Planting seedlings in containers

Planting seedlings in containers

  • Shortens growing time of summer crops
  • Seedlings more robust than sown seed
  • Useful when only growing a few plants
  • Water before planting
  • Mulch and protect with cloches

Many plants are suited to growing in pots, boxes and containers. If you live in an apartment a few plant holding devices (pot, box, container, tub and son on, just make sure it has drainage capability so plants don't become water logged and will evenually drown) will ensure you always have fresh herbs and greens. As with all gardening the trick is to ensure you water regularly, as well as ensuring the soil is well nourished.

When we plant seedlings there is a risk that they may suffer from what is called ‘transplant shock’. Transplant shock is caused by delicate seedlings suffering stress and damage as they are taken out of their container and planted into the garden. Roots and stems can be crushed and, as a result, plants can grow stunted, with reduced yields and increased vulnerability to pests and disease. Signs of ‘transplant shock’ are curling or wilting leaves that become pale and discolored, drooping stems and plants collapsing altogether. Avoid transplant shock by following these easy guidelines:


Seedlings grown in greenhouses, cold frames or on a windowsill are accustomed to comfortable, stable conditions and should be planted out on a mild day – ideally when no frost, gales, torrential rain or other harsh weather is forecast.

Prepare the planting area well.Ensure soil or planting medium is right for the plants – for instance enriching for hungry seedlings or improving drainage for those that like it hot and dry.

Soak seedlings with water before they are lifted from their pot or punnet.

Handle seedlings as little as possible during the planting process, have your hole ready so you can pop them in straight away.

How to plant a large seedling

  1. Small seedlings or cuttings can be grown on in larger pots before planting out.

  2. When they get to about hand height seedlings should be planted out.

  3. Fill container with compost. Add extra drainage for Mediterranean aromatic herbs like rosemary and thyme.

  4. Position seedling

  5. Remove large seedling but turning upside down into spread hand

  6. Place in hole with seedling soil at ground level and back fill with compost

  7. Large containers are good for a range of herbs that like similar conditions

  8. Rosemary and thyme growing well together and supplying the kitchen

How to plant a small seedling

1. Soak seedling with water before removing from pot
2. Dig hole in planting compost
3. Ensure hole is same depth as plant pot
4. Remove seedling from pot – tip upside down into spread hand
5. Place seedling in hole, soil level should be same as compost level
6. Back fill around seedling root ball with compost
7. Large containers are good for a range of herbs that like similar conditions
8. Thyme and rosemary growing well together and supplying the kitchen

Planting a bean in a beer crate