How to Transplant Herb Seedlings

An herb garden is a wondrous addition to a garden and it doesn't require a lot of space. For those who plant their herb seeds in pots before placing in the garden, whilst no more care is required in transplanting herbs than in resetting other garden plants, unless a few essentials are followed in practice, the results may not be satisfactory. This article offers a quick primer on achieving a successful transplant.


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    Grow the herbs in seedling containers or small flower pots. See how to grow herbs from seed for advice on this.
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    Check for a ball of roots. The herbs are ready to set in the garden once this has formed. If they grew in shallow seed trays, they will need to grow for several weeks to form a mass of roots; in a flower pot, there will probably be a more defined ball root system.
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    Break the roots apart with the hand. Do this very gently, to ensure as little loss of the roots as possible. Make sure that the roots are exposed to the air for as minimal time as possible.
  4. Image titled Transplant Herb Seedlings Step 4
    Dig a hole in the ground using a trowel. Make it deep enough for the root ball and the plant.
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    Transplant at all time to moist ground. It should be moist after digging or plowing, but if not, shower the soil with a watering can or hose with shower nozzle. If rain is imminent, plant before it falls rather than after. Transplanting in cloudy weather and toward evening is better than in sunny weather and in the morning.
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    Pack the soil firmly around the roots. Make sure the roots are covered as quickly as possible to avoid too much exposure to the air.
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    Fill the rest of the soil to the top of the hole. The surface layer of the soil should be made loose, so as to act as a mulch and prevent the loss of moisture from the packed lower layer. If the ground is dry, a hole may be made beside the plant and filled with water—lots of water—and when it has soaked away and the soil seems to be drying, the surface should be made smooth and loose as already mentioned. If possible, transplanting during such times should be avoided, because of the extra work entailed and the probable increased loss due to the unfavorable conditions.
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    Keep watered and weed-free as they grow. Herbs will flourish if they do not have to compete with weed plants.


  • It is a good idea to always keep herbs from the mint family pot-bound, as they tend to grow all over the garden once let loose.
  • Where it is not possible to grow in pots or trays, the herbs should be grown in their initial nursery bed (a hotbed, cold frame or garden border) and then transplanted whilst still very small to a second nursery bed in order to make them "stocky" or sturdy and better able to take care of themselves when removed to final quarters. If this suggestion is followed, there should be no need to clip back the tops to balance an excessive loss of roots, normally a necessity when the plants are not so treated, in case they become large or lanky in the second bed.

Things You'll Need

  • Herb seedlings
  • Trowel
  • Gardening gloves
  • Watering can

Sources and Citations

  • Sourced from M.G. Kains, Culinary Herbs: Their Cultivation, Harvesting, Curing and Uses, (1912) available in the public domain via Project Gutenberg. The eBook used for the source of this article is available for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever.

Article Info

Categories: Growing Herbs and Spices