Good Start for Seedlings

Transplanting seedlings can be a bit of a shock for young plants, but you can ease the transition to your garden by keeping them outside, but in their pots for a few days. This will help the seedlings adjust to brighter outdoor light, stronger wind, and temperature fluctuations while they are still comfortable in their pots. This is especially important if you raised your seedlings indoors, or just purchased them at a plant sale.
When your seedlings are transplanted, they begin new growth on roots, stems and leaves. This takes away some energy from the plant in adjusting to the new environment. By keeping your plants in the pots, but slowly exposing them to new growing conditions, you can ease the transition and prevent your seedlings from getting sunburned, broken in the wind, or shocked in the cold.
  • Light: Your garden gets much brighter light than seedlings on a plant rack at a garden center or a sunny windowsill, or even grow lights indoors. Planting in the ground before the plants have had time to adjust can lead to sunburn on the leaves, which turns them white


  • Wind: They also need to adjust to strong wind, especially the kind of wind we get in Chicagoland in the spring. They do not get that wind indoors or on a protected rack, resulting in thin stems that may break in a strong gust when outside. A few days with their stems swaying in the breeze, while still in their pots will help them get thicker and sturdier in time for planting.


  • Temperature: Right now, our days are warming up but we still have cooler nights. Keep an eye on the weather, and if the temperatures drop below 50 for warm-weather crops like basil, tomatoes, and peppers, bring them indoors for the night. If the temperature drops below 40 for all other plants, bring them indoors as well.
With these tips, you can help your plants avoid “transplanting shock” and start growing as soon as they are in the ground, rather than repairing damage from sunburn, strong wind or cold temperatures.