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I have some plants that I have started growing indoors, specifically jalapeño peppers and Walla Walla sweet onions. I am worried that the containers I have them in are too small for them to develop well while still in their containers; however, their root base is nowhere near developed enough to hold the soil together when I transplant them. To add to the situation, I planted them in very loose potting soil, which won't stick together on its own at all.

I am wondering if there is any way I can safely transplant these plants without having to wait for the roots to grow in more.

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If they have not filled their current root zone, they are not yet in need of more root space. Just be careful about keeping them watered (one peril of small containers) and wait for more roots to form. Long term that will be more beneficial in reduced shock when they are transplanted.

The pot-to-plant ratio is considerably more flexible than you might think. I have gotten "end of the season sellouts" in 1" cells that were robust plants you might expect to see in a 4" pot. And yours will be ready to move on long before that point, so they can get the benefit of more space.

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  • Would cutting back on watering encourage root growth at all? I know you said in your answer to make sure to keep them watered because of the small container size. – NeutronStar May 2 '15 at 3:08
  • @Joshua Cutting back on watering (assuming that you are not currently having them stand waterlogged all day) will hurt, not help, growth. Plants grow best with adequate light and water. – Ecnerwal May 2 '15 at 11:34

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