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
XPCARE 10 Pack Tomato Cages for Garden 62 Inch Plant Cages Plant Support with 120 Vegetable Trellis,80 Clips, Climbing Indoor Plants Moss Poles Individually or Together
  • YOU WILL GET: 120 Garden stakes, 180 connection accessories, 80 clips, and a roll of 50 meters of tie wire. You can make 10pack 62inch Plant Cages.
  • PERFECT SIZE: The each garden stake is 16 inches high and 0.43 inches in diameter. The connecting ring and connecting rod are 2.94 inches and 12.6 inches, respectively. The size of the clamp is 1.63 inches and 2.34 inches. The fixed tie wire is 50 meters long. Can meet your various needs of Garden Cages Stakes Vegetable Trellis
  • STRONG AND STURDY — Inside each stake is durable steel core. These stakes are covered with a heavy-duty plastic coating. It means long-lasting performance spanning several seasons.
  • EASY TO ASSEMBLE — No tools needed, this cage takes minimal time and effort to set up. The cage supports tomato or other plants, and encourages them to grow vertically. So the fruit and leaves don’t weigh down the stems.
  • 100% SATISFACTION GUARANTEED –XPCARE is always by your side. If you have any question or suggestion about our Garden stakes, please feel free to contact us. We will provide you with a satisfied respond within 24 hours.
Bestseller No. 2
MAGGIFT Tomato Cage – 4Pack Tomatoes Plant Stakes Support Cages Trellis for Garden & Pots (4 Pack – Extra Tall)
  • STURDY STAKES FOR INDOOR & OUTDOOR USE – Combining a strong, steel core with a sturdy, thick plastic coating, our stakes can steadily support your tomatoes, both in indoor and outdoor environments.
  • QUICK, EASY, NO-TOOLS ASSEMBLING – You need neither a helping hand, nor additional gardening tools or accessories to set up your tomato plant, or any other plant you wish to grow; assembling the poles with their snapping clips is simple, time-saving, and effortless.
  • HANDY FOR MORE THAN JUST TOMATOES – Our garden cage can help the growth of several vertical climbing vegetables or plants such as jasmine, beans, or roses. Its ergonomic design ensures that your plant’s fruit and leaves won’t weigh down the stems.
  • SUPPORT YOUR PLANTS DURING GROWING SEASON – Adjustability is the key to helping your vine plants grow healthily. Thanks to the snap-on clips, you can reposition their cage to match their needs and ensure continuous support.
  • REACHES UP TO 68” HEIGHT – An excellent size which gives ample space for seedlings (plant babies) and starter plants to grow and offer you beautiful blooms or quality harvest.
Bestseller No. 3
Chunful 10 Pack 5 Ft Tomato Cage Expandable Large Plant Cage Climbing 60 Inch Tomato Plant Support with 30 Tomato Plant Stakes 160 Clips 120 Adjustable Arms for Garden Pots Vegetables Flowers (Purple)
  • Package Includes: you will receive 10 sets of tomato cages, which includes 30 stakes, approximately 60 inches/ 150 cm in total length, 120 adjustable arms and 160 plant clips, enough quantity and good combination to support various types of plants and fulfill all of your gardening needs
  • Adjustable Support for Your Plants: our plant cages and supports allow your plants to grow vertically, providing more space and sunlight for better growth; The adjustable arms come with 6 notches along each arm, making them easy to adjust and secure in proper place, giving your plants the support they need to grow to their full potential
  • Trustworthy and Durable Material: these tomato cages are made of a combination of plastic and alloy material, while the adjustable arms are made of plastic, ensuring their durability and reliability through extended use, which are safe to use, and their sturdy construction ensures that they won’t break or fade, resulting in long lasting support for your plants
  • Easy and Convenient to Use: the tomato plant support is easy to assemble, and you can choose one of the 3 slots to set the required grid width; The bottom of the wooden stake is pointed and easier to insert into the soil, and the wooden stake has anti skid protrusions to make plants climb better on the stand
  • Multipurpose Cage for Your Growing Needs: the garden trellis for climbing plants are ideal for use not only in gardens but also in greenhouses and fields; Their robust construction can support various plants including tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and flowers, providing a sturdy and reliable support system

Last update on 2024-02-14 / 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
Bestseller No. 2
Espoma Organic 8 Ounce Concentrated Tomato! Plant Food – Plant Fertilizer For all Types of Tomatoes and other Vegetables. For Organic Gardening. Pack of 1.
  • ORGANIC PLANT FOOD: This liquid fertilizer for tomatoes & vegetables provides nutrients to ensure superior results and is safe to use around kids and pets
  • EASY: Simply add ½ cap of Tomato! plant food liquid per quart of water and water your plants. Thoroughly drench the soil of the plant. For best results use every 2-4 weeks
  • CONTAINS: Essential plant nutrients to help all tomatoes and vegetables thrive. See label for all ingredients
  • FAST RESULTS: Espoma Organic Tomato will help you grow vigorous and productive plants in a container or in the garden
  • FOR ORGANIC GARDENING: Tomato! is approved for organic gardening; It is a registered Organic Input Material meaning it meets all requirements for organic production
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 2024-02-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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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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