Herb Plants Hardened Before Planting Outside

Every year we look forward to getting some new plants for the gardens. Herbs, vegetables and flowers are all welcome here. Some flowers and herbs are planted in the vegetable garden and others are sprinkled around the house in various flower beds and containers.

All the herbs seem to be growing strong, except for a little Stevia plant that we picked up at a local greenhouse. Before planting it outside, it was set in an enclosed mudroom along with the other garden plants, like tomatoes, peppers and more herbs.

We use the mudroom to harden plants before transplanting them. Hardening plants is giving them the conditions similar to what they will experience once planted outside. Plants outdoors will experience temperature swings from night to day that aren’t experienced in the greenhouse. Some gardeners will have a fan blowing on their plants for a few days before transplanting them so that they get used to a little wind action. The purpose of hardening plants is to reduce the shock of transplanting and therefore increase their chances of survival.

Small potted herb and vegetable plants being hardened before transplanting outdoors.
Small potted herb and vegetable plants being hardened before transplanting outdoors. Photo taken 2 May 2012.

The mudroom has glass doors facing south, so it warms up nicely during the daytime. However, this room gets no heat so the nighttime can be chilly. Until the weather brought us enough warmer days and nights, the plants were left in the mudroom to harden up for living in the garden. They would receive protection from harsh weather while in the mudroom and still get sunshine during the day to encourage growth.

The problem with the Stevia plant, I think, was a few cold nights. I had left the slider glass door ajar a couple of inches and the plants experienced some time in the cold, maybe colder than 35 degrees for a few nights. Since it’s a Zone 11 plant and native to South America, I figured the cold temps did in this small young plant. The little potted plants had been used to greenhouse living and the shock of going to ambient temperatures was probably too much for the Stevia plant.

Once the danger of frost had passed we planted the vegetable and herb plants in the garden. Most everything was planted the 12th and 13th of May 2012, which is a little earlier than average.