How to Harden Plants

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To Harden your plants use one of the following methods. Hardening your plant will allow it to withstand the wind and rain come summer, and be less susceptible to drought conditions.

Extend the Time Outdoors Gradually

  • Begin 7 - 10 days before you plan to transplant into the ground.
  • Place plants in a sheltered, shady spot outdoors. Leave them for 3-4 hours and gradually increase the time spent outside by 1-2 hours per day.
  • Bring plants back indoors each night.
  • After 2-3 days, move the plants into the morning sun. Return the plant to the shade in the afternoon.
  • After 7 days, the plants should be able to handle sun all day and stay out at night, if temperatures stay around 50 degrees. Make sure the soil does not dry out.
  • After 7 -10 days your plants are ready to be planted outside. Plant on a cloudy day and be sure to water well after planting.

Use a Cold Frame

  • Begin 7 - 10 days before you plan to transplant into the ground.
  • Indoor grown plants can be moved and left in a cold frame.
  • Open the cold frame cover for gradually longer periods of time. Start with 3-4 hours and gradually increase the time by 1-2 hours per day. If your cold frame has any heat, be sure to turn off during the day
  • Close the cover at night, if temperatures dip below about 40 degrees at night and you have heat turn the heat back on
  • After 7 -10 days your plants are ready to be planted outside. Plant on a cloudy day and be sure to water well after planting.

Withhold Water

Allowing seedlings to wilt has the same effect as gradually exposing them to the elements.

  • Begin about 2 weeks before plan to transplant into the ground, stop watering your seedlings until they start to wilt.
  • At this point, water normally, and then wait for them to wilt again.
  • After 2 weeks your plants are ready to be planted outside. Plant on a cloudy day and be sure to water well after planting.