Table of Contents
- When do you have to acclimate your plant?
- High Humidity to Low Humidity
- High light to low light
- Low Light to High Light
- Warmer Conditions to Cooler Conditions
Acclimation of your plants can sound a little complicated and a little scary. A lot of people will tell you that if you do not do it, your plants will pass on and will not survive. This is somewhat true to an extent. Plants acclimate will have a lot of issues. They will struggle. They can sometimes make it and sometimes not make it depending on how extreme the condition differences are. In order to prevent any issues acclimating your plant slowly from one environment to another can really help the chances of your plant’s survival.
When do you have to acclimate your plant?
Generally, you have to acclimate your plant when they are coming from one extreme condition to another extreme condition. For example, if your plants are coming from a high humidity environment like a greenhouse or a terrarium. You’re trying to get them used to your native environment. You are taking your plant from somewhere around 75 to 80% humidity. Trying to have it survive somewhere that can be as low as 20 to 30% humidity. Your plant is going to struggle quite a bit if this is the case. It’s going to need some time in order to get used to big changes.
It is like picking someone up and taking them from the tropics and then trying to get them used to Alaska where the average temperature is like 60ﾟf. It is not going to work out so well. They are probably going to be a little grumpy and need a lot more layers. So this is the same with plants. They do not like change any more than people do. So we just have to get them slowly used to the new environments. That is when you would acclimate them.
There are four different situations in which you would acclimate your plants and we are going to go over how to acclimate them from one extreme to the other today for you.
High Humidity to Low Humidity
Generally what you are going to do, is try to open up the greenhouse or the high humidity environment and lower than humidity slightly. You want to lower it from the highest percentage down to just 10% less. This is just for a day or two and the goal is to just kind of let your plant get used to it a little at a time.
It is kind of like training for a high-altitude climb. Your plant has to get used to breathing with less humidity and able to be self-sufficient for itself so it takes a little bit of time.
So for just a day or two, you are going to let them sit in that lower humidity; you open it a bit more and let more humidity out. A few days later lower it a bit more. You just continue doing that until the plant is used to your average humidity whatever that humidity is.
If you do not know the humidity percentage, you can get a hydrometer for just a couple of dollars.
This is a fantastic irreplaceable tool just so that you know exactly what the temperature. The humidity are either in your greenhouse or in your plant room. In both situations, you are going to need to know what your plant is in and what to have to adjust to. So this is a vital tool for you.
After you get your plants used to that new lower humidity you can then take them out and place them wherever you want them to be. Generally, try to keep the other conditions the same. Then you can change that slowly over time as well for example if they had a lot of light in the greenhouse. Then you move them out there in a lower humidity environment.
Another thing to note is that there are plants that are specifically labeled terrarium plants that are supposed to be in a high humidity environment. These plants will most likely not make it in a lower humidity environment. Keep that in mind when you’re trying to acclimate your plants. Is it one of those plants that are actually going to be able to survive in this lower humidity environment?
With humidity, generally, if you were going from a lower humidity to a higher humidity majority of houseplants are not going to complain about that. The only plants that would get upset about that would be cacti. However, there are some cacti that enjoy a more humid condition as well. You would just have to research and figure out which plant is going to be able to do that.
Generally, you will not ever have to acclimate plants going from lower humidity to higher humidity. Most plants tend to thrive in a higher humidity environment. It’s preferred especially for tropical houseplants.
High light to low light
A lot of plants, especially tree plants, like the Fiddle Leaf Fig will drop leaves when they are moved from a really great light spot to one that doesn’t have very much light at all. Light is energy for plants. It is how they do all of their processes. When they photosynthesize it helps them absorb nutrients and it helps them utilize water. If they do not have enough light they can really suffer from it.
It is like being able to eat full meals all the time and then going down to 1 piece of bread every day. It would be a struggle to go from full meals to just a small meal every day. So definitely keep this in mind when you are moving your plants.
Something like a Fiddle Leaf Fig is going to drop leaves ; they are not going to be able to sustain them.
