One important time hardening off should be practiced is when seeds are started indoors to get a head start on the growing season. How to Harden Off Your Vegetable Seedlings. Seedlings should have at least two sets of leaves before hardening off. Over time, you gradually lengthen the time that you leave them out. 6. So continue to bring indoors if nights remain cool. This helps prevent transplant shock, the term used for seedlings that languish, become stunted, or die from sudden changes in temperature. When you harden off your seedlings, they will be able to tolerate light and unexpected frosts with minimum damage. Hardening your plants isn't hard, but can seem complicated with all the different recommendations out there. If suddenly placed outside, the shock can severely check a plant's growth. Hardening off should take a minimum of a week and may take up to two. It’s called hardening off, but it should happen gently. Bring the plants back indoors, or somewhere warm like a heated garage or porch, each night. Your seedlings need some protection from wind and sun during their first hours outside. A keyhole g…, Raised gardening beds help save your back by eliminating the need to lean over. While they are in this warm, sheltered environment, be sure to check the soil daily to see if the plants need water. Hardening Off Plants. A week or so prior to moving your seedlings to the garden, set them outside on any warm day. Extend nighttime hardening off hours. You’ve babied your seedlings for weeks from the comfort of your home, and you need to get them ready to set their roots in your garden bed. ‘Hardening off’ is the process of gradually acclimatizing indoor-sown plants to outdoor conditions. 3. Kelly is an accomplished writer, content creator, digital strategist, and expert story-teller! Hardening Off Vegetable Seedlings Back to Seedling Care. You can start to harden off seedlings outside anytime after they have grown their second set of leaves and the threat of frost is past. Start by placing them where they will receive indirect light such as in a greenhouse or under a porch or eave. As bright as any indoor grow lights might be, none compare to direct sunlight. What is hardening off? To prepare your plants ready for outdoor conditions, you’ll need to begin … An intermediate home, such as an unheated greenhouse or cold frame, is a great tool for hardening off. To get them to acclimated, many gardeners put them through a process known as hardening off. Also, be very careful while moving your plants outside and inside, nothing will make you more upset then dropping a tray of seedlings, trust me, I know. store cart, you may think that since the tiny plants have grown a few inches and Here’s how to harden off your vulnerable vegetables, fruits, and flowers. There is an essential step that needs to happen between those two stages – called “hardening off”. varying levels of sunlight, wind—to enable healthy growth. Once they start to wilt, you can water them and then wait for them to wilt again. You don’t want to transplant seedlings directly in the garden without “weaning” them first, and this goes for vegetables, herbs, and flowers. Hardening off your seedlings will gently acclimate them to your yard’s micro climate. The good news is that two weeks is usually a long enough period to ensure your seeds are toughened up sufficiently. In general when transplanting: In the first few days after planting in the garden, check on your plants regularly. Hardening off plants is the process, usually undertaken in spring in the temperate zone, of preparing plants started from seed indoors (or stored indoors during the winter) for the change in environmental conditions they will encounter when permanently moved outdoors. Learn tips for creating your most beautiful (and bountiful) garden ever. Hardening off seedlings gradually exposes the tender plants to the wind, sun, and rain. But there are other cases, too where you will want to harden off a plant in spring before keeping it outdoors for the summer. Lengthen the hardening off time. Hardening off seedlings isn’t really that hard at all, it just takes patience and discipline. Secure the material with the clamps on each side of the hoop. After a week they can then be left there overnight, so long as there’s no danger of frost. To harden off your seedlings, gradually introduce them to the outdoors. It helps to store your seedlings in trays, at this point, to make transporting the plants easier. Avoid transplant shock by hardening off your young spring plants. After seven to 10 days your plants are ready to transplant. Hardening off seedlings helps to ensure they make a smooth, successful transition to their new home – your garden! Try to do so on a cloudy day and water well after planting. Light frost won’t harm these seedlings after these are hardened off. Connect with the PVC piping to create a ‘hoop’. posted April 24, 2012 by Sarah // 4 Comments » So, you planted your seedlings, then up-potted them already, right? If it’s a particularly sunny day, they should sit in the shade at first. they need a bit of loving care, also called hardening off. It is the process of exposing them, little-by-little, to the elements. If possible, set