How to Thin Container Vegetable Plants


Whether you grow vegetable plants directly in the soil or in containers, you must thin them to allow for adequate root growth and plant spacing. Although some gardeners resist the idea of voluntarily pulling healthy seedlings from the soil, if you do not thin vegetables, you will not reap a large and bountiful harvest. Keep a close eye on seedlings as they sprout in containers so you can thin them before they become overcrowded.

Step 1

Water the soil in the planting container thoroughly and evenly. Moist soil will make it easy to pull the seedlings from the soil without disturbing the surrounding seedlings. Allow the water to soak into the soil for 15 to 30 minutes before you thin the plants.

Step 2

Remove any seedlings that appear weak and unhealthy first. Pull the seedlings out of the soil with your fingers or clip them off at soil level with pruning shears or scissors.

Step 3

Pull up additional seedlings until the plants are spaced between 6 and 8 inches apart. Consult the specific planting instructions for spacing recommendations if you are unsure of proper plant spacing for your vegetable plants.

Tips and Warnings

  • If you do not properly thin your vegetables, you will grow smaller and inferior vegetables.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears or scissors


  • Colorado State University: Growing Vegetables in Containers
  • NC State University: Home Vegetable Gardening
Keywords: thin vegetables, vegetables in containers, thin your vegetables

About this Author

Kathryn Hatter is a 42-year-old veteran homeschool educator and regular contributer to Natural News. She is an avid gardener, seamstress, quilter, painter, cook, decorator, digital graphics creator and computer user. She is interested in natural health and hopes to direct her focus toward earning an RN degree.