If you’re reading this then hopefully you already know how awesome it is to grow plants year-round in your home using an Aerogarden. If not, man you are missing out and you should check out my post on Aerogarden tips for beginners. I grow tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, and herbs year-round in my basement using my Aerogarden Farm Plus. Assuming you are currently growing hydroponically you may be wondering if you can transplant Aerogarden plants and herbs. Luckily you can! So stick with me and I will walk you through the dos and don’ts of the process.
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Reasons to Transplant
While you may have your own reasons for wanting to take your plants or herbs out of your Aerogarden. I have compiled a list of the top three reasons you may want to transplant some of your plants.
It’s getting crowded in here
So maybe you got your new Aerogarden and decided that if it had 6 pods that you would use them all. I made the same rookie mistake myself and I paid the price for it. I didn’t even do it once but twice! I planted all six pods in my Aerogarden Harvest and then when I got my Aerogarden Farm Plus I planted all 24! Talk about a disaster!
So if you have overplanted then it can be beneficial to thin the herd a bit by moving some of the plants from the Aerogarden to soil. I opted to do this and moved a bunch of the herbs out to my front garden. It was the beginning of my inspiration for my 5 Reasons to grow food, not lawns post.
You may have decided (as I do) to start your seedlings in the Aerogarden rather than in soil. The trick to doing this is to get yourself one of the Aerogarden seedling starting trays, they have them for the Farm models, Bounty models and Harvest models (just make sure it fits the model you have).
In this case, the transplanting will be easier if you are using the seedling tray. You can still use the Aerogarden to start your seedlings without a seedling tray (you just won’t be able to start as many). Regardless of which method you use, the steps are the same, except that you can skip Step 4.
Time to clean your Aerogarden
Maybe your big plants are done growing or you are in the middle of an apocalyptic algae bloom. In any case if it’s time to clean your Aerogarden but you still have some plants in it with some life left in them then you may want to move them to soil. If you need more information on cleaning your Aerogarden then you can find out more information here.
What you will need
- Seedling Starting Mix
- Scissors (optional)
Step 1 – Select your pots
The size of pot you will need will depend on what you are trying to do. Do you want your plant to stay in a container? Are you planning to plant them in the garden? If the garden is your end game then you will just need a pot that is 3-4″ in diameter to let them adjust to getting nutrients from soil before transplanting them. If instead, you want them to live out their lives in a container then you can just move them to the container right away. Just make sure that any pot you have has adequate drainage so the roots don’t get waterlogged.
Step 2 – Prepare the soil
As with anything you plan to eventually put in your belly, the quality of the soil is key. You will want to start them out with a seedling starting mix. Whenever possible I try to use organic soil (I like this one), I just think it’s a better choice. But you do you and use whatever soil you think is best. Add the soil to the pots filling them about 2/3 full and then moisten with water until the soil is damp. Make sure to leave a hole in the middle so you will have a place to put the plant.
Step 3 – Remove plants from Aerogarden
Depending on the age of your plant this can be easily or like banging your head against a wall. if you have young seedlings then you should be able to get them out easily and take the grow sponge out of the grow basket.
If however, your plant is fully established in your Aerogarden then we will have to take our time. You will want to carefully and slowly tease the grow basket out of the Aerogarden. Wiggle it from side to side while gently pulling up. This is slow…especially if you have overplanted as all the roots will be entangled. There is no point in rushing this as you run the risk of damaging the roots and then there is a good chance your plant will die.
If it is really stuck and you can’t wiggle it out you can try to carefully cut some of the roots to allow the basket to come free. But only do this if you have no other choice. Once you get the pod out you will notice that the roots are long, like long, long but not very wide! I was honestly shocked the first time I pulled out a basket, the roots were over a foot long! This is due to how the roots grow in the Aerogarden. In soil, the roots will spread out horizontally, whereas in the Aerogarden they have to grow down vertically to get into the water/nutrients.
Step 4 – Dealing with the grow baskets
So at this point, you have a decision to make. When you transplant Aerogarden plants they will have their grow baskets attached so do you leave them or remove them? This is only an issue if your plants are well established. Personally I always remove the grow baskets but some people definitely recommend against this. So it’s up to you what method you decide to go with.
Leave basket intact
The argument for leaving the grow basket intact is that by attempting to remove the basket there is a chance that you may damage the root system. Which in turn, could lead to the death of the plant.
This is my method of choice, to do this you are going to need a pair of good, sharp scissors. You are going to need to be careful so you don’t hurt the plant or yourself. You will want to make small cuts, only where necessary to free the roots from the basket. As I mentioned this is slow and tedious but I still do it.
Step 5 – Put plants in pots
Now it is time to get your plant situated in its new home. Set the plant (with or without grow basket) into the pot and as best you can spread the roots out. Then you will need to add soil to the container and gently pack it down over the roots. You will want to keep the top of the grow sponge in line with the top of the container. Add some more soil if it is needed
Step 6 – Give them some light
Once you have transplanted all your plants you will want to put them in a well-lit (but not sunny) place for about a week. After a week, you can move them to a sunny location or put them under grow lights.
Step 7 – Watering
You will need to make sure that you keep the soil evenly moist for the first few days. Bottom watering is a great way to make sure the soil doesn’t dry out. This is important as they are used to being in the water. So when you transplant Aerogarden plants you need to ease their transition to the soil by keeping it as close as possible to the Aerogarden environment. After the first few days, you can switch to watering the plants when the top layer of soil is dry to the touch. Just make sure to check them daily as if the soil gets to dry the plants may wilt and become stressed and nobody wants that!
Step 8 – Hardening off (optional)
If your intention is to transplant Aerogarden plants in order to move them outside then this step can not be skipped unless you want to watch them die. I am assuming that you do not (because otherwise why would you have spent all the time to transplant them?). So you are going to have to take a second to make sure that they are ready for the cruel world out there. They have grown up in a cushy environment up to this point so we need to gradually introduce them to outside. To find out more about how to harden off your seedling check out this post.
So there you have it, 8 pretty simple steps to transplant Aerogarden plants and herbs to soil. What are you currently growing in your Aerogarden?