So when you are moving them from a highlight position try to scoot them over to a lower light position just a little bit more every single day. If you move them too quickly or you just pick them up from a highlight position and stick them in a dark corner in your house they are not going to be happy. They are going to shed the majority of their leaves. So keep that in mind if that’s what you end up doing.
Just try to scoot them over if you’re patient over the course of 1 to 2 weeks and just scoot them moving them a little at a time to less and less light over time. They will be much happier and have a lot less leaf loss for you.
Plants do not have legs. They do not walk around by themselves. Trees especially tend to root where they at and they will stay there for their entire life. So they tend to get pretty cranky when we are up and moving them all over the place.
Low Light to High Light
Another one I wanted to talk about is moving plants from a low light situation (like inside your house) to a highlight situation (like outside on your porch or in your yard). We tend to do this every spring and summer. It is great to be able to give your plants lighter. They are going to thrive in it; it is going from one extreme to another extreme can cause a lot of stress on your plant. This can cause leaf loss, and leaf burning and some plants are not made for that bright direct light. They need to be pulled back into the shade as well. If you are planning on moving your plants into a higher light position just it is essentially slowly getting them used to it again.
To do this, you would take your plants from inside. You would move them outside and you would put them in a very dark corner of your porch, under a tree, under a canopy, or something very shaded.
This will be almost the same light as bright direct light in your home.
So keep that in mind when moving these plants. A shaded area outside is basically the same direct bright light as in your home. I know that sounds crazy; we basically have roofs over our heads all the time; unless you have floor-to-ceiling windows. This is basically what the lighting ends up being. This is great for a lot of tropical houseplants because most do not need that bright direct light. Most of them are under-story plants and they can are used to not get more light.
If you want to scoot them out from under that. Give them more light, you just move them out a little bit more each day. Start with morning light and then you can give them a little afternoon light a little at a time. Definitely watch for burning leaves. Depending on the plant and your location they still may need shade in the afternoon. Even cacti that absolutely love the sun can still burn in bright afternoon light outdoors.
It just depends on where you are located at. If you are in the North, that light is not going to be as bright outside as if you were in the South. Pay attention to where your plants are coming from and what they can handle. However, just slowly scooting them into that new condition is what is really going to help. The plant will prevent that leaf loss and burning.
Warmer Conditions to Cooler Conditions
This can happen in a variety of ways. We can have Spring and Summer time where houses are in the seventies and they start to get in the eighties. That’s a little too much. So we turn on the air conditioners and that makes the entire room go down to 60°f. This can be a bit shocking for plants. Especially, if they are sitting in front of the air conditioning unit and they get blasted with that cold air. You will definitely see some frost damage and definitely see some leaf loss. You will see the little crisping little burning. Plants generally do not like really big changes as we’ve talked about.
So If you are going to do this, instead of drastically dropping the temperatures like that. Just slowly turned down the thermostat so that it’s a few degrees cooler every single day you can do this over the course of a week or 2 just like we’ve talked about before. Just slowly getting the plants used to these new more extreme conditions the same as if you were going to go and take them outside. You know outside is a bit cooler than your indoors so you want to make sure that you’re opening the window a little bit. Get them used to the cooler air and then you can go and fully put them outside.
If it is cooler temperatures naturally, most house plants can survive frost.
That is another thing to keep in mind trying not to put your plants out there before the frost date. In the fifties and lower, most houseplants will not be very happy house plants in general. Most of them are tropical plants so they prefer to have it warm. Unfortunately, if you go below certain temperatures they will get cranky.
If you were going to do the extreme temperatures just make sure to acclimate then slowly make sure that you are getting them used to a little bit at a time. Little changes at a time and that way your plants won’t go into shock and they won’t be upset they won’t drop all their leaves that you spent all this time trying to get them to grow.
All of these things are possible. Your plants do not have to stay where they are at. They do not have to be in the same conditions all the time. Also, They do have their extreme limitations on either side of the proverbial field. They definitely can handle a lot more changes than we think. Using this method and acclimating your plants can really help get them used to different conditions . They’ll be able to change up your home and your environment. It could even make better conditions for them to grow more happily.