University of Florida

The Neighborhood Gardener –
Transplanting Vegetables

Jump start your vegetable garden with transplants! You can start them at home or buy them from a garden center. If growing your own, use a good potting soil and any type of container—recycled milk and egg cartons for example—that has good drainage. When planting seeds directly in the garden, remember that some vegetables don’t easily transplant from the seed row to another part of the garden:

  • Easy to Transplant — Beets, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, chard, collards, collards, lettuce, tomatoes
  • Medium Transplanting Difficulty — Carrots, celery, eggplant, kale, leeks, onions, peppers
  • Difficult to Transplant — Beans, corn, cucumbers, cantaloupes, mustard, peas, squash, watermelons

When buying transplants from a garden center, make sure that the vegetable type is "in season." The Florida Vegetable Gardening Guide offers planting seasons for north, central and south Florida. It’s always important to select the healthiest transplants and plant them correctly. Transplants should be mid-sized and have a good healthy color. Make sure the plants aren't shriveled or wilted, and haven't flowered or set fruit yet. Inspect potential transplants thoroughly and make sure there are no signs of insects or diseases.

The quality and type of soil where you'll be planting is very important. Most Florida soils benefit from the addition of organic matter, such as animal manure, rotted leaves, compost, or commercial soil mixes. It should be well-drained and free of weeds and pests. Plant your transplants soon after purchase for best results.

Most plants are ready to transplant when they are 4-6 weeks old. Transplant your vegetables in the early evening or on a cloudy day so tender leaves won't be damaged by the sun. Be careful not to disturb the roots when you are transferring your plants into the ground. Do not compact the soil around your transplant; gently replace soil around the base of the plant and then water thoroughly, but do not drown the plant.

Protect plants from the sun for up to four days after planting. Keep transplants moist and don’t let their soil dry out. Monitor your plants within the first week and if there is new growth or foliage your transplants have been successful.


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