The beet may be one of the easiest and most versatile of vegetables to transplant. Beginning gardeners will appreciate how easy it is to re-plant a beet seedling, as well as the high success rate of their survival. Here are the essentials, including transplanting roots, even if the beet has a long taproot.
Best Time to Transplant
Pick the best time to transplant, or you run the risk of killing the plant. In many cases, your beets are safe to transplant when the seedlings have at least two sets of true leaves. You'll have to do a little digging to check out the roots of the beet. There needs to be a fully established root system that can hold soil. When these two conditions are met, you can safely transplant the beet.
TIP: Our expert gardening advisor, Susan Patterson adds, "Wait to transplant until plants are at least 2 inches tall."
Transplanting to a Larger Container
Beets are versatile plants, and one that you can begin inside the home before transplanting to larger pots outside. Place more than one seed in a pot and wait for it begin sprouting before moving them. Do not pick the plant from the pot until the first true leaves appear.
When you have enough growth, use a pencil, popsicle stick, or butter knife to gently tease the other seedlings apart.
Lift the plant out of the pot by the leaves (never the stems) and place in the new pots.
TIP: Susan suggests, "When transplanting beets keep roots to 3 inches."
If you are looking to harden off your beets (get them ready for harsher conditions), do that prior to transplanting them. As your beets begin to grow, take them outside for a short period of time. Each time you take them outside, keep them out for a longer duration. When they are ready to be transplanted they will also be ready for harsher conditions.
Transplanting to a Garden
If you want to transplant directly into a garden, only transplant your beet seedlings into ground that is moist. It should not be too dry or soaking wet, but damp enough that when you press your hand on the soil water is also pressed out. Make sure you space the plants 6 inches or more apart, and check the soil's pH before planting. Beets do best with a pH of 6.5-7.5.
If your beets have grown many roots that have reached the bottom of the pot, you should first carefully untangle the roots. Take special care to not harm the long taproot, as this is the main vein to the beet.
Water the newly transplanted beet with a gentle spray of water several times a day, allowing the water to soak into the soil before each spray.
Make sure there is enough water so that it settles around the roots. You can check the depth by inserting your finger to root depth, then adding water until you feel the soil getting wet.
Do not transplant during the midday sun, as the heat can dry out the roots.
Protect the young seedlings by placing netting or a strawberry basket over them.
TIP: Susan recommends, "Cover new plants with newspaper for a few days to protect them from hot sun."