Hardening Off Seedling Transplants
Hardening Off transplants is the process of preparing plants for transplanting
out into your garden. Indoor transplants were born and raised in a calm,
serene, constant environment, usually with warmer temperatures, yet less
than full sunlight. If moved directly outdoors, sudden weather and climate
changes can lead to transplant shock, slowing the growth of your plant, and
in some cases stunting the plant. Gardeners often think of hardening off
tomatoes and pepper plants. But, this process helps any garden transplant.
Hardening off plants, is the process of exposing an indoor grown plant to
the outside elements gradually, over a period of time. This allows it to
get accustomed widely fluctuating climate conditions. Hardening Off is usually
performed over several days, by increasing the time outside each day.
How to Harden Off Seedling Transplants
Begin hardening off seedling plants, by setting them out onto a warm, sunny
patio or deck for just a few hours a day. Make sure to wait until the location
has warmed up in the morning, before setting them out. Then, bring them back
indoors, before the weather begins to cool back down.
During the first few days, avoid rainy, and especially windy days. Your young
transplants do not need to endure a strong spring lightening storm, before
they are out in the garden.
Observe the changes to your transplants. During the early days of the hardening
off process, you may see little change in plant growth. On close examination,
you will likely see the main stalk of the plant is growing stockier, which
makes it stronger, and helps it to endure wind and weather.
Each day, allow the plants to remain outdoors for increasing periods of time,
and allow them to experience greater temperature and wind levels.
Always bring seedling transplants indoors, if frost or extreme weather is
As planting time nears, after the last frost date for your area, allow your
transplants to remain outdoors and uncovered, as long as the nights do not
get too cold.
A cold frame is a valuable tool for the hardening off process. It allows
you to keep your transplants outdoors, except during an extreme period of
freezing weather. The cover is lifted each day as the weather warms up. The
cover is placed back on, prior to nightfall.
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- causes and how to avoid transplant shock
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