Pricking Out Seedlings

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Pricking Out Seedlings - Provided by eHow
Pricking out seedlings is a process of transferring partially developed seedlings to larger pots before their roots become too entwined. Use a dipper or a spoon to scoop out seedlings and put them gently into a pot with tips from a professional... View Video Transcript

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Elaine Hughes

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So now I'm going to show you how to prick out seedlings. I've a tray of seeds that we sowed just over a month ago. These are ox-eye daisies. And the principle of pricking out seedlings is so that you can...once...once the seeds develop to a certain point, before they get too congested, the idea is to be able to plant them up into pots before potting them on and eventually planting them in the garden. This is a you can see these were planted, as I said, a month ago. They're in good condition. They're...they're not too congested, so, and it's a good time to actually start planting them on into bigger pots before the roots become too entwined, and then you'd be damaging the plants as you pull them out. The basic technique of pricking out seedlings is to use what's called a dipper. Now this is a standard dipper that you'd buy in any garden center, and the principle is either you have a forked edge to go between...around the roots. Or a flat, spatula edge to dig underneath the roots. Now this is the type of dipper that you would buy in a garden center, but actually, you can easily use an old ice cream cone...stick, or even a plant stick. I'll sometimes also use the back end, the flat end of a spoon. But for today, we're going to use the fork-ended dipper. What you need is a....small pots to put your seedlings into. You wouldn't know it, but as clean as possible. You wouldn't know it from looking at this one, but use one that's as clean as possible to prevent fungal infection from residual soil. From using the pot previously. So, the first thing you do is just put a bit of soil into your small pot. You start with quite a small pot, and gradually, incrementally get your pots bigger as you plant your plant on before eventually planting outside. This enables the rootstock of the plant to become very hardy, and to grow very strong. So, we get our tray of plants. These are ox-eye daisies, planted just over a month ago. And now I'm going to use the fork end of my dipper, 'cause I want to get in between the roots. I'm going to start from the outside edge, because from the outside, because it's...just makes it easier to work your way in to the plants as you prick them out. Pick your...pick your first victim. I'm going to go for this fellow, 'cause he's actually quite easy and not too tangled up. And you basically, either using the flat end, kind of very much depends on what you're comfortable with doing. I think in this instance I'm going to use the fork edged. And you go from, you know, a good centimeter, if possible, from the outside edge of the plant. You want to, basically the idea is try and scoop it underneath the roots, that you don't damage the roots. Now, very gently hold on to the neck of the plant. If you squeeze too tightly, these are very...these seedling are very delicate at this stage of their life. You can very easily just pinch them to death. So you just want to hold on it very lightly, like you're holding on to feather. And just gradually, as you' you're pushing from underneath the roots with the forked end of the dipper, just very gradually lift up. Especially as the soil in this one is quite wet, so it's going to be dragging down on to the roots, slightly. It might be that you dig up next door plants, and that's okay, like this one here. You want to give it a little shake, and as you can see, give it a little shake, and as you can see, this very healthy rootstock on the seedling. So we want to transfer it into a pot. Be very....the idea is not to....not to damage the roots as you put it in, so, with our soil we create a little hole. The idea is that they settle in as naturally as possible. We don't want to congest the roots so that they're all squished up, and we don't want to stretch the roots that they become under stress. That's just to let them sit in comfortably. And then gradually, just very gently back fill in with some soil. And then you down, press down lightly. Press down lightly on the soil so you can bed the roots in comfortably without putting too much pressure on them. The plant looks pretty dirty at the moment, but really, don't worry about that, 'cause after one or two sprinkles with water it'll clean up nicely. So the idea is that you have a nice, comfortable pressure on it, so not too much pressure, else it'll damage the root. But if you don't give enough pressure, it'll create air gaps within the soil, and then....and the roots won't have set....the roots won't be settled in the soil properly. Once you've placed the plant in, you want to give it a good drink of water, so that it can settle the roots in some more. And the idea is to water it so the water comes through to the bottom of the pot. It might you can see what I'm doing now, I'm just sort of supporting the plants, 'cause these...these plants are very delicate at this stage, and they...they are prone to just flopping over in the water. But that's fine. But, you know, you might just find yourself giving them a little bit of support while the water drains through. The next stage is....see, you don't want to forget what plants you've planted. And...and it's very easy when you've got hundreds and hundreds of different types of plants, it's very easy to forget which ones you've planted where and how. So the idea is just to provide it....give yourself a little reminder with a plant label. Going to write the name of the plant. It's an ox-eye daisy, and I'm going to date from when I planted it, just a month. So I just have an idea of how long it's been in that pot for. And that's how to prick out seedlings.