How To Pot On & Transplant Seedlings

Potting On Seedlings

One of the trickier parts of growing plants from seed is potting them on after germination. A smooth transition from germination and then transplanting the seedlings to larger pots minimises stress and keeps the plants growing healthily.

Potting On Seedlings 

The most common way to sow seeds is either into open seed trays, spreading seeds evenly over the surface or into individual plugs depending on the type of seed being sown. 

In either scenario, there is a point where the seedling needs to be moved into a new pot where it can be grown on.

Transplanting seedlings to there own pots prevents overcrowding, competition and allows more light to reach the individual plants. This allows seedlings to grow faster and more vigorously all the way to the point of being positioned into the garden or a container.

Pricking Out Seedlings To Transplant

Pricking Out Seedlings

Transplanting seedlings is a stressful process and can be a shock to the plant so it is best to get everything prepared and laid out to make transplanting as quick and as smooth as possible.

What You’ll Need:

You will need to get your pots for the seedlings to be transplanted into laid out and these can be filled with your potting mix or compost.

It is a good idea to moisten the potting mix before starting so you don’t have to pour water over newly transplanted seedlings.

To start transplanting:

From the seed tray where the seeds have germinated you need to tease out the seedlings. A pencil or pointed plant markers are good implements to work with. Care needs to be taken to remove the seedling and all the roots.

If plants are sown in individual plugs then the container can be upturned and the whole plug carefully removed

Hold the seedlings by a leaf and lift them to the new pot filled with soil. A pencil or dibber can be used to make a hole the depth of the root of the seedling. Drop the seedling into the hole guiding the roots with the pencil.

Fill in the rest of the pot with the potting mix or compost and very gently firm the seedling in.  

How To Water Potted On Seedlings

It is a good idea if you can to water newly transplanted seedlings from the bottom, rather than pouring water from above. Watering from below can help to prevent damping off and fungal infections.

To water from below fill a tray with an inch or two of water and set the pots into the tray for a few minutes. The water will soak through the compost and then they can be lifted out and allowed to drain thoroughly.

If you cannot water from below you can mist the potted on seedlings with a spray bottle to be as gentle as possible.

When To Pot On Seedlings?

Transplanting Tomato Plants

Deciding when to pot on seedlings can either be quite obvious because they have become densely packed and overcrowded or slightly more tricky.

As a general rule, you would want to wait till at least the first set of true leaves have formed after the initial seed leaves.

How Big Should Seedlings Be Before Potting On?

Another rule some gardeners tend to go by is when the seedling is 2 – 3 times taller than the depth of the plug or tray they have germinated in. At this point, it would be a good time to pot them on. 

How To Hold Seedlings To Transplant Them?

Holding A Seedling

The best way to hold seedlings to move them is by the seed leaves. You should avoid holding seedlings by the stem or roots to prevent damage.

The first leaves that emerge after germination are the seed leaves which tend to look different to the plant’s true leaves. Holding the seedling by these seed leaves is the safest and least stressful way to transplant the seedlings.

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