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Help w/First Greenhouse please!

This is a discussion on Help w/First Greenhouse please! within the Semi Hydro / Lights / Greenhouses / Accessories forums, part of the Orchid Culture category; Hi all! I wanted to call this thread "The Greenhouse the Hurricane Built," but that ...

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  1. #1
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    Cool Help w/First Greenhouse please!

    Hi all! I wanted to call this thread "The Greenhouse the Hurricane Built," but that was a tad too long... LOL...

    Our power went out when Hurricane Sandy hit, and the power company estimated it would be a week before it returned. Because I'm in a northern climate, all of my orchids are indoors, and I realized that many of them might not make it through the week without some drastic action on my part. I was initially going to pack up all 80+ orchids and take them to my in-laws house, but I sadly realized we just didn't have the space (and my in-laws might just refuse to take us in if we showed up with 80 orchids in tow!).

    That's when I remembered about the greenhouse I had bought over the summer! It was a small, portable, easy-to-assemble structure that I had originally intended for the purpose of giving tender seedlings a stable environment when some of my crosses (hopefully) turned into actual baby plants.

    I ran out to the garage and hastily assembled it as the house got colder. As my husband frantically tried to save our food from going bad by packing it in coolers to take to his parents' house (where there was a generator), I hauled the greenhouse up to my "grow area" and stuffed every plant inside that would reasonably fit.

    Some of my larger phals were just too heavy and huge, so I left them where I thought they'd stay the warmest, and anything blooming didn't go in because it just wouldn't fit. But I was able to get ALL of my species phals in, along with a couple of valuable Norton crosses, a bunch of Catt seedlings, and all of my paphs. I took my Vandas with me, because I couldn't think of any way to water them while I'd be away.

    I said a little prayer and zipped up the plastic cover, and just before we "abandoned ship," my husband snapped this pic of me with my babies. (I look like hell because we'd just endured a sleepless night huddled together in the basement, listening to the sounds of of falling trees and transformers exploding, praying that nothing big would fall on our house. Miraculously, nothing did.)

    Name:  greenhouse.jpg
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    Anyway, when our power came back on and I arrived home, I was a bit afraid of what I would find. The house was freezing. I ran up to the greenhouse and was surprised to see everything inside looking happy and healthy! In fact, some of the plants seemed to have actually flourished in there, despite the cooler temps outside.

    I expected my husband would ask me to take it back down now that the power was back on, but he surprisingly agreed to let it stand in my grow area....perhaps because it was the sole reason most of my plants made it through the week.

    So now I have a greenhouse...IN my house. And I'm not quite sure how to manage it.

    My strategy with my sun-lovers was always to put them on the windowsills where the sun would beat down on them ruthlessly through the afternoon. The catts, vandas and dends took this treatment quite well...all growing vigorously.

    The greenhouse is a couple of feet back from the windows, so the plants won't get the intense sun inside the greenhouse that they'd get on the windowsills, but does that matter? Would my catts be just as happy in the greenhouse, a few feet from the window, receiving indirect light, as they were on the windowsill getting blasted by the sun?

    I'm not quite sure how to adjust my routine to work the greenhouse in. I think my vandas will stay on the window ledges, since they REALLY like the hot sun, but I'm not sure what else (if anything) should come back out.

    I'm leaving all delicate seedlings and species phals inside, as they are obviously MUCH happier in the greenhouse. But I don't know what to do with the catts and dens. What are your thoughts?

    As this is my first greenhouse, and it's INDOORS, I have NO CLUE what I'm doing!

    Oh, and I'm happy to report that not a single orchid perished as a result of the loss of power. Many of my bloomers had dropped their flowers by the time we returned home, but I suppose if that's the worst that happened, I can't be too upset.

    OK...thanks for reading this ridiculously long post! Now I need some advice about what to do with my catts and dends! Please share your thoughts!

    Thanks, friends!!

  2. #2
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    Good to hear that you and your loved ones are ok after Sandy!

    For the inoor greenhouse it is hard to say as we do not know the acctually light situation.
    But if a dare to guess, everything except the phals and small seedlings bennefit more from the strong sun than the higher humidity in the tent, as you do not have any extra light.

    /M

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    Wow... I feel as if I just read a book. LOL

    First of all I am happy to hear you guys are safe and survived Sandy without any damage. Second, I commend you on your little green house (great idea). You did a terrific job and they all look quite happy. I think the cattleya would do fine, but I know my dendrobiums are sun seekers. I grow them outside in a pergola and they always find their way out to the sun. It looks to me as if there could be some work in watering your orchids in tight quarters.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Magnus A View Post
    For the inoor greenhouse it is hard to say as we do not know the acctually light situation.
    But if a dare to guess, everything except the phals and small seedlings bennefit more from the strong sun than the higher humidity in the tent, as you do not have any extra light.
    /M
    Thanks, Magnus...that was my gut feeling. Probably the paphs could stay in, too, since they are low-light plants anyway. Unfortunately I can't accurately show you the light that these plants normally get because this pic was taken during the dismal conditions of the hurricane, and the sun was just nowhere to be seen.

