• Alison Murray

Things to do in the garden during lockdown day 25: start hardening off

Updated: Apr 22, 2020

All those lovely seedlings and cuttings I've nurtured indoors and in the greenhouse need to acclimatise to outdoor conditions before being planted out. Hardening off seedlings and tender plants should be done gradually so they don't do into shock.

Hardening off tender plants, cuttings and seedlings

Hardening off exposes tender plants to outside temperatures, wind, sun, and rain. It might seem like a lot of too-ing and fro-ing, but it toughens the leaf cell walls so they are more resilient and lose less water when exposed to the elements. This prevents transplant shock, when seedlings' growth slows or they die from sudden changes in temperature.

Once seedlings have grown several sets of new leaves take them outside on warm days, for a few hours and increase this to the entire day, bringing them in at night until you know there is no chance of cold temperatures or frost. If you've got a cold frame gradually lift the lid wider and then take it off during the day, then start to leave it ajar overnight. Hardier plants like brassicas can be hardened off more quickly than the sensitive souls.

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