether you must transplant your plants, you have to check on your plant. One of the few signs is that your plants’ foliage starts turning yellow.

Inspecting the Foliage Condition

Another thing you can check is if your plants have a loss of foliage or if your plant is starting to wilt even if you water it regularly. It could also be essential to transplant your plants if your plants are beginning to look worse as time passes. When the plant starts to look worse, it could be when the soil is too dry. Another factor is the stunted growth of your plants.

3. Inspecting the Plant Roots

It might also be necessary to inspect your plants’ roots when you want to transplant them. When the roots seem to be bound into root balls, then it could be essential that your plants are transplanted. If you notice your roots are growing out of the drainage hole or if your roots are pushing your plants out of their pots.

If this is happening, it means the plant needs more space to grow. The plant could also start to dry out faster than it usually does and could fall over several times in the day to show that it needs to be transplanted.

4. Preparing a Spot for Your Mature Plants

You should always prepare a good place to rest your plants when transplanting them. It is best to find a suitable location beforehand, and then you will have to start digging several holes in the potting soil to begin transplanting.

Preparing a Spot for Your Mature Plants

When you dig the holes, you have to ensure that the holes are pretty deep and wide to keep the plant comfortable.

The hole should be at least 10 to 12 inches deeper than the length of the roots of your plants. On the other hand, the width should be at least double the size of your plant’s drip line. If you follow the measurements, you will find them much more helpful.

How Can I Transplant Seedlings Without Killing Them?

You can transplant seedlings without killing them by choosing the right time according to the needs of the seeds that you have. Secondly, you need to prepare the garden spot and the soil for the newcomers according to the type of plants you are working with.

1. Finding the Right Time for Transplantation

To transplant your seedlings correctly and without any problems to the plant’s health, the most important thing to do is find the ideal day and time to carry out the procedure. As you might not know, the selection of the season, day, and time plays a critical role in how the seedlings will adjust and adapt to the new environment in the later stages of their life.

In the case of vegetable seedlings, it would be a good idea to wait till the last frost of the season has ultimately passed before you take the step of transplantation. Ensuring that the temperature is warm on your chosen day and that the time of moving is not in the grueling hours of the cold night or harsh afternoon will allow the seedlings to adapt and thrive after being transplanted.

Therefore, consider transplanting them early in a warm morning for the best results.

2. Checking the Type of Plant Seedlings

To transplant your seedlings without killing them, you must know what type of seedling you are planting. If you squash and press onto your seedlings during the process of transplanting your plant and the seedlings are not ready yet, then it is most likely that your plant will die.

This is because the young plants are not strong enough to handle the pressure of harsh actions or climates that could take place. This could give them transplant shock. For this reason, you must check on the plant thoroughly, and if you think it is ready to be moved, you can move it out. In this way, your plant will not get damaged and die.

3. Checking True Leaves

It is crucial to check the leaves of your plant before you transplant them. To be sure that they are ready to be transplanted, you can check whether the plant has grown out around two to three leaves of its own. If it has, then you can just transplant your plant.

Checking True Leaves

It is important to remember that many vegetable plants, such as tomatoes, carrots, and pumpkins, are dicots. The dicot plants always produce a pair of cotyledons as soon as they sprout.

The pair of cotyledons on the dicots are always smooth, and oval leaves are still developing. These oval leaves provide the newly growing plant with food. The true leaves appear in the next set of leaves on the dicots. The young leaves seem like adult leaves, although they are much smaller than the adult ones.

It is important to remember that every plant produces adult leaves in their own shape. For example, the leaves of a tomato plant are shaped like a spade and have lobed yet smooth edges. On the other hand, pumpkin plants have broad and a bit jagged leaves.

4. Preparing a Garden Spot for Seedlings

You should always prepare a spot in the garden for the seedlings. When you find the right place to plant the seedlings, you must take a hand towel. After that, you will have to dig holes using the towel. It is important to remember that each hole you dig should be around five to six inches deeper than the roots of the seedlings.

The width should be at least two to three times wider than the original pot of the plant itself. It is best to dig your holes extra large since, if the soil is loose, the roots can grow more quickly.

5. Preparing the Soil

You have to prepare the soil before you plant the seedlings. If the earth you have has a lot of clay, it is best to mix some sand into it. However, if your soil lacks nutrients in it, you should get some compost.

Preparing the Soil 1

After that, you must mix the compost with the soil you have. Doing this will provide the soil with vitamins as well as minerals. If you want to acidify your potting mix, you should add a handful of peat moss.

On the other hand, you can also add manure if you want your soil to be more alkaline. Now, if you grow your seedlings in the ground you just made, it will be straightforward, primarily if your garden beds are raised. The given recipe of the soil contains a neutral pH in it. To keep your seedlings healthy and happy, you will only have to make a few minor adjustments to your soil.


After studying our detailed post, you should be aware that transplantation is less of a headache than many people have made it to be. From the different ways of handling seedlings or mature plants, here is a list of the most critical bits we covered in the guide above:

  • To transplant plants safely, the first thing you need to ensure is that the temperature is ideal.
  • The ideal time will depend on whether you transplant mature plants or seedlings.
  • After that, you need to prepare the ideal soil mix, and you also need to maintain the new garden spot.
  • Finally, you can transplant the plants there, taking care to maintain them regularly.

Thanks to our elaborate article, you now know how to prepare your plants and garden space alike for transplantation. If you follow the steps we have listed, you will definitely be able to transplant your plants without harming them in any way!

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