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What does 'Hardening Off' Mean?

Plants are growing here in a greenhouse kept above freezing at night.  But in the day, due to heat, they are much farther ahead in foliage than they would be outside.

When they arrive, you need to help them make the transition from our greenhouses (no frost, no wind, no full direct sun) as well as several days in a pitch black box to whatever your weather is.  Short of a Hurricane or Snowstorm, don't bring the plants into your home when they arrive.  Homes are for people -- too dry, too warm, etc.  If they must be inside at night, use a cool porch or garage, etc.  You're goal is to get them used to being outside -- no place on the inside of your house will do that AND they need light!

1.  If you still Subject to Frost:

     a.  Place the plants in a lightly shaded spot, protected from strong wind

     b.  Bring them in at night if FROST or a FREEZE is predicted

          1) Do not at any point bring them inside your WARM house!  Bringing them into a truly warm place is counterproductive.  You're trying to get them used to the cold!  An unheated porch or garage is ideal if you're having a freeze/frost.  Then put them back out the next day.

     c.  Do this 'hardening off' for a week, gradually moving the plants farther out of the protected spot so they also get used to wind.

     d.  Even after 'hardening off', plants will still need to be covered if you're going to have a frost and really, really covered if a hard FREEZE is predicted -- about 28 degrees or colder.


2.  If you're past Frost but very Windy or very Hot & Dry

     a.  Plants still need to be hardened off (see above).  Like a person going to the beach for the first time after winter -- the sun can burn you but also, so can the wind.  The same with plants coming out of a greenhouse where there's no wind.

     b.  They need to be gradually moved from the protected, lightly shaded spot out to full sun and/or big wind.  Even in our full sun greenhouses, it's full sun THROUGH two layers of plastic almost always with dust, etc.   You have to judge just how hot and/or how windy, as to how many days it will take.  Maybe 3-4 but if you're in a high climate, very sunny maybe a week.




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Lazy S'S Farm Nursery

2360 Spotswood Trail, Barboursville, VA  22923