It has been a challenging year to harden-off transplants with cold temperatures, rain, then sunshine. The transition from the greenhouse to home gardens involves changes in light, temperature and wind. Vegetable transplants benefit by a gradual "hardening" off period before they are transplanted into the customer’s garden. Gradual exposure to outdoor growing conditions and reduced watering at the end of the growing period with some protection from wind and temperature but full exposure to light can increase the survival rate of planted transplants.
It is not unusual to discover outbreaks of pests such as spider mites, thrips, whiteflies and aphids in greenhouses full of flowering bedding plants scheduled to be sold within a week or two. If you discover an insect or mite problem within a couple of weeks of sale, we suggest using a safe, effective contact spray that will knock down the infestation to provide good protection for a couple weeks. If infestations are localized, spot treating may be best. Once plants are planted outdoors in a garden, aphids, mites, whiteflies and thrips are not usually a problem.
Plants that are slightly overgrown or need some shaping may benefit from being manually pinched. Pinching is often used to increase branching, shape plants and reduce plant height. Pinching removes the apical dominance of the shoot which prevents branching. Apical dominance results from the production of auxin, a natural plant hormone by the terminal growing point and young leaves. Removing the terminal growing point and young leaves (pinching), removes the source of auxin and allows dormant buds below the pinch to grow.
Over-watered Plants: Stunted plants may be a sign of over-watering. Plants can be easily over-watered during overcast, cloudy weather, when plants with different water needs are grouped together or by an inexperienced waterer. Over-watering deprives roots of oxygen and increases susceptibility to root diseases such as Pythium and also leads to algae growth and infestations of fungus gnats and shore flies. Check roots regularly for signs of over-watering by gently removing plants from their containers.