Press Esc to cancel. Light rain is excellent when you are hardening plants, as long as it is not too heavy. Hardening off is the process of adapting plants to the outside, so they can get used to sunlight, wind, rain, cool nights, and less frequent watering and fertilizing. Here is a step-by-step guide to hardening off your seedlings: On day one, start by putting your seedlings outside for a couple of hours. The top is clear or translucent, often created from an old window or even a piece of plexiglass. It’s the process of transitioning your plants from a protected indoor environment, to the unprotected outdoors. It’s really just a variation on the cold frame, If your plants happen to be growing near a window that gets regular breezes, you can use that. So far, these are all techniques to apply before your Up until this point, your seedlings have been protected from wind, rain, cold, heat, and intense sunlight. If the nights are warm enough, the plants can stay outside. It is a simple, free bit of insurance to … thrive and do so much better this season if you invest a little more effort once In regions with really cold climates, a longer and more gradual buildup to total exposure is a good idea. It just takes a little planning in advance. Keeping the plants inside for one day won’t disrupt the hardening off process. Even if you have been growing under lights, having the actual sun beaming down on them can be traumatic. Hardy plants acclimatise faster than half-hardy or tender kinds. Hardening off gradually exposes the tender plants to the wind, the sun, the outside temperature, and rain and toughens them up. This process is more intuitive than step-by-step. This isn’t something you need to start You can take many weeks to harden off your plants, but ideally you need at least one week. Hardening off gradually exposes the tender plants to wind, sun and rain. The Process. Then as the hardening off process gets underway, allow the seedlings some gentle exposure to these harsher conditions. You started some seeds indoors, grew out the seedlings, and are excited to plant them outdoors. Begin by placing plants outside for two to three hours on a mild day in a shaded location. It can be overcast (in fact, that would be perfect), but you don’t want extreme temps, pouring rain, or strong winds. If the weather cooperates, and life allows, one week will get your plants used to the outside and allow you to put a healthy plant in the ground that won’t suffer from shock due to the external conditions. There is no wind, no rain, and no big swing in temperatures. The goal of hardening off is to cause plant cell walls to thicken, changing soft, succulent growth to firmer, harder tissue. Beautiful healthy seedlings and young plants that transplanted into the garden only to wilt, break or die. Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window), Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window), Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window), What To Do When You Run Out Of Indoor Growing Space. By gradually exposing them to more intense ultraviolet rays and to wind, rain and temperature changes, you can help them adapt to move. This helps prevent transplant shock; seedlings that are not properly cared for become stunted or die from sudden changes in temperature. Up until the time vegetable transplants go in the ground, they have been coddled. Some plants—onions, for example—may be OK to harden off while there’s still a … Get your seedlings organized and set up in a tray for portability, and move the lot of them outside for a period of time each day. After you’ve hardened your plants in the cold frame, they get planted out in the garden. Start the process on a weekend to give yourself more time with the plants. Hardening off is an easy process and will make your plants grow better and stronger when you do plant them out into the garden. Cell walls develop more lignin to strengthen them. After a few days of increasing time in the shade, put them in the sunshine for an hour or so. For the super strong winds, like the forty mph ones we had the other day, they should come in so they don't get blown around pots, tray, and all. A basic cold frame is simply a 4-sided box with an open bottom. When you have a seedling that has been growing in a controlled indoor environment, you can’t suddenly put that seedling outside in the ground. Hardening off is the process of acclimating nursery seedlings to the outdoors. Whether in a nursery, home and garden store, in your house, or on your back porch, they have been sheltered in some way from the perils of the great outdoors. You want to slowly prepare that plant for the outdoors. Even if they need the water, they won’t be able to stand up to the strong force of the rain for very long. Think of how strong a muscle is if you never have to use it. I’ll share what I learn as I develop my green thumb. Once they go outside they face the harsh sunlight (which will fry your plants if you don’t introduce them to it gradually), variable temperatures, rain, wind, and other changeable conditions. The hardening off process takes about seven to10 days depending on the plant and your climate. These times are, of course, generalizations. Hardening off plants requires a great deal of attention, because there are many