Sustainable Organic Gardening

Survival of the fittest – help your seedlings survive the heat

Cucumber Muncher Seedling

Healthy seedlings need a bit of TLC to get them started

It’s a very satisfying sight –you’ve just planted out a bed full of healthy, vital seedlings, beautiful and full of potential. You can already taste the delicious, crunchy salad greens! Then, after one hot and sunny day, you discover your young plants sick, wilted, dehydrated or just plain dead. I don’t think I’m alone in having sometimes not provided optimum care for my vege, flower and herb seedlings. Luckily, there are strategies you can use to help your seedlings survive transplant shock and summer heat.

Seedling Survival Strategies

Ways to reduce transplant shock and beat the heat include:

  • Soak the seedlings for 24 hours prior to transplanting in a weak seaweed solution, such as Natrakelp.
  • Water the hole before planting, let the water drain away then water the seedling after planting. Spray seedlings morning and evening to keep the area moist and raise the humidity. Many seedlings need watering twice a day for at least a week to help them become established.
  • Always transplant late in the afternoon.
  • Cover seedlings with upturned pots or shadecloth in the hottest part of the day. Covering seed rows with shadecloth or a Vege Net also improves germination.
  • Plant the seedlings to the correct depth – it’s important that the planting hole is not too shallow.
Add compost

Adding compost to the planting hole will help the soil retain moisture

Water the hole

Water the hole before transplanting


Let the water drain away

Let the water drain away

Firm soil gently around seedling

Firm soil gently around seedling, taking care not to crush the stem


A light sprinkle of organic fertiliser

A light sprinkle of organic fertiliser to get things started

Water in well and tuck the mulch around

Water in well and tuck the mulch around


Cover with upturned pot

Cover with upturned pot for a few days as a shade umbrella

With a little planning and some simple preventative measures, you can avoid the disappointing waste of time and money that is perished seedlings.


Thai Basil seedlings

Leaving these Thai Basil seedlings crowded in a tray will stunt their growth

Individual pots

Pricking them out into individual pots will reduce later transplant shock

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