My pepper seedlings needed somewhat different handling than the petunias I thinned and transplanted in the article last week. The peppers were larger and there were not as many per original pot. A few of the cells didn’t have a single sprout, but that was the exception. I had wanted to make sure that I got at least one plant per cell, so I plant 3 seeds in each. Next year, I must remind myself to try just 2.
Most of the pepper seedlings were just beginning to work on their second pair of true leaves. The plants were stocky and strong, which had it’s advantages and disadvantages. They were not as prone to breaking, but their roots were more developed, so it was harder to tease out a single plant.
Some were closely enough spaced that I did simply thin, or cut them down. Gardening isn’t all touchy feely, like some people think! I just pinched them near the base of the stem. It usually doesn’t matter if a stub remains. It doesn’t grow again.
When transplanting, I tried to pick a plant that was farthest away from the main one I was saving in the original pot. But I also tried to pick the smallest plant, so that there would be less root disturbance all around.
Since the roots were more developed, it was not so straightforward as lifting up the petunias was. I still used the popsicle stick, but I would break into the soil in 2-3 places about 1/2 to 3/4 inch away from the stem (depending on how close that side of the transplant was to the plant that was staying). Then, I could lift the transplant out.
A few of the transplants were moved to fill the empty cells in the original 4 cell packs. This was more for space efficiency than anything. Most of the transplants are in larger, typically 3 or 4 inch pots.
I took care to fill in holes created by plant removal, the same as I had for the petunias; and I watered everything in thoroughly. I have about 6 different types of peppers growing. There are now way too many for my original garden plan, but pepper plants look lovely in the decorative landscape. It’s just harder to remember to harvest them there!