How to prick out seedlings into modules

How to…

Once your seedlings have germinated and their seed leaves are strong enough for you to handle, it’s time to ‘prick out’. This is the horticultural term for separating and planting them individually.

  • Estimated time: 15 minutes
  • Location: Outdoors & Indoors
  • School term: Early Spring, Late Spring
  • Level of experience: No experience needed


Ensure your seedlings are well watered before you prick them out. Have all the materials to hand to reduce the time it takes to transfer the seedlings. Be careful and gentle when handling seedlings. Try not to pull them and aim to keep as much of the roots as possible. 

  1. First fill the module tray with potting compost. Make sure there is enough in each hole or cell.

  2. Make sure the compost is evenly spread and tap the tray on the bench a couple of times to make sure it is level.

  3. Ensure the seedlings to be pricked out are well watered beforehand. You can tap the tray on its edges to loosen it a little.

  4. Carefully use a dibber, pencil or label to poke in under the seedling. ALWAYS hold the seedling by its leaves NEVER by the stem.

  5. Ease out the root without damaging it. One seedling will go in each cell of the module tray.

  6. Move the seedling over to the module tray, make a hole with the dibber in the middle and place the seedling in up to its leaves. Finally, label and water in.

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