Purchasing seedlings can be an affordable way to start your garden. Try to find the healthiest plants you can afford. Whenever possible, buy from an expert, such as a farmer or nursery staff, so you can be sure to purchase the right plants for your situation. Success with seedlings is within everyone’s reach.
- When the snow has finally melted, it can be tempting to immediately buy seedlings and get them into the ground. However, May is often too cold for many annual seedlings in May. Even if the days are warm, the nights may be too cold. Time your purchases carefully, and if necessary, leave keep them inside overnight until the weather warms up sufficiently.
- If the danger of frost has passed, try to plant your seedlings as soon as possible after purchase. (In small pots seedlings tend to dry out quickly, and they 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 and therefore 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 happen very quickly 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 seem counter intuitive, 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!
Visit the University of Maine Cooperative Extension’s Yard and Garden page for extensive advice and resources to help with your garden adventure!