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Greenhouse Newsletter - Orchid Growing 101

September 1st, 2006:

GREENHOUSE GAB

September 2006
Volume 17

IN THIS ISSUE

Garden Mums Add Fall Color
Orchid Growing 101
Send Us Your Orchid Photo

 


Where have the dog days of summer gone? Here it is, September already, and I still haven't completed my list of projects! There is always something that gets put off until next year! Oh well, now is the time to prepare our gardens and greenhouses for fall and winter, divide perennials and complete final pruning. In this issue you'll find info on one of my favorites, garden mums. I over-wintered containers of mums in my greenhouse and had blossoms all winter long! Speaking of blossoms, who can resist the beauty of an orchid. Many of our customers are orchid growers and have purchased their greenhouse solely to house their orchid collections. Growing orchids in a greenhouse can be easy, fun and very addictive.

Garden Mums Add Fall Color

As annuals fade away into the fall, keep your grounds colorful with the variety of colors the garden mums offer. Yellows, oranges, crimsons, purples, pinks and creamy whites are sure to enhance any garden, window box, patio or entrance. The flowers themselves also come in many forms, from spidery types with long, narrow petals, to cushion or button types with compact flowers. For added interest, try mixing colors and varieties.

 

Not all mums are hardy for outdoor use, be sure to ask if you are planning on adding yours to the garden. Late spring is ideal for planting, however, you can plant in the fall with added care. Provide lots of water and winter protection (mulch) in a sunny, well-drained location. Be sure to give them plenty of room as they can grow to the size of small to medium shrubs.
 
As the blooms fade, deadhead to avoid stray seedlings. Leave the foliage in place though until spring. Mums survive the winter best when dead tops are not pruned until there is no danger of heavy freezing. Don't despair while the mums turn brown, they'll retain their structure and add winter interest.
 
Garden mums are also easily divided. Cuttings and division are the only ways to get the same variety as hybrid mums to not come true from seed. Always divide in spring by digging up a clump of mums and gently separating into smaller sections. You can get a lot of plants from one clump because all you need to start a new plant is a small spring with a bit of root. Replant divisions immediately.

Orchid Growing 101

 

There are thousands of web sites devoted to orchids, and their popularity seems to be increasing. An avid orchid grower once told me that growing orchids was like eating potato chips.you couldn't stop at just one. I believe her.
 
Several of our customers use their greenhouses to grow orchids. The greenhouse allows you to control the environment needed to produce orchids.

Potting Medium

The first consideration is the potting medium used in orchid culture. You want to provide structural support for the orchid's roots, but they also need lots of air space between the particles. Many times, various fibers and barks are mixed in with other amendments to create an "airy" soil. Peat, perlite and vermiculite are often used. You may even include pebbles mixed in with the bark. I always found it easiest (and safest) to trot off to the nearest garden center that sells the exact mixture already packaged. It's so much easier than buying all of the individual ingredients, mixing them together, and then hoping you've got it all right!

 

  • Many orchid pots have holes to provide lots of air, such as the photo of the orchid pot shown.
  • Orchids do require patience compared to other houseplants. However, they truly are worth the wait. Orchids need to be repotted about every 2 years. The orchid pot should be filled about two-thirds full with the orchid potting mixture. Set the plant in the pot with its roots spread out. Center the growing tip in the pot and add the additional mixture packed tightly around the plant to hold it in place. You should be able to hold the pot upside down and not lose your orchid or the mixture. You will know its time to repot the orchid if new shoots are extended over the edge of the pot.
  • Never plant orchids out in your garden soil. The soils are much too dense for the orchid to survive.

Light

  • Orchids prefer bright indirect sunlight, and this is why a greenhouse provides such an ideal environment for them. If you have to grow them indoors, a south window is best, but keep in mind that direct sunlight will scorch the plants. Plants that are grown indoors need more light because the plant is only receiving the light from one direction, while in the greenhouse, they receive light from every angle.
  • If you are growing orchids in a greenhouse, partial shade is a must. There are many types of shade cloth available. Some are used simply for providing shade, while others also offer thermal qualities, making the greenhouse warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer.

Humidity

  • Orchids love humidity. Try setting the plants over pebbles in a water filled tray. Misting plants is ideal, and many orchid lovers purchase our Mist Buddy (which is usually taken to the beach) just for their orchids. Mist with distilled water to avoid salt deposits on leaves. Don't keep the plant soaking wet either, or you could end up combating fungal diseases.

Temperature

 

I always thought of orchids as being delicate plants. The truth is they are quite hardy, and as I found, easier to grow than I first thought. I think I get along so well with orchids because I don't like being too cold or too hot either! Depending on the type of orchid you are growing, the coolest temperature ranges from 50 - 60 degrees F, while the high temperatures range up to the high 70's.
Make sure your greenhouse has plenty of ventilation, and take care that the greenhouse does not get too hot. Misting kits, such as our EZ Cool Kits, are invaluable for orchid growing. Not only do the cool the air temperature down by as much as 20 degrees F, but they provide the misting that orchids so dearly love. Keep orchids away from air conditioners, cold drafts and heating vents.

Water

More orchids are killed by over-watering than any other error. Water only when the potting mixture is completely dry. I water mine about every two weeks. Some potting mediums will dry out quicker than others requiring a more frequent watering.

 

Fertilizing

  • Once again, I find it easiest to trot off to the nearest garden center and look for the fertilizer that says is best used on orchids. Follow the directions and you can't go wrong.

Know the Variety you are Growing

  • There are several varieties of orchids. Do a little bit of homework to ensure your orchid survives. Each species may require slight alterations to the information we have provided above.
  • Are orchids like potato chips to you? Once you get started, I'll bet you can't stop at just one either!

Send us Your Orchid Photo

If you have an orchid collection, please take a photo and email it to shelley@ecolad.com
 
Backyard Greenhouses
A div. of Ecolad Corporation
1-800-665-2124

 

 

 


Written By: Shelley Awad
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