why do my plants go limp outside for hardening off? pics

srg215(6b nj)May 7, 2012

these plants are perky inside, but when i bring them outside to harden off (started yesterday), the leaves wilt so quickly. they perk up again when i bring them back inside. they are not rootbound and have adequate water.

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hankjrfan(6a)

I would have hardened them off, or gotten some wind on them at least, before the size they are. Are you sure they are getting good water? That bottom right cup looks dry and heavy with pete. Sometimes with it you think it is well watered but only the top is, it's so spongy.
Other than that, I'd say too much weather at once.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2012 at 3:01PM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

srg215, how large are the cups? Do the cups have any sort of drain holes?

How and how much do you water?

    Bookmark   May 7, 2012 at 3:47PM
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srg215(6b nj)

some of the cups are 18 oz and some are 10 oz. i used miracle grow potting mix, so it's not too much peat. i have 4 drain holes in the bottom of each cup and if i dig my finger in, the soil is good & moist. it's not too much weather at once because they went limp w/in an hour of being outside on a mild, overcast, not windy day.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2012 at 4:54PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

It can still be too much weather - too much exposure all at once - especially since the perk up once back inside. They are large plants to have to be adjusting to such a change - even overcast. Overcast days still have plenty of UV light, especially when compared to inside.

But I would also think that they may well be rootbound in the cups.

If they aren't rootbound then try them outside under cover sitting in a shallow tray of water for a couple of hours and see how they do.

Dave

    Bookmark   May 7, 2012 at 5:40PM
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srg215(6b nj)

so by "under cover", you mean like put them under the table instead of on the table?

    Bookmark   May 7, 2012 at 5:46PM
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robeb_gw

Why do you say they're not rootbound?

The plants (especially in the smaller cups) look to me like they need larger containers right away.

Other than a bit of droop those plants look healthy. I'd get them into something with more root room and put them outside in the shade, work them up to more sun daily and let them dry out between waterings.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2012 at 6:02PM
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srg215(6b nj)

they're not rootbound because i just moved them into bigger cups about 2 weeks ago and they weren't rootbound in the smaller cups.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2012 at 6:04PM
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robeb_gw

I'd at least get the plants in the 10 oz. cups into something larger.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2012 at 6:25PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Uhhh, plants can easily become root bound within 2 weeks, even less. Happens to mine in the GH all the time. There is only 1 way you can know for sure and that is to lift it out of the cup and look at the tap root ball itself. If you water it well first you can slip right back into the cup with no problems.

Under that lattice work table should work fine. It will provide some shade but still let a fair amount of light in. If they still droop quickly then the odds are gonna shift heavily to the rootbound side. Sorry.

Dave

    Bookmark   May 7, 2012 at 6:31PM
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srg215(6b nj)

i'm planning on transplanting them into the garden on thursday anyway. thanks dave.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2012 at 6:52PM
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luvahydrangea(Albany, NY 5)

I think they just got too much exposure to the outdoors too soon. Even on an overcast day with ideal conditions, that first time they go out, can be a little shocking. I think they look great otherwise though. The first day out can be the hardest on them, I bet they'll be fine. Good luck! :)

    Bookmark   May 7, 2012 at 8:03PM
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sconticut(6b)

Did you put a fan on these plants when they were just little critters?
At what temperature did you grow these plants when they were little?

Just curious.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2012 at 9:12PM
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capoman(5a)

Agree with too much exposure. The first day or two of hardening, even in shade and little wind will often cause a bit of limp, the reason they should only be out a very short time initially. I usually find that cooler temperatures most often is the cause of limp initially until they are hardened more. When I put mine in the greenhouse initially, they tend to limp a bit in the morning, then perk up when the temperature rises. Humidity may be a factor as well.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 9:19AM
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behlgarden(9)

I second the thought of robeb, the plants are too big for size of cups. I would transplant them if weather conditions are good. here in CA, such size plants will start to push for flowers.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 1:00PM
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srg215(6b nj)

i want to get them into the ground, but the forecast is saying that the nighttime lows will be in the mid/upper 40s. is that too cold?

    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 1:35PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Mid 40's is bottom line but can they be covered somehow if planted. How long before the nights will warm up into steady 50's? A week? I wouldn't worry about them. They will tolerate the cups that long with frequent watering. Much longer? Then you'll have to choose between transplanting them yet again or risking them in the ground.

Dave

    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 2:26PM
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srg215(6b nj)

thanks dave. forecast shows that it'll be one week until the nighttime temps are steady 50s, so i'll wait it out. maybe i'll put a few in the ground since i have about 10 plants and just a small backyard garden.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 2:29PM
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geeboss(7)

digdirt has it right! your young plants need to adjust to being outside slowly for a few days and also by placing them on a tray filled with water they will be able to balance the transpiration from the air/wind to compensate the loss of moisture thru their leaves.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2012 at 7:58AM
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tdscpa(z5 NWKS)

I think the problem is your Miracle Grow potting mix.

I would shop for some Fertilome Potting mix. It is a Canadian product that does not have the timber, lumber, bark and twig crap in it that "Miracle if it grows" does.

It does contain a very few twigs, that I can easily find and discard when I am filling my starting trays. (I germinate in paper towels inside plastic sandwich bags on top of my tropical fish aquarium (because my growing space in my basement is too cool for germination and I have had poor germination results in starting mix on heated mats), and transfer to starting tray cells when the sprouts have roots and start to turn green.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2012 at 11:02PM
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dickiefickle(5B Dousman,Wi.)

Simple they need water

    Bookmark   May 21, 2012 at 3:25AM
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barrie2m_

Totally normal experience as stated earlier. I think that if you restricted full sun exposure when you noticed this situation you handled the situation properly.

But this can re-occur. I set a few hundred plants (well hardened plants) in my farmers' market box van (total darkness) around noon so I wouldn't need to load them in the rain pending. The next day at the market the sun was bright and the tomato plants wilted. Lesson: Even a day out of sun and you need to readapt plants to it.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2012 at 8:59AM
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