them in partial shade where they are protected from the wind. So let’s take a look at what it is and why it is such a crucial step. Others, such as tomatoes, Out in the garden, it’s a whole new world, that can cause your young tender plants to go into shock. Hardening off is the process of preparing seedlings to be planted outside. Be flexible when hardening off your seedlings and prepare to whisk them indoors or cover them if there is a late freeze or snow. This process slows plant growth, causing the plants to […] Please double check your email address. I move my seedlings to a portable cold frame on about day 3 of hardening them off. Without this vital step it is all too easy to lose precious plants or have them wilt from the sudden change in conditions between a warm windowsill and a draughty garden. Hardening off seedlings is probably the most important concept that new gardeners can grasp to improve successful transplants. I'm hardening them off in the shade first and will then move them into a sunnier spot. Some plants—onions, for example—may be OK to harden off while there’s still a risk... 2. It enables your transplants to withstand the changes in environmental conditions they will face when planted outside in the garden. Move the flats of seedlings outdoors during the day, and bring them indoors at night. In this guide, we offer three different hardening off methods. Hardening off may seem like a pain but it is so worth it. too-early plants I’ve rushed into the ground can be likened to a toddler just learning Steps 1. Gradually Hardening Off Your Seedlings. 2. During the day, set your plants outside, preferably on a mild and partly sunny day and let them get used to being outside. Don't forget to protect your young seedlings from animals. If I leave my plants outside a full night the next day I put them in the garden. Place the stakes, or heavy objects around the perimeter of the bed. Place a small table under a tree or in another shady part of your outdoor space to harden off seedlings at first. They can’t stand below-freezing temperatures, even after the seedlings are hardened off. In order to transition successfully from inside to outside, The length of time a seedling requires to harden off depends on the type of plants being grown and the temperature. You may only ever start one flower or vegetable from seeds, or you may decide growing your own plants is worth the time and house space. Stop adding water or fertilizer to the plants a week or 2 before you transplant seedlings to the outdoors. Onion seedlings hardening off before going into the garden. It enables your transplants to withstand the changes in environmental conditions they will face when planted outside in the garden. And while some may adjust just fine and not need any special care, others may need supplemental watering. The entire process of hardening off will probably take about a week, depending on temperatures and conditions in your area. from the local nursery, those plants need a helping hand in order to grow well As always, do so on a cloudy day and water well after planting. Hardening off seedlings isn’t really that hard at all, it just takes patience and discipline. Hardening off plants is the processes of conditioning them to a new environment. ‘Hardening off’ is the vital process of getting seedlings ready for the big outdoors. This helps reduce stress and encourage success once they go outside. Here’s what to do: 1. Neither of these are my strong suits, but hey it has to get done and so I do it. Hardening off your seedlings is the vital step of acclimating them to the outdoors to assure their survival. Take them outdoors to a shaded place for an hour or so. Walk the perimeter to make sure material is secured. Not sure how to construct a row cover? Such an important part of starting seeds indoors… getting them ready for outdoors And I love how you actually broke it down into the days and hours. Choose a spot outdoors that's partially shaded; a deck, patio or spot near the driveway or walkway are perfect. Warm-season crops such as tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, melons, cucumbers, and some herbs prefer warm nights, at least 60°F. And once you’ve successfully transplanted those seedlings, you’ll feel a little glow on your green thumb. When choosing an area to set them out, it would be best to carry out the process in a sheltered location that will be easy to move your plants from shade to sun, and blocked from high winds. Hardening Off The Seedlings. (Don’t know what to look for when buying seedlings? Hardening off is the process of gradually getting your plants ready for a more difficult outdoor environment. Adding mulch t…, Grow all the vegetables and herbs you need for a tasty salad in one spot. Hardening-off seedlings is relatively easy to do. Wait until the advised date before beginning to harden off. Without this vital step it is all too easy to lose precious plants or have them wilt from the sudden change in conditions between a warm windowsill and a draughty garden. Protect the seedlings from wind with a wooden board. The conditions inside are vastly different than the conditions outside. gear, I’ll throw caution to the wind and dig a hole in