Your Perfect Guide About When To Transplant Seedlings In Hydroponics

Last Updated on January 25, 2022 by Marco C.

When to transplant seedlings in hydroponics?  Read this article now to find out everything you need to know.

Hydroponics is a method of growing plants and vegetables without using a soil medium.  In typical gardens, plants are grown directly in the ground.  However, in hydroponics plants are grown in a container which holds water.  

Plants receive their nutrients directly from the water instead of from the soil.  Many say it is the future of farming.  As soil fertility continues to decline due to chemical use, hydroponics may be an interesting solution to continue to produce food for humans.

According to the University of Nevada, “Hydroponics can be a viable option to reliably grow fruits, vegetables, and herbs, regardless of climate, soil availability of space.”  This means that even in a desert with little water, you can produce tomatoes, lettuces, and other veggies in abundance.

In hydroponics, seedlings are grown in coconut coir, clay, or perlite.  This material wicks water up into the plants and supports the plant structure from falling into the water.  

However, it is not always advisable to start your hydroponics from seed.  To increase your success rate, you may want to start your seeds in the soil outside of your hydroponics.  Once the seedlings grow enough you then transplant them into your hydroponics system. 

Once the seedlings grow enough you then transplant them into your hydroponics system

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But, when to transplant seedlings in hydroponics? Read this guide now to understand the perfect timing about transplanting from soil to hydro!

What Is The Best Way To Germinate Seeds For Hydroponics?

As you may know, all plants start as a seed.  The seed is basically a protective coat for the baby sprout.  The sprout can only emerge once the seed coat is soft enough.  

The process of taking seed to sprout is called germination.  In order for humans to grow any plant, a seed has germinated.  In nature, seeds fall from trees and sprout from natural conditions. 

When you are ready to sprout seeds for your hydroponics, start by making your soil mix.  This mix should be a good balance between sand, clay, and compost.  Make sure that it is well-draining.  

To test this, pour water through your soil and see if it falls out of the bottom of your pot.  Make sure to use a container that has drainage holes drilled at the bottom.  

Typically, you need to bury your seed as deep as double the size of the seed.  Pay attention to your seeds! They come in all different shapes and sizes. 

A lot of times seeds are super small, so you do not have to bury them deep at all.  In order for a seed to germinate, it needs certain conditions. 

The first condition is that it needs to be in a moist environment.  Be sure to not let your soil dry out during the germination process.  

Check your soil moisture by sticking your hand directly into the soil.  Water as needed.  

Secondly, you can keep your seeds away from direct sunlight.  At this stage, they are only focused on coming out of their shell.  So they do not need sun. 

 In fact, if it is too hot and sunny, this can dry out the soil faster and prevent the seeds from sprouting.  It’s best to find a cool, dark area for germination. 

Preparing Your Hydroponic Seedling

Once you see the sprout emerge from the soil, you can start moving it to partial sun.  At this stage, the seeds are very small and sensitive.  So be careful to not give them too much sun or too much water.

From here, you just need to let your plant grow.   So, when to transplant seedlings in your hydroponics? You need to wait until your seedling develops its second or third set of true leaves.

Plants are not strong enough to be transplanted when the first set of leaves develop.  You need to wait for the plant to become more established to safely transplant.  If you transplant too early, your plant will likely die from shock.

The entire process can take between 1-2 months depending on the variety.  As the plant continues to grow, increase the amount of sunlight.  Research your specific plant to understand its requirements. 

When your plants are ready to transplant, make sure your hydroponics system is already set up.  In order to remove your plant from the soil, dig a trench around the roots of the plant.  Be sure not to harm the roots in this process.  

Then, use your hand to scoop out the soil and roots system.  Be sure to take soil with the roots! Do not take the plant out without soil, this will likely damage your plant.

The soil is like the “home” for the plant, and if you remove it, the plant will go into shock.  Once the plant is out, you can gently scoop off the soil to prepare it for your hydroponics system.

If you follow those steps you should be good.  Now, what about if you want to move plants out of your hydroponics into soil? Is it possible? 

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Transplanting Hydroponic Plants To Soil

Perhaps you want to move your plants into an outdoor garden after some time.  This is no problem, but make sure your plants are not in the flowering or fruiting stage.  At this point, plants should not be transplanted.  It is too far in its life cycle to be moved.

If you want to move your plants, simply take them out of your hydroponics system and dig a hole in the soil to put them in.  Once you bury your plant, make sure to compact the soil around the roots to give strong support.  Give it lots of water at this time and care for it often.

Transplanting in general is an art.  If you do it correctly, you can have a lot of success.  But there are a lot of ways it can go wrong and your plants can die.

Now you should know when to transplant seedlings in hydroponics!  Feel free to comment and ask questions!

What is the best way to germinate seeds for hydroponics?

Start by making your soil mix. This mix should be a good balance between sand, clay and compost. Make sure that it is well draining. Keep your seeds moist and out of full sun.