If you want to increase the success rate of growing transplants of plants that have very small seeds that are not as easy to grow in the open garden, then try planting the seeds in a pot of loamy potting soil in a location off the ground. This will provide an environment that is more ideal, controlled and out of way of snails and other pests. Some of the plants I grow using this method are basil, rose moss and petunias.

Sweet Basil plants that have just sprouted.
Sweet Basil plants that have just sprouted.

Plant the seeds

Make sure there is a drain hole in the pot and fill it with loamy potting soil. Put the pot in a location off the ground. Sprinkle the tiny seeds over the surface of the soil. Then gently firm the soil with your hand and water the soil well with a mister bottle or the mist setting on a water hose. Water well. Continue to check on your plants daily and mist them whenever the soil begins to dry. Moist soil is crucial for germination. Continue to mist your plants until they are at least an inch tall. Then you can water with the gentle shower setting without blasting the tiny plants out of the soil.

Transplanting extra Sweet Basil into 6-packs to give away.
Transplanting extra Sweet Basil into 6-packs to give away.

When to Transplant

Plants can be transplanted from the pot to the open garden whenever they have at least two new sets of leaves. A dining fork works well as a transplant tool for this tiny work. Gently push the fork straight down into the soil within a ½” or more from the stems of your transplants. Then lift the plant with soil still intact around its roots and then transplant the plant into the garden, raised beds, or other pots. Water your transplants well and don’t let them dry out too much over the next few days as they adjust to their new home. Transplanting in the evening is ideal so your new transplants can heal a little more during the cooler hours of the night.

Rose moss transplants. I am lifting a transplant out of the soil with a fork.
Rose moss transplants. I am lifting a transplant out of the soil with a fork.
Sweet Basil transplants planted in a large plant saucer. The saucer is placed on an old lawn chair to provide protection from ground pests.

Additional Benefits

Growing delicate small seeded transplants this way not only increases the chance of more plants germinating and gives them a good start away from pests on the ground, but also allows you to have a back-stock for more plants in case some don’t make it in the garden. And finally, it is a great way to have extras to share with friends and neighbors.

Six packs of extra Sweet Basil transplants that are ready to share with friends.

34 Responses

  1. I’ve never tried growing from seeds. I’m not much of a gardener and just buy ready to go plants, but this is great information!

  2. Liked the information contained. I bought a shallow bowl of basil from Costco, I had it in the house for awhile and the scent was lovely. You might want to try this.

  3. Using loamy potting soil I never thought abo it that thanks for this information cuz I tend to have a lot of trouble and ima definitely going to try these tips thanks

  4. Interesting, I have green pepper plants in the garden this year I’m going to see if I can take some of the seeds this summer and then grow them for replanting next summer with my grandkids I hope I can get it to work the kids would love it!

  5. I had never tried transplants out of fear of not knowing how to do them correctly. Thank you for the help!

  6. Really interested in trying this out myself. I never knew how to do it correctly, so this is very helpful.


  8. Slugs are killing my garden right now. I’m almost ready to go 100% ferns. But I might try this first.

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