Are you ready to get your hands dirty? Today is all about pricking out and potting on (or even transplanting) onion seedlings! If you’re not familiar with the terms, don’t worry, we’ll get into it.
First off, let’s take a moment to appreciate my adorable little onion seedlings. They may be tiny, but they have the potential to grow into huge onions!
I’ve been babying these seedlings since I sowed the seeds on boxing day, and while that’s important, it’s also important not to baby them too much. Overwatering can be just as detrimental as underwatering, and a lack of nutrients can also cause problems.
And this is where I found myself, I noticed over the last week or two that my little seedlings were starting to look a little bit dry on top, a little crispy looking at the ends, and that they were changing from deep green and getting paler.
Obviously this was a worry, I’d put so much time and effort into them that I really didn’t want to loose them.
So, what’s the solution? Pricking out and potting on, of course! This process involves moving seedlings from their original growing containers, from seed sowing mix, into larger containers with fresh potting mix, giving them the space and nutrients they need to continue growing.
But before we get started, let’s talk about the tools and materials you’ll need:
- Seedlings in their original containers – of course
- Potting mix (more nutritious than seed starting mix and if you want to make your own I’ll add a link to my recipe below)
- Larger containers for the seedlings
- Labels (so you know what variety of onion you’re growing)
Now, let’s dive into the process. The first step is to carefully, VERY carefully remove the seedlings from their original containers. Once the seedlings are out of their containers, it’s time to separate them into individual plants.
My top tip to make this so much easier is to have a large tub of water to hand.
This can be a delicate process, as the seedlings are still quite small and fragile. My secret trick for reducing the risk of damage is to use water to separate the compost from the roots, rather than pulling or tugging. Just dip the clump of seedlings into the water and swish it around. That will remove the compost form the root mass and let you separate the seedlings much easier.
With the seedlings separated, it’s time to pot them on into their new containers. These containers should be only slightly larger than the seed starting modules, as too large and you risk the seedlings being waterlogged and damaging those essential roots. remember this is for a single onion seedling.
Fill the new containers with potting mix, making sure to leave enough space for the seedlings. Then, carefully plant the seedlings in the new containers, making sure to cover the roots with soil and gently firm it around the base of the seedling. Be super careful here as onion seedlings are delicate little things.
Finally, label the containers so you know what variety of onion you’re growing. This may seem like a small step, but it can make a big difference later on when you’re trying to remember which onions are which.
Within a couple of days, I’m happy to say, that my little seedlings are now looking great. The next set of leaves have started to grow and the colour is back.
And that’s it! With a little bit of care and attention, your onion seedlings should continue to grow and thrive in their new containers until it’s time to plant them into their final home outdoors in spring.
Pricking out and potting on may seem like a daunting task, but it’s an essential step in the growing process. Plus, it’s a great excuse to get your hands dirty and spend some time with your plants. Happy growing!