    On a normal day, when the sun is out, it beats through the window on the left quite strongly in the early morning, then it beats through the window on the right all afternoon. This heats up the entire area to several degrees warmer than the rest of the house, and I imagine the plants on the windowsill getting hit with direct sun for hours experience an additional increase of up to 20 degrees during peak sun hours.

    I've successfully grown and bloomed plumeria smack in the middle of the area, right where the greenhouse is, so I know that area will see enough sun for many of the plants to remain in the "greenhouse." I think I'll need to open the vent during the hottest parts of the day, though...otherwise I'm concerned that it will get too hot in there for some of my plants.

    I will take a picture when we have our first "real" sunny day so you can see how the light falls on the area. Maybe that will help in determining which plants might need to come out.

    Quote Originally Posted by Orkala
    I think the cattleya would do fine, but I know my dendrobiums are sun seekers. I grow them outside in a pergola and they always find their way out to the sun. It looks to me as if there could be some work in watering your orchids in tight quarters.
    Yep...watering is definitely going to be a challenge. The good news is that, due to the high humidity, the plants seem to need watering much less frequently. I normally have to water my plants every 3 days or so...in the greenhouse the media retains moisture much longer (in a good way, though...not in a soggy, root-rot way...LOL)

    The biggest challenge isn't getting them in and out for watering; it's that the plants tend to drip onto the ones on the shelves underneath them...then I'm worrying about fertilizer water falling onto leaves of other plants. Not good. On my normal multi-tiered plant stands I use coconut liners to absorb some of the drippage, so the the plants don't "pee" all over the ones beneath them. I'm not sure if I should use the coconut liners in the greenhouse, though...I'm concerned it might interfere with air circulation.

    Does anyone have any thoughts about the coco liners and whether they would cause a problem with air flow?

  5. #5
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    Be carful, as the substrate stays wet and moist for a longer time you could end up with a faster degradation of the substrate. Faster than you are used to.

    Just check the substrateso you do not end up with a massive root loss in 3-4 month...

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    I'd find a small desk fan to keep air movement going...other than that looks great!

  7. #7
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    Glad that you and yours made it through safely.
    Maybe 'cut to fit' the coco liner so that it doesn't cover the entire shelf, just under the individual pots? A little drippage probably won't hurt though- just think of it as a foliar feed.
    Vandas, dens and maybe the big catts might appreciate being back in the windowsill- but it sounds like the room is plenty bright and worth a try keeping what you can in the greenhouse. Mini catts can sometimes handle less light than the standards, so I'd try leaving them in the house.

    That looks like a grow house I've been eyeballing for the baby 'chids I've started this summer, to give them extra protection from the winter. Your experience with this one is giving me more confidence to get one.

  8. #8
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    Your cattleya orchids, dendrobium orchids, and vanda orchids will all need supplemental light if you want them to bloom for you while growing in your indoor greenhouse. Also, with the orchids all being inclosed, be sure there is air movement within that plastic area to avoid fungal problems. Your cattleyas and Dendrobium orchids will need to dry out completely before you water them again - especially if they are not getting the normal amount of air movement. Good luck to you!

    cheers,
    BD

  9. #9
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    Cool

    Quote Originally Posted by Brutal_Dreamer View Post
    Your cattleya orchids, dendrobium orchids, and vanda orchids will all need supplemental light if you want them to bloom for you while growing in your indoor greenhouse. Also, with the orchids all being inclosed, be sure there is air movement within that plastic area to avoid fungal problems. Your cattleyas and Dendrobium orchids will need to dry out completely before you water them again - especially if they are not getting the normal amount of air movement. Good luck to you!

    cheers,
    BD
    Ahhh...thanks, BD!! That's a pretty definitive answer. Okay...the catts, dends, and vandas will come out and go back onto their sunny windowsills. They've always been happy in my sunny windows, and that will eliminate the potential of them staying too damp, too. I'll leave the paphs, species phals, and smaller intergenerics inside and see how they fare. My species phals have already shown significant accelerated growth since being inside, so I'm thinking they're loving it!

    And I have a Paph Micranthum that was struggling...the older leaves were yellowing and falling off on all the little growths. I knew it had been overfertilized, but even after putting it in clean mix and giving it lots of water to flush out any toxins, it was still struggling. Since it's gone in the tent, NO YELLOWING! And new growth!

    I'm curious if I could incorporate supplemental lighting into this situation for shady days...we're currently having a snowstorm up here so the sunshine is at an absolute minimum, and probably will be for a couple of days yet. I do have three huge grow light systems in my basement...they're 72" long grow lights suspended from metal frames (I use them in the spring for seed-starting and giving seedlings a boost), but I don't see how I could incorporate one of those into my little tent without setting the whole darn thing on fire.

    Does anyone know of a low-heat, small grow-light that I could possibly mount inside? I imagine an LED fixture would be the best, since it would generate high light levels with very little heat. Thoughts, anyone? Perhaps I should start a new thread on this subject...

  10. #10
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    I wonder if you just used regular florescent tubes made for plants or aquarium plants if that would help. They are low heat and come in many different sizes. You could probably hang a couple of them vertically outside facing in towards your plants instead of trying to hang them horizontally over the tops of the plants inside the tent. I'm sure someone who uses grow lights can help you with this question much better. Perhaps a new thread would help too.

    cheers,
    BD

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