Te Kura Horticulture
Horticulture Home
Course Information
Course Information
Horticulture 1000
HT1021 - Practical skills - Caring for seedlings
Successive sowing Transplanting seedlings

Caring for seedlings

Pricking out your seedlings

Pricking out is the term used  when seedlings need to be transplanted from where they were first sown into  another container where they will have more room. Seedlings are pricked out  once they are large enough to handle. Usually this is when the seedling has  four leaves, two true leaves and the first seed leaves (cotyledons).

Two true leaves and the first seed leaves Once your lettuce seedlings are  at this stage, pricking out is necessary because crowded seedlings compete with  each other for:

  • light
  • water
  • nutrients
  • air
  • space.


Pricked out seedlings are graded  for size. Seedlings at the same stage of development can be grown together.

Spinach seedlings
Spinach seedlings that have just been pricked out.     Each seedling has two seed leaves and two true leaves. 
Lettuce seedlings
Lettuce seedlings that have been growing for a week after being pricked out.

Pricking out video

Watch the video


Complete Activity 9A in your workbook

Key points

  • Pricking out takes place when  seedlings get their first true leaves.
  • Pricking out is necessary as  crowded seedlings compete with each other for light, water, nutrients, air and  space.
  • The seedlings must not be  damaged. Hold them by the leaf.

What's next?

Go to: 10 Transplanting seedlings.

Successive sowing Transplanting seedlings