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Hardening: Chili plants get used to sunlight

Chilis in the Sun

If you plant all your chillies outside from one day to the next, you’ll lose the trouble you’ve had with your plants so far. Wind, rain and sun would cause unprepared damage. The plants have to be hardened first.

Chilis get used to sun, wind and weather

The reason for hardening is that your chilli is not yet ready for the harsh outside climate. What is missing is a cuticle. This is a wax layer whose task is to protect against water loss through evaporation. It also makes the green more resistant to wind and weather.

In addition, there is a much more severe problem: lack of sun protection. There is usually no source of ultraviolet light in the home. Only a small part of harmful UV light passes through window panes. Because your chilli have not been exposed to the aggressive, short-wave rays so far, no protection needed to be built up.

In full sunlight the leaves would wither after a few minutes due to sunburn. This is surprising for many young gardeners. After all, plants need a lot of sun and light for a vital photosynthesis.

Preferred plants must first be accustomed to direct sunlight. During the adaptation phase, the plants form a natural protective layer, similar to sun milk.

This applies not only to chilli, but also to other vegetables such as tomato plants.

How long do chili need to harden?

Chili plants need about a week to become familiar with sun, wind and fluctuating temperatures. From April, or better May, you can start with hardening. In April, before the ice saints, it is absolutely necessary to bring the chillies back into the house overnight because of the threatening night frost.

A few tips on how to proceed:

Day 1:
In the morning or early morning for about an hour in the shade at a place sheltered from the wind.

Day 2:
Same place, same time. This time for two hours. Do not wait until noon, because then the sun burns the strongest.

Day 3:
Three hours outdoor stay, in semi-shade

Day 4:
Four hours to get outside. This time the vegetable plant can get a few minutes of direct sunlight.

Day 5:
Well, who knows how long the plant can harden in the sun today. Anyone who has counted the number knows the answer: five hours.

Day 6:
Put it out in the early afternoon and leave it there until dusk.

Day 7:
Place in the garden or on the balcony, check at night. If the temperature has dropped too much and the plants have suffered, the chilli can be brought back into the house again.

Do you have a green, red thumb? What experience have you had with hardening chillies? How many days do you have?