If you’ve read any of our pepper growing guides, you know that we always grow our seeds indoors. This means that the pepper plant lives the first weeks of its life indoors.
At some point we have to let the sun do the work of our grow lights. This means that the pepper plants must be placed outside in the open air. This process is called hardening off and should be done gradually to avoid stress to the plants.
In this article we share our method for properly hardening off pepper plants. We’ll look at when to start the process, how to gradually increase sun exposure, and what options are available for growing plants in the ground that can’t be brought indoors. Let’s go!
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Hardening off pepper plants.
What is pavement?
Many gardeners are starting to grow peppers indoors to extend the growing season and get a healthy harvest. After a few weeks of growing indoors, the plants naturally need to go outside to mature and bear fruit.
However, the climate inside is very different from that outside. We keep the temperature constant, the wind at bay and use the grow light. Here are some things that will be new to the plants when they hatch:
- Temperature difference
- Direct exposure to sunlight
- Wild Animals
Since plants have to adapt to all these factors, we slowly introduce our peppers to the elements. This process can take 2 to 4 weeks depending on the final location of the planting.
In our growing guides, we always recommend exposing your peppers to as many of these factors as possible indoors. One of the methods we use is an oscillating fan that simulates the wind. This ensures a stronger stem while the plants are young.
Another way to train young plants for peppers in the open air is to open a window at night. This allows slightly cooler air to reach your houseplants and exposes them to cooler temperatures sooner, better preparing them for the natural temperature fluctuations outside.
When moving outdoors sweet pepper plants
When should I start hardening off my pepper plants? This depends on two things: the outside temperatures and the proximity of the planting date.
In general, start hardening off pepper plants about 2-4 weeks before moving them to a permanent location. This will give you enough time to gradually increase the time you spend outside until the plants are acclimated.
Paprika plants hardening off in the open air.
There is no strict timetable for moving plants outside, but we do have some guidelines to help you fit your plants in properly.
Tips for hardening peppers
Before we start hardening off your plants, I want to give you some helpful tips to keep in mind. They are all learned through trial and error, and knowing them now will save you a headache!
- Start in the shade. Choose a shady spot (or a cloudy day) for the first few days your plants are outside. The plants do not tolerate much exposure to direct sunlight. If you live in an area where it is not often cloudy, start with a shady spot in the morning or afternoon for the first 2 or 3 days.
- Avoid windy days. In addition to avoiding direct sunlight in the early stages, you should also avoid windy days. Your pepper plants will be relatively weak if you grow them indoors. Check the weather to see if it is windy and go around it.
- Expose young plants to the wind indoors. Like I said, a light breeze inside can help prepare plants for normal outside winds. Start as soon as the seedlings have sprouted.
- Do not leave young plants on the ground. Young, tender pepper plants (and other vegetables) are a treat for some wildlife. Rabbits and mice are particularly fond of young foliage and can quickly infest your plants. So keep the plants up high and preferably in sight while they heal to avoid disaster!
- Use a shade cloth to shade plants in the ground. If you are moving your plants to a sunny location to plant them in the ground, hardening off can be a challenge. If you don’t have a place in full sun where the plants can gradually move, moving them to an open bed in the garden can be a shock to the plants. I recommend using a floating cover to partially shade the plants. Start with a few layers and gradually remove them over several days. This limits the exposure to the sun until the plants are used to full sun.
- Keep an eye on the temperature. High temperatures can be overwhelming for a young plant. Peppers do well at 65-90°F during the day and over 55°F at night.
Message: If you use the balcony to harden, be careful. Microclimates can form and cause very high temperatures locally, even if the ambient temperature outside is normal. In a nutshell: Use a thermometer!
Do you have a cat? They also like to eat pepper leaves, so be careful!
With these important tips in mind, you should be ready to bring out your pepper plants.
How to dry peppers (in steps)
Note that these steps are only general guidelines to follow. However, depending on the climate, temperature, wind and precipitation can all have an impact, so use the tips above to stay alert.
How to harden peppers
We usually start ripening peppers 2-4 weeks before they are permanently outside. This range of dates depends on your specific climate. It doesn’t matter which containers the peppers are in, but we prefer to store our peppers in large 1020 containers because it’s more convenient.
Avoid direct sunlight during the first days of drying. Choose a shady spot and avoid windy days. These factors put more stress on the plants than necessary. After about 2 hours in the shade, bring the plants inside until the next day.
After about 3 days in the shade, the plants should get some sunlight. We usually start with 10 to 20 minutes of sunshine before shading the plants again. Plants adapt quickly and sun exposure can be increased by an additional 10 to 20 minutes per day. Keep an eye on leaf fall and sunlight and adjust the number of hours of sunlight accordingly.
Temperatures are crucial during this process. Inside, the plants had a uniform temperature, but outside, the temperature fluctuated. Use a simple thermometer to check the range and avoid temperatures above 95°F or below 55°F.Cooking Thermometer
After the plants have hardened off for about 2 weeks, they should be prepared for the night.
Tip: Keep your plants up high and away from rabbits and other hungry herbivores that like to feast on your plants!
After 2-4 weeks, your peppers should move outside and be ready to continue growing!
During the drying process we continue to fertilize and replant in due course. Plants can be cured in any container they are in. The point is to adapt the plants to the outdoor climate.
I hope this article will help you organize your peppers for the growing season. If you have any other questions about dipping peppers, let us know in the comments.
One of the original ones! When Calvin isn’t gardening or learning about peppers and botany, he might be traveling to new places or making music.
frequently asked questions
Do pepper plants need to be hardened off?
Allow the seedlings to harden off before transplanting. When seedlings are about 7-8 weeks old, they should be 6-8 years tall. Ideally, they have buds, but no open flowers. Allow plants to harden off by reducing the daily temperature to 60-65°F/16-18°C for one week prior to transplanting.
How to transplant sweet peppers outdoors
When transplanting into the garden, first add a teaspoon of sulfur to the wedge. Gently grasp the roots and place them in the hole about 1 above the established root line, so there are more plants under the soil than in the pots. Peppers will develop additional roots from the now underground stem.
When can I plant sweet peppers outside?
About 3 to 4 weeks after germination, the pepper plants should be ready to be transplanted into larger pots. As soon as the plants start their 3rd growth cycle. Ready to produce true leaves, they are ready to be transplanted.
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