Many growers who have hydroponic gardens are happy with the plants and crops they grow, and that is sufficient for their needs. However, there are others who use hydroponics to grow plants and then transplant them into the soil.
This can be for several reasons. Regardless of the reason for doing so, there are some steps and things growers need to do to ensure their plants make the transition without receiving a shock to their system and suffering as a result.
This can be done in reverse, where plants are moved from soil to a hydroponic system. However, for a method, it can be easier to accomplish, as there is no soil to contend with on your plants.
Why Would I Transplant into Soil?
One of the primary reasons for doing this is to use hydroponics to have a healthy start to an outdoor garden. When outdoor growing seasons begin, there is the choice of growing from seeds or seedlings.
Seeds take time, and there can be some failure rates encountered, commercially bought seedlings can be expensive, and they can be hard to find on certain occasions.
Any grower, who has an outdoor garden, can grow their seedlings in a fraction of the time to make the most of their outdoor garden and the growing season with fewer failures.
These indoor systems can also help alleviate any issues that crop up with the unexpected forces of nature, interrupting what should be a successful start to a growing season. Not only that, but using hydroponics to start off your seedlings means you are ready to go as soon as you harvest outside after some slight soil preparation.
It doesn’t matter if you are transplanting out of choice, or because you must do so. There are some things to be wary of. What can easily be a daunting task can become straightforward for any different hydroponic scenario.
Transplanting Hydroponic Clones and Cuttings
While seeds are an option for gardeners, there is more of a swing toward using cuttings and seedlings, hence the increase in the need for transplanting from a hydroponic system back into the soil.
The two most common areas of hydroponics that take place before these transplants are the domed incubation grow trays where small Rockwool starter plugs are used or the more complicated mist propagation systems.
The great news for gardeners is that both of these systems are perfect for outdoor gardeners to use, and are compatible with their soil systems once the seedlings or cuttings have begun to show a good healthy rooting structure.
One primary reason this is a good option apart from getting a kick-start and missing the chances of bad weather is that growers can find an ideal mix of environmental factors, genetics, and a mix of nutrients over time. For this reason, many experienced growers preserve the donor plants. Here they can carry on the genetics of the plants, and thus they have ensured a level of consistency for good harvests.
One other factor is that growers do not need to grow from seeds that could deliver either male or female plants. This is another level of consistency as they will be aware of what they have when they begin growing their seedlings or cuttings.
Also read: Indoors vs. Outdoors Hydroponics
Transplanting Hydroponic Plants to Soil Step-by-Step
Here are the easy-to-follow steps for transplanting into the soil from your hydroponic system.
- Take a suitably sized pot, the larger the plant, the bigger the pot you will require. These should be roughly four to six inches wide. Plants being transplanted into the soil will need more space for their roots. Give them around four to six inches of space to allow them to grow.
- Fill it with a growing medium that adds some buffer for your plants until they are ready to be fully transplanted into gardens. Many growers opt for soilless peat mixtures with a better pH than planting directly into the soil.
- Make a hole in the center of the pot, which is larger than the plant’s rooting system, and the starter plug if used. If you have plants growing together, you will need to separate the roots carefully as this can easily cause plant shock.
- Sprinkle the hole with mycorrhiza. This beneficial fungus helps as a growth enhancer. This helps plants absorb nutrients from the soil as it helps to increase the area of absorption.
- Place the plant in the hole and then cover with additional dirt
- Once you have planted, you do need to water immediately. Hydroponic plants are accustomed to being watered regularly to help minimize plant shock levels they will experience. You can use a quarter-strength nutrient solution in the beginning until they start finding their nutrients from the earth.
- After about a week, you can cut back on watering until you only have to water as the top inch of soil is dry.
Once you have done this, your plants will need to be in areas with plenty of light, yet they may not be directly accustomed to the outside temperatures. There will be a period of hardening off they need to go through for a week before they can last in outdoor temperatures.
Soil Transplanting Tips
If your plant is large, it can help to trim back some of the foliage. This pruning will help the plants, as they don’t need to search for nutrients for more leaves and can start to grow steadily.
Most gardeners who use Rockwool cubes or plugs intend to transplant them into the soil. A gardener that uses the larger cubes around the six-inch size won’t be looking to move plants into an outdoor garden or soil-filled pots.
Net pots will be entwined with a plant rooting system if plants are more than a few weeks old. If these do need to be planted in soil, it can be a case of planting the entire net pot and the plant. Trying to remove the intricate rooting system can kill the plant.
Plant Shock When Moving into Soil
If you have done everything right, your plants will take hold and begin growing as they should. However, if they are suffering from shock, there are some signs you will notice. This can happen quickly or over the first couple of weeks after moving into the soil.
Leaves can turn yellow to brown and may wither up and darken. These can fall from the plant with a light touch. At this stage, leaves and stems begin to wilt and dry.
You can do some things to try and cure plant shock, yet these may not work in every case.
- Trimming back the plant by at least one-third can help plants focus on their roots.
- Keeping the rooting systems moist is vital. Because there is a difference in the watering, there will be more onus on good drainage through the soil. It can be easy for plants to find themselves in standing water.
- Add a water and sugar solution. While this isn’t 100% proven, it can help, and even if it doesn’t work, it won’t harm your plants.
Moving plants from a hydroponic system is a feasible option for many gardeners. Even if it can be a little hard for new growers, taking this route can be worth the effort. Growers can have seedlings or growing cuttings that allow more plants to move outside.
Rather than using seeds and waiting, plants will be instantly growing. This offers the chance to plant more crops throughout the year they may have previously not been able to.
If things don’t work out as intended, there is still the option for growers to carry on growing in their system. It can be a win-win situation, and there will be less overall wasted effort on the outdoor side.