What Is Transplanting Fertilizer And How To Use It?

One of the biggest issues gardeners or groundskeepers face beyond pests and diseases is a problem known as transplant shock.

Transplant shock is a condition caused by a sudden change in soil or damage to a plant’s roots that temporarily hinders its growth.

Watering young plants with transplant fertilizer
Watering young seedling with a transplant fertilizer | jag_cz-DepositPhotos

This condition can happen to all plants, even when repotting, although most vegetables and many root ball plants can recover quickly.

Larger shrubs and trees are the most affected by transplant shock due to their mostly horizontal root structure.

One of the methods often employed to reduce the effects of transplant shock is the use of “root boosting” fertilizers, sometimes referred to as transplanting fertilizers.

There is some debate regarding the use of transplant fertilizers, but this debate revolves around existing soil conditions, not the fertilizer’s benefits.

What is Transplanting Fertilizer? Anyway

The term “transplanting fertilizer” often refers to any diluted fertilizer that contains high levels of phosphorus and low levels of nitrates.

The fertilizer is applied once the transplanting process is completed. Most growers believe it helps stimulate root growth.

Test Your Soil

Part of a transplanting fertilizer’s value is ensuring your plant will have sufficient nutrients for healthy root growth.

Testing your garden’s soil can help determine whether the fertilizer will benefit your plant or if it will merely add more of what’s already there.

You can generally bypass a soil test if you’re using fresh potting mix or have tested the planting area in the past year.

Types of Transplanting Fertilizer

The Miracle-Gro Quick Start Planting & Transplant Starting Solution is an excellent choice if a mouthful to say.

This product continues the Miracle-Gro tradition of quality and does a great job of helping all of your plants overcome transplant shock.

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Another good option is SeaCom PGR Seaweed Concentrate, a highly concentrated fertilizer with a 0-4-4 NPK ratio and a cytokinin hormone level of 400 parts per million.

In a pinch, you may choose to go with a liquid fertilizer that’s rich in phosphorus and dilute a small amount in a gallon of water, then add the mix onto the ground above your plant’s root system.

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It’s generally best to avoid an NPK fertilizer when repurposing extra fertilizer for this purpose, as nitrates may further damage the root system of your newly-transplanted plant.

Alternatively, you can dilute one tablespoon of Epsom salts in a gallon of water and use this around the plant instead.

Read Using Epsom Salt For Transplant Shock

Tips for Using Transplanting Fertilizer

The following tips are generalized and may require adjusting to fit better the needs or restrictions of a specific plant, such as adding more or less water or changing the soil composition.

Ensure the hole or pot is big enough for your plant’s roots with some room for the initial new growth to stretch out.

When possible, use a loose substrate such as peat or perlite with your soil to encourage oxygenation and less root resistance.

Gently tamp down the surface soil, but don’t pack it, and ensure no exposed roots.

Water the surface around the plant in a wide enough radius for its roots to drink.

Add your transplanting fertilizer by spraying it over the damp soil and repeat applications as instructed on the label.

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