Pricking Out

Stop sniggering at the back.

An important park of the growing cycle, is transferring your seedlings once germinated from the germination tray (or pot) to a larger container, or as it is known, pricking out.

Yesterday, I decided it was time for my Chilli – Hot Cayenne and Tomato Orange Sliceseedlings to be pricked out. I sowed them both on 31/1/16, had initial germination a week later, so took them out of the propagator almost as soon as the first few shoots started to come through, leaving them under the grow light, where its still warm but cooler than the propagator. This stops them getting too leggy and hardens them up a little. During the next week more seedlings popped up.


So first things first, you need to decide what to pot them in to, at this stage I usually go for a 4cm module, which allows them to grow on and is most economical for my limited space. Its also not a good idea to put them straight in to a large pot or container, as the soil can become too cold and waterlogged, which the seedling wont like!


I just use the standard Westland multi-purpose compost for picking out in to, which I find usually gives fine results.

Fill the modules full of compost, then lightly firm them, then brush over some more compost so it sits flush with the top of the modules. You will need a dibber (Please, stop sniggering in the back) for the next part, either a proper one, which are pretty cheap, or you can use the bottom on an old pencil, and indeed many nurseries I have worked on, this is all we used! You need to create a tapering hole about half the depth of the module for the seedlings to go in to.



Next, we need to tease open the compost structure in the seedling pots, so they can be picked out there with no damage. We do this by using the dibber and putting it into the compost and lifting it up so the seedlings lift as well, I tend to just do a small area at a time.

Now we need to pic up a seedling for pricking out, just pick the strong, healthy looking seedlings, remembering to pick them up by a leaf and not the stem, the leaf will grow back should it get damaged, the stem wont. You should have a good length of root as well.



Place the root in the hole, in the module, being careful as they are quite delicate at this point, if the seedlings have gone a bit leggy you can often plant them a bit deep in the module, making sure the leaf is still above soil level. Firm them in with the dibber and a finger, its a bit of a knack, but it soon becomes easy. They don’t need to be very firm in the compost, as again, this can cause damage.

Label them up, and pop them somewhere warmish, and light and keep them damp but not wet, using a very fine rose. A good tip is to fill the watering can and leave it somewhere warm (not hot) so the water becomes a little warm, it is less shock to the plants then cold water. Watch them grow!


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