Hardening off Garden Plants – Don’t overlook this step

Many people don’t realize the importance of hardening off your gardening plants. When you harden off or adjust the plant to direct sunlight and wind slowly you improve its chances of being healthy or producing faster and better crops.

Why is hardening off important?

Most plants are started in greenhouses in controlled environments. Direct sunlight is buffered by glass or plastic and often times there is little or no wind for the plant to get used to. If you subject the new tender plants to bright sun and wind it causes stress to the plants, burns leaves and can even kill them. Any stress or plant damage leaves the plant open to diseases and insect problems later on.

How to harden a plant off.

  • Start slowly. I usually put the plants under a tree for the first day with dappled lighting for a few hours and a gentle wind.
  • The next day the plant will get 1 ½ of sun, preferably in the morning when the sunlight is not as direct.
  • Each day I add an hour. If the plants look like they are wilting I put them in a little shade. After 7 days the plants are ready to plant in the ground.

Tips:

  • Plant you plants in the late afternoon and preferably on a cloudy day.
  • Keep a cover handy just in case you have a plant that seems to need a break from the sun in the next few days.
  • You can harden the plants off in the garden. This is a little more work and I find its easier to do this before you plant. In the garden you need keep the plants shaded most of the day and uncover them an hour more each day. I usually uncover them in the morning and evening when the sun is weaker and keep them shaded from noon to 5 pm. It will take 7 days to acclimate them to the sun and wind.

Your plants will grow better hardening them off.  It takes a little time but the end result is worth it.

Tags: hardening off garden plants, improving your new plants harvest, healthy plants, insect control

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Denise

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