Pricking out Tomato Seedlings

pricking out tomato seedlings

In the video below, I show you how to prick out tomato seedlings.

Pricking out is the process of transplanting the tomato seedlings from their original seed tray into a pot so that they can grown on.

Normally, they would then be grown on in the pot for a few weeks before the tomato plants are planted out in their final growing position, which might be in the ground or in a large pot or grow-bag in the greenhouse.

What you need for pricking out tomato seedlings

You will need:

  • A pot, or several pots for all the seedlings you want to prick out. A 7cm or 9cm pot will be big enough. For some reason that I have never seen explained properly, tomato seedlings (in fact, any seedlings) do not thrive if placed in a disproportionately large pot.
  • Compost, mixed with a little bit of grit for drainage for filling the pot.
  • A dibber, which is a small pointy tool for easing out the seedling and making a hole in the compost for it to be replanted in.

Pricking out tomato seedlings – the video

Key points to remember

Key points to remember are as follows:

  • Wait until you have at least one pair of true leaves;
  • Handle the seedling by the leaves at all times. Never touch the stem because if you do you will damage the delicate cells of the phloem and xylem (the tubes that carry water and nutrients around the plant) and the plant will die. Once plants become more mature, we can touch their stems because the outer parts of the stem harden and the interior is better protected;
  • Prepare the receiving pot first – make sure there are good drainage holes and your composts is good quality;
  • Make a hole in the compost in the receiving pot with a dibber. Make sure it is big enough to accommodate the mini root system of the seedling;
  • Ease the seedling out of the seed tray by getting underneath the root system with the dibber. Remember to only hold the seedling by the leaves;
  • Ease the seedling down into the hole you have made in the compost of the receiving pot. Gently firm the compost around the seedling and water in;
  • Remember, tomato seedlings are tough and if they seem to wilt at first, they will more than likely recover.


Pricking out tomato seedlings is a pretty easy job once you get the hang of it. The good thing is that tomatoes are quite forgiving plants – they germinate easily and are not too fussy about being transplanted from seed tray to pot and from pot to garden bed or grow bag.

The hardest part for me when growing tomatoes is being ruthless and culling the weaker seedlings. Hence, I always end up growing more than I can really accommodate in the greenhouse.

One final point is that one your seedlings are growing on in their pots, make sure you water them regularly. You can begin feeding them with a balanced fertiliser once they are bigger and the nutrients in the compost are spent. Yellowing of the leaves will be the tell-tale sign that you should give the plant some nutrients.

