Who Cares About Hardening Off Plants?

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The answer to the question of who cares about hardening off plants should be: YOU. It is crucial that you understand this process before planting seedlings into the soil outdoors or before returning plants kept indoors during the cool weather back into the outdoor beds or pots on the patio or door steps.


According to Acount.com hardening off plants is defined as the process, commonly performed during spring as temperatures rise in the climatic zone in which you live, which allows the plants which have been started or over-wintered indoors to adjust to the new conditions they will encounter outdoors . The purpose of hardening off is to prevent negative impacts to the plants from sudden changes in sun exposure and the coolness of evening.  


Seedlings which have been started indoors, in a greenhouse or in a protected flat must be hardened off just before transplanting to the garden. These tender young plants will experience wind, hard rains, sun, and unless they are hardened off, the cuticles on the leaves will lose too much water, causing the plant to suffer or die. Hardening off also prevents short to the plant when it is transplanted.


There are three different schools of thought about the process of hardening off. We will look at all three and you can decide which best suits your situation.


Gradually Increased Periods of Outdoor Exposure


This method of hardening off requires that you begin about two weeks before your transplant date with the process. You simply place the seedlings or plants in a protected, shady area outdoors. You might place them under a shade tree or on a shaded patio. At first, leave the plants outdoors only two hours per day and gradually increase the period of exposure by one hour per day. Bring the plants back inside each night.


After three days of protected hardening off, you can move the plants into a spot which is exposed to morning sunshine but return them to shade in the afternoon. At seven to 14 days of hardening, the plants can remain in the sun all day and even stay outside at night as long as the night temperatures do not become lower than 50 degrees. Be sure the soil doesn't get too dry and that the sun doesn't bake the tender plants.


Cold Frame Hardening Off


This method requires moving indoor plants and seedlings started indoors into a cold frame and left there for the hardening off process. It requires about one week to harden the plants and in some cases as much as 10 days. Over the hardening off process, turn off the heat and gradually open the cold frame for longer and longer periods of time. Begin opening the frame for only two or three hours and increase the time by one hour per day. If night temperatures drop below 40 degrees, turn the heat back on and close the frame cover. When using this hardening off method, try to transplant on a cloudy day and water the plants well as soon as they are transplanted.


Water Withdrawal


The last method is to allow seedlings to actually wilt before transplanting. I am not a fan of this method because I think it stresses the plants far too much. But it is a method used by some gardeners and landscapers.


Two weeks before your planned transplant date, stop watering your plants and seedlings until the leaves wilt. Then water normally but wait again until the leaves again wilt. After two weeks of this stressful process the plants and seedlings should be ready to withstand the outdoor conditions. Again, try to transplant on an overcast day and water well upon transplanting.

Fun at Home and Garden Shows

You can have tons of fun at home and garden shows held in or near your location. If you live in a large city, there are certain to be several such events each year. Even in small towns, you'll find at least one local event and probably several within easy driving distance which you can attend.


Part of the fun of home and garden shows is learning about the new products and technology available for use in your home and garden. Vendors of products and services use these events to showcase new products, new technology, and new services, often offering deep discounts to those who submit orders for their offerings during the home and garden show. There are representatives of the various vendors available to explain exactly how you can benefit from their products or services.


Learn About Environmental Friendly Products


If you'd like to learn about new, environmentally-friendly ways to create a perfect landscape, attending a home and garden show is perfect for you. You can see displays of new types of fencing, decking, patio furnishings, tools, and even big-ticket items such as solar panels at these events. You can learn about new types of soil which holds moisture, mulch created from recycled products, and so much more to help you create a landscape you'll enjoy which will also help nature.


Part of the fun at home and garden shows is seeing new varieties of plants which have been developed in recent years. Hybrid plants which offer new color options, insect resistance, or more beautiful flowers than previously available varieties are showcased so that the public can become familiar with these plants and perhaps choose to incorporate them into their own landscaping and gardening efforts.


Some of the products that can be fun to see at home and garden shows include new tools and implements which can streamline your gardening chores. As vendors release new gardening tools and improve existing implements, they bring these items to showcase and often offer prize drawings that can be entered to give you a chance to win some of the products.


Get In On The Door Prize


Speaking of prizes, most home and garden shows offer door prizes which can range from plants to gift cards to major items. Be sure to check out any chance to enter prize drawings and you might be able to take home a fancy new barbeque grill, some plants, or even a nice cash or gift card prize.


At some events, many of the vendors at home and garden shows offer little gifts for visitors who stop to visit their booth. These can range from ink pens embellished with the name of the vendor to notepads, seed packets, drink holders, cups, key chains and other small items which are well worth collecting and taking home with you.


Fun at home and garden shows at a convention center or arena near you can be a great way to spend a weekend day or afternoon. You are certain to take home some new ideas you will want to use in your own garden.