To protect the seedlings from insects, wind and cold temperatures, some gardeners set miniature greenhouses, known as hotcaps, over each seedling. Hotcaps can be purchased at garden stores in the form of waxed paper cones, or they can be fashioned from glass or plastic jugs. The bottoms of the jugs are cut off, and the remainder of the jug is set over the plant and pushed into the soil. The only problem with hotcaps is that on warm, sunny days they can hold so much heat they can cook the seedlings. So, they must be removed during the day and replaced in the early evening.
John and Ann Swan, pepper growers in West Chester, Pennsylvania, cut the bottoms out of six-inch plastic nursery pots and place one around each pepper seedling. “They shelter young seedlings not only from cutworms, but also from stem-whipping winds. The pots reflect and concentrate heat, and gives us a reservoir for watering..” They also cover the plants with three-gallon plastic nursery pots if night temperatures fall too low. For more tips on seedling transplanting, check out this story on our sister site.