A seedling (plant seedlings) is a very young tree, perhaps one or two years old, that has been grown from seed in a tree nursery and transplanted to the area where the new forest will emerge. It is the young plant sporophyte developing out of a plant embryo from a seed.
Seedling growth covers the period in the life cycle of green plants from the emergence of the radicle through the seed coat to the appearance of enough green leaves that can make the plant independent of stored energy.
When the moisture, light, and temperature conditions are correct, the seedling’s development begins with seed germination and the formation of three main parts:
- Radicle (embryonic root)
- Hypocotyl (embryonic shoot)
- Cotyledons (seed leaves)
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Regulation of seedling growth
The regulation of seedling growth occurs at the cellular level. Every aspect of plant growth and development occurs in cells.
The growth factors that require an understanding of cell biochemistry and physiology include those that initiate and maintain cell division, those that initiate and limit cell expansion, and those that delineate differentiation into the commonly observed visual features.
Once the meristem region has grown away, the derivative cell begins the process of vacuolation and enlargement. The growth of enlarging cells of higher plants occurs rather uniformly over the inner surface of the entire cell wall. Growth responses of the petiole and petiolules of a compound leaf are usually the controlling factor in leaf orientation.
How to transplant plant seedlings
After you prepare your garden beds and harden off the seedlings, it’s time to transplant your seedlings into the garden. Transplant plant seedlings on a calm, cloudy day, if possible. Late afternoon is a good time because plants can recover from the shock of transplanting without sitting in the midday heat and sun.
Your garden soil should be moist, but not soggy. If the weather has been dry, water the planting area the day before you plant. Moisten the soil in your flats or pots so it holds together around the plants’ roots when you remove the plants from their containers.
To transplant plant seedlings, follow these steps:
- Use a hoe, spade, or trowel to make a small hole in your garden for each seedling. The hole should be deep enough so the transplant is at the same depth in the ground as it was in the pot (except for tomatoes). Make the hole twice as wide as the root ball.
- Unpot the plant seedlings (unless it’s in a peat pot) by turning the pot upside down and cupping the seedlings with your hand. Be sure to keep the root mass and soil intact. If the seedlings don’t come out easily, gently tap on the edge of the pot or gently press on the bottom of each cell of the flat with your fingers. Whatever you do, don’t yank out a plant by its stem.
- Check the root ball’s condition. If the roots are wound around the outside of the pot, work them loose with your fingers so they can grow out into the soil. Unwind larger roots and break smaller ones (this won’t hurt them) so they all point outward. Try to keep as much of the original soil intact as possible.
- Mix a diluted liquid fertilizer into the soil of the planting hole to help the plants get off to a fast start. Reduce the recommended strength on the fertilizer container by half. For example, if it says apply 1 tablespoon per gallon of water, use only 1/2 tablespoon.
- Put the prepared plant seedlings into the holes that you made.