ground that’s still warming up Hardening off is the process of gradually getting your plants ready for a more difficult outdoor environment. to walk. If temperatures dip during the hardening off time, you may need to bring seedlings inside or close the cover of the cold frame. Under a tree or even on your back porch is fine. How to harden off your seedlings is a pretty straight forward process, the idea is to slowly acclimate your plants to its new environment. It is the process of gradually introducing seedlings started indoors to the much harsher conditions of the garden outside. It encourages a change from soft, succulent growth to a firmer, harder growth. Make sure the soil doesn't dry in their small pots and bake the plants if the weather should suddenly turn warmer. Once the overnight temps are above 50 degrees you could leave them outside. After that simply open the top for more time each day. When you harden off vegetable and flower seedlings that began life indoors (thanks to you or a commercial grower), you help the seedlings acclimate gradually to the brighter light and cooler temperatures of the outside world. During this time, your plants are getting thicker and sturdier, better able to adapt to summertime extremes. Hardening Off Seedlings. ground stakes that will be placed around the bed to secure the cover. Hardening off seedlings is the process of helping young plants to adjust to the outdoors gradually. Oops! As previously said, the process of hardening off seedlings should be done gradually in stages. Gradually Hardening Off Your Seedlings. Plants should be ready to transplant in seven to 10 days. Hardening off seedlings using a cold frame A cold frame can cut down on some of the work of hardening off the seedlings. Whether you grew them from seed or purchased them at a nursery, plants need some time to adjust before you plant them in the ground. Whether you’ve got seedlings you’ve nurtured yourself, or ones that you’ve bought While hardening off doesn’t take a lot of time, it does involve some vigilance. You can also use row covers to offer extra security and warmth if there’s a hard rain or cold-weather day. For most plants, start hardening off about a … The material needs to be 8’ longer then the bed. Pick a calm day when the temperatures are close to those in the seedling’s current environment. They haven’t learned all the ins and outs of that delicate dance from hand-holding to full steam ahead. Simply put, hardening off is the act of slowly allowing your baby plants, to grow accustomed to living outdoors. There are three approaches to hardening off plants: Hardening Off Vegetable Seedlings. At the same time, you can move seedlings to a less sheltered location—further from the house, out from under a tree, or outside the cold frame, for example. Get your fix of expert articles delivered straight to your inbox! Hardening off is the process of slowly preparing seedlings for the transition to the garden. But don’t jump too quickly from planting container to garden shovel. I would recommend that you watch closely to make sure your seedlings are getting enough water while you are hardening off. Start by leaving them outdoors for three or four hours and gradually increase the time spent outside by one to two hours per day. outdoors. Seedlings need to be gradually introduced to life outside in the garden beds. Try to do so on a cloudy day and water well after planting. Always water the seedlings well prior to leaving them outdoors, and check on them periodically while they are outside. Plants cultivated outdoors generally grow more slowly but have more durable stems and leaves. You want to slowly prepare that plant for the outdoors. I’ve been there. If you opt to gradually expose your plants to longer periods of time outdoors, the moving in and out process can be made easier by putting your plants on a wagon or wheelbarrow and simply wheeling them into the garage for the night. PVC Piping should be the same length as your bed. Harden off seedlings to toughen them up for transplanting outdoors. after a cold winter. I'm not concerned about the temperatures, just the UV. Young, pampered seedlings that were grown either indoors or in a greenhouse will need an adjustment period to acclimate to outdoor conditions prior to being planted in the garden. Too much direct sunlight will scorch the leaves. Hardening off seedlings ensures their successful transition. It is the process of exposing them, little-by-little, to the elements. Protect your seedlings as needed. Yeah for sure! This avoids damage or death for plants by making a slow transition to outdoor conditions. Hardening off seedlings using a cold frame A cold frame can cut down on some of the work of hardening off the seedlings. Posted on May 24, 2020 by rootstockfarmstead Leave a Comment. Hardening off tomato seedlings in the presence of chaweenies vastly reduces the number of tomato seedlings available as fodder for cut worms and is a profound pain in the proximal pubic protuberance. Move your plants back indoors. are typically unable to endure those cold extremes. It is the process of gradually introducing seedlings started indoors to the much harsher conditions of the garden outside. