Transplanter – What it is and How it Works

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There are many steps to growing plants and if you have a large-scale farm, you still need to follow those steps, but on a grander scale. You will want to start your seeds early and somewhere warm before moving them outside. This is where a transplanter becomes important.

Transplanters: There are many types of transplanters. Some are simple that you can use in your own backyard. These look like a trowel but are long and thin to hold the small seedlings. Others you need to push and walk behind. Then there are riding transplanters that are used for large-scale farming. These will dig the holes for your seedlings, place them in the ground, and then cover them back up again. If you have a lot of plants and not a lot of time, a transplanter machine is a necessity.

What is a transplanter?

For a simple answer, a transplanter is a tool that is able to move a plant to another part of your garden. In fact, you probably have a transplanter tool in your garden shed at the moment.

Most gardeners will start their plants from seeds and you may want to do this indoors if you have a small garden, or in a greenhouse, if you have a large garden.

Heat is incredibly important for seedlings and if you start them early but in a cold environment, they will quickly die. This is why, if you want to get an early start on the growing season, seedlings are left in a warm environment.

Usually, seedlings are planted in small containers that have tons of nutrients in them. The problem arises, however, when you want to move or transplant these seedlings into your actual garden.

Unfortunately, while your plants are starting to grow, the roots of these seedlings are still small and delicate. You want to be able to transplant your plants without damaging them and ruining all the hard work you’ve already put into them.

There are different types of transplanters, which we will get into shortly. The main point is that this tool will keep your plant intact and allow you to safely move it to a more permanent part of your garden.

What is the transplanter used for?

Simply put, a transplanter is used to transplant seedlings. These are plants that are grown from seeds in a warm, safe environment. Once the weather is warmer and the seedlings are big enough, they need to be transplanted into a garden where they can grow into their full size.

Types of Transplanter

Riding Type

Those with a commercial garden are always looking for new technology to make their tasks easier, and that includes a riding transplanter. This is a device that you can ride on and will make the work of transplanting much easier.

A riding transplanter will make even holes in the soil thanks to its sharp auger. Then, after you load your seedlings, it will place them in their proper places.

Large-scale gardening is entirely dependent on the proper placement of plants. If they are too close, they won’t grow properly and if they are too far away, it is wasted space and money.

The benefit of a riding-type transplanter is you can adjust the settings for each crop and not have to constantly bend over and dig in the dirt.

Walking Type

For those that have a large garden but not a commercial size, you may want to check out a walking-type of transplanter. This will drill holes in the soil and place the plants in but you walk behind it instead of riding atop it.

While you still have to work a bit with this transplanter, it is much easier than bending over and planting large amounts of crops.

Hand Transplanter

We mentioned earlier that you probably have a transplanter in your garden shed. In essence, it is a type of small shovel, or trowel, but is designed just a bit differently to work with transplanting.

A hand transplanter can indeed be held by hand and looks like a trowel. However, its blade is longer and a bit narrower. It also has a slight curve to the middle.

The appearance of a hand transplanter allows you to cradle the plant inside and the depth of it means all of the roots will be supported.

While you should already have a hole dug when you transplant a plant, the sharp edge of a hand transplanter will keep any loose soil from coming into the hole and makes the whole process of moving a plant that much easier.

Another advantage of a hand transplanter is that it usually has a series of numbers along the side. These are measured in inches and will ensure you dig a hole that is the right depth for your plants.

Bulb transplanter

This is another hand tool but has a much different shape than a traditional hand transplanter. Instead, a bulb transplanter looks a bit like a bucket but has a handle at the top and an open hole at the bottom.

A bulb transplanter will have cut-out edges at the bottom that allow you to dig into the soil. Then, you can fit the basket over top of a bulb that is already planted.

The bulb will already be established in your garden and thus will have a system of roots coming out of it. The transplanter works by keeping this root system together and lifting the entire piece out of the ground.

Once the bulb is inside the transplanter, simply angle it slightly to keep anything from falling out and then move it to the part of the garden you want it to be in. This is incredibly handy if you have bulbs that grow and multiply and you want to clear up some garden space.

Benefits of Transplanter

Correct Seedling Position

Roots go down and leaves go up. This seems simple but if seedlings are not positioned properly, they will most definitely not grow.

A proper transplanter is designed so that seedlings always go into the ground the right way. If not, there is no point in them.

While you will obviously be able to correctly position your seedlings by hand, if you have a large garden, a well-made transplanter means not having to correct any of the machine’s work.

Proper Seedling Distance

When you plant seedlings into the soil you may be worried they aren’t close enough. However, these seedlings are small and will grow quite a lot as they mature.

Conversely, if you don’t give them enough space, they will overcrowd each other and won’t grow to their full potential.

When you plant your seedlings, you need to first determine their proper spacing. If you have a riding transplanter, you can then adjust the settings as need be.

With the right seedling distance, you can maximize both your land and your profits. You can ensure your plants have enough space and access to nutrients while not leaving large areas of unused land.

Expedite the whole process

Gardening is a lot of work, especially if you have a commercial farm. All that constant bending over is definitely not good for your back and you can wreak your whole body with repetitive strain.

Using a transplanter, especially a riding or walking type means you can relax a bit and not worry about your body.

Furthermore, you can make the whole process go a lot smoother and quicker. Simply plan a bit ahead and you can have an entire crop planted in just one day.

Farmers only make money if they are efficient. As so much time is required in farming, when you can use a device like a transplanter, you can spend your time on the many other tasks that need to be completed.

How does a transplanter work?

There is a three-step process in a riding transplanter that enables the seedling to be properly planted.

First, the transplanter will open the furrow. This is usually already laid out but the transplanter will open the hole so there is room for the plant.

Then, the transplanter drops in the seedling. It is designed so that when you place the seedlings into the transplanter when they go into the hole, they are the right side up.

Finally, the transplanter is then able to tamp the dirt down around the seedling so that it is firmly planted in the ground. The result is a plant that is in the right position and is secure.

If you use a riding transplanter, you can make adjustments so the machine knows how deep a hole to dig and how far in between the holes to place the plants.


Gardening on a large-scale needs to be efficient if you want it to be profitable. For this to happen, a machine like a transplanter is key as it will place your seedlings in the right spots. However, even if you only have a backyard garden, you can still use a type of trowel that is designed to help you transplant your own seedlings.

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