Let's Talk About Transplant Shock

Let's Talk About Transplant Shock

Transplant shock happens to your seedlings when they undergo stress during the transplanting process from indoor growing conditions to the ground and the unpredictable climate outside. Many times it is caused by the roots being "shocked" by the transplanting process, specifically to the tiny root hairs that absorb water. Another cause can be the drastic temperature change from controlled indoor growing conditions to the ground, placed into too small of a hole or in need of water. The same goes for planting in baskets and containers as well.

The stresses can escalate exponentially if left untreated. Transplant shock is common, nearly unavoidable, but ranges from mild to severe and plants that experience it CAN quickly recover. Signs of transplant shock are inhibited growth and reduced vigor. Your plants may appear shriveled or wilted, or they may possibly turn yellow. But all is not lost! You can still aid them back to life!

Tomato seedlings damaged by strong winds and intense heat/sunlight.

One of the best ways to avoid it is to check the last frost date of your region—and then double check it. On top of that, we believe it is good to prepare your garden beds by de-weeding and de-stoning it as much as possible and mixing in compost and/or top soil, so you are left with lush, nutritious soil for growth. And most importantly, hardening off your seedlings for at least two weeks before transplanting. Read more about the process of "hardening off". Lack of hardening off raises the chance for shock and plant death.

There are several steps to solving transplant shock issues. One of them is to cut back some of the foliage to allow more energy to go to the struggling root system. Another is to water heavily because a plant in shock will drink up more water, and to lay straw, mulch, or wood chips around the plant to keep soil moist.

treating transplant shockTreating Transplant Shock with Heavy Watering and Straw Covering.

But we find the best way to protect your plants at night from experiencing more transplant shock is using plant protector, such as the Solar Cone and Solar Cap, or grow cloths such as The Weather Shield, depending on what you are growing. The best part about these plant protectors is you can use them season after season on different crops!

Solar Cone by SafeGrow
Solar Cap by SafeGrow
The Weather Shield by SafeGrow

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  • Jordan Freytag
Comments 3
  • Peacetou

    For years, we have saved gallon milk jugs (washed and dried); cut the bottom out; and used them to cover newly transplanted plants (tops of jugs off to vent increased daytime temps)until they are well established. Frost threatens? Put the caps on for the night, remove before the day warms. Mini greenhouses. Bank the earth or mulch around the bottom to secure if wind is a problem in your area. Almost never a problem with shock if moisture / mulch needs met.

  • Susie

    I harden off my tomato seedlings (sometimes for not as long as I should) before planting them in the garden but we have lots of wind here in the spring and occasional lows in the upper 30s. I’ve collected the plastic containers that plants and shrubs come in and put those over my young tomato plants with a rock on top when we get strong winds. Yes, I’m out there putting them on and off several times but that helps keep the plants healthy until they are strong enough to handle the crazy weather here, otherwise the wind would kill most of them.

  • Ann Hupe
    Ann Hupe

    Can you get those photos linked in? It would be nice to see what helps transplant shock.

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