Skip to main content

What you need to know about transplanting indoor plants outside

If you’re germinating your vegetable garden or flower bed indoors, you’ll eventually need to transplant them to their rightful place outside in your garden’s soil. Transplanting is an exciting time for avid gardeners, but it’s also a time to use caution to keep your little seedlings strong and healthy. As you prepare for the big move, stick with us to learn more about the tips and tricks you should keep in mind so your garden grows and flourishes all summer long.

Which vegetable plants can be transplanted outdoors?

Some types of plants, like root vegetables, corn, beans, and squash, will not fare well when transplanted. Instead, sow those seeds directly into the soil during their respective planting seasons. Other plants, like tomatoes, broccoli, peppers, and leafy greens, actually flourish more when they have a jump-start indoors, particularly if your region’s climate offers a shorter growing season.

Related Videos

When should you transplant seedlings?

For cool-weather plants like leafy greens, transplant them earlier in the growing season before the temperature gets too hot. For warm-weather plants like corn, peppers, squash, or tomatoes, you can move them later as to not expose them to any late frosts. These warm-weather plants thrive as long as overnight temperatures don’t fall below 60 degrees F, so don’t transplant them outside until balmy nights are the norm.

Spotting the signs that it’s time for a move

When a plant’s true leaves emerge, it’s finally time to transplant them outside. When you first plant the seeds inside, small leaves, called cotyledons, are the first to pop out. Cotyledons feed the seeds of the plant until true leaves emerge, which then take over the feeding process through photosynthesis. The arrival of true leaves is an indicator that the seedling will receive adequate nutrients when planted outdoors.

What is “hardening off” and is it necessary?

When planted indoors, the seedlings become accustomed to the gentle, sheltered conditions. Once it’s time to transplant them outdoors, they can become shocked at the drastic change in climate, temperature, and harsh conditions like wind and rain. This shock can weaken your plants and possibly kill them.

The process of “hardening off” your indoor plants takes about a week to complete, but it’s a crucial part of acclimating your seedlings to the harsher conditions outside. To prepare them for the transplant, place your plants outside in an area that’s shaded and fairly protected from gusts of wind. Keep them there only a few hours before bringing them back indoors. For the next several days, gradually keep your plants outdoors for longer hours in increasingly sunny and windy conditions to slowly acclimate them to the great outdoors.

Andrea Piacquadio/Unsplash

Dos and don’ts for transplanting seedlings

Your seedlings are certainly precious to you, but they are also vulnerable and can become weak if the transplanting process is not performed carefully. Rushed or improper transplanting can result in stunted growth, less fruit yield, or even the death of the plant.


  • Harden off your seedlings. They’ll be stronger and more capable of handling the transition outdoors.
  • Prep your outdoor soil. Weed your garden, loosen the soil, aerate it, and add some organic draining helpers like wood pieces or rocks.
  • Water seedlings thoroughly after transplanting. Make sure your newly transplanted seedlings are given all the love and care they need after the rough transition.
  • Watch the weather forecast. Be aware of incoming inclement weather so you can adequately protect your transplants from hot or freezing conditions.
  • Lay mulch if the climate is very dry. Mulch locks moisture in your soil and prevents it from evaporating.
  • Take protective measures. If a heatwave, cold weather, or late frost is coming, act quickly to protect your seedlings. Use sheets, plastic covers, or cloches to protect your plants from frost, and water often and keep them in a shady area to secure them during a heatwave.


  • Overwater or fertilize the last week indoors. Skip watering and fertilizing for several days before transplanting to help the hardening-off process.
  • Allow outdoor soil to dry out after transplanting. Once transplanted, your plants may still have trouble, even after the hardening-off process. Keep them well watered to mitigate any shock.
  • Walk on your soil after you’ve transplanted. This will compact the soil and make it difficult for roots to grow and for water and air to penetrate the soil.

Starting seeds indoors is a great way to get a jump-start on the season and ensure that your plants are strong, resilient, and fruitful throughout the growing season. Transplanting your indoor plants to your outdoor garden is a tricky process, but if you remember the tips and practices we’ve discussed, your precious seedlings are sure to champion their way through the tough transition.

