BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine

Move seedlings into bigger pots

- GardenersW­

Prick out only the healthiest-looking seedlings in the seed tray and compost the rest

FILL a pot with potting compost ready to prick seedlings out into. Make sure the compost is level and firmed down. Hold the seedling gently by a leaf and use a dibber to lever it out from under the roots.

KEEP raising the seedling out with all the young roots intact. If at first it resists, don’t be tempted to tug it. Keep holding the leaf to steady the plant, and push the dibber in lower under the seedling to lever it out.

Seedlings from sowings into seed trays will soon become crowded, slowing their growth and making them vulnerable to disease, so prick them out into bigger pots once they’re large enough to be handled without damage. You’ll have much stronger, healthier plants by doing this. If you leave them in the seed tray for too long they run out of nutrients, go pale and just don’t have enough room to grow well.

Fill pots with compost suitable for the plant you are growing. Peat-free multipurpo­se compost is good for annuals and veg plants that are fast growing and will soon be planted out. Perennials should go into longer lasting and more nutritious potting compost with some added loam, which helps with moisture retention and provides extra nutrients.

If you don’t have a dibber, a pencil or a small stick will do the trick equally well. When you’re done, give the new pots plenty of light and space on the windowsill or in the greenhouse.

MAKE a hole deep and wide enough for the roots to be lowered into without them folding up. Lower the seedling into the hole so the leaves are just above the compost and firm it in very gently with the dibber.

SPACE the seedlings around the pot so that they have plenty of room to develop into small plants. Water the new pot immediatel­y to bed the seedlings in and help the roots recover and begin growing out into the pot.

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