Tomato growing accessories and fertilisers

Bestseller No. 1
Adjustable Tomato Cage Plant Support Cages 36 inches Garden Cucumber Trellis,Plant Stake with 4 Adjustable Ring, Support Rings for Vegetables,Flowers,Fruit,Rose Vine Climbing Plants (4 Pack )
  • 🌑[Rustproof and Durable] Tomato and Plant support cage both the stakes and rings are made of metal material and wrapped in a high-quality plastic coating. Flexible plastic connectors. That make it rust-proof, the heat dissipation is good, does not hinder plant growth and entanglement, durable to use.
  • 🌑[2-Sections Design Plant Stake] each section stake height about 18 inch, through the stake connectors, the height of the plant support cage can be extended to 36 inch.
  • 🌑[Adjustable Plant Support Ring] The Max diameter of plant cage ring is approx.: 12 inch. Adjust the diameter of the ring by adjusting the accessories on the ring, and adjust the height of the ring on the stake by adjusting the ring and the connecting piece on the stake, that to meet your different needs.
  • 🌑[Protect the Healthy Growth of Plants] No extra tools required, just simple assembly can complete the plant support cage to protect your flowers, and plants grow upright, keeping them healthy and strong. Promotes healthy growth and prevents falls that may cause damage to your plants.
  • 🌑[Widely Use] These 4 pack green plant support cage great for tomato, vine plants, climbing plants, potted plants, garden, outdoor and indoor plants, etc.
Bestseller No. 2
4 Pack Plant Support Tomato Cages for Garden, 18 Inches Small Tomato Cages and Supports with Adjustable Rings for Garden Pots, Plant Stakes Tomato Trellis Rings for Climbing Plants
  • 【Small Tomato Cages】Set of 4 sturdy plant support cages and 1 pack 66ft garden twist tie, The Support sticks height 18 inches, inner diameter of 3 rings is 5.5 inch / 6.3 inch / 7.1 inch. Great for seedlings & starter plants. Note: mini tomato cages is Not suitable for large plants, please check the size before purchasing.
  • 【Quality Material】This support sticks are made of durable steel with rust-resistant plastic coating, rust-proof and durable, high quality material will not be brittle and fade in the sun, with sharpened points on one side easy to insert into soil, durable and reusable.
  • 【Multifunction Plant Support Cages】The tomato stakes designed for plants-support flowers and leaves growing, protect plants against strong wind, prevent plants from falling over or sprawling out, keep them upright, provide a healthy growing environment for your plants.
  • 【Adjustable Design】With movable hooks, 3 hoops can be adjusted up and down left and right, the position of hoops and stakes is adjustable, sizes of 3 hoops are different, conform to practical growth principle, provide better support. Stackable for better storage and reuse.
  • 【Widely Use】This plant cage is designed specifically for vertical climbing, continuous support throughout plant’s growth. Great for small or medium size plants, like small tomato plants, cherry tomato, peony, rose, etc. It a good gardening helper for you.
Bestseller No. 3
Glamos 220500, Blazing Gemz Plant Support, 12 by 33-Inch, Emerald Green (Pack Of 10 Supports)
  • 10 Cages in Pack
  • Powder Coated
  • Adds vibrant color to yard
  • Great for small potted plants
  • 12″ wide by 33″ Tall

Last update on 2023-02-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

SaleBestseller No. 1
Miracle-Gro Shake ‘N Feed Tomato, Fruit & Vegetable Plant Food, Plant Fertilizer, 4.5 lbs.
  • Contains natural ingredients to feed microbes in the soil
  • Specially formulated with micronutrients to help plants grow strong and produce more fruits and vegetables versus unfed plants
  • Feeds up to 3 months
  • Calcium helps form stronger cell walls, producing better quality and longer-lasting fruits and vegetables. Plus, it helps prevent disorders in edible crops commonly associated with calcium deficiency.
  • For use in ground and in containers
Bestseller No. 2
Miracle-Gro 2000422 Plant Food, 1.5-Pound (Tomato Fertilizer), 1.5 lb
  • Instantly feeds to grow bigger, more bountiful vegetables versus. unfed plants
  • Feed every 1-2 weeks
  • Great for tomatoes and vegetables
  • Use with Miracle-Gro Garden Feeder or any watering can
  • Safe for all plants, guaranteed not to burn when used as directed
SaleBestseller No. 3
Jobe’s Organics 09026 Fertilizer, 4 lb
  • Organic granular fertilizer; Fast acting fertilizer for vegetables and tomatoes for a more abundant harvest
  • OMRI listed for organic gardening by USDA; Certified organic means no synthetic chemicals
  • Contains Jobe Biozome; Extremely aggressive proprietary microorganism archaea that aggressively breaks down material for faster results
  • Jobe’s Biozome improves soil conditions; Helps your garden resist disease, insects, drought and other unfavorable conditions within a growing season
  • Easy pour bag; Fertilizer analysis: (2-5-3) 1.5 pound resealable bag, (2-5-3) 4 pound bag, (2-5-3) 16 pound bag

Last update on 2023-02-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

UK Buyers

Learn more about growing edibles

Check out these posts for more on growing your edible plants:

How to grow zucchini – this is the ultimate guide to growing this delicious squash.

How to prune your tomatoes and pinch out your tomato side shoots.

How to get the best out of your basil plants.

Here is how to prick out your tomato seedlings.

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