Having a hobby such as growing your favorite fruits and vegetables is very fun. You can literally reap what you sow and enjoy the benefit of your hard work. If you’re a gardener and love spicy foods, you must try growing your own pepper. It will feel very rewarding!
Apart from that, growing pepper plants has many interesting points. Pepper has a lot of varieties, and you can grow different peppers side by side. This diversity of pepper plants will give color to your garden.
The key to success is knowing how to harden off pepper plants in their initial stage. It is a necessary treatment for the seedlings before they can become mature. This process includes various steps and preparations before moving them outside.
You need to know a few things to properly harden your pepper plants! And here is how to harden off pepper plants effectively!
Do You Have to Harden Off Pepper Plants?
Growing pepper plants takes many steps, from indoors to outdoors. In this transitional period, plants need to be acclimated to grow well in outdoor conditions that are very different from indoor ones.
Changes in the environment around the plants can make them fail to grow if we don’t harden them off properly. Also, pepper plants will result best when properly hardened off in the early stages of growth. So, hardening off pepper plants is necessary.
When to Harden Off Pepper Plants?
Determining the right time to start hardening off your pepper plants depends on when the seedlings are scheduled to be moved outside. You also need to consider the outdoor temperature.
Seedlings are ready to be moved outside after 7 to 8 weeks of planting and usually when they reach 6 to 8 inches tall. Regularly placing the plants in a warm place for 2 to 4 weeks before moving them to outdoor garden will give them enough time to get used to the outside conditions. Therefore, hardening off pepper plants can start after 5 to 6 weeks of planting seeds.
Make sure the temperature outside is also stable. Pepper plants can’t tolerate cold temperatures. However, seedlings are even more sensitive to higher temperatures. The process can be tricky, but the plants will grow well over time.
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How to Harden Off Pepper Plants Seedlings?
The process of how to harden off pepper plants can be affected by many things, such as the temperatures, wind, and the climate in your area. However, these are easy steps to harden off pepper plants that you can follow, considering that your environmental conditions are normal.
#1 Start indoors
Begin the hardening-off process by indirect sunlight exposure to avoid the seedlings being overwhelmed by the high temperature caused by scorching sun.
You can put the plants near a window to get an indirect late afternoon or early morning sun exposure for about 2 hours a day during the first three days. Placing seedlings indoors can also protect young plants from the strong wind and animals that like to eat young foliage.
#2 Increase sun exposure gradually
After three days of indirect sunlight, the plants will get used to the warmth. You can increase the time to 3 or 4 hours of indirect sun daily.
You can also start putting plants outside to get 10 to 20 minutes of direct sunlight and increase the time gradually. Do this step for about two weeks. Don’t leave the plant in the sun too long. The young leaves may get sunscald if the sun is too bright!
Apart from training your plant to get used to the sun, you may also need to train your plant to get used to the wind outside. This can be done by exposing your pepper plant to a gentle indoor breeze.
#3 Check the temperature regularly.
If plants grow well after two weeks of regular sun exposure, it’s time to put the plant outside overnight. The temperature outside at night can be unstable, unlike indoors.
To easily monitor the temperature regularly, you can use a mini thermometer with a sensor connected to the plant. That way, you can ensure that the temperature around the plants is above 55°F and below 95°F.
If it’s not possible to get above 55°F at night outside, you are better off placing your young pepper plants indoors.
#4 Move pepper plants outdoors
When the hardening-off process is almost over, and the outside area where the plant will be placed is safe, your pepper plant is now ready to be transplanted into the ground or transferred into a larger container outside.
Remember to put the plant in a well-protected area outside to avoid any unwanted disturbance!
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How Long Do You Need to Harden Off Pepper Plants?
Harden off pepper plants takes 2 to 4 weeks normally, depending on the conditions of the final planting location. If the place is warm at night, gets enough sun during the day, and the weather is not rainy, the pepper plants will harden off faster, maybe in about two weeks.
On the other hand, the hardening off process may take longer if the outdoor conditions and temperature are not favorable.
Can I Transplant Mature Pepper Plants?
The purpose of hardening off pepper plants is to adjust the plants to the outside conditions. Transplanting pepper plants when they are young or mature is not a problem as long as they grow well outside.
Even when the plants harden off fast, it’s okay to keep them in a container until they mature and then transplant them. What must be considered is to keep the position of the plants in the same place during the hardening-off process to ensure the plant is accustomed to the climate outside.
Hardening off pepper plants will prevent the plants from having shock when moving to a new place or dying from sudden changes in conditions. It’s always better to prevent than to deal with any bad situation that may happen to your pepper plants.
We can’t control the climate, which can affect the hardening-off process of the plants, but we can use the right equipment to help ensure it goes well.
So, get your gardening tools ready and start planning your gardening schedule now! Once you’ve mastered the pepper plants planting process, you may want to start learning how to harden off tomato plants!