from the employee owners at Gardener's Supply Co.

Thin Out Your Seedlings

Nobody likes to thin seedlings. It’s fussy work, and always hard to decide which ones to save and which to toss. Here’s and easier way: When the first true leaves appear, use a scissors to snip off the extra seedlings at the soil line. You’ll be left with only as many seedlings as you need.

Nobody likes to thin seedlings. It’s fussy work, and always hard to decide which ones to save and which to toss. Here’s and easier way: When the first true leaves appear, use a scissors to snip off the extra seedlings at the soil line. You’ll be left with only as many seedlings as you need.

More Tips

  • Don’t seed to thickly. Two to three seeds per pot is sufficient. For more information, read Grow Tomatoes From Seed.
  • Some gardeners carefully separate the seedlings and replant the extras in other pots. Thrifty, yes, but it’s easy to damage the tiny plants. If you decide to transplant any of the seedlings, loosen them carefully from the soil, using a table knife. When handling the seedlings, grasp them by their leaves or roots; avoid holding the stems, which can be damaged easily.
  • If you’re thinning a crop of lettuce seedlings, you can actually add the tiny thinnings to your next salad.

5 Comments

  1. March 16, 2011    

    Great idea for thinning seedlings, thanks!!

  2. March 24, 2011    

    I just started Tomatoes, hot peppers and herbs from seeds. I thinned the tomatoes down to one plant per square prior to transplanting to larger pots.

    Now I’ve got little 1.5 inch peat pots with herbs that are getting close to transplanting age, parsley, thyme, mint, etc. In some cases there are groups of as few as 3 to as much as 5 or 6 plants per square.

    Now I wonder Is it also necessary to thin these herbs down to one plant per pot..

  3. March 25, 2011    

    Check your seed packets to see if they recommend thinning. In general, most herbs do not require thinning. -David Grist, Gardener’s Supply

  4. Val
    March 27, 2015    

    Does escarole and gourmet blend (5) lettuces need to be thinned out? How tall should the plant be before planting outside?

    • gscadmin
      March 30, 2015    

      In general, mixes of lettuce don’t need to be thinned. Check the back of the seed packet for growing tips. If you don’t have the packet anymore, check online. The size of the seedling is not the key factor on when to plant outside — it’s the weather conditions where you live. For more growing information, read the Leaf Lettuce entry in our Vegetable Encyclopedia: http://www.gardeners.com/gardening-encyclopedia -David Grist, Gardener’s Supply

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