How To Acclimate Your Plants

How To Acclimate Your Plants

Chris
8 minute read

Whether you are buying plants online, bringing them home from a store, or even if you are bringing your plants outside for the summer and then back inside for the fall, acclimating your plant babies is a vital and often overlooked step. In this article, we will explain the importance of acclimating your plants and provide tips to help you do so.

 

a photo of a person unpacking their new plants

 

How to acclimate new plants purchased online

Acclimating plants purchased online is very important because they just travelled great lengths to be with you. Between being packaged, being in transit with the courier, and being delivered to your home, they are subjected to a fair amount of stress. The great thing is that plants are super resilient and will bounce back, but following these steps below will help.

  • Get your plants inside to room temperature as soon as possible if they were dropped off outside of your home.

  • Carefully unwrap and remove all packaging. If materials were used to keep the plants’ soil in place during transit (paper, wood excelsior, cotton fibres, etc.) make sure you remove them as well so that the soil can receive oxygen.

  • Prune back any dead leaves. Keep in mind that plants shed their old leaves constantly, even during the shipping process. If the damage extends to the entire plant, reach out to a customer service agent with photos as soon as possible for advice and resolution.

  • Prune back any damaged leaves. While every online shop is going to do their best to prepare your plants for their journey home to you, some minor damage is to be expected. If the damage is extensive, reach out to a customer service agent with photos as soon as possible for advice and resolution.

  • Decipher if the plant needs water. Online retailers try to avoid shipping freshly watered plants as it increases the possibility of moisture issues and rot while in transit. If the plant arrives and the soil is bone-dry and the leaves appear a bit droopy, you can give the plant a bit of water. Avoid completely soaking the soil at this time, as it may be too much shock for a plant that was just in transit. Instead, give the plant a small sip of water, give it a day to absorb, and if it’s still a bit thirsty the day after you can give them another small sip.

  • Quarantine your new plant someplace away from the rest of your current plant collection for a week. During this time, inspect daily for any signs of pests or other issues. Although our plants go through several quality checks weekly, it’s possible that pests can appear from hiding dormant in the soil. It is important to keep in mind that no house, botanical garden, greenhouse, nursery, online retailer or boutique plant shop is guaranteed to be pest-free. The sooner you can accept that pests are going to be a natural part of owning house plants, the sooner you can learn the signs of an infestation and how to control any outbreaks!

  • Depending on the type of plant you purchased, after quarantine, you can place the plant in the desired location provided that it is someplace that provides the right growing environment for your plant (light, humidity, etc). This cuts back on the amount of moving around you might do if your plant doesn’t seem happy, which causes constant stress. If you are unsure, you can always search online or reach out to a customer service representative for assistance.

  • Repot (optional) Some collectors like to do this for different reasons. Some just have a specific soil that they know performs well for their needs, while most do it as a precautionary step for pest control. We recommend that you still allow your plants a week to acclimate to their new home environment first, as repotting generally causes stress to the plant.

  • For succulents: Most succulents produce a layer of epicuticular wax, or “farina”. During shipping and handling, farina may rub off in transit causing the plant to look “blotchy”.

  • For air plants: Air plants are hardy and shipping is usually a breeze for them. They can be watered once they are acclimated to room temperature.

 

a photo of a person shopping for house plants

How to acclimate new plants purchased in-person

Though you were able to shop and pick out your desired plants in person, these precautionary steps to help you acclimate your new plants are very important.

  • Prune back any dead or damaged leaves

  • Decipher if the plant needs water. You can always ask a sales representative when you’ll need to water the plant next, but in general, if the top ⅓ to ½ of the soil is dry you can give the plant a drink.

  • Quarantine your new plant someplace away from the rest of your current plant collection for a week. During this time, inspect daily for any signs of pests or other issues. Even if you’ve already checked for pests while you were shopping, it’s possible that you might have missed something. But also, pests can appear afterwards from hiding dormant in the soil.

  • Monitor your plant's overall health and condition. Your home is going to be different environmentally than the store or greenhouse you bought it from.

  • Depending on the type of plant you purchased, after quarantine, you can place the plant in the desired location provided that it is someplace that provides the right growing environment for your plant (light, humidity, etc). This cuts back on the amount of moving around you might do if your plant doesn’t seem happy, which causes constant stress. If you are unsure, you can always search online or reach out to the shop for assistance.

  • If desired, you can repot after a few days if the plant seems stable.

 

Plants left in partial shade to acclimate to the outdoors

How to acclimate plants for outdoor growing

Growing plants outdoors in the spring and summer is a wonderful idea. They’ll receive tons of natural sun, warmth, and humidity. We recommend waiting until mid-spring when overnight temperatures drop no lower than 11 degrees Celsius. If you are someone who would like to grow their plants outdoors in the summer, make sure you follow the steps below.

  • Keep your eye on the weather forecast. Look out for any overnight temperature drops especially early in the spring season. You never know, sometimes mother nature likes to throw us some curveballs. Also, be cautious of rain – too much water suddenly can shock your plants and cause root rot issues.

  • Slowly introduce your plants to the outdoors day by day. Too much sunlight at once can burn your plants’ leaves. You can start by bringing them outside for an hour a day, then 2 hours, then 3 hours, and so on.

  • Be mindful of the types of plants you have and what their lighting needs are. Many tropical foliage plants live under forest canopies and won’t necessarily appreciate all-day full sun exposure. They may instead prefer a spot that receives partial shade.

  • Succulents will love all the direct sunlight they can get but can also get sunburned, so slowly introducing them to full sun exposure is important.

  • For air plants: xeric species can handle full sun, mesic species will appreciate partial shade.

 

house plants after being brought back indoors for the fall

How to acclimate your plants to come back indoors

Start thinking about bringing your plants back inside around late September or early October. Bring sensitive tropical foliage plants in when temperatures dip below 15 degrees (hardy tropicals can come in when the temperature dips below 11 degrees). Bring in succulents when temperatures dip below 9 degrees. Bring in air plants when temperatures dip below 5 degrees.

  • Prune back as needed. You may not realize how much your plants have grown outdoors until you bring them back inside! Cutting back any undesired growth can help the plant reserve energy for deserved growth and will help the plant to get through the fall and winter months.

  • Inspect for pests. Your plants are not only exposed to environmental changes when grown outdoors but pests as well. Check for aphids, whiteflies, and red spider mites. Treat as needed.

  • Cut back on watering. Now that your plants are no longer receiving all the sun and warmth of summer, the soil will take much longer to dry out after watering.

  • Consider grow lights and/or a humidifier, especially if this was your first time growing your plants outdoors and your indoor growing conditions vary drastically from the outdoor growing environment that your plants just spent months bathing in.

  • Stop fertilizing your plants if you’ve been feeding them in the spring and summer months.



house plants displayed in a windowsill

Acclimating your house plants is a crucial process that should be practised every time regardless of how you acquired your new plant babies or anytime you need to change your plants' living environment. It will reduce the amount of stress they undergo and will help give them a happy life in your care. Happy growing!

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