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Mountain Gardening: Tips for Hardening Off Plants

Brought to you by Lowe's Creative Ideas

Follow these simple tips to help young plants get accustomed to the mountain climate before planting.

grow light

Just like people moving to the Mountain region from a milder climate, greenhouse-grown plants need time to get used to their new surroundings. That's why I always give my tender transplants a week to get acclimated to their outdoor environment before planting.

This process is called "hardening off," and it helps pampered plants get ready to make the move from indoors to outside. Here's how I introduce my plants to the great outdoors:

potted plants

After daytime temperatures warm sufficiently, plants get moved to a semishaded and protected area on the north side of my house for several hours each day. I move them into the garage at night. Each day I gradually increase the amount of time and sunlight they receive.

potted plants in chair

One of the perfect ways to provide plants with dappled sunlight is to set them under a piece of patio furniture. A see-through chaise longue keeps new leaves from burning.

While plants are "hardening off," I cut back a bit on watering to help toughen plants and to reduce transplant shock.

milk jug in dirt

Another way to reduce transplant shock is by planting on a cloudy day, covering plants with a homemade cloche made from a plastic gallon jug, and watering with a diluted liquid fertilizer.

plant under milk jug

After a few days of being under cover, the plants are ready to get growing. What special methods do you use to acclimate plants to your garden? Please add your ideas here.