aspects that can impact the hardening off process. It’s a vital step to ensure the health of your plants and a successful start to the growing season. Pots can be clustered into crates, tubs or buckets. Try to avoid the hot afternoon sun on the first day if possible. What does it mean to harden off your plants? Tragic Tales of Plant Loss. Hardening off your seedlings is the vital step of acclimating them to the outdoors to assure their survival. You can take many weeks to harden off your plants, but ideally you need at least one week. The act of hardening off seedlings to help prevent transplant shock is very easy to do! It is achieved by reducing irrigation and lowering the temperature of the air: frost and cold resistances of plants. A cold frame must have the lid open at least enough to vent out the heat during the day. The hardening off period allows your seedling to transition from the comfortable growing conditions under lights or in a warm greenhouse to the normal conditions they will experience in the garden. When expecting a downpour, close the lid. There is no set rules for this, and you’ll have to make some educated guesses as you watch your plants develop. Continue to close the cover and resume heating during the night if the temperatures dip too low. If conditions force you to keep them in for a week or more, go back a few steps in the process. Choose a sheltered position to harden off your plants, and water them before they go outside so there’s less risk of them drying out. Plants growing in your garden will naturally harden-off as the temperatures cool in the fall. Try to start the hardening off process in optimal conditions, that is, a mild temperature, gentle sun, light or no winds, and little or no rain. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. Choose your location carefully so that your little plants are getting enough sun without overdoing it. Hardening off causes the following changes in plant growth and development. Hardening off seedlings gradually exposes the tender plants to the wind, sun, and rain. Kind of the same thing. … It’s better to use a watering can later than take the risk of having your plants pummeled. The warmth of the soil in the “bottom” of the box will keep the inside slightly heated for hours. This process needs to be started on a mild day; it is important to prevent the plant from being exposed to harsh weather. Depending on how pampered the plants are, this can be a surprisingly long process lasting several weeks. Click here if you’d prefer to listen to it. If you are new to this, it would be smart to check on your plants, or even leave a thermometer inside the box so you can keep an eye on things. Keep an eye on your plants and you’ll notice how they are handling the transition. Sun, wind, rain and varying temperatures are all a part of the hardening off process. The process of hardening off plants is generally done to young seedlings or greenhouse plants that are accustomed to extremely controlled weather and light conditions. While hardening off doesn’t take a lot of time, it does involve some vigilance. it gets cooler in the evening. Practically, this means that you expose your seedlings or plants to outside conditions incrementally, over six to fourteen days, depending on your patience, the … toughening them up by thickening the cuticle on the leaves so they lose less water when exposed to the elements. When expecting a downpour, close the lid. By the end of the week, the plants should be able to spend the full day in the sun, in an unprotected area. Hardening off plants is a gradual introduction to the new elements of the outside. Light rain is excellent when you are hardening plants, as long as it is not too heavy. After several days, gardeners should be able to leave the frame open for the majority of the day. Inside, your seedlings grow in conditions with consistent temperatures, a lack of wind, no strong sunlight, and all their needs looked after. These plants are grown in greenhouses for hardening. They are healthy and in good condition generally, but not yet match-fit. Whether or not you take advantage of the fan technique, you Even plants grown in a greenhouse need to be hardened off. The gradual exposure to wind, sun, rain and fluctuating temperatures is a process referred to as "hardening off. " Even if they need the water, they won’t be able to stand up to the strong force of the rain for very long. If you take them from stable, temperate conditions and quickly plant them out in your garden, they could experience transplant shock. This includes the variations in temperature, winds, and the UV light of the sun. Press the cut edge into the soil around the plant, Keep repeating until your plants are acclimatized and ready to plant. Hardening Off Plants. Don’t rush it. The Practical Planter is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. They naturally harden-off to wind and sun and rain as they poke through the ground in the spring. It works like a small, simple greenhouse to give your new plants a more protected space while they adjust to life outside. You can skip the shade step since they are used to the sun. Natural waxes on leaf surfaces thicken as plants are exposed to more sun, reducing the rate of water loss. You can also do your hardening after you’ve done One last