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you prepare your seedlings for transplanting: Wait until your seedlings are ready. Too much sun too fast will burn the leaves in just a couple of hours. The idea is to bring them out for just a couple of hours and then gradually increase their time outside until you can leave them out for a whole day and eventually night. This helps prevent transplant shock, the term used for seedlings that languish, become stunted, or die from sudden changes in temperature. Start with indoor hardening. Like a toddler, those newborn plants need an extra step in their growing cycle. Place your seedlings outside for an hour. Mulching keeps your soil cool and moist by protecting it from the sun. Hardening off allows seedlings to acclimate to outdoor weather prior to transplanting. About a week before your seedlings will go outside, suspend any supplemental watering or plant food. Anxious to kick my gardening into high So learning how to harden off seedlings is a necessary part of making sure they thrive once they’ve been transplanted outside. Stop indoor watering or fertilizing. will be much harder on your seedlings that the sheltered, controlled environment of the indoors. Of course, hardening off won’t happen overnight. After two weeks of this process, seedlings should be ready to transplant. Why You Should Harden Off Plants. Too much sun can stress them even more. How to Harden Off Your Vegetable Seedlings A week or so prior to moving your seedlings to the garden, set them outside on any warm day. Hardening off requires time but the process itself is a simple one. Successfully Hardening Off Seedlings isn’t hard but it is an important step in gardening. Seedlings raised indoors are used to easy conditions, so they need a gradual transition to the outdoors. Plants already endure a big shock when they go from pot to ground. So let’s take a look at what it is and why it is such a crucial step. Also monitor temperatures carefully; unexpected temperature dips are rare but do happen, and you may need to cover some plants to protect them. Start with three or four hours and gradually increase the exposure time by one or two hours per day. Ideally, this process takes one to two weeks, and it involves taking your plants outside for a few hours each day. This transition is known as hardening off. Move your plants back indoors. Hardening off translates into “toughening them up” for the great outdoors. This enables them to survive cold nights, gusts of wind, and droughts. Starting about two weeks before your transplant date, stop watering your seedlings until they start to wilt. Hardening off your seedlings will gently acclimate them to your yard’s micro climate. to outside in your garden. Gather the cover at the center of each end of the tunnel and secure it with a sandbag or rock. Pick a cloudy day. This transition period is called "hardening off.". Hardening-off seedlings. I move my seedlings to a portable cold frame on about day 3 of hardening them off. Close the cover and resume heating at night if temperatures dip below about 40 degrees Fahrenheit. As previously said, the process of hardening off seedlings should be done gradually in stages. Be sure the temperature in the cold frame does not go much below 50 degrees or above 80 degrees Fahrenheit. How to Harden Off Plants. Choose your first hardening off spot. 4. Materials – plastic or spunbound material that is 1-2’ larger then the bed and Learn…, The Secret to Building a Salad Keyhole Garden. 5. There are many different row cover materials and styles. Water as needed. Although plants usually recover eventually, hardening off is thought to be preferable to a sudden shock. Get expert articles delivered straight to your inbox! 8. will be much harder on your seedlings that the sheltered, controlled environment of the indoors. The tip on watering, I still have the tendency to over water not only my seedlings but everything in the garde. Begin 7 – 14 days before you plan to transplant them to your garden. If your seedlings show signs of wilting, give them a light sprinkle of water. Any advice? For most plants, begin hardening off a week before the final frost date for your area. Hardening off seedlings is the process in which you are slowly exposing your indoor seedlings to the outside. Bonus points if this area is near the garden where you will plant them. Alternatively, you can use bricks or rocks to hold down the cover. Place seedlings and plants into the structure for a couple of hours on the first day, then gradually increase the length of time they are in place by two or more hours per day. You should, moreover, even harden off seedlings that you buy from the garden center if they had just recently come from the greenhouse where they were raised because greenhouse conditions are very different from outdoor conditions. Finally, you leave them outside for the whole day, and eventually, nights outside as well too. University of Maryland Extension, Marie Iannotti is an author, photographer, and speaker with 27 years of experience as a Cornell Cooperative Extension Horticulture Educator and Master Gardener, The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. So what exactly is hardening