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How to Thin Seedlings and Garden Plants

Tree Branch

If there is any garden chore a home gardener hates more than weeding, itís thinning your plants. While tedious, pulling weeds out from around your plants is a guiltless task. After all, they are just weeds. When we thin our seedlings out though, it feels like we are killing good plants that would otherwise grow into a prize winning flower, or bumper crop producer.

Most gardeners consider the process of thinning out seedlings as a necessary evil. And, necessary it is. Overcrowded garden plants will produce just as poorly, as weed choked garden. So, itís best to steel yourself to the task and get on with it.  The remaining plants will thank you for it!


How to Thin Seedlings in Seed Trays:

In almost all cases, indoor transplants will need thinning to just one, plant per seed pot. Do not look for the tallest plant to keep, as it may be lanky, and the stem may be unable to withstand a strong wind. Rather, look for seedlings with the stockiest stem and that are the fastest growing. Remove all other seedlings.  Gently pull them out of the soil of the pot. An effective alternate method, is to use a sharp scissors and snip the stems of excess plants at the soil level. This will help to avoid disturbing the roots of the remaining plant.

As an alternate approach, thin each pot down to two seedlings. A week or two later, recheck and thin to just one seedling per pot.


How to Thin Plants Directly in the Garden:

 Thinning, your garden plants is essential to producing the biggest, healthiest, and most productive.  While we hate to do it, it is an essential garden task. So, procrastinate no longer.  

Hereís how:

  • When working with hard, dry soil, it's difficult, if not impossible thin seedlings and all of their roots. If the soil is hard, water the garden area just before dark the day before you thin out your plants.. By morning, the soil will be softer and much more workable.

  • Select the seedling to be removed, grab it near ground level, and pull it out. If the entire root system does not come up and out of the soil, dig it out with a hand tool.

  • When digging close to your plants, slow down. Be careful to minimize disturbance of the plantís root system. The closer you get the plant, the slower you should work, to avoid hitting the plant stem.

  • After the top of the soil has dried for a while, give your plants a good drink of water. Adding liquid fertilizer at this time, will give your remaining plants a big boost.

Tip: Throw those thinned plants into the composter.  They contain valuable nutrients. Once completely decomposed, the rich compost can feed your plants.

Tree Branch


Related Topics:

How to Weed Your Garden


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