Yep, you should have divided these basil seedlings ages ago… but it’s still not to late if you know what to do!

When you start your own seeds, you often find yourself in a situation where they become too crowded and start to become spindly due to a lack of space. Of course, the solution seems simple enough: just divide them and plant them up in individual pots or plant a larger container at a more adequate spacing.

Sometimes however, especially if you’ve let this go on a bit too long, the roots of the seedlings become so entangled that separating them without damaging the roots is not easy to do. What can you do in such a case?

Fortunately, here’s a trick that works without fail: soak the roots before you divide. Here’s how it works:

When you’ve swished off enough soil, the seedlings will be easy to pull apart. Photo: potagerdurable.com

Remove the clump of seedlings from their pot and place their rootball in a bowl of water. Now, swish the roots back and forth a bit and you’ll find the soil mix will slide right off. Swish them a bit more until there is little soil left. Now pull delicately on a seedling and you’ll see that it will separate from its companions like magic.

All you have left to do is to repot it and its brethren into their new pots using fresh potting mix!

Garden writer and blogger, author of 65 gardening books, lecturer and communicator, the Laidback Gardener, Larry Hodgson, passed away in October 2022. Known for his great generosity, his thoroughness and his sense of humor, he reached several generations of amateur and professional gardeners over his 40-year career. Thanks to his son, Mathieu Hodgson, and a team of contributors, laidbackgardener.blog will continue its mission of demystifying gardening and making it more accessible to all.

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