Gardening

Acclimate young transplants to the outdoors

Memorial Day weekend is traditionally a big weekend for gardening. It’s the time when gardeners stock up on plants for transplanting into their gardens.

Most transplants sold in garden centers, especially the small plants in trays, have spent their whole lives growing under glass in a greenhouse.  As a result, they are quite tender and not always able to handle the conditions outdoors.

You can help your new plants get off to a good start by acclimating them to your garden. The horticultural term for this is “hardening off”.

Here’s what I do with new plants: After bringing them home, I water them then set them in a sheltered area under partial shade for the first day.

The tips of the leaves on these tender tomato plants show symptoms of sunburn.

The tips of the leaves on these tender tomato plants show symptoms of sunburn.

 

On the second day, they get moved to a spot that gets a couple hours of direct sunlight; the rest of the day they’re back in partial shade. Each day after that, I expose the plants to another additional couple of hours of direct sunlight until they get full sun for an entire day. I usually stretch the process out over four to seven days, depending on the condition of the plant.

By the time the conditioning period is done, the plants are tough enough to handle the sun, wind and rain.

If you don’t have days to wait before planting, even a couple days of hardening off is better than nothing.

 

Bob Dluzen
As a result of being a gardener for more than 40 years, 30 of those as a professional, Bob's gardening has become an integral part of his life. "It's the ever-changing seasons and the wide variety of plants and gardens that keeps me intrigued," he says. Bob lives and gardens in rural Monroe County.