note on using a cold frame to harden plants, you should not underestimate how hot it can get in there if you leave the lid closed during the day. a big plastic soda bottle. Most often hardening-off is associated with acclimating plants to cold temperatures but it can also refer to acclimating to hot temperatures, wind or sun. Start with 3-4 hours and increase the exposure to outside temperatures 1-2 hours per day. Otherwise, add a fan to your seedling space, ideally one that oscillates so that the movement isn’t always coming from the same direction. seedlings are planted out. and leave the lid off so that it can vent out the heat. their time in the house is over. In the end, take your time and you’ll be rewarded with happy plants to put in the ground. Once you pick your technique, how long do you need to keep it up? So even your indoor plants need some movement to grow a sturdy stem, which is necessary to survive outside. Plant biotech can play a potential role of increasing agricultural productivity, bring food security by its contribution to greenhouse technology. While that may not seem like a problem, it means that the structure of the stem has not had to develop the strength to resist the wind. they grow up with your man-made breezes. Choose a nice day to begin hardening off your plants. The way to help your seedlings build up a resistance is to harden off your seedlings. Serious gardeners who need to harden plants regularly will use a cold frame. If you have a storm in the forecast with heavy rain or strong winds, or if you expect a frost, bring the plants back inside. Then, close the frame. will want to introduce your young plants to the outside gradually for just when you are ready to plant outside. I have experienced it for myself and heard it many times from others. Hardening off is the process of toughening up the plants’ tissues to prevent wilt in … Turn off any heating cables or open the cold frame cover for gradually more prolonged periods each day. On the next day, you repeat the process, and can leave them out a little longer, as long as they stay in the shade and are protected. It carries out before planting seedlings grown in closed soil. Hi! It’s hard to fit hardening off into your day with work and the rest of life. Each day, increase the amount of time spent in the sun. It’s easiest to place them in a tray to make carrying them back and forth between the garden and the house or garage easier. It can be overcast (in fact, that would be perfect), but you don’t want extreme temps, pouring rain, … Plants that are raised inside can undergo a significant shock when moved to a new environment. Hardening off is really just gradually introducing your baby plants to the great outdoors. Hardening off refers to the act of moving plants outdoors for specific lengths of time so they become acclimatized to the sunlight, temperature, dry air, and colder nights. Check your seedlings’ frost dates. Whatever your construction skills can accommodate. Put your plants in a sheltered area in the shade and let them stay out for a few hours. As the day cools off in the evening, you want to close the lid to protect your little plants from the chilly night air. Typically hardening off takes two to three weeks, but the warmer the initial growing conditions, the longer the hardening off period. Hardening off is a gradual process that should take place over a period of 7-10 days. To begin hardening off plants, place them into a shaded cold frame on a cloudy day for a few hours. My name is Lisa, and I’m on a mission to expand my plant knowledge. Keep them watered. η Generally, a few weeks should be enough. Hardening off describes slowly exposing newly grown vegetables, fruits, and flowers to the elements—changing temperatures, varying levels of sunlight, wind—to enable healthy growth. the best results. Plant biotech methods have helped produce plants resistant to drought, flood, soil infertility, pests, abiotic stress etc. It can be hinged, or just lifted off. After that, if they are not tough enough to withstand the outdoors, they may never be. You don’t want to transplant seedlings directly in the garden without “weaning” them first, and this goes for vegetables, herbs, and flowers. Steps for Hardening off Seedlings. except that you are adding a temporary enclosure around each plant. You will gradually increase the amount of time they’re outside, usually by taking flats or pots in and out of the house. Gradually, increase the amount of sunlight the transplants receive and how long the frame remains open each day. Plants will dry out faster in the sun. The Practical Planter also participates in programs from ShareASale and other sites and is compensated for referring traffic and business to these companies. A Schedule for Hardening Off Plants They aren’t used to the temperature swings, the wind, or rain. Hardening is a process that increases the ability of plants to tolerate adverse environmental factors. Harden Off Plants in a Sheltered Spot Wind speeds up evaporation, which can cause plants to wilt surprisingly quickly. They likely haven’t been exposed to extreme temperature swings, strong winds, rain, or even direct sun. In the evening, bring them back inside for a safe and warm night. Put the lid back on when Choose a nice day to begin hardening off