soil and gardening spade for planting sprouts
Photo by Teona Swift on
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Transplant Now by “Pricking Out”

This month, Maritime Northwest gardeners will spend time at the garden bench or kitchen counter, moving seedlings into larger pots so they can continue protected indoor growing before being set out into the spring weather.

Taking a seedling from its seed flat and moving it to a pot of its own is called “pricking out,” and gardeners use many techniques for this. But here are a few tips that should lead to transplant success:

  • A seedling is usually large enough to prick out when it has 2 or 3 sets of true leaves. That isn’t counting its first set, called the cotyledon leaves.
  • Handle small seedlings by their cotyledons to avoid damage to the plant’s stem, true leaves, or roots.
  • Many people start seeds in open flats or “six packs” of individual cells. From there, plants are often potted up to 4-inch pots. Hot-weather crops may need another transplanting in a few weeks to gallon-size pots.
  • Prick out and transplant in the afternoon or evening. This helps seedlings lose less water, and they have overnight to recover before the next day’s light calls for growth.
  • Dig a hole large enough so the roots won’t be bunched up when transplanted.
  • Water well after transplanting, and avoid getting the leaves wet.