Transplanting koala trees

When several seedlings germinate in a single pot, all but one must be removed.

7 Eucalyptus seedlings in one pot

You can either kill the smaller seedlings, by pinching or snipping off the baby leaves early, or you can transplant.

Transplanted seedlings can be just as healthy as the original if handled well, so we encourage as much transplanting as you can manage.

We are happy to provide extra pots, potting mix and sand – just let us know when you need them. 

When to transplant

The earlier the better.  Seedlings grow roots very fast (faster than the above-ground plant), so transplanting early ensures the smallest amount of damage to both the transplantee and the seedling staying in the pot.

Don’t transplant when the seedling is at seed-leaf (cotyledon) stage.  Seed leaves are the first two leaves (leaves 1 & 2) to arise from the seed.  They have a different appearance and shape to true leaves.  At seed-leaf stage the plant is too small and delicate for anything except the most delicate of transplanting.

When the first set of true leaves appear (usually leaves 3 & 4) you can start to transplant.  Gently.

A River Red Gum seedling with 2 sets of true leaves, and seed leaves still present.  This one is ready to transplant.

How to transplant

There’s several methods, dependent on the size of the transplantee.


Very small transplantees (seedlings with 1 or 2 sets of true leaves – 4 to 6 leaves in total):

Water the pot with several seedlings well before you start – another good watering the day before is good too.

Have another pot ready, full of damp potting mix.  Create a hole in the middle large enough for the transplantee.

With a blunt knife, slide the blade into the soil half-way between the transplantee and the original plant.  Push down as far as you think the root is long.  Lever out the transplantee and as much soil as you can hold on the blade of the knife.

Gently transfer the transplantee into the space in the new pot, and tamp the soil down.

Water well.  Place transplantee in shade for a day or two to help it settle in.


Medium to large transplantees (seedlings with 3 or more sets of true leaves):

Water the pot well for a few days before transplanting.

Have another pot ready, half-full of damp potting mix, lying on its side so the potting mix is spread along one long side.

Remove the whole pot full of soil and seedlings, by gently squeezing the rim of the pot to loosen the soil.    Lay the contents on a clean surface.  Prise each seedling apart from the soil by holding the stem close to the soil surface and pulling gently across and away.

You can line up the transplantees in a tray with a weak solution of Seasol in water. Make sure the seasol doesn’t touch the stem or leaves.

Take each transplantee and lay it gently into the new pot so that the root goes straight downwards. Then back fill the pot with potting mix.  Water.

If roots are longer than the pot, you can trim them with your fingers.