How to Pot Up Your Tomato Seedlings

by Isabel Vinton

Once your tomato seedlings are 2-3 inches high and the first set of true leaves are just starting to emerge, it's time to prick the individual plants into bigger pots, preferably the ones they will live in until transplant time. Potting up is also a great way to buy extra time in the garden. For example, if you have a particularly wet spring, you may want to delay transplanting your tomatoes into the garden since it's best to avoid working the soil when it's muddy. Wet soil compacts more easily, transplants don't like to be waterlogged, and seeds can drown.

We made this short How-To Pot Up Tomato Seedlings video so you can see a bit of our seed farm, our hoophouse, and see first hand how we take care of our little seedlings until they can sink their roots into cozy beds.


1. Place potting soil in bottom of larger container.

2. Remove tomato seedling from tray.

3. Remove lower leaves and gently loosen roots.

4. Place in container.

5. Fill in with soil. Soil should cover first 1-2 inches of tomato stem (you can also bury tomatillos in this same way, but other seedlings should be potted up at regular depth without being sunk into soil).

6. Water in.

7. Don't worry if your seedling looks droopy at first. It will perk up!

8. Keep seedling outdoors (after hardening off) or in green house.

9. You've just bought yourself 1-2 weeks before you need to transplant.

10. Transplant into garden deep enough to cover another inch or so of green stem.