Proper acclimation increases plants' chances of survival, encourages healthy growth, and ensures a thriving garden.
Sudden exposure to harsh sunlight, temperature fluctuations, and different soil conditions can shock plants and hinder, even stunt, their growth.
- Timing: Plan the acclimation process during mild weather conditions. Avoid extreme temperatures (especially important if nighttime temps are on the cold side like they've been all spring this year), strong winds, or heavy rains, as these can stress the plants or even kill them.
- Gradual Exposure: Start by placing the plants in a sheltered outdoor location, such as a porch or under a shade tree, where they receive limited sunlight. Expose them for a few hours each day, gradually increasing the duration over a week. This allows plants to adapt to the outdoor climate and sunlight intensity.
- Sunlight Intensity: Outdoor sunlight is typically more intense than indoor lighting. Begin by exposing plants to morning or evening sun, gradually increasing their exposure to midday sunlight. If you see signs of sunburn, such as yellowing or wilting leaves, adjust their location.
Important note about acclimating shade plants: keep them in a cool, low-light location while acclimating. Shade plants that go from nursery/greenhouse to sunshine and then back into a shady environment will get confused. Acclimate plants in an environment that mimics their final location. Shade plants don't mind acclimating in a cool, low-light garage, for example.
- Temperature Variation: Indoor environments have more stable temperatures compared to outdoors. Expose plants to cooler outdoor temperatures first, such as during the evening or on mild days, and gradually expose them to warmer temperatures. Protect plants from frost by bringing them indoors or covering them at night, if necessary.
- Wind Exposure: It's a lot windier outside than in a nursery. Place plants in a sheltered spot, gradually increasing their exposure to gentle breezes. This helps plants develop stronger stems and roots to withstand wind stress.
- Soil Conditions: Soil composition and moisture levels vary between indoor pots and outdoor garden beds. Before transplanting, loosen the garden soil and mix in a good compost. Gently tease plant roots to encourage outward growth. Water thoroughly and maintain adequate moisture levels at all times.
- Patience: Acclimation is a gradual process, and different plants may require varying durations for adjustment. Be patient and allow plants the necessary time to adapt fully before exposing them to harsh conditions or planting them.