How to Harden Tomato Plants in 5 steps

How to harden tomato plants

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How to harden tomato plants

Hardening your tomato plants is a gradual process and can lead to shrinking, dryness or death of your seedlings if not handled carefully well.

Leaves and stems of young Tomato plants are fleshy, soft and vulnerable and therefore will wither when exposed to hot climatic condition unprepared.

Therefore, they need to be gradually integrated into the new environment else, they may become dry and die due to exposure to unfavourable conditions.

How to harden tomato plants
Tomato seedlings

Even as human, imagine living your whole life in an air-conditioned house and one day, you find yourself in a very hot environment, you definitely won’t find it funny

That’s how tomato plants feel when hardening of the plants starts taking place.

Here, we will walk you through the 5 key steps on how to harden tomato plants.

We will also share with you, materials used in hardening your tomato plants, reasons why you should harden your tomato plants, and at what age you should start hardening your tomato plants.

We start with materials needed in hardening of tomato plants.

Materials needed for hardening off tomato plants to take place

Table of Contents

There are not much of the material needed to harden your tomato plants except for the following few.

  • A bowl, this could be substituted with bags like nylon and sacks. 
  • Materials for construction of your canopy or shades.
  • Planting cubes or planting sacks.
  • Watering can
  • Plates for transferring of water and
  • Knife for the opening of bags.

Now, here is how to harden your tomato plants

How to harden your tomato plant in five steps.

#Step 1 of How to harden tomato plants: Build a Canopy-like shield outdoor for the tomatoes

When you’ve germinated your tomato seedlings indoors, whether you have a greenhouse or you’ve done them in planting cubes or some other methods.

The tomato seedlings just like any other seedlings will need some time to adjust to the new environment. 

Hardening is a gradual process, prepare a shield outside the nursery bed.

A canopy-like structure with each side of the structure open, for air movement and little penetration of sunlight.

A tree with wide branches can also serve this purpose, such as mango or it’s like. 

You must ensure that the branches are wide enough to guard the tomatoes.

The shade will serve as a static protective cover for the seedlings when they are introduced outdoor.

How to harden tomato plants
Greenhouse tomato nursery

#Step 2 of How to harden tomato plants: Gradually introduces your tomato seedling to the outdoor environment

Introduce the tomato seedlings to the new environment, bring them out gradually mostly in the morning hours.

On the first day, they should be kept outdoors for only one to two hours and returned to the indoor nursery.

They can be put in a pot, ground or bowl, whichever method is more suitable to you. Use it.

Water the plants to keep them moist.

#Step 3 of How to harden tomato plants: Moderate the outdoor temperature

Whether you’re going to be putting the tomato plants in pots or on the ground.

To bring seedlings in from a warm indoor environment to what is a changing outdoor environment where you may have cold evenings, warmer days.

It can shock the plant and therefore, it’ll either dry or die.

You must regulate the outdoor climatic condition. 

The shade may not be enough here, therefore, you need to add extra protection.

Here is how it works, if by morning, the temperature becomes harsh/hot, you need to cover the sides of the canopy or mango tree, ensure that the sides directing sun to the seedlings are covered.

When the temperature becomes colder, remove the covers so the seedlings can access sunlight to warn their leaves, this way they will produce well.

#Step 4 of How to harden tomato plants: Protect the seedlings from wind.

Wind movement is troublesome to the seedlings, this is because their stems are young and not strong enough to hold off the wind.

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To protect them from the wind, either you avoid putting them out on a windy day or you shield them during wind movement.

You must be careful because, if they are kept under a mango tree, the tree will also add more pressure on the seedlings in an event of wind.

It is better to leave them indoors on windy days. It could appear troublesome and stressful, but it’s the best way to harden the plants off, so that way they’ll be successful.

How to harden tomato plants
Tomato farming with protective overhead cover

#Step 5 of How to harden tomato plants: Give the seedlings time

Give the seedlings a little time to be able to get used to the outdoor environment so that it’ll build up strength, to be able to go into the ground or a pot successfully. 

Usually by about six days or so they’ll have gotten used to the environment and the temperature changes and then you can go ahead and plant them after 9 to 10 days. 

By this time your hardening processes will be over and your plants are ready for the actual planting.

Here are the conditions necessary for the hardening of your tomato plant to take place successfully.

Before hardening your tomato, here are what you need to do

Prepare the new environment 

It is risky to start hardening your tomato plants without first preparing the new environment.

Provide coverings and shades for the seedlings, it is expected that the temperature may not remain the same every day, you need to provide shade on conditions where the temperature is observed to be high.

Provide water source, during hardening, you are expected to water the seedlings gradually as they adapt to the new environment, a water source needs to be in place.

Advantages of hardening your tomato plants

How to harden tomato plants

  • The main purpose of hardening your tomato plants is to prepare the plants before transferring them to the original growing field.
  • Hardening allows the plants’ opportunity to get used to the new environment before actually experiencing the new environment.
  • It prevents disastrous effects such as dryness or death which could have occurred as a result of the seedlings’ inability to withstand the challenges of the new environment.
  • It promotes less risk of farming.
  • It encourages high productivity. 
  • Though it is more stressful, it ensures secure farming, for both the plant and the gardener. 

The last part of this work will be about the age of tomato plants before hardening the plants, we hope that so far, you have learned the best way to harden your tomato plants. 

How old should the tomato be before hardening the tomato seedlings?

Hardening off your tomato plants (seedlings) takes place between 4 (four) to 5 (five) weeks after sowing the seed in your nursery beds.

By this time the tomatoes have germinated and are strong enough to experience and withstand the challenges of a new and more challenging environment. 

Wrapping up

Hardening off your tomato plants involves the process of strengthening your seedlings to survive a hotter and more challenging environment or condition by gradually integrating the plants (seedlings) into the new environment. 

If you follow the steps above, you will harden your tomato seedlings successfully without any issues.

We have made the steps simple so you can easily understand how to harden your tomato seedlings the right way.

If you have any other questions about how to harden a tomato plant or any other type of seedling you can drop your question on the comment box below.

Before you go, here is a bonus read for you, it explains the numerous values in sugar and how to manage your sugar level, you would love it.

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CHEERS!

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