How To Prick Out Seedlings

How To Prick Out Seedlings

Seeds are the cheapest way to raise plants, so get sowing

Now all your seeds have germinated and put on a little growth you will need to separate them and pot them on individually. They will soon exhaust the food supply in the tray and need more food and water so each seedling will need their own pot.


 You will need:

  • 9cm (3”) pots or Jiffy biodegradable pots
  • potting-on compost
  • something to lever the seedlings up from the compost
  • tray to hold water

We are pricking out marigolds; they are very robust and unfortunately should have been separated some time ago. Just take the whole lot out of the tray and carefully pull apart; soak them well beforehand and they will pull apart easily with minimal damage to the roots. If they are too dry the roots all stick together. Put some good quality potting-on compost in the pot and tap on the bench to settle the compost. Make a hole with your finger or a dibber in the compost and gently drop the roots into the hole. Firm the compost around the plant and if necessary top up with a little more compost.

Chilli seedlings in jiffy pots

For more delicate seedlings gently hold by one leaf and lever the plant out of the compost using a spoon handle, pencil, plant label or anything you think is appropriate.

Place in the tray of water for 10 – 15 minutes until the compost is damp.

Place somewhere light and frost free with good ventilation.

Gradually harden off by placing outside during the day and slowly increasing the length of time spent outside until they can stay out all the time after all danger of a late frost has passed. This is usually after Chelsea Flower Show.

Keep just damp.


Angela Slater

Daughter of a farmer and market gardener so have always had a connection with the outdoors, whether it was keeping animals or producing fruit, vegetables and cut flowers. Along with my work at Hayes Garden World I also have a smallholding, mainly breeding rare breed pigs. I gained an HND and BSc in Conservation and Environmental Land Management, as a result I am an ardent environmentalist and have a keen interest in environmentally friendly gardening. In my time at Hayes I worked for several years in the Outdoor Plant and Houseplant areas.