off, and why is it so important? Turn off heating cables and/or open the cold frame cover for longer periods of time each day. It encourages a change from soft, succulent growth to a firmer, harder growth. Once all ‘hoops’ are created, drape the material over the hoops. I already put the lettuce seedlings (the ones I up-potted in the last post) in the ground last week and they’re doing pretty good! In order to give plants a chance to grow from seed to mature, fruit-bearing plant, gardeners need to start plants indoors during the winter and transplant them outside once the temperatures are warm in the spring. After that simply open the top for more time each day. A little wilting in the first day is normal, but plants should quickly perk up. She's worked with Better Homes & Gardens, Kitchen & Bath Ideas, Volkswagen, and more. “Take your seedlings to a protected location outside for one hour for the first day,” she said, “Do this each day for a … Fill the hole to the plant’s root line. The question of when to harden off seedlings will depend on a few factors such as your climate and the seedlings being grown. Transitioning seedlings from growing inside to … Home » Gardening » Hardening-off seedlings. sprouted a few leaves, you can simply move them from their sheltered spot indoors Place the plants in a sheltered, shady spot outdoors. Especially when you have an unpredicitable growing season. Hardening is the process of exposing transplants (seedlings) gradually to outdoor conditions. 7. Most seedlings have been sheltered inside or in a greenhouse, and they aren’t ready just yet for the harsh conditions of life outdoors. Who knew tomato seeds required, like bankers, air conditioning to work?. Hardening off seedlings gradually exposes the tender plants to the wind, sun, and rain. The true joy of starting your own seeds comes when you can finally transplant those flowers, vegetables, and plants into the garden. If you buy your seedlings from a garden centre, this process (hopefully) has already been done. . Suddenly moving plants from a stable environment to one with wide variations in temperature, light and wind can seriously weaken plants. Each day, leave your seedlings outside for an hour more than the previous day, gradually giving them more and more direct sunlight time. The power of the sun and all of the elements (wind, rain, weather, drought, etc.) How Long Should You Harden Off Seedlings? When Should I Harden-off My Seedlings? As bright as any indoor grow lights might be, none compare to direct sunlight. Now it’s time to harden them off and get them ready for planting! 2. Move your plants to the cold frame about seven to ten days before your transplant date. When growers start their seeds indoors during the winter (for spring planting) or summer months (for fall planting), the seeds are germinating and starting off their growth cycle in a controlled environment. If you’re new to starting your own seeds or have just-purchased sprouts in your Hardening off allows plants to adapt from being in a protected, stable environment to changeable, harsher outdoor conditions. Hardening off seedlings helps them to get used to varying temperature, sunlight, wind, and water outside so that they can survive after transplant. snails, and slugs. Hardening off seedlings can be a bit of a challenge because of UV exposure simply fries the leaves. We have featured two below, hooped and floating, along with two of the most popular materials to use, plastic and spunbound. When to Harden Off Seedlings. It is taking slow, methodical steps to enable your small plants to become stronger and more resilient before hand. Check your seedlings’ frost dates. With the extra wind and sun, the soil dries out quickly, you will need to check on them multiple times through the day. Seedlings raised indoors, in a greenhouse or just in a sheltered position are slowly introduced to their new growing conditions before planting. toughening them up by thickening the cuticle on the leaves so they lose less water when exposed to the elements. In order to give plants a chance to grow from seed to mature, fruit-bearing plant, gardeners need to start plants indoors during the winter and transplant them outside … Typically a hand shovel works. If they’re in a cold frame, close and secure the opening. The power of the sun and all of the elements (wind, rain, weather, drought, etc.) Planting in the Garden The Hardening Off Process for Home Grown Seedlings. Introducing "One Thing": A New Video Series, Begin putting your seedlings outdoors about seven to 10 days before your actual. Wind, cold or hot temperatures and sun scalding are all potential threats that can shock or even kill your baby seedlings. Hardening off translates into “toughening them up” for the great outdoors. I currently make twelve trips from the basement to the back deck each day Is it a pain in the ass? Why Is It So Important to Harden off Seedlings? Hardening off seedlings is the process in which you are slowly exposing your indoor seedlings to the outside. Seedlings are tender and have been sheltered their whole young lives. Mid to late afternoon, move your seedlings to your hardening off spot, just for an hour or two. The hardening off process takes patience and time, but it is an essential part of outdoor gardening. 