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

SaleBestseller No. 1
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. 2
Alliico Plant Support Cages for Climbing Plant Upgrade Flower Tomato cage with Stand Stakes and Stable Support Rings, 3 Pack with 12 Clips (36″)
  • Plant need Support: This Sturdy Plant Trellis Tomato Cage will give your climbing Plants and Vines Plenty of Support,avoid crowd and allocate the room scientifically ,make them getting more growing sunshine and fresh air
  • Easy Install :The Cage Stand Sticks has sharpen end for easy insert into ground. 3 Round Circle can adjust the height ,so they will support your plant well as they grow.
  • Upgraded no-slipping Cages: Our Stake’s Surface is dull polish by new technology, and the upgraded Connector fasten the Stakes and 3 Round Circle more firmly than other similar products in the market.Our Allicco Plant Cage will give your plant stable support ,avoid any boring and embrass of slipping down when supporting.
  • Wide usage:Any Climbing Plant that with Stem and vines will need Support.These Garden Cage is great idea for Pot Plant, Flowers, Tomato, Pepers,etc. And the shape of the plant cage is a beautiful way to showcase your flowers Plants’ stem and vines.
  • Packge include 3 sturdy Plant Cage with 12 Plant support Clips (useful to clipping and direct your plant stems to the Cage) .These will perfect support your plant and make them growm upright,happily and healthy.
Bestseller No. 3
LEOBRO 2 Pack Plant Support Cage Rust Resistant Garden Ring Stake Plant Support for Tomato, Trellis, Climbing Plant, Flower, Small Plant Cages for Small Plants,17.7″ H
  • Plant Cages for Small Plants: Set of 2pcs Small Plant Cages, 17.7” high, 5.48”/6.18”/6.89” inner diameter, great for small or medium size plants, like small tomato plants, cherry tomato, pepper, herbs, basils, hydrangea, peony, rose, flower, seedlings, young tree etc. Also great trellis support for climbing plants. Note: Only fit for small plants, PLEASE DOUBLE CHECK THE MEASUREMENT!!!
  • Versatile Plant Supports: Can well prop up plants to grow uprightly and healthily; protect plants against strong wind, heavy rain, or their own heavy bloom; prevent plants from falling over and sprawling out, keep them upright and elegant, add aesthetic appeal.
  • Premium Garden Supports: These plant stakes are made of durable steel with rust-resistant plastic coating, 9 steel clasps attach 3 hoops to 3 stakes, weather-resistant, won’t embrittle and fade in the sun; not pliable, sturdy, stand firmly; reusable and long-lasting, serve you for a long time.
  • 3 Adjustable Rings: All steel clasps are movable and the position of hoops and stakes is adjustable, help satisfy specific support need of plants. Sizes of 3 hoops are different, conform to practical growth principle, provide better support. Stackable, easy to store and ensure safer arrival.
  • Green Color & Sharp Bottom End: The plant supporters have graceful smooth finish and natural green appearance, help blend into plants naturally without seeming weird. And the sharp bottom end helps push the stakes into soil more easily.

Last update on 2023-09-06 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

SaleBestseller No. 1
Dr. Earth Organic 5 Tomato, Vegetable & Herb Fertilizer Poly Bag
  • For more nutritious and tasty vegetables
  • Optimum levels of primary plant nutrients
  • Contains no GMOs, chicken manure or sewage sludge
  • Feeds for several months
  • Made with 100% organic and natural ingredients
SaleBestseller No. 2
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
SaleBestseller No. 3
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

Last update on 2023-09-06 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

UK Buyers

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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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