This Hack May Be the Easiest and Cleanest Way to Transplant Seedlings

Updated: May 12, 2023

The answer is in your flatware drawer.

Mid-May is often the perfect time for gardeners to transplant their beloved seedlings into their gardens. Because these seedlings are so young and fragile, it’s especially important to transplant them delicately. There are many methods that exist for transplanting seedlings, including squeezing the seedlings out of their cups and unearthing them with garden trowels, but these tactics can be messy, time-consuming and too rough on baby buds.

Fortunately, a TikToker named Christina (@thermalandoaks) just showed us the simplest, gentlest way to transplant seedlings without disrupting their root system. Read on to learn how to try this hack for yourself as well as learn the proper process for transplanting seedlings that have been started indoors.

Why Do I Need to Transplant My Seedlings?

First off, there are many reasons you might need to transplant your seedlings. Most commonly, they have simply outgrown their current environment. This is especially true of indoor seedling starts. Once your seedlings have developed one or two sets of leaf growth, they are ready to be hardened off and journey to the great outdoors, where they can live happily in your garden.

Another common reason for transplanting plants is simply that they are too crowded in their current location. This means the plant isn’t receiving the nutrients it needs to thrive, as those vital minerals are being divided up among multiple struggling seedlings.

What Is the Fork Hack for Transplanting Seedlings?

Probably the most important (and difficult) part of transplanting seedlings is removing the seedling and transporting it safely to its new location. Christina’s hack helps with just this problem.

To properly transplant her seedlings, she plunges a fork into the side of the small seedling container, then uses it as a lever to pry the seedling and its attached dirt out of the container. The tines of the fork successfully support the seedling as Christina cradles it over to a larger pot. Contrary to traditional transplanting methods, the fork hack keeps all the soil in place, creating no additional mess while transplanting.

@thermalandoaks The best life hack for gardening. 🍴 I wish I knew this tip sooner into my homesteading experience. 🌱 #everythinggrows #springishere #backyardgarden #seeds #cottagecore #cottagecoreaesthetic #cottagelife #gardenbed #raisedbeds #slowliving #slowlivingtiktok #homesteadaesthetic #fyp #farmhouse #growfood #garden #gardenproject #diyproject #gardentok #marriage #gardendesign #growfood #gardeningtips #raisedbed #raisedbedgardens #homestead #fy ♬ Country instrumental(932769) – 8823

How Do I Properly Transplant Seedlings?

While the fork method is incredibly helpful, there’s also a lot more to transplanting seedlings properly than just moving your seedlings. To make sure you are caring for your vulnerable seedlings during their big move, follow these instructions:

  1. Before transplanting, give your seedlings a good water.
  2. Dig a hole into the new location a little larger than the seedlings’ root system.
  3. Using a fork, pry the seedling out of its original container and carry it to the new hole. Place the plant in its new hole, ensuring it is sitting level and as deep as it was in its previous container.
  4. Backfill the soil you dug out of the new hole so that the seedling is level and firmly held.
  5. Water the plant consistently in its new location in your garden so that the soil is always moist. If it is in direct sunlight, shield it with a small umbrella or lawn chair until it takes root.