Potting Up Seedlings

As the seed starting season progresses, your seedlings will likely need to be planted into a larger container before planting outside.  Potting up means that you take seedlings that are in small containers and transplant them into larger containers.  


Why do I need to Pot Up My Seedlings?

Oftentimes, we start seedlings in small containers because it encourages better root growth and takes up less space under our precious grow light real estate.   As plant’s above ground parts get larger their below ground parts also get larger. The roots search the planter for additional growing space.  After the small growing space has been searched by the roots, they get confused and begin circling the planter.  This is referred to as becoming pot bound or root bound.  If a plant becomes root bound it could be fatal to the seedling.  Potting up seedlings reduces the amount of root circling in the planter as the seedling’s roots gain more space to search before they are ultimately planted outside with sufficient space for the roots to grow and finish the plant’s life.   


When to Pot Up Seedlings?

This may depend on the size of the container that you started with.  A general rule of thumb is to not transplant any seedlings until after they have 1 or 2 sets of true leaves.  Another way to tell if your seedlings are looking for more space is if you lift their container up and see roots growing out of the holes in the bottom!  


How Large of A Container Should I Move Into?

This will be dependent, again, on the size of the container that you started with.  A general rule of thumb is to not up-pot to a container that is more than 2-4 inches larger than the one the plant started in.  For example, if you started a pepper plant in a 72- cell tray (that is approximately 1 inch in diameter), the next size container that I would transplant into would be around 3.5-4 inches.  Providing too much space too quickly could cause exponential plant growth which will in turn yield leggy, unhealthy seedlings.


Want more tips and tricks for transplanting/ potting up seedlings? Check back every Friday for new posts!

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