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Baby plant boot camp

After you bring home your plants from the nursery, follow these steps to ensure they live long and prosper.

All babies need a sheltered environment to grow up in, one that supports and protects them from the harshness of everyday life. Your infant plants are no different.

While plants don’t have to worry about doing taxes or meeting deadlines, they do have to deal with wind, sun and brutal Texas summer temperatures. There are steps you can take to put those plants through bootcamp and ensure their survival.

The first step is to “harden off” plants when you bring them home from the nursery. Similar to how plant growers introduce seedlings from the green house to an outdoor environment, you can set your pots outside in the shade for a few days.

After that stage them approximately where you intend to plant them to see how well they respond to the light levels. Water them routinely and if you notice they’re flagging or drooping (especially in the morning after a hot afternoon), put them back in the shade or more gradually ramp up the number of hours they’re in the sun.

If they seem acclimated after a week, go ahead and plant them. While drought tolerant plants can go a long time without water, they can use extra support when first planted into the ground. After all, their roots are still pot-sized and possibly accustomed to being watered regularly.

To ensure success, follow the easy 3-2-1 plant establishment routine.

By gradually increasing the time between waterings, you can help them build endurance, encouraging them to grow longer roots for better access to moisture and nutrients underground.

Sarah Gorton
Sarah Gorton
Sarah Gorton is a Planner with the SAWS Conservation department. She is passionate about bats and native plants, with a particular fondness for horseherb! Sarah has completed certifications through Texas Master Naturalist and Native Plant Society. When she isn't working on her research on the use of native grasses for uptaking pollutants at UTSA, she can be found making stained glass or hanging out with her two Chihuahuas.
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