quick question re: moving seedlings outside

keevalMay 1, 2012

I am brand new to growing from seed, unless you count the seed we planted in a milk container in kindergarten, over 40 years ago.

I have started some corsican mint from seed. They are very tiny seeds (invisible in the dirt) that germinate into fragile looking seedlings. I have about 50 4" pots of seedlings. They germinated a week ago and I have been keeping them under florescent lights. Today, I moved them outside to the front porch, which gets almost 100% shade, except for a bit of filtered light starting around 4:00 p.m.

At this point, can I just leave them on the porch, 24 hours a day, moving them into direct sun little by little (i.e., more each day) until they seem ready to be planted? Or, should I bring them back inside this evening, maybe give them some more time under the lights, and put them out again tomorrow? Temps in the coming days are supposed to hit 90.

Also, will leaving them out increase the chances they pick up gnats or bugs? I don't want to bring those back inside, if so.


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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Can you leave them out? No Hardening off is a very gradual process done a few hours at a time - like for 2 hours the first day, 4 hours the second, etc.

Lots of discussions here just full of info about how to harden off plants and I linked the FAQ below.


PS: and yes on the bugs question.

Here is a link that might be useful: Hardening off FAQ and discussions

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 4:40PM
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Oops. I have left them out for about 4 hours already. I'll bring them back in now and increase the time over the next few days. Thanks, Dave.

I had looked at the FAQ's before, but got the impression (apparently, mistakenly) that hardening off was for plants that weren't cold hardy, and many of the vegetables. I didn't know if it also applied to the mint.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 4:50PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Actually applies to most everything that is being shifted from one ambient environment to another but most especially things germinated indoors and then moving to outdoors. All plants need time to gradually acclimatize to the new environment.


    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 5:24PM
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Dave is certainly giving you the correct answer, however....................I find that I can usually get away with just leaving them out there. It does depend on several things, the health/strength of the seedlings, the amount of sun, the amount of wind and the temperature range that is happening.

I put all of my broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and lettuce out on my screened in back porch and just left them there. They are about 4 weeks along, strong and healthy plants. They have been out there for three days and are very happy. Temperatures have been high 60's dropping down to high 30's at night, with light rain. They get a few hours a day of dappled sun (when it is out) I will plant them in their beds this weekend. If its sunny I may use shade cloth for a few days.

I am in WI - we wont have 90 degree weather for a couple of months.(i hope)

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 5:57PM
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keriann_lakegeneva(5B WI/IL border)

I agree with mandolls on this one. I put my plants out this week. we have had no wind, 100% overcast, and same temps as my inside growing area. I have not taken them in once they look great... I just lucked out with mother nature on this one. Past years, I had to do it gradually,this year the timing was perfect!
** I will stress they did not get ANY fullsun from 9am till 6pm the 5 days though.. just morning and evening diffused sunlight.


mandolls- this weather is crazy.. what are you doing to mother nature up there in the north!

    Bookmark   May 2, 2012 at 3:18PM
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luvahydrangea(Albany, NY 5)

Like Keriann and mandolls I put my plants out this week and they are peppers and tomatoes. I cover them at night under a plastic tunnel, but the over cast skies have been great this week for hardening off.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 8:52AM
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Set mine from my sunporch to the yard yesterday morning, Same here, 100% overcast and no wind to speak of. A light rain in the evening. They look fine with the exception of one leggy tomato seedling. Either it will stand back up or not, it's on it's own now. The other 200 seedlings were fine as of this morning.

All that being said, if I do notice they start to wilt or anything, I would bring them back in to recover a little and then once they did, bring them back out again.

They did have one half day out under the apple tree which provided dappled sun, so this wasn't thier first true foray out into the wilderness.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 12:02PM
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