When it comes to selecting transplants for your garden, different growers will offer plants in different sizes. Selecting the size that makes the most sense for your garden and budget is the focus for this week’s tip and we’ll go over reasons why you might want to choose a larger or a smaller size.
Larger transplants generally cost more per plant. This is due to the increased soil volume as well as the longer time it takes to grow a plant to fit appropriately in the container. For those on a budget, choosing plants in a smaller container will allow you stretch your budget further while still gaining the many advantages that come with transplants (vs. direct seeding). For smaller projects with fewer transplants, the difference isn’t going to be as big a factor compared to a larger garden with hundreds or even thousands of plants.
Days to Maturity:
Larger transplants, especially herbs and vegetables are generally farther along in when it comes to harvest time. For those of us in a shorter/colder climate, choosing larger transplants will generally result in earlier yields and greater yields, assuming the plant stays healthy throughout its lifetime. For example, you’ll find a wide range in size of tomato plants in the spring with some being only a few inches tall while others almost two feet tall and already bearing fruit.
Stress and Resilience:
Despite the last point about faster growth and development, don’t overlook smaller transplants, especially those that are well cared for. Smaller transplants that are just at the cusp of needing to be repotted into their final growing space can actually grow faster than a larger transplant that may have been subject to less than ideal growing conditions and is starting to get root bound. Younger plants are physiologically better able to adapt to new and changing environments and larger plants are more likely to suffer more stress as its root ball is manipulated. Careful plant selection is just as important, if not more so than choosing plants simply based on size.
These are just a few factors that go into selecting the right transplant size for your garden. Some garden centers may only carry one size of transplant, while others may offer a variety of sizes.