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Greenhouse Newsletter - Keeping the Greenhouse Cool

July 1st, 2005:




Keeping the Greenhouse Cool
Creating a Tropical Oasis

Summer is well underway and now is the time to enjoy the fruits of our labours. With everything planted (well almost) we can enjoy the outdoor havens we've created. We have had truckloads of tropicals delivered and have been asked by many how to raise tropicals outside to create an inviting, lush, backyard oasis. Decorating outdoor space in northern climates with tropical plants is easier than you think, and continues to be a hot trend. We'll be sharing some tropical gardening secrets in this issue.

Keeping the Greenhouse Cool

Keeping the greenhouse cool during the hot summer months can be a challenge. If summer temperatures reach above 80 degrees F you will need to supplement your greenhouse venting system to provide additional cooling. In addition to adding a fan, there are other cooling options.

Greenhouse shade cloth will reduce the air temperature in the greenhouse and prevent sun sensitive plants from scorching. Green or black vinyl shade cloth can also be used either on the inside or outside of the greenhouse. This cloth is inexpensive, easy to order (available at Backyard Greenhouses), cuts easily without fraying and can tolerate outdoor elements. Be careful not to over-shade. It's better to have too much light in the greenhouse than not enough!
Try using plants to create natural shade in the greenhouse. Many heat and sun loving tropicals can be used to cast dappled shade. Training vines up a trellis, such as Bougainvillea, on the south facing wall of the greenhouse will aid in shielding the sun.
Use a double decked bench by perching one bench 2 - 3 feet above the other. The top bench will provide shade for the lower bench for most of the day. Place your sun loving plants on the top and those requiring shadier conditions on the bottom.
A greenhouse misting system is a good way to cool the greenhouse down. Cooling with mist can reduce the air temperature up to 25 degrees F. Inexpensive, and easy to use, water is forced through specially designed nozzles and emerges as an ultra fine mist pattern of water droplets. As each water droplet evaporates, it removes heat from the air, thus reducing the air temperature. Misting products are available at Backyard Greenhouses and will also be of interest to those of you who are interested in creating your own backyard oasis.

Creating a Tropical Oasis

Tropical plants are making a big comeback, not only as indoor houseplants, but also for use outdoors. Step out your back door, and within minutes you'll feel as though you're vacationing on an exotic island. Tropical gardens can easily be grown in containers and used to surround your patio, deck or pool. Choose plants with bold foliage, exotic flowers and hot colours. Containers are not only easy to care for, but are easy to move, making plant groupings easily changed.

Planning your tropical oasis is the first step. Are you starting plants from seed, purchasing 4" pots or using full-grown plants? A mixture of both plant sizes and containers will add interest. Layering several container sizes in small groupings gives a wonderful impact. The general rule is to place larger containers at the back with the smallest in front. Look for striking contrasts in both foliage and flowers to add beauty and depth.
Be sure to consider the weather in your area, ease of watering and sun/shade requirements. Is wind a factor? If so, you will want to choose plants that hold up to the wind and containers that will not be blown over easily. You'll need access to watering. The type of plant, size of container, container material, amount of rain and sun will determine how often the container needs watering. Generally, if the soil feels dry an inch or two down the pot, the container should be watered. Some plants require direct sunlight, while others require shade. Even those that require direct sunlight will need to be acclimated gradually to their new surroundings. When you bring a plant home from the garden center, it has become accustomed to its environment of high light without direct sunlight. If you place the plant into direct sunlight immediately, it is certain to stress the plant as well as burn the leaves. Instead, introduce the plant to a shaded area first. Gradually expose the plant to sunlight, increasing the number of hours of exposure. Most plants adapt in a week or so to their new surroundings.
Palm trees, passion flower, hibiscus, fig trees, rubber trees, umbrella trees, dracaena and citrus plants are only a few of the many tropicals that can be grown outdoors, even in northern climates! The containers can be easily moved into the greenhouse or indoors for the winter, allowing you to bask in your tropical oasis all winter long! Once again, gradually introduce the plants indoors before the first frost so that they can adapt to the new change in their environment. All plants need light, so if you are over-wintering your plants indoors, the brightest light possible is recommended.
Try planting annuals around the trunks of trees for additional splashes of colour. Add trailing plants around large containers for added interest. To complete your oasis, add a misting system or water feature.
Grab a book, your favourite beverage and head out the back door to bask in your own private paradise!
Backyard Greenhouses
A div. of Ecolad Corporation



Written By: Shelley Awad
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