Editors' Recommendations

These are the best plants to put in your shower for a nature-inspired sanctuary
Adding a plant to your shower benefits both you and the plant
Bathroom with orange walls

Bathroom plants are a rising trend, and for good reason. Who wouldn't want to add a touch of refined nature or create a cozy farmhouse feel in their bathroom? Placing a plant in the shower, however, might seem a bit odd. The truth is, there are many benefits to having a plant in your shower, both for you and for the plant itself. We're going to discuss some of these benefits, and we're going to give you some ideas for the best plants to put in your shower. Once you've added a touch of nature to your shower, you'll wonder why you didn't do it sooner.

Why put plants in your shower?
Above and beyond adding a bit of color to your dim shower, there are some health and environmental benefits to keeping plants in your shower.
Less unwanted moisture
It's no secret that bathrooms tend to be hot spots for humidity. Excessive amounts of moisture, however, can have some adverse effects. Mold can grow around your bathroom, the paint on the walls can peel, and certain nasty bugs are attracted to moist places. A shower plant can help reduce unwanted moisture in your bathroom and minimize some of these issues. Since plants need water, they suck it right out of the air, providing the added benefit of not having to water the plant as often.
Cleaner air
You probably know that plants pull carbon dioxide out of the air and emit oxygen, right? But did you know that while this process is taking place, the plant is also filtering the air and pulling toxins out of it? With all of the cleaning products, hair products, and other nasty molecules that leave toxins in your bathroom's air, having a shower plant will allow you to breathe a bit easier and healthier.
Mental health benefits
Having indoor plants comes with numerous health benefits, but the most significant are the benefits to your mental health. We all know that plants are therapeutic, and studies have shown that plants help with stress relief, energy boosts, and even increased concentration and productivity. Why not reap all these mental health benefits right at the start of your day while you shower in the morning?
Elevated decor
Let's face it, indoor plants are beautiful, and they add so much charm and character to any room. Why not apply that same philosophy to your bathroom and shower? Having a plant in your shower is not only trendy and aesthetically pleasing, but it will leave you feeling like you're showering in the tropics.
The plants love it
Putting a plant in the shower not only benefits you, but it also benefits the plant itself. Many plants thrive in humid environments, so you'll see them flourish in your bathroom. If you tend to forget to water your plants for long periods of time, having them in an already moist area will allow you to feel less guilty about neglecting them.

Read more
How to prune a dracaena marginata (dragon tree) so your plant stays thriving
Dragon tree getting too tall? Here's how to prune it so that it flourishes
dragon tree on window sill with copper watering can

If you're a plant parent, you know incorporating a little extra greenery into your home isn't just for aesthetics. Many plants have benefits like purifying your home's air and increasing the humidity during dry winter months. Plus, keeping plants in the home is a surefire way to boost your mood. Dracaena marginata, commonly called dragon trees, are not only great purifiers, but they're also super low maintenance. To top it off, these plants are happy as both outdoor and indoor plants and they're incredibly easy to prune. Here are some dragon tree pruning tips for a happy, thriving plant.

Benefits of dragon tree pruning
Dragon trees grow fairly quickly and can become an unmanageable size before you know it. If left unpruned, they can reach up to 10 feet tall, which isn't ideal for an indoor plant. By pruning back your dracaena marginata, you can make sure it stays both beautiful and appropriately sized for your home.
Makes the plant fuller and bushier
Dragon trees are like the mythical Hydra snake that grew two more heads whenever one was cut off. Even if you cut off the whole head of your dragon tree, new shoots will grow where the cut was made. Instead of growing long but sparse leaves, pruning encourages new growth at the cutting point and makes the plant more voluminous in appearance.
Manages the height of the plant
Pruning your dragon tree takes significant height off of your plant without harming it in the process. If your plant is becoming too tall for your indoor space, snipping those canes will keep its size right where you want it.
Snipped canes can propagate your dragon tree
What's better than one dragon tree? The answer is, obviously, two or three dragon trees. When pruning your plant, use the snipped cane portions to grow even more gorgeous plants by propagating the cuttings. Simply plant the rooting end of the stem, the end that was pointed downward before you snipped it, into water or moistened soil. It will eventually grow roots and produce another gorgeous sprout.

Read more
How to level a yard (and 3 reasons why you really should)
3 great reasons to level your yard
how to level a yard

Homeowners spend countless hours manicuring, improving, and decorating their lawns to make them pristine and gorgeous, but many fall short when it comes to knowing how to level a yard.

The home's lawn is crucial to maintaining the overall aesthetic of the property. Fertilizing, replacing sod, and regularly watering your lawn all go a long way in making it lush and vibrant. However, all that work on an uneven or bumpy lawn can still result in an imperfect and unkept yard.

Read more