Knowing how to transplant tree seedlings will help you transfer the growing trees to new locations easily. So long as the seedlings are mature enough for transplanting, you should face no challenge.

How to Transplant Tree Seedlings Infographic PlantAmerica

Transplanting seedlings is easy, you just have to be extra careful about it. To learn the best ways to transfer your young trees from one point to another, read this article.

How to Transplant Tree Seedlings

To transplant tree seedlings, wait until their dormant season and then water the seedlings a few hours before transplanting them. Dig out the seedlings from the soil and then plant them in their new location. Afterward, water and mulch the young trees. Also, ensure you feed them often.

1. Select the Right Time

You have to select the best time to transplant trees and shrubs if you want them to grow successfully after transplanting them. If you transplant them at the wrong time, they can get shocked and this will slow down their growth, leading to lower chances of survival. The best time for transplanting your trees is during their dormant season.

When a tree is in its dormant season, it hardly gets affected by external forces, as its growth has slowed down. The dormant season of most trees starts in the fall months. However, you have to know the exact period of dormancy for your preferred trees.

Selecting Right Time to Transplant PlantAmerica

Also, transplant your seedlings when the ambient temperature is low. This will help prevent shock as well. It means that early in the morning or late in the evening is the best time of the day to transfer young trees from one point to another.

2. Select the Best Seedlings

To help your young tree successfully grow into a large tree, you have to first be sure that it has the potential to grow successfully. You might have a lot of choices, but if you don’t select the right seedling, the tree won’t be very productive later. This is why you have to be very intentional when selecting your seedling.

Select a young tree with a quick growth rate. Such seedlings are usually taller and have larger leaves than others around them. Also, go for the ones with brightly-colored leaves (when compared with others). Lastly, don’t select any seedling that is heavily attacked by pests, as it can cause pest infestation in your garden.

3. Prepare the New Location

Before you go digging out the seedlings from their present location, you have to be certain that they already have a hole you are transferring them to. Therefore, you need to have dug a hole before you go transplanting your seedlings. Also, remove debris and weeds and ensure that you clear the area.

Preparing New Location PlantAmerica

Keep the soil well-drained, nutritious, and aerated. If the soil is too compacted or dries out too quickly, amend it. If the soil is low in nutrients, enrich it. Do everything that you can to make the new location an ideal place for your young trees so that the trees can grow successfully.

4. Prepare the Seedlings for Transplanting

At most a day before you transplant your young trees, you have to prepare them. Preparing them is easy; you just have to water them. Watering them will not just keep them hydrated, it also makes the soil soft so that you can easily dig it. You also have to remove weeds and debris from around the tree.

To protect your garden from foreign pests, search for visible pests on the seedlings and remove them beforehand. Also, prune off damaged leaves and make the tree beautiful and presentable. This will be helpful so that after planting the tree, you won’t have a lot of work to do.

5. Dig Out the Seedlings

It is time to dig your seedlings off the soil. Please be extra careful with the sensitive root ball, as damaging it can lead to the loss of your seedling. So long as you watered the seedlings earlier, the soil will be soft. Using your shovel, dig the seedlings off the soil. Try to save as many roots as you can.

Digging Out Seedlings PlantAmerica

If you can, consider performing root pruning after revealing the roots. If you find any sick or dead root, remove it from the seedling. However, this is optional. Using your burlap, protect the roots so that they don’t get dehydrated before your young tree reaches its new destination.

6. Plant the Seedlings

After taking your young tree to its new destination, plant it in its hole. Before planting it, check if the hole is wide and deep enough for the root ball of the seedling. If the hole is large enough, insert the seedling into it. However, make the needed adjustments first before inserting the seedling so that you don’t damage its roots.

Before you cover the roots with soil, be certain that the seedling is facing the right direction. Plant the seedling so that the part of it facing north in its previous location continues facing north. This positioning will help the young tree to quickly adapt to its new environment.

7. Cover and Water the Seedling Roots

It is time to cover the root ball of your young trees. Covering the roots is easy, you just need to cover them gently so that there are no air pockets left in the soil. Air pockets can cause the seedlings to lose balance and grow slowly, so eliminating them is key. Add the soil slowly and pat it while adding more to reduce the air pockets.

Covering and Watering Seedling Roots PlantAmerica

After filling the hole to the brim and covering the roots, water the soil. You will notice that after watering the soil, it becomes a little bit depressed. If so, add more soil. Please don’t overfill the soil so that you don’t cover the lower stem of your seedlings. The root crown of the seedlings needs access to air so that the tree can be oxygenated.

8. Mulch the Seedlings

Congratulations, as you now have your tree just where you want it. However, your transplanted tree in its new location is not the end of a journey. It is the beginning of a journey. This is when you have to start caring for the young trees. One care tip is to mulch the trees.

Mulching your trees will protect their roots from temperature fluctuations and weed attacks. It will also keep them moist, as mulch helps to prevent water loss by evaporation. If you use organic mulch for your trees, it will slowly enrich the soil and give the tree roots extra nutrients.

You can use any material as mulch for your trees. However, organic ones such as wood shavings and tree bark are the best, as they are lightweight, readily available, and non-toxic.

9. Continue Watering

Young trees need regular watering. Don’t wait until the soil gets dry before you water the trees. This is because their roots are steadily growing and a lack of moisture in the soil will inhibit their growth. Water your young trees every two to three days until they are well-established. If possible, install sprinklers or a watering system for the trees.

Even though the young trees need regular watering, do not overwater them. Overwatering trees can suffocate them and this can lead to their loss. If the soil is too compacted, it can also lead to the roots getting suffocated. Therefore, amend the soil so that it is well-drained and will permit the easy flow of water.

10. Monitor and Care for the Seedlings

Caring for seedlings does not stop at mulching and watering them. You also have to fertilize them when needed. Young trees will thank you when you feed them monthly or every two months depending on the type of the tree. They will also love it when you get rid of every pest in the garden like aphids.

Monitoring and Caring for Seedlings PlantAmerica

Don’t abandon the trees. Check them often. If you see something wrong, try to fix it quickly. For example, if you see some leaves turning yellow, try to find out the reason and then fix it. Also, prune the trees when needed. Just ensure that you do all you can to keep the trees safe.

11. Stay Patient

Remember that you transplanted the seedling in its dormant period. This means that it will surely take a while before you see significant signs of growth. Therefore, continue watching over the tree even though it does not look like it is growing.

The truth is that it is growing, but the growth starts with the roots below the soil. By the time leaves start growing, the roots would have been well-established. Therefore, stay patient. You will see signs of growth soon.


Surely, transplanting trees will be easier for you now more than ever, right? Before you go dig out the seedlings, remember these points from the article:

  • Be extra careful with the root ball of your young trees, as harming them can lead to the loss of your trees.
  • Prepare the new hole first before you go dig out the young trees from their current location.
  • Wrap the roots of your exposed seedlings with burlap or any similar material to protect them.
  • Ensure you water and care for the seedlings in their new location regularly.
  • Before you dig out the seedlings from their current location, water them.

Now, you are ready. So long as you stick to the tips and precautions in this article, you are good to go.


Rate this post