I planted seeds in a seed tray in summer 2018 and they sprouted this fall. I transplanted into 6" pots. I'm growing indoors in my south facing window, rotating 1/4 turn daily and placing outdoors in the sun for a couple hours a few times a week due to 30-50 degree weather. They have grown to 6"-8" tall. Some have very long horizontal growth (5-6") and seem to be slightly drooping. These seem to be the third set of leaves that have come out.

I know this is not the optimum time to grow seedlings but I couldn't bear to discard them. I am in Reno, zones 6B-7. Any advice will be greatly appreciated.

Drooping leaves

  • Carol can you please post a picture. I am unsure what you mean by slightly drooping. Is it try to shed its leaves for winter? or??? Please post picture. If you want to keep it from going dormant you will need to provide warmth and light (grow light) otherwise the plant will not have enough light to keep its leaves.
    – GardenGems
    Nov 24, 2019 at 0:44
  • I'm not very tech savy and had a hard time trying to add pics. The drooping can best be seen on right side of pic. I don't think they are trying to drop leaves...more like they are starting to fail. Nov 24, 2019 at 9:23
  • Hello Carol, Thank you for the picture. I will not be answering the question, I think Bamboo covers the bases well enough. Hopefully you have a place where you can make this gradual change. But, remember you are against the clock, so once you start to make the change keep working toward it. Don't go stop. not even for a few days. Once you start there is no turning back. The plants have already indicated they are ready.
    – GardenGems
    Nov 24, 2019 at 13:58

2 Answers 2


Normally, I don't advise starting seeds "ahead of time". However, since you got the climate control right and you were able to grow them inside the house until spring, just follow the advice offered to you by Bamboo and harden them by gradual exposure to outdoors conditions. The temperatures are rising and it's time for growth. They have formed a main stem which looks good and will get stronger over time. You may need, at first, to support the stem until it grows stronger. There is no need to discard them and start a new seedling batch.

The plant is hardy to zones 6 to 9 according to this Gardenia website, so see if and when you can keep them outside in your area.


The problem is you've got them indoors. These trees (Koelreuteria paniculata) are deciduous and hardy in USDA zones 5-9, so should be able to tolerate a winter where you are. Being deciduous, at this time of year they should have lost or been in the process of losing their leaves for winter dormancy. Added to that, moving them outdoors for short periods and bringing them back in again to the heat won't be helping.

I think the only thing you can do is start to harden them off gradually - leave them outside for an hour or so in the middle of the day, and when you bring them back in, leave them somewhere cooler than average indoor room temperatures if you can. If that is a growlight of some sort in the image, stop using that too. Then gradually extend the number of hours they're outside over a period of a week or two in one continuous and extending process during that time, till finally, they're out all night, preferably choosing a milder night. Cluster the pots together outdoors in a sheltered spot (against a house wall or whichever area you know is less exposed) to reduce the risk of the soil freezing in the pots (if it gets that cold, that is, below 32 deg F for more than a week both at night AND in the daytime). If you have a cold greenhouse you could stand them in there when its very cold, otherwise, try providing some insulation round the pots to try to stop them freezing, because once they're hardened off, the only thing that might kill them is the soil freezing in the pots.

  • We are expecting a cold spell and winter storm.starting this coming Tuesday and our average temps will be low 29 high 52. Would you recommend I wait until that ends next Sunday to start the "hardening off"? Also, the winds get strong enough to move patio furniture and I don't have a sheltered area. I do have a shed on the north side which I could leave closed during the start of hardening off and leave open once I have completed the hardening off. Would this be a good place to let them winter over? Nov 24, 2019 at 17:16

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