How to Prick Out Your Seedlings

‘Pricking out’ your seedlings is a term that means transplanting them. The reason you have to do this is to help your plant move on from ‘seed’ stage to ‘growing on’ stage, where it will require a bigger pot or cell. If you were to leave your seeds, they would eventually die as the roots have nowhere to go and they’d become too big for the cell.


Wayne Williams, head of internal areas at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens, guides you through the best way to do this process in our videos below, and also gives some valuable background information as to why this process is so important this National Gardening Week.




Prick Out Your Seedlings Tips

  • Make sure you have got some cells or pots full of multi purpose compost and control release fertiliser (3g per litre of compost), ready for your seedlings to go straight into


  • Next, use a sharpened piece of green cane as a dibber to transplant the seedlings, this allows you to be a bit more careful and gentle with the plants


  • The first pair of leaves are known as the seed leaves. Once they start to grow their second pair of leaves (true leaves) they are ready to be ‘pricked out’. If they are too big, this should have been done earlier


  • When pricking out, never handle the seeds by the steam, you could break it. Make sure you hold them by the leaf instead. If a leaf is damaged it can grow a new one, but a seedling can’t grow a new stem


  • Never pull a seedling with your hand. Use the dibber right next to the steam, towards the base, and let it do all the levering


  • Now, make a hole in the centre of the cell and bury a good part of the stem. The buried stem will produce new roots along it. Bury the plant too shallow and it will fall over and you will get a swan neck effect


  • Very gently water the seeds, being careful not to be too vigorous as this will wash them away


  • Lastly, label up your plant with a pencil, as this will never rub off or fade, then place them in your greenhouse to happily grow away

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