Garden Dictionary Word: hardening
1. The process of gradually taking plants into a harsher environment, e.g., from the hothouse to the garden. 2. The term can also mean sustaining a plant from summer to winter, which may include a three-staged process: 1) phytochrome clocks signal the shortening days with a color change. 2) Growth ceases, carbohydrates are transported to the roots, and abscisic acid forms at the union of leaf and stem, dropping the leaf and healing the wound. The dropped leaves serve as mulch and protect the roots from excess cold in the winter, while cell walls toughen. 3) A smooth ice forms around the cells without rupturing them, a process called vitrification.
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