Knowing which plants work best as seeds or transplants in Kansas can sometimes be confusing. This segment explains the best time to use either method to grow a successful and bountiful garden.

Produced by the Department of Communications and Agricultural Education at Kansas State University. For more information, visit our website at:

Seeds or Transplants - Which is Better?

When it’s time to plant your garden you may go to the nursery or garden center and you see the seed racks with all the seeds. Or, those garden catalogues come in the mail, and you wonder, “which plants do I grow from seeds and which ones do I grow from transplants?” And it can be a little bit confusing.

A lot of our plants in Kansas can be very successfully grown from seeds, and that’s a very inexpensive way to start your garden. Seed packets are usually less than a dollar or two dollars each. So, for a few dollars you can get a lot of garden planted.

But in some cases it’s better to use transplants. In the case of peppers and tomatoes, we use transplants because we can get a little jump on the season. Both of these plants are very susceptible to the cold. We have to wait until the soil is warm and the nights are warm before we can put out tomatoes and peppers. If we planted tomatoes or peppers from seed directly in the ground, we’d probably our harvest by as much as 6 to 8 weeks.

Here I have some cauliflower, and it’s an example of a Cole crop. When we think of Cole crops, those are plants such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussel sprouts. With those, we often plant with transplants as well. These are cool season crops. They do best in the cool weather. And when the days start to get hot, they bolt. They want to be done for the season. So, by planting Cole crops in March, using transplants, we’re getting those plants in the ground so that we can take advantage of that cool weather and have a quality plant and harvest before we have the heat of the summer.

So, if you have any questions about weather you should plant from seeds or transplants, you can always consult the Kansas Garden Guide. In the back, there’s a chart. Each individual crop is listed and it will tell you if you should plant from seeds or from transplants. You can get the Kansas Garden Guide at your local extension office, or you can download it online ( and click on the Bookstore link.

This feature story prepared with Evelyn Neier, Kansas State University Research and Extension 4-H Youth Development. For more information, visit your local county extension office or visit our website at

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