How to pot up &
Pricking out Seedlings

‘Potting up’ seedlings is the term used for moving seedlings into larger pots or containers. This can be done after pricking out and is another stage in giving seedlings more space, before they’re planted out into their final positions.

When seedlings germinate and show two or more sets of leaves which are large enough to handle, the seedlings then need more room to grow.

‘Pricking out’ is the process of gently moving seedlings from a seed tray into individual modules or cells.

Potting Up

  • Fill individual containers, that are at least 3inches (7.5cm) wide, with multi-purpose compost.
  • Leave about 0.5inch (1cm) of space to the top of the container to allow for watering.
  • Make a hole in each container that’s big enough to take the roots.
  • Gently loosen the root ball around the seedling by squeezing the side of the tray or shaking the tray lightly.
  • A pencil or dibber can be used to carefully work the seedling free from the soil.
  • Only handle seedlings by their leaves and not by their stem.
  • Place one seedling into each hole, then fill and firm the soil around the stem.
  • Water with a fine-nozzle can and keep in a light location.

Pricking Out

An hour or so before pricking out, gentle water the seedlings to make the roots easier to separate.

  • Fill each new potting module or cell with fresh potting compost.
  • Using a dibber, kitchen fork or pencil, gently tease the seedling out by poking underneath it.
  • Handle the seedling by its leaves and not by the delicate stem.
  • Replant the seedling into a hole in its own container, gently firming the soil around the hole and stem.
  • Label the new container and water with a fine-nozzle watering can. Use water that’s been warmed to room temperature.