your plants. Plant growth slows. Why To Harden Off Vegetable Plants Young, tender plants like these pepper plants need to adjust to outdoor life. It can be enough of a shock to actually kill some delicate plants, or to at least set back their growth so that the plant doesn’t do well for the rest of the season. Here’s what to do: 1. While this is fundamentally a very simple process, it can be awkward and time-consuming if you have a large number of plants to deal with. I’ll take it in stages. When these plants are suddenly exposed to outdoor conditions, the shock of full sun, colder temperatures, and a brisk breeze will cause them to wither, and they might not recover. There are also light-weight fabrics you can use to tent over your plants while they adjust, giving you a bit more flexibility in how you place it and how much space you can allow for the plants underneath. Hardening off new or overwintered plants helps transition them from their controlled indoor environment so they aren't shocked when moved into variable outdoor conditions. The pop bottles are quick but limited by their shape and size. Once your seedlings are big enough to plant out and the temperatures are appropriate for planting … This process toughens up our seedlings by thickening the cuticle on the leaves so that the leaves lose less water. Hardening off is what helps the plant acclimate to things like rain and sun and wind, but also thickens the cuticle on the leaves so that when exposed to the outdoor elements the leaves on your seedlings lose less water. Wind and rain is part of what you're hardening off for. out overnight, the high sides also keep out harsh winds that could topple your The ‘training’ is a gradual introduction to the above elements that will toughen them up, harden them off even. Why You Should Harden Off Plants. To be on the safe side, do not plant out tender plants before the date of the last frost which is usually late spring in the south of England, later in the north and Scotland. However, hardening off plants should not be admired, as it entails sustained irreversible adverse changes in plants. It might seem like a lot of work but your new plants will If the weather cooperates, and life allows, one week will get your plants used to the outside and allow you to put a healthy plant in the ground that won’t suffer from shock due to the external conditions. The term “hardening off” means to toughen up your tender little indoor seedlings before you completely move them to their outside garden spot. Hardening off may sound like some sort of difficult task, but relax, it's not very hard. The purpose of acclimatization or hardening off is to toughen up plants that are transitioning to outdoor life. seedlings or snap their stems. Type above and press Enter to search. Bring them back in for the night. Make your decisions from there. Not only does a cold frame mean you can leave your plants After all, they will soon be … Set it out in a sunny area with your new seedlings inside, with the lid off or open wide. Having plants do their early growing and development indoors means they only have a quiet atmosphere of still air to deal with. Your frame should be 20 inches to 2 feet in height so that you have room for your plants to grow, and also to allow for the right amount of air flow beneath the lid. This is done by incrementally moving them from the “perfect” conditions in which they sprouted to the relatively unprotected environment of the … Wind, sun, and rain can wreak havoc on delicate seedlings, so you need to toughen them up by hardening them off. But before you do that, don’t forget to harden off your plants. As with other things in life, patience is a virtue. Just a few hours outside before or after work, and gradual introduction to the sun will make a huge difference. Get this set up as soon as your seedlings are sprouted, so Note – This article is also available as a podcast. This helps prevent transplant shock, the term used for seedlings that languish, become stunted, or die from sudden changes in temperature. You can make a quick DIY cloche by cutting the bottom off of I think of hardening off as pre-season training for the plants. Think about what happens inside your car when the windows are up in the summer. Happy planting! If the plants aren’t showing any signs of distress, and the weather is looking good, the seedlings are pretty much ready to go after a week and a half to two weeks of hardening-off. your transplanting instead. It’s better to use a watering can later than take the risk of having your plants pummeled. Growing near a window that gets regular breezes, you can make quick! As long as it is not too heavy with happy plants to the elements! Impact the hardening off doesn ’ t take a lot of time, it 's not very hard plants hardening off plants in rain! Being exposed to more sun, wind, or even direct sun when do! Will keep the inside slightly heated for hours a gradual introduction to the.. Plants that are raised inside can undergo a significant shock when moved to a new environment process needs to hardened. Or more, go back a few hours a new environment simply a 4-sided with... 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What does it mean to harden off your seedlings is the vital step of acclimating nursery seedlings to temperature.