Gardening Articles: Flowers :: Annuals
Gardeners: Start Your Seeds! (page 3 of 3)
by Bruce Butterfield
6. Hardening Off
Before making the transition to the real world of the garden, transplants need to toughen up. One week before you begin hardening your plants outdoors, cut back the amount of water you give them, stop their fertilizer habit and keep temperatures slightly cooler.
Harden transplants gradually. Start by putting them outside on a day when temperatures are above 50°F. Leave them out for just half a day (or less) in a sheltered spot protected from strong winds. Be sure to keep the plants watered, as they dry out more quickly outside.
Over the course of a week, extend the amount of time your transplants spend outside and increase their exposure to sunlight, wind and a range of temperatures. At the end of the week, your plants should be ready to go into the ground. A cloudy, warm, windless day is best for easing the plants' transition into their new homes.
Photography by National Gardening Association (top) and John Goodman