When Should You Apply Fertilizer After Transplanting?

Transplanting is tricky but often necessary, so watching your beloved plant struggle after being moved can be challenging. So you may wonder if fertilizer will help and when to apply some to your transplant. 

You should apply fertilizer 2-3 weeks after transplanting. The waiting allows the plants to settle in and recover from any damage that may have occurred during the transplant process. Waiting also ensures that your plants can adequately utilize the fertilizer’s nutrients. 

In the rest of this article, I will discuss when to fertilize recently transplanted plants, how to deal with transplant shock and the best way to fertilize transplants. So if you want to learn more about using fertilizer after transplanting, keep reading. 

Why Should You Wait After Transplanting Before You Apply Fertilizer?

Fertilizing is a gardener’s go-to method of aiding their plants. However, fertilizing is not always a good idea, especially if you recently transplanted the plant. So how soon after transplanting should you fertilize your plants? 

You should wait for 2-3 weeks after transplanting before you apply fertilizer because when you transplant a plant, often the plant will have root damage. When this happens, the plant often goes into shock. This reaction makes nutrient absorption difficult, so it’s best to wait to fertilize. 

It’s also a good idea to perform a soil test before adding fertilizer near your transplants. Too much nitrogen in the soil can lead to over-fertilization and burn your plant’s roots, further stressing out the plant. 

What Is Transplant Shock?

When it comes to maintaining healthy plants, avoiding transplanting whenever possible is best; however, leaving a plant where it is is not always feasible, and you often need to replant newly purchased plants. So it’s essential to understand precisely what transplant shock is to treat it better. 

Transplant shock happens to a plant when it is uprooted and placed in a new location. No matter how gently you transplant, things like roots will still accrue some level of damage. This damage stresses a plant out and can cause them to wilt, leaves to fall off, and even death if left untreated.

Sadly, transplant shock is pretty common, but there are few signs you can look for if you have recently transplanted your plant. The sooner you take action, the easier your plant will recover. 

Signs your plant has transplant shock:

  • Wilting.
  • Dying leaves.
  • Leaves falling off the plant. 
  • Dropping flowers or fruit.
  • Death.

These are all symptoms of transplant shock. Luckily, there are ways to combat transplant shock and save your plants, and I will be going over all of those. So let’s learn what to do if a plant shows symptoms of transplant shock. 

It’s also important to note that not all plants will experience severe transplant shock. Some plants handle moving quite well, while others have more difficulty. The time of year you are transplanting matters. Some you need to transplant some plants in cooler temperatures, while others prefer warmer ones. 

Before moving any plant, research that plant’s specific transplanting needs. Otherwise, you can end up putting the plant in severe transplant shock, or worse; the plant will die. 

How To Help Plants With Transplant Shock

The most important thing you can do if you notice your transplants struggling is to act quickly. Severe transplant shock can kill a plant relatively quickly if left unchecked. So what should you do for a plant in shock?

Ways to help plants with transplant shock:

  • Water the plant regularly. Transplanted plants will need soil that is kept moist. However, it would help if you still were careful of overwatering as this can lead to root rot, and your already stressed plant will likely not survive. 
  • Prune the plant. Trimming away excess growth can allow the plant’s energy to focus on building healthy roots rather than green leaves primarily. Be careful when pruning not to cut away the plant completely. A little trim can go a long way, though. 
  • Test the soil. Performing a soil test can help you to know what nutrients your plant is lacking. It would be best if you didn’t fertilize right away, but testing will give a general idea of what fertilizer your plant will need. 
  • Add sugar to the soil. This step can help bring your plant out of transplant shock and temporarily increase its energy levels. 
  • Fertilize the plant’s soil. You should only do this if 2-3 weeks have passed. Once the proper amount of time has been allowed for the plant to recover, fertilizing can significantly help the plant perk back up. 

Ultimately, the best way to help a plant with transplant shock is to prevent the shock in the first place. However, it can be challenging since moving a plant from the soil will cause slight damage no matter how delicately you perform the task. 

How To Prevent Transplant Shock

Prevention is vital for keeping your plants healthy after a transplant. Plants are delicate, and when you uproot them, they can cause a lot of stress and damage to the plant. Luckily there are a few ways to minimize stress and injury. 

You should follow these steps to prevent transplant shock when replanting:

  1. Remove the plant gently from the soil. A plant’s roots are delicate and can easily tear during removal. Go slow and do your best not to damage the plant’s root system. 
  2. Keep the plant’s roots moist while transplanting. If the root ball dries out before being transplanted, this can add significant stress to the plant, resulting in shock. 
  3. Replant the plant as soon as possible. Leaving a plant out of the soil for too long will result in stress, shock, and even death. Getting the transplant back into healthy soil as soon as possible is best. 

You want to be as gentle as possible when transitioning a plant to its new home. The more seamless the process, the fewer issues your plant should have settling in. 

Does Fertilizer Help Transplant Shock?

As I previously mentioned, fertilizer is a great way to ensure the health of your plants. But what about transplanted plants? Can fertilizer help with transplant shock? 

Fertilizer does help transplant shock; however, you must wait 2-3 weeks before applying it. This delay is because plants need time to settle themselves into their new soil and for any damage to their roots to heal. After which fertilizer can benefit the plant’s growth and health. 

If you apply fertilizer to shocked plants too soon, you can harm them, especially if you haven’t taken the time to test the soil first. Plants like perennials will not respond well to fertilization directly after being transplanted. 

How Long Does It Take for Transplant Shock To Wear Off?

Once you have transplanted a plant, you will likely notice the sign of shock quite quickly. However, if you have a sturdy plant, it may not present shock symptoms. So how long does it take for transplant shock to wear off? 

It takes several weeks and even years for transplant shock to wear off. Every plant will be different, and how much trauma they experience during the transplant will affect the plant’s recovery time. However, there are ways to speed up the recovery of your in-shock plant, such as adding sugar. 

As you can see, transplant shock can last a long time and even result in the death of your plants. That being said, many plants transplant just fine. Each plant’s temperature preferences will be different, and the type you’re transplanting will significantly affect the shock recovery time. 

What Fertilizer Works Best for Transplanted Plants

When it comes to ensuring the health of your transplanted plants, selecting a good fertilizer is essential. Liquid fertilizers are preferred since they do a great job of penetrating the soil quickly and thoroughly. However, you could still use a granulated fertilizer with a broadcast spreader if you prefer.

If you are looking for a good fertilizer for transplants, I recommend Miracle-Gro Transplant Starting Solution (available on Amazon.com). This fertilizer does a great job of providing nutrients for your plant’s roots and will help with transplant shock. 

Any fertilizer specially formulated for transplanted plants will do a pretty good job when it comes to helping your newly moved plants. Just be sure to carefully read the application instructions and test your soil nutrients before using the fertilizer.


Ultimately, it would be best to wait a few weeks before fertilizing a newly transplanted plant. This time delay is mainly due to the damage to plants’ root systems during the transfer. Also, you should always test the soil before adding fertilizer, as this can result in further stress for your transplant and even result in a root burn.

Alexander Picot

Alexander Picot is the principal creator of TheGrowingLeaf.com, a website dedicated to gardening tips. Inspired by his mother’s love of gardening, Alex has a passion for taking care of plants and turning backyards into feel-good places and loves to share his experience with the rest of the world.

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