A week or more before you plan to move your plants outdoors, start the transition process, known as hardening off. Reduce frequency of watering and greenhouse temperatures, to help ease your plants into the shift.
Watering: Your seedlings can go a little dry between watering before they’re set outside. Bottom watering is best, since overhead watering can cause foliage diseases. As you water less frequently, check the plants. If they don’t droop, they’re probably strong enough to start the transition.
Temperatures: The 85-degree temperatures that you needed for your seeds to germinate should be brought down to around 65 degrees for seedlings. A thermometer is the easiest way to monitor the temperatures in the greenhouse, so you can make adjustments with heating and ventilation.
A visit to the Porch. An unheated, protected area will allow plants to gradually adjust to cooler temperatures. A porch or enclosed deck can be a great transition space between the greenhouse and garden. If you ventilate the space, keep the plants away from drafts. If such an area is not available, you can also shelter your plants under an evergreen or in the shade of your house.
Field Trips: Take your plants outside on mild days when there is little wind or precipitation. Frost or fabric covers can be used for extra protection. Just be sure that the plants aren’t being pressed upon directly.
For container plants, wait until it’s in the high 50’s or low 60’s to move them outside. If it’s dry, sunny, and hot, put the plants out later in the day, so there will be some shade and cooler air. A slight drizzle is good, if the air isn’t cold.
For plants being transplanted in-ground, soil temperature is even more important than air temperature. So test the soil temperature for a few days. Remember, nighttime soil temperatures will be lower, and shouldn’t drop below 60 degrees.
The Pot Lifter makes it easier to move your heavy pots from the greenhouse.
Hardening off is a simple process, requiring just a little time and a lot of love. Gently ease your plants into outdoor living, and they should quickly start thriving in their new environment.
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