Shopping for Transplants

Summer is almost here! Even though there is still a threat of frost in May, many gardeners are getting ready to plant their summer crops. That means that if you didn’t start your seedlings at home, it’s time to start shopping for your transplants! Transplants are plants that have been started inside in the spring, and will be ready to plant when you buy them.

Mother’s Day Weekend is a great time to shop, as many nurseries will have sales on plants! Some places to get transplants are nurseries like Nanticoke Gardens in Endicott, Sticks & Stones Gardens in Binghamton, The Plantsmen Nursery in Groton, and other small nurseries, like Urda Gardens in Windsor. Many local farmers sell transplants at farmers’ markets, like the Broome County Regional Farmers’ Market and the Vestal Farmers’ Market. You can also find transplants at garden supply stores like Lowes, Agway, and Tractor Supply – however, in my opinion, you should buy local if you can. Big retailers often can’t pay as much attention to their seedlings as small retailers, which can affect the quality of the plants. Also, you are more likely to bring disease and pests into your garden with plants from big retailers, since they are shipped in from multiple places. VINES also offers free seedlings, if and when they are available. 

Since transplants are ready to go when you buy them, you should plan on planting them right away. You should leave them outside for a few days before planting to harden them off, which gets them used to the temperature of their environment, but leaving them in their containers too long can stunt, or set back, the plant, which can affect how it grows throughout the season. If you are not ready to plant, don’t panic – you can still buy seedlings at a later date – just be aware that some places may be sold out of the plants and varieties you want as it gets later in the season. If you have already bought them, and you are not ready to plant, you can up-pot your plants, which means taking them out of the container they are in, and putting them in a bigger container. It can also help to add a bit of organic fertilizer to the transplants. 

When planting your transplants, gently remove them from their container, being careful not to to break the plant or damage the roots. Dig a hole where you want to put the plant – the hole should be deep enough that you can bury all of the roots. Leaving any roots uncovered can damage the plant. Set the plant in the hole, cover up the roots right to the base of the plant, and give it a good drink of water! Not watering your transplants right away can cause transplant shock, which is when the plant gets stressed or damaged after planting. Be sure to water your plants as needed throughout the season.

Pay attention to the weather after you plant – as I mentioned earlier, there is still a risk of frost in May and early June here in New York. If the weather calls for frost, make sure you cover any plants that aren’t cold tolerant in your garden. You can refer to our Cultivation Calendar post from March 19th for ideas on ways to protect your plants from frost.

Transplanting is one of the most fun and enjoyable things to do in the garden. It always gives hope of the beautiful season to come. Also, don’t forget to give your seedlings some encouraging words when you plant them! It may seem silly, but some studies show that it actually helps your plants grow bigger and stronger!

Happy planting!