Our herbs are just FLOURISHING now that they have been transplanted! I was a little worried that they wouldn’t survive the transplant shock, but they’re doing just fine.
I kept the extra seedlings growing in their seed starter pellets just in case I had to redo the transplant. That’s clearly not necessary at this point; it’s amazing to see the difference between the plants in the pellets and the plants that were transplanted!
Plants need four things to grow well: water, sunlight, space, and food.It’s crazy how much bigger and stronger the plants in the pots are, and this demonstrates my point perfectly! All the plants get the exact same amount of sunlight and water, but the plants in the pots are doing much better. It makes it clear just how important it is that plants have ample room to grow and good nutrients in their soil.
Here are a few tips I’ve picked up along the way regarding each of these four “key ingredients”:
Watering your plants is obviously necessary to keep them alive, but there are a few tips and tricks to watering to help your plants grow better. I wrote a whole post about quick tips for watering your plants, but here are a few basics. Always check to make sure your plant needs water before watering. You can do this by sticking your finger into the dirt around the base of the stem; if it’s still wet about an inch down it’s okay, otherwise water the plant. When you water, water thoroughly until water drains out of the drainage hole. And be very careful not to overwater. Overwatering is much more harmful to a plant than letting it go thirsty for a day, so be careful when you check the moisture level in the soil.
Sunlight is another pretty obvious one. Basically, plants use photosynthesis to turn sunlight into food, so if they don’t get enough sun they can’t grow as well. When the plants were small I built some simple sun reflectors out of cardboard and tin foil to help them capture as much light as possible. The reflectors keep the plants from getting leggy (growing long and thin and reaching out towards the sunlight) by reflecting sun from all directions. You can also help the plants get equal sunlight everywhere by rotating the pots every day or two. This helps to keep the plants from leaning and growing sideways.
The general rule about transplanting seedlings is to have one seedling per pot unless the pot is 10″ or bigger. (If you plant from seeds directly into a pot, plant a bunch of seeds but thin your seedlings down to one once they have grown.) I was worried about transplant shock so I planted two seedlings per pot (ours are 6″ pots) and they did just fine. But about two weeks after transplanting I thinned one of the seedlings so that only one was left, and it made a HUGE difference. Within the next two days I could see how much better the remaining plant was growing. So do your plants a favor and make sure they have plenty of room to grow without competing with other plants.
This one is super important once your plants have sprouted and are growing. Plants can use sunlight to make their own food, but plant food or fertilizer provides extra nutrients to keep your plants healthy. If you use seed starting pellets to plant from seeds the pellets have enough nutrients to sustain your plants for a bit, but once you transplant them into a pot or your garden you need to start feeding them. If your potting soil has food mixed in you can skip feeding your plants for about the first month, but after that those nutrients will be gone and your plants will need more. If you are growing herbs or vegetables make sure to use fertilizer marked specifically for edibles (you don’t want to be eating all those nasty chemicals!) We use a fish emulsion plant food designed to be mixed in with water when you water your plants. It smells gross but the plants sure like it!
These four simple things will keep your plants growing healthy and strong! In fact, our plants are getting big enough that it’s time to start pruning them back a bit so they grow “bushier” rather than tall and skinny. Watch out for a post about that soon!
This post is part of a series about growing herbs indoors. You can see the rest of the posts in the series here.