How to Successfully Up Pot Your Seedlings

“Potting up” seedlings means just that, “upping the size of the pot” the seedling is grown in. If the seeds were started in a small pot, you might need to move the seedlings to a bigger pot before you plant them in the garden.

Ideally, seedlings are planted directly into the garden rather than moving into larger containers. Moving seedlings to bigger pots is helpful for crops that have outgrown the pots they were started in, but it’s not yet time to plant them outside.

Roots that are squished in pots that are too small become “root bound,” and they are less likely to grow well when they are planted in the garden.

A larger container allows seedlings to live happily longer in the ideal conditions of your seed-starting area. With more space in the pot, the roots have more room to take in water and nutrients from the new soil.

Starting plants from seeds is rewarding, but often leaves you with a forest of seedlings crammed together. Up potting gives them room to grow stronger before transplanting outdoors. Follow this step-by-step guide to properly pot up seedlings.

When to Up Pot Seedlings

Seedlings are ready for larger pots once their roots fill the cell or container. Signs it’s time include:

  • Roots visible through drainage holes
  • Plants becoming root-bound or tangled
  • Growth slowing down
  • Leaves yellowing from lack of nutrients

Don’t wait too long or root damage can occur. Generally up pot after 2-4 weeks from germination when the first true leaves appear

Delicate plants like tomatoes may need up potting after just 10-14 days if sown in small starting cells

Supplies Needed for Up Potting

Before repotting seedlings, gather:

  • New pots or cells one size larger
  • Fresh potting mix
  • Watering can with a gentle nozzle
  • Small spoon or paddle for carefully loosening roots
  • Scissors for trimming any tangled roots
  • Optional: Diluted liquid fertilizer or compost tea

Avoid using garden soil which can contain harmful fungi or bacteria. Stick with a sterile lightweight seed starting mix.

Step-by-Step Guide to Up Potting Seedlings

Follow these steps to safely transplant seedlings to larger containers:

1. Prepare New Pots

Select new pots or cells that are 2-3 inches wider than the current ones. Terra cotta, plastic, peat, and cow pots all work well.

Ensure pots and trays are cleaned and sanitized to prevent disease. Group same plant varieties together in tray.

2. Make Potting Mix

Use fresh, sterile potting soil suitable for seedlings. Pre-moisten the mix before filling pots so it’s damp but not soggy.

Optional: Mix in a bit of worm castings or compost for nutrition.

3. Water Seedlings

Water seedlings well the day before up potting. This makes them easier to remove without root damage.

4. Transplant Seedlings

Gently squeeze sides of the pot to loosen. Carefully remove plant and tease roots apart if tangled.

Trim any long roots with scissors to encourage branching. Minimize root disturbance.

5. Place in New Pot

Set the seedling in the new container. Surround with potting mix, filling up to just below the first leaves.

Gently firm the soil around the stem and water well to settle.

6. Water Thoroughly

Water lightly right after transplanting to help soil settle. Then allow seedling to dry out slightly before watering again.

Avoid overwatering newly potted plants! Wait for soil surface to dry before the next drink.

7. Provide Proper Care

Place seedlings in a sunny, sheltered spot after transplanting. Avoid harsh sunlight right after up potting.

Gradually adjust to outdoor conditions over 7-10 days if hardening off.

Light fertilizer may help reduce transplant shock and fuel growth. Feed according to package directions.

With attentive aftercare, seedlings will flourish in their roomy new pots!

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Steer clear of these missteps when potting up seedlings:

  • Using old potting mix with fungus and bacteria
  • Letting roots get severely tangled before up potting
  • Damaging roots by letting soil totally dry out
  • Transplanting too early before seedling is established
  • Disturbing the stem and leaves excessively
  • Overwatering after repotting leading to root rot
  • Neglecting to harden off the tender plants

Carefully handling seedlings and providing excellent aftercare prevents many issues.

Tips for a Successful Transition

Here are some additional pointers for smooth up potting:

  • Do it early on a mild, cloudy day to minimize wilting.

  • Up pot in the morning so plants have all day to recover before nightfall.

  • Useclean pots sanitized in a 10% bleach solution rinse well.

  • Take extra care with crops like peppers or eggplants prone to transplant shock.

  • Place seedlings in a sheltered spot out of direct sun immediately after.

  • Consider using a very weak fertilizer solution the next time you water.

  • Allow time to adapt to new pots before exposing plants to outdoor conditions.

  • Monitor for signs of wilt, yellow leaves, or slowed growth after repotting.

With proper preparation and aftercare, your seedlings will adjust quickly to their new homes.

Key Takeaways for Up Potting Success

  • Carefully pot up seedlings once roots fill cells, about 2-4 weeks after germination.

  • Use clean, sanitized containers only 1-2 inches larger than original pots.

  • Handle seedling roots gently to limit stress and damage.

  • Thoroughly water plants immediately after repotting to settle soil.

  • Avoid overwatering, allow soil to partially dry out before next drink.

  • Give seedlings sheltered, gentle conditions right after transplanting.

  • Watch for signs of shock like wilting or discoloration after potting up.

  • Be patient! Adjusting to new pots takes young plants 7-14 days typically.

Up potting is crucial for helping seedlings build healthy root systems and grow to their full potential. Follow these tips to properly size up your plants without shock or injuries.

When to pot up seedlings:

how to up pot seedlings

how to up pot seedlings

  • When you see that they don’t seem to be growing anymore, Carefully take the seedling out of the pot and check on the roots. The roots may be moving around in the pot or taking up all the space inside the pot.
  • When the roots reach outside the pot, it’s time to move the seedlings to a bigger one.
  • Seedlings that are getting too close together or crowded Each plant will grow better with additional room.

how to up pot seedlings

How to deal with root-bound plants:

  • Loosen coiled roots. Using your hands, gently tease the roots apart. Trim back any extra-long roots.
  • If the roots won’t come loose, spray water on the soil and then peel the roots apart.
  • If the roots still won’t untangle. Before you plant, use a knife to make several vertical cuts in the root ball to help new roots grow.

Water and feed newly-potted seedlings

  • Water seedlings and fill in any gaps in the soil.
  • Feed with a half-dose of seaweed fertilizer.

how to up pot seedlings

Potting Up Seedlings 101: Easy Seed Starting Tip!

Should you pot up seedlings?

Another reason to pot up your seedlings is so the plant’s roots don’t get root-bound. As the roots of the plant continue to grow, they will take up the entire container if you do not continue to move them to a larger pot. The roots will continue to fill the pot so there is not enough room for soil, water, or nutrients.

Do I need to pot up seedlings before transplanting?

As a general guideline: – **Small Seedling Containers**: If you started with small containers, you may need to pot up once or even twice. – **Larger Seedling Containers**: Starting with larger

How do you plant seedlings in a pot?

If there’s more than one seedling in a cell, then gently tease the roots apart to separate them. It’s important to plant each one into its own pot, or they will be too crowded. Step 4: Pot it up – Place the seedling into the pot at the same depth as it was in the tray (i.e.: don’t bury the stem) and fill in around the roots with soil.

How do you grow a seedling in a container?

Fill the bottom of the container with soil. Tip over the seedling and gently dump it into your hand. Hold the stem carefully between your fingers. A plant can grow new leaves or roots, but won’t recover from a damaged stem. Place the seedling on top of the layer of soil. Gently fill in and firm soil around the seedling.

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