Too Many Orchids? Build a Greenhouse!

Orchid hobbyists, by nature, can’t resist buying one more plant.

The lure is too great. Every few months, new varieties hit the marketplace. Fantastic colors, patterns, and fragrances – each designed to entice. 

And when that new plant is obtained, it has to fit in someone’s house. Yet each windowsill, plant rack, and bay window may be full.

Some growers resort to hanging their plants from rods using baskets or tied to driftwood. Other people divide or split their large plants and keep just the small pieces. Still other enthusiasts adopt the strategy that for every new plant that enters the house, one less-desirable plant must leave.

Deep inside, hobbyists dream of having their own sunroom or greenhouse - a dedicated growing space where the air circulation, humidity, light, and temperature are ideal for orchids. Inside, there could be tiered redwood benches with pots full of lush foliage and glorious blossoms. Watering is made easy with colorful gardening wands and there is almost certainly a handy re-potting bench. Let’s throw in a stainless steel sink for cleaning clay pots, too.

What does it take to turn this dream into a reality? Sunrooms and greenhouses come in all shapes and sizes and can be either custom-made or built from a kit. There are many advantages to having the growing space attached to a house. For starters, the heat transfer between the plant room and the house is very efficient. A sunny day in the dead of winter creates extra heat which flows into the house. The opposite occurs at night – warmth from the house flows onto the plants. The entrance to the solarium is from the the residence - usually through an existing house door or a window that has been converted into a door.

Orchids such as Cattleyas, Dendrobiums, and Oncidiums require filtered direct sunlight so a greenhouse which is facing south is best. East or West exposure is acceptable. Shade-loving orchids like Paphiopedilums and Phalaenopsis are content with north facing though the heat transfer benefits will be lost without direct sunlight.

It can be great fun picking out the greenhouse materials. Some choices: 

-          Framing (wood, metal)

-          glazing (glass, polycarbonate)

-          flooring (concrete, tile, gravel)

-          heating system (circulating hot water in pipes, unit heaters blowing air)

-          cooling system (water pad, natural convection, air conditioner) 

-          bench styles (rolling, tiered, flat)

It’s always a good idea to have a water source and drain inside the structure. Sun-filtering can be accomplished using mesh fabric, white wash, or blinds.

And there is the small issue of funding. But hobbyists have historically put a high priority on their beloved orchids and, somehow, always find a way to pamper them.

Monday, June 1, 2015 - 03:45