How to Harden Off Plants

Before going into the garden, your plants need to gradually acclimate to outdoor growing conditions through a process known as “hardening off.” Wait to begin this process until danger of frost has passed – it’s important for annual plants to avoid all cold weather! Hardening off should take about one week, unless chilly temperatures prolong the process.

Here’s what to do:

Day 1-2: Find a protected place in your yard with an eastern exposure, so plants will only get a few hours of morning sun. For the first two days, put plants outside from morning until evening, bringing them indoors overnight and watering as needed.

Day 3-5: Move plants into the garden to sit, still in their containers. Water plants thoroughly and leave them outside in the garden overnight unless a frost is expected, in which case you should bring plants in or cover them for the night.

Day 5-7: As long as the weather is warm enough (65-70 degrees F is ideal), you are ready to plant in the garden!* Water thoroughly after planting, and expect to see new growth within 2 weeks.

*Remember: If any frost is predicted, bring your plants inside or cover them. Waiting for the right planting time gives your plants the best chance for success in the garden!