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How to grow seeds in Pluggbox Pop-up or Rootrainers!

Updated on May 3, 2012

Now when spring and summer is in sight it is time to think about the flowers, herbs and vegetables you want to have in your garden and on your patio. A great way to save money is to saw the seeds your self and it is also so much fun to saw seeds! For me the fun starts when the seed catalogue arrives every year in January or February. It is like the door to a goldmine with so many possibilities and also many new dreams of a lovely garden this summer! It is a special feeling to be surrounded by greenery and flowers that you planted yourself and that you have followed from seed to plant!

There are many different equipment on the market for planting seeds and it doesn’t have to be expensive either. You can use any type of container; you can buy special containers, mini-greenhouses or other planting equipment, or you can re-use old plastic cups or cartons. Anything will work as long as it has holes or cracks in the bottom.

A common problem occurs when the plants have grown out of their pots and it is time to replant the small plants. If you, like me have a habit of putting to many seeds in your pots or containers you will at this time have a tangle of roots that must be broken apart. This can be difficult to do in a prudent manner without damaging the delicate little plants. If you have sown the seeds too close, many of them will not survive the treatment.

Here are some suggestions of equipment you can use if you want to avoid that tangle of roots on your small seedlings.

Avoid tangled roots with a Plugbox pop-up!
Avoid tangled roots with a Plugbox pop-up! | Source

Plugbox Pop-up

This is a Swedish invention by Albert Eriksson in the company Daled AB in Sweden. In Sweden the product is called Pluggbox Pop-up. Albert Eriksson invented this because of the difficulty of removing delicate seedlings from those containers and pots that where available on the market.

The product has been a great success in those countries where it has been sold for example; Sweden, Norway, Finland, France, Italy, Germany, North America and Great Britain.

My personal opinion

I have used this myself and I like it very much. It is very practical and you can squeeze in so many plants, 49 pieces, in a tiny area. One thing to consider though is to sow seeds of the same sort or seeds that germinate at the same rate. If they germinate at different rates and with different sizes it can cause problems with some plants that have to have the lid on and others that don’t. This can happen even if you consider it from beginning and if it does, you can quite easy push out single early plant with a finger or a pencil. Another thing I like about it is that the Plugbox Pop-up has substantial material and it can be washed in the dishwasher after use.

What is so special with the Pluggbox Pop-up?

There are so many advantages with the Pluggbox and one of them is that since the plants have intact and undamaged roots it has a better root system from the beginning after replanting which will give plants with higher quality and the plants are also much easier to handle. A plant with undamaged root system could start to grow immediately after re-plant and will not have to wait due to that the plant must replace the damaged roots.

This is possible because of the design of the Plugbox and the conic plugs. The Plugbox consist of three parts, a trough, a sow container and a lid. You start with filling the sowing holes with quality soil and then put the sow container into the trough. Turn the lid up side down, on top of the sowing container and give it a push and you have 49 perfectly centred sawing holes in the soil from the cones. Now you can plant your seeds, preferable just one or maybe two in each sowing hole. Follow the instruction for the particular seeds you are sowing; some should be covered with soil and some should not. Turn the lid in the right way and put the lid on in order to create a perfect micro climate for your seeds. The lid can either be sealed tight to the sowing tray or by turning it 90 º relative to the tray the construction can also allow ventilation on two sides. The fact that there are a few centimetres between the trough and the sowing tray means that you can fill this space with water. The roots can then suck up water from underneath which creates the right humidity. It also cools the roots on hot days when water evaporates.

When the seeds have grown a little the lid isn’t needed anymore and you just nurture your seedlings in usual way.

The great advance and the Pop-up part with the Plugbox Pop-up are shown when it is time to re-plant your seedlings to bigger containers or pots. Then you take the sowing container and fold out the support legs slightly as you push down the sowing container into the trough. This cause the plants to automatically pop out and the plants can easily be re-planted. Another advantage with the conic plugs is that it makes the pop-up box possible to stack on each other which will save space during storage.

Watch the video below to see how it works. I am sorry that the language in the video is Swedish but I hope you understand the video from the pictures and my explanation here.


I haven’t yet tested this product myself but they work in a similar way and is a way to prevent tangled roots.