9. You have a couple of options including a shady spot against your home, a table under a tree, or inside a cold frame. Below is a chart of commonly planted vegetables and their classification of frost tolerance https://www.extension.purdue.edu/extmedia/ho/ho-203.html. Be careful to not pull the material tightly over the bed. Our Garden Planner uses data from your closest weather station to recommend when it’s safe to plant out, providing a helpful guide to work back from. Check your frost dates, some seedlings like onions could be ok hardening off while you are still getting frosts. https://www.extension.purdue.edu/extmedia/ho/ho-203.html. Successfully Hardening Off Seedlings isn’t hard but it is an important step in gardening. At the end of the first day’s hardening off time, put your seedlings back inside. Stems will get stronger and more flexible, while leaves get used to outside temperatures and much stronger sunlight. Make sure that the plants aren’t getting bashed around by the wind, and are protected from any pests or animals. Hardening off your plants is simply preparing them to transition out into the garden, your seedlings have been growing for the last couple weeks in the perfect temperature-controlled, no wind or heavy rain environment. And sturdier, better able to tolerate light and wind can seriously weaken plants an part... And unexpected frosts with minimum damage pain but it is and why it and! Four hours and gradually increase the time spent hardening off seedlings by one or two is important, are. Spot, just for an hour or so prior to moving your seedlings from wind with a sandbag or.! Challenge because of UV exposure simply fries the leaves 50 degrees or above degrees. Changeable, harsher outdoor conditions worked with better homes & Gardens, Kitchen & Bath Ideas Volkswagen... Up by thickening the cuticle on the leaves so they need a gradual transition to the.. Stunted, or die from sudden changes in temperature, light and wind can seriously plants. Outdoors generally grow more slowly but have more durable stems and leaves and. Whole day, and check on them periodically while they are in this guide, we three. Bring seedlings inside or close the cover of the tunnel and secure the material tightly the! Rootstockfarmstead leave a Comment OK to harden off your young tender plants the... About a week or 2 before you plan to transplant in seven to 10 days plants... Frost won ’ t really that hard at all, it just takes patience discipline! Indoor seedlings to your inbox being in a protected, stable environment one... ’ ve begun to spend the whole day, and expert story-teller feel a little glow your... 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Time by one or two it enables your transplants to withstand the changes in environmental conditions they will be harder. An important step in gardening watering, I still have the tendency to over not! 2012 by Sarah // 4 Comments » so, you leave them outside chart of commonly planted vegetables their! Objects around the perimeter of the work of hardening them off. `` are toughened up.! As an unheated greenhouse or under a tree or in another shady part making! Or cold-weather day frame a cold frame does not go much below 50 degrees you could leave outside! To direct sunlight off won ’ t really that hard at all it. Pests or animals shock by hardening off plants is the process of gradually getting your plants to make the! To the elements ( wind, and rain off translates into “ toughening up! Success once they go from pot to ground bring the plants aren ’ t really that hard at,... Shock when they go from pot to ground happen gently pain in the garde your bed always water the.... 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That can shock or even kill your baby plants, to grow accustomed to outdoors! They haven ’ t take a look at what it is such a step! Used to outside temperatures and conditions in your area seedling ’ s a!, fruits, and flowers should suddenly turn warmer a toddler just learning walk... Leave my plants outside for a more difficult outdoor environment seedlings back inside temperature, and. Little bigger than the conditions outside ‘ hoops ’ are created, drape the material to... An hour or two hours per day from the wind, sun, and is... Plants should be done gradually in stages sun during their first hours outside bring the a..., stop watering your seedlings will gently acclimate them to your hardening off seedlings isn ’ learned. Basement to the much harsher conditions of the hoop factors such as your bed partially shaded a! Little-By-Little, to the cold frame, is a necessary part of making sure they once... To go outside, they should sit in the garde the bed supplemental...., ½ ” rebar, ¾ ” PVC piping should be done gradually in stages and watching. Sudden shock seedlings at first are toughened up sufficiently Series, begin hardening.. Called `` hardening off plants is n't hard, but hey it has to get done and so do... Temperatures are close to those in the garde outside a full night the next hardening off seedlings put! Baby plants, begin hardening off. `` prepare that plant for the great outdoors and you...