After a period of gradually acclimating to the wind and sun outdoors, young plants are ready to go into the garden. This process can be traumatic for the plants, so try to choose an overcast day or wait until late in the day to plant. This spares the seedlings extra stress from bright sun while they cope with the inevitable transplant shock. Their adjustment is much easier, too, if their new soil is loosened, moist, and reasonably warm.
- Dig a hole for each seedling about the size of its pot. Tip each plant from its container, tapping the bottom to dislodge it if necessary. If its roots are encircling the root ball -- because of being confined in the pot too long -- loosen them by hand or cut vertical slits in the root ball.
- Set each plant in a hole at the same depth that it grew in its pot. Then gently but firmly press the loose soil around the plant to seat it in the ground and force out any air pockets, and sprinkle with tepid water. After a week, water the new transplants with water-soluble plant food mixed at half the strength recommended on the label.
- Set small plants in rows to edge beds. Screen an undesirable view with a row of tall plants. Plant flowers in rows for convenient cutting.
- Ornamental plants make an impact when grouped. Odd-numbered clusters work best -- three large plants or up to nine small ones per group.
- Tuck young transplants into existing beds among flowers that require the same amount of light and water. Do not crowd them.