Transplanting Potted Herbs To The Garden
How To Transplant Herbs From Nursery Pots To The Garden
By Amy Jeanroy, About.com
Spring is the time to get out and visit garden shops and nurseries. Take along your garden wish list (you have one, don’t you?), and start selecting the best looking plants you can.
Once you do get your plants home, it will be time to transplant them into the garden. Here are some tips for transplanting potted herbs, in order to keep your plants looking fresh and growing well. Potted herbs come in many sizes, from tiny 3 inch pots to 1 gallon and even 2 gallon sizes. No matter what size you buy, look for plants that are not too dry in the pot. Their leaves should be lush and no shriveled or have dead areas on them. Looking at the bottom of the pot, there may be fine roots sticking out in numerous places, but avoid larger or extremely heavy number of thick roots coming out the sides and bottom of the pot. This is an indication that your plants have grown too large for that pot, yet have remained in the pot for too long (often called Pot or Root bound). Once you trim off the excess roots, it may be too much of a shock for the overgrown plant, resulting in its death or stunted growth.
When you are ready to actually transplant, soak your potted herb in water. This helps the plant to come out of the container more easily, helps keep the soil intact-protecting the roots, and ensures that when you do the final watering with the plant in the ground, it is thoroughly wet through the entire root ball as well as the surrounding soil.
Take a look at the root ball before placing in the ground. If the roots are packed together, gently loosen them and spread them apart (I call this teasing the roots), allowing them to grow in a outward, instead of circular pattern. For more aggressive teasing of the roots, it is often suggested that you cut into the root ball with a sharp knife in several spots. For herbs, this hasn’t been my experience, but it is a valid recommendation in the gardening industry.
Be certain to work on one herb plant at a time. Avoid removing a number of herbs from their pots at the same time, thinking it will speed up your transplanting. The herb roots and soil need to be protected from sunlight and air as much as possible. You may end up with stunted plants that were damaged from the 30 minutes their roots lay exposed as you worked on another plant.
Your hole should be twice the diameter as your potted plant, and deep enough that the herb will be planted in its new spot at the same level. Avoid planting too deeply, since this can cause fungal damage resulting in the plant’s demise. I like to moisten the hole before transplanting, to ensure that the top water will be absorbed more readily. Spread out the roots that you have loosened, and place the herb in the dampened hole. Refill the hole with soil and then firmly press the herb plant into place. Your plant will shift once watered, and it may end up lifting out of the ground, if it is not firmly in place.
Water the new transplanted herb well, trying to avoid soaking the leaves if possible. This will help reduce the chance of mildew and disease, as well as sun damage if transplanting during a hot, sunny day.
Place at least 2 inches of mulch around the base of the transplanted herb, leaving a little space right next to the stem. This helps protect the stem from mildew as well, and any critters that like to hide in the mulch to nibble your herbs, will not have an inviting location to move in. Moisten the mulch once it is in place, and you are done!