What does it mean to “harden off” plants?

Hardening off plants is the process of gradually exposing plants to harsher conditions, with the end result being a plant that is hardy, healthy, and well-adapted to be planted in a new environment.

One strategy of hardening off plants is to expose the plant to slightly colder temperatures until it’s strong enough and hardy enough to be planted outside.

Many times greenhouses will harden off plants before selling them, but not all greenhouses do this. To do this, they may expose the plants to harsh conditions while they are young so that when they are big enough to sell, the transition from the greenhouse to your home isn’t as abrupt.

It’s important to keep hardening off in mind when you are planting your plants early. It’s likely that most plants will grow better if they aren’t experiencing extreme shock in their new environment. 

Whether you are planting them in landscape, planters, or hanging baskets, it’s always a good idea to make the transition from cozy, warm greenhouses to your home a gradual one.

Plants that are hardened off will be much better apt to withstand an early planting (although, a hard frost or cold snap will normally wipe out even a hardy plant, depending on the plant).

Here’s how to make the transition to your home gradual 

One way you can harden off your plants yourself is to keep the plants in their pots that you bought them with, and place these pots in mostly sun during the day outside, and then during the night when temperatures drop, taking them into your garage or home.

This allows the plants to be acclimated to your environment. Ultimately, a plant that doesn’t have as much shock and is hardier will take off and grow better in your garden!