Proper Procedure For Pricking Out Seedlings

A lot of time passes from the seeds to the crops ready for harvest, during which certain measures are important. Pricking out is part of it because this is the only way strong and stable plants can develop. With the right basic knowledge, separation is child’s play.


When the young plants are in the new soil, they have to invest all their energy in developing and strengthening their roots. During this time, nutrient absorption is restricted. It is therefore important that you only select and isolate the strongest specimens for further breeding.

In order to provide the seedlings with a good basis for healthy growth, it is advisable to give a liquid fertilizer in a highly diluted concentration one day before pricking out. Water the seedlings for a few hours before removing them from the planter.

Prepare plant pots

Fill small plastic containers with nutrient-poor potting soil and water the substrate thoroughly. This will cause it to sag, allowing you to fill in the free space. Poke holes in the moist soil to accommodate the entire roots of the seedling.

Proper pricking

You should not wait too long with this important step, because the growing seedlings are increasingly competing for light, water, and nutrients. Malformations quickly occur. The stalks shoot up and become unstable, eventually snapping over. The sooner you start isolation, the better. As soon as the cotyledons are fully developed, the procedure begins:

  • Poke the pricking stick into the soil right next to the plant
  • Lever the roots of the seedling out of the substrate
  • Dig out as many clods of earth as possible and avoid damaging the roots
  • Plant directly or store temporarily on a damp kitchen towel

If the main root is too long for the new planting hole, you can shorten it a bit. At the same time, this stimulates the formation of root branches. Make sure that the root system sits vertically in the soil and does not bend upwards. Press the roots carefully with the pricking stick and close holes in the ground.

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Written by Emma Miller

I am a registered dietitian nutritionist and own a private nutrition practice, where I provide one-on-one nutritional counseling to patients. I specialize in chronic disease prevention/ management, vegan/ vegetarian nutrition, pre-natal/ postpartum nutrition, wellness coaching, medical nutrition therapy, and weight management.

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