Rootrainers is a mini-greenhouse that has similar advantages as Pluggbox pop-up. Rootrainers also provide plants that have strong and deep roots in sowing pots that can be open like a book. The fact that you can open the containers makes it possible to re- plant without damaging the roots of the small plants when it is time for re-plant. The Rootrainers consist of three parts; containers, base frame and a lid. You fold the container together and stack them in the bottom frame. Put soil in the sowing containers and sow one seed in each. Put the lid on, and you have a mini-greenhouse. The Rootrainers have traces in the walls that make the roots to grow straight from the beginning. When the roots reach the bottom of the container and start to coming out of the drainage holes you should lift the base frame. This will allow the roots to dry and that will in turn give a stronger growth of the roots further up in the container. This is supposed to give you stronger plants with more developed roots. The Rootrainers can be used for almost any seeds but is particularly suited for strawberries, corn, beans, sunflowers and sweat peas.

This video explaines very well how it works!


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    • thougtforce profile image

      Christina Lornemark 5 years ago from Sweden

      Hi Billy! Yes that is a common problem for us all I think. At least it is possible to replant them more gently with the aid of a pluggbox or a root trainer. I think the main problem is that the place where we have our seedlings is too warm and at the same time it isn't enough light. At least that is the case when growing seedlings indoors. It was easier when I had a hotbed or a greenhouse when I could move the tall and spindly little seedling there for some weeks before replanting them. I have also tried to add some extra light over the seedling indoors and that has also helped! But there is nothing better than the real light from the sun! Thanks for comment Billy,


    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Great hub! We have similar products here in the States. One problem I have is once the seeds have become seedlings I have trouble getting them to grow properly without being too tall and spindly. They tend to be too weak and top-heavy and eventually they die when transplanted. I'm still working on it but I know for a fact these products work as advertised.

    • thougtforce profile image

      Christina Lornemark 6 years ago from Sweden

      atie, I am so glad you came by! I like my pluggbox very much. It is so useful since I plant my seeds indoors with limited space, and with pluggboxes I can have more seedlings than I could have without them. With a big garden there seems to be an endless need for plants in the spring:) I hope you will find them useful too! Thanks for your comment and a happy garden season to you!

    • katiem2 profile image

      katiem2 6 years ago from I'm outta here

      The pluggbox pop up planters or plant starters are a must have for every gardener. Thanks to all your great useful gardening tips on the pop up pluggbox rootrainers were good to go and get ready for spring planting. :) Katie

    • thougtforce profile image

      Christina Lornemark 7 years ago from Sweden

      Hello Victoria Stephens, yes I think so to. The design have many benefits and it gives me better and bigger plants. That is important when the garden season is quite short! Thanks for stopping by and for your comment!

    • Victoria Stephens profile image

      Victoria Stephens 7 years ago from London

      I've never heard of a Pluggbox before, what a cool

    • thougtforce profile image

      Christina Lornemark 7 years ago from Sweden

      Hello Tom, Isn’t that frustrating! These months just before spring are almost the worst. There seems to be no end to the winter and the cold is persistent! You and I will have to be content with inside gardening, sow seeds and so on. Spring will come! Thanks for your supportive comment!

    • kashmir56 profile image

      Thomas Silvia 7 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi thougtforce thanks for all this great information in this well written hub . But like you i to can not do anything with my garden yet because it is still to cold and the ground still has a cover of snow on it . I do hope spring weather will come soon !

    • thougtforce profile image

      Christina Lornemark 7 years ago from Sweden

      Martie, isn´t it lovely when it is time for gardening! I am so glad to give you inspiration for gardening and I know the feeling when the garden season comes! There simply aren’t enough hours! I will have to wait a while longer though, our garden still have a massive snow cover and the temperature is -10 degrees C! Brr! Have great time in your garden, but I do hope you find time for hubbing as well! Other wise I will miss you badly. Take care, I will be thinking of you in your garden!

    • MartieCoetser profile image

      Martie Coetser 7 years ago from South Africa

      You’ve tickled my fingers to go gardening! I’m living next to a nursery, so it is too easy for me to walk over and buy some seedlings. At this very moment it is very difficult to choose between gardening and HubPages. Thanks for this inspiring information, thoughtforce. I’ve bookmarked this with all the other hubs about gardening. Reading them on Friday nights put me in just the right mood for gardening on Saturday mornings. Thanks again! Enjoy your gardening!

    • thougtforce profile image

      Christina Lornemark 7 years ago from Sweden

      Hello prasetio, gardening is one of my big interests in life and i am so happy to share practical things with others who love gardening and especially you and your father! I hope both of you get a lovely garden season and thank you for this lovely comment and the vote! Your visits are always appreciated!

    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 7 years ago from malang-indonesia

      This was great information. I never knew about this before. Thanks for writing this. I love gardening and so my father. I'll show this hub to him. Nice video too. I liked it. Vote up. Take care!

      Love and peace, prasetio