Ultimate Guide for How to Acclimate Your Seedlings to the Outdoors

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Set your trays out in a protected area where you won’t forget about them.

Why is it important for seedlings to be exposed to the outdoors?

  • The air movement and light is important for development of strong stems, promoting leaf growth, and healthy root growth
  • Also important for preventing root rot, disease, and mold
  • If weather does not allow for setting your seedlings outside, you can also set them in a sunny window with a circulating fan set on low about 5 feet away from the trays.
  • Remember to rotate the trays so your seedlings will not grow crookedly as they reach for sunlight.

Why is it important to move seedlings outside gradually?

  • Young seedlings that have been started indoors, are very sensitive to extremes in light, temperature, moisture, and wind.
  • Too much shock early on can cause your seedlings to be stressed, which makes them more prone to diseases, and vulnerable to insects, all of which can cause stunting, rot, or death.
  • Introducing seedlings for limited amounts of time to the outdoors during gentle conditions will prepare them for the tougher days ahead, without killing them before they are big enough to fend for themselves.

Important things to remember

We water our seedlings FIRST THING in the morning right when we set them out.
  • Water seedlings before you set them outside for a few hours
  • Why? Pouring cold water on hot seedlings will shock and damage their delicate leaves.
  • DO NOT expose seedlings to extremes of any kind…temps, winds, water pressure, etc.
  • DO NOT set seedlings outside with a clear dome or lid on them if in any sunshine….they will literally, cook if it gets too warm! Believe me, I killed a whole tray of tomato seedlings once, because I forgot to take the dome off! I cried. A LOT.
  • DO NOT set seedling trays under a gutter or roof area where water will come crashing down as it runs off. It will blast your seedlings and …be very bad.

How Long Should Seedlings be Outside?

  • Day 1 for 1-2 hours
  • Day 2 -5 for up to 3 hours if it’s calm out
  • Try to continue every day if weather allows until your area is past it’s frost free date.

The Location: Where should I put my seedlings?

  • Find a sunny spot that is a place you pass by often.
  • Make sure your seedlings will be protected from harsh winds, but still get nice gentle air movement.
  • If wind is above 10 mph, you could place your seedling trays in a plastic tub NO LID to block the wind.

What is the best Temperature for seedlings to grow at?

  • Wait until temps are at least 50 degrees before placing tender seedlings outside for the first time.
  • Ideal temperatures for your seedlings would be 60-70 degrees depending on plant species.
How to make your own plant labels. Recycle a plastic cup by cutting into tapered strips that you can stick into the soil.

The Light: How much light do my seedlings need?

  • Bright, indirect sunlight (for seedlings that take full sun) (shade or part shade for shade plants)
  • Our seedling trays are sitting on our south facing front stoop in full sun with a little breeze.
  • It is south facing and on a warm day, this spot might be too hot
  • Since it’s only 48 degrees and there is a slight breeze, the bright sunshine and breeze will even out the temperature to one that will work well for our seedlings.

How Much Wind Should My Seedlings Get?

  • Less than 10 miles per hour
  • Think of it this way….just enough to make them wiggle back and forth a little bit!
  • It’s best to have a fan on them after they germinate while they are inside
  • This will make their first trip outdoors less of a shock!

How Long Should Seedlings be Outside?

  • Day 1 for 1-2 hours
  • Day 2 -5 for up to 3 hours if it’s calm out
  • Try to continue every day if weather allows

Why is it important for seedlings to be exposed to the outdoors?

  • The air movement and light is important for development of strong stems, promoting leaf growth, and healthy root growth
  • Also important for preventing root rot and disease
  • If weather does not allow for setting your seedlings outside, you can also set them in a sunny window with a circulating fan set on low about 5 feet away from the trays.
  • Remember to rotate the trays so your seedlings will not grow crookedly as they reach for sunlight.

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