I transplanted vegetables 2 days ago and they are turning white and wilting off. Pretty much looks like they are dying.

I grew all of these from seeds indoors under 8-10 hours lights and they were doing so fantastic. As soon as I transplanted them outside (they were all at least 6-8 inches tall), they're dying on me.

This is my first vegetable garden, so any and all help is appreciated. I'm not sure whether it is transplant shock or powder mildew.

  • 4
    Had you hardened them off any, or did they go directly from indoors under lights to outside planted in the ground? In any case, a learning experience.
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented Apr 26, 2016 at 1:33
  • 2
    Also - good, clear, in-focus pictures may help with accurate diagnosis, beyond making guesses, and general advice, which is where I'm at right now.
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented Apr 26, 2016 at 1:54
  • What type of vegetables? And what is the climate like where you live?
    – alephzero
    Commented Apr 26, 2016 at 4:44
  • Whitening of plants is to do with cold - sounds like a hardening off problem to me, i.e., lack of it...
    – Bamboo
    Commented Apr 26, 2016 at 9:38
  • Yea I messed up I'm realizing... I didn't harden them... Just put them right outside from inside... Hard lesson learned but hey! First veggie garden so... :-). And I can't see anywhere where I can upload pictures (I'm accessing this from my phone) no upload option anywhere, even after clicking edit :-( Commented Apr 26, 2016 at 22:14

2 Answers 2


Lesson the first - plant more than you need, and hold some in reserve. If everything goes well, you have plants to give away. If things go wrong, you have spare plants.

The transition from indoors, warm, no wind, constant (rather dim from a plant's point of view, for the most part) light to out in the wind, sun and variable temperatures can be rather shocking. Normally plants are "hardened off" by exposing them to favorable outside conditions for a short period, getting longer each day (and skipping very unfavorable days) before getting to the point of transplanting them to put up with it for 24 hours a day.

Additional protection for the outside location might also be used at first (my "water teepee" things are in place now, prewarming some spots, and I'll transplant the first tomatoes into them - floating row cover, cloches, or plastic tunnels may also be used.)

The height of a seedling may not be a reliable indication of its health - seedlings can be tall and spindly/weak, especially if grown with insufficient light and no exposure to wind/breeze. The ideal seedling is "short, stocky and full" (in general) indicating lots of light and perhaps the use of a fan to provide some air currents. Underlit seedlings can easily burn when put into full sun for a full day. 8-10 hours is also quite short for light time - it's at least 12 hours outside at the equinox, and gets longer as spring heads towards summer.

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    Great advice thank you! I moved them directly outside without hardening so my mistake... But lesson learned... But can I ask, are they just done for? Or is there anything I can do to save them?? I'm in virginia so were 80 degrees with humidity now... Could I just plant more seeds straight into the outside garden with success? Commented Apr 26, 2016 at 22:16
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    Depending on a number of factors (for instance, slugs) you might still want to plant the seedlings in pots/trays for a little bit, but you might be able to keep those outside; for some things direct planting should work fine, though that will depend more on your night than day temperatures. I find that I need to raise basil in pots/flats for quite some time regardless of weather, or I might have it for a few hours if I happen to look at it when it happens to sprout, and then I'll come back and there will be no sign of it as it's been mowed down by pests.
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented Apr 27, 2016 at 1:07

Assuming it's transplant shock, and you haven't hardened them off, perhaps you could try putting some cloches over them to increase the humidity, and also floating row covers over the cloches to protect them from the heat and sun until they recover.

You can make a simple cloche by cutting the bottom off a soda bottle and then place it over the plant.

  • Love that soda bottle idea!! Definitely going to try it Commented Apr 26, 2016 at 22:16

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