14 May 2024

Real Maine Seedlings Make A Great Garden Choice

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Seedlings sign with a tomato painted on it at the farmer's market

As thoughts this time of year turn to readying your garden, remember that Real Maine greenhouses, nurseries, and garden centers have a wide variety of choices for planting, which include an ample supply of healthy seedlings ready to go.

Your local commercial greenhouse, nursery, or garden center is a great place to start your search for seedlings. You’re likely to find separate areas dedicated to different types of seedlings. Many greenhouses, nurseries, and garden centers have experienced staff who can offer advice. (Bonus: at a nursery or greenhouse, you’ll also be able to pick up hanging baskets, planters, and more decorative items for the garden!)

Here are some advantages to purchasing seedlings from your local commercial greenhouse, nursery, or garden center:

  • You can purchase the plants when the conditions in your area are right. Many plants must be started indoors well in advance to give them enough time to grow in Maine. Getting the timing right can be difficult for beginners! If you purchase seedlings, you can leave the timing to professionals.
  • People who have small to medium-sized gardens often appreciate the ability to purchase a mixture of seedling varieties. Whereas a seed packet might contain dozens of seeds, you can purchase seedlings in packs ranging from 1 to 6 or more. If you only have room for 1 row of tomatoes, why not plant several varieties to experiment? 
  • Professional growers have the right environment and tools to produce healthy, acclimated seedlings. They have the right soil, pots, temperature, and light conditions. Starting with healthy seedlings means starting your garden off right!

  • Try to plant your seedlings as soon as possible after purchase. (In small pots, seedlings tend to dry out quickly and don’t have room to grow.)
  • Look for healthy plants that do not show signs of distress (such as yellow or shriveled leaves).
  • Plants in small “cell packs” will have a smaller root ball, which might take a little longer to get started. However, these younger, smaller plants also tend to be the most affordable, and are excellent for getting a garden started. (Just be vigilant not to let them dry out, which can quickly happen with small cells.)
  • Seedlings grown in biodegradable “peat pots” may be planted in the ground as-is, pot and all. (However, if the plant is sturdy with strong roots, you might want to consider removing the peat pot before planting.) This type of pot dries out more quickly than others, so be sure to keep them well-watered.
  • Though it seems counterintuitive, pinch flowers off annual seedlings when transplanting. It’s best to give them time to acclimate to their new location and develop more roots before devoting energy to flowers. You’ll be rewarded not only with success with seedlings but with more blooms a little later in the season!
Tomato seedlings

Real Maine is the state’s official agriculture and agritourism promotions program. From vegetable seedlings to flower seedlings to herb seedlings, plan your agricultural experience with Real Maine. Visit www.RealMaine.com to connect to farms, food, and agriculture throughout Maine.