Answer: Hardening off is a term used to describe acclimating your plants to weather in the great outdoors. It doesn't matter whether you're hardening off new seedlings or tender plants that have wintered over indoors. When spring weather has arrived, place the plants outdoors in an area protected by direct sunshine and strong winds. Leave them outdoors for only a few hours the first day, and continue to take them outdoors each day for increasing amounts of time. By the end of a week your plants should be ready to spend the night outdoors. Once they've become accustomed to being outdoors, you can begin subjecting them to short periods of direct sunshine, increasing the time they spend in the sun each day. I always start mine out with morning sun and gradually introduce them to the hotter mid-day and afternoon sunshine. The entire hardening off process should take 10-14 days.
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