How cold can 3" plants stand outside?

I started tomatoes, lavendar, and red salvia plants indoors and take them out for sun every day. The weather has not been kind to us and is still in the low 50's.
Without killing my small plants, or letting them get long and leggy, or just die, how cold can it be for them outside???? TIA, Nanzi
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Where do you live, state would help?
BetsyB

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betsyb wrote:

I know what my frost date is, Temperature is temperature no matter where you are, however I am in Delaware. I'm not talking about leaving them out overnight, just the lowest temps that will be healthy or safe for them. They did fine at 54 all day, and I think we're finally getting some decent weather here. over 65 today.
Thanks for everyones help and advice.
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Although gardeners are often too busy in the fall, it's good to pay attention to which plants are killed by first frost, and which ones laugh at the cold. Also pay attention to possible "mini-climates" around your home. East side, near the foundation, you may find certain plants live quite a bit longer in the fall, and sprout sooner in the spring. This can be a guide to planting in the future.
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Tomatoes, Lavender & Salvia?
Seems to me young tomato plants are prefectly safe at 50 degrees, although they'd grow faster wigh more heat. Our (established) lavender seems brutally hardy so I'd reckon youngsters can easily stand some cool days. Salvia we've grown in the past but I don't recall how hardy it was. Seems to me it didn't always overwinter (zone 7 maybe 8.) But surely almost everything will survive 50 plus?
I've done it myself!
Alexander Miller Port Alberni, B.C. (The Province, not the Era :) )
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Your plants will survive above freezing, but growth won't actually occur until about 10 C degrees or so (about the low 50's I think so you should be OK). More for most cultivars of lavender. Pansies will go to about -7, and most of my spring bulbs are fine with temps down to -5C or so at night, but I wouldn't try that with your tomatoes.
Consider springing for some lights next year. You start plants early to give them a head start on growth, and putting them out in marginal temperatures doesn't let them do that. Yet it's very awkward to cover them at those temperatures because the plants can heat up quickly and do themselves in. I lost a whole tray of plants last week because I didn't vent my cold frame. I left in the morning when it was about 0C, and the temperature went about 12C in the afternoon. By the time I came home from work they were just fried! You can get row covers though that are permeable and continue to allow air circulation.
If your plants are looking a bit peaked, I wonder if your plants were hardened off before you put them out. They can basically go into shock if just suddenly put outside for the entire day. Dora
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Dora I think you are right about the hardening off, although I've not had a problem with it in the past. I've lost part of the lavender, and a few 'maters, but I had so many planted I'll still have enough tomatoes for half the county. Those lavenders are tender little things. I hope I can keep a few of em alive. Nanzi
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Good luck. I finally came to the realization this year that I don't start plants off from seed every year to save money. After all I lose half of them and then usually have to buy supplements from the greenhouse.
Hopefully my seedlings will make it. I'm beginning to have doubts about the Cherokee purples (tomatoes). They are suffering from some kind of fungal disease - maybe damp off, but they're about 6 inches tall so it takes longer. Their lower leaves start wilting and dying and next thing I know the entire plant is compost. The cherry tomatoes are unaffected but then they're already twice the size. I've put some of that anti-damp stuff in the water, and plan to get them outside this week - it will be warm enough during the day and the air circulation will do them good.
Dora
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I wouldn't push your luck below 50 for tomatoes. The flowers...maybe 40. Cabbage family laughs at adversity - high 30s for them. But, remember that it can often be quite a bit colder at ground level than where your thermometer is mounted.
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Lavender is OK, although less so if they are very young. The tomatoes will die at 32 degrees. Take them in or protect them if low temperatures (anything in the 30's) are in the forecast. Not sure about Salvia.
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