Are you thinking of taking your orchids to the next level? If so, then you need a greenhouse! And a cheap greenhouse at that! For all those orchid lovers out there, we’ve summarized why greenhouses for orchids are a good idea and how to set up one in the most cost-efficient manner.
A greenhouse is a closed structure that provides a controlled environment to plants. It allows plants to grow in optimal conditions, even if they’re not in season. This makes it perfect for growing your orchid collection. When you have the right materials, taking care of orchids won’t be difficult at all.
Dive in for a quick information download on choosing the perfect greenhouse in our article here.
All about orchids
Did you know that orchids have been here on Earth longer than humans and maybe even bees? These adaptive plants have high tolerance to climate change if grown in the right environment.
The orchid family (Orchidaceae) has various sub species with over 22,000 of them growing in different environments. These perennials come in all colors of the rainbow and have been used extensively in making perfumes and colognes. Orchids are also believed to cure lung disease, fertility troubles and provide strength to men according to certain cultures.
Orchid FYI: Did you know that vanilla is a type of orchid? This flavoring ingredient comes from the vanilla orchid and has been one of the most profitable members of the orchid family. We smell a great business idea here!
Some people avoid growing orchids believing that they are difficult to cultivate at home. This is mainly because certain orchid types are known to be susceptible to root rot. However, if you choose the right type of orchid, its easier to grow and maintain them. The easiest varieties of orchids for beginners are Cattleya, Phalaenopsis and Paphiopedilum.
Proper potting for orchids
The first thing to consider when preparing to grow orchids is the potting you will use. Orchids need good ventilation for their roots. The roots of orchids need to breath and cannot be water logged at any time, or they will rot immediately.
Orchids prefer smaller pots to larger ones. It is recommended that you use a plastic or clay pot. Do not permanently keep orchids in decorative pots as they almost never provide the drainage necessary. When potting, trim dead growth from both the roots and the stem. Generally speaking, orchids should be re-potted no more than once a year, and in some cases, only once every two or three years.
Soil for orchids
Once you have your pot, the next item to consider is the soil. Different species of orchids thrive on different soils, and depending on the plant you choose, you may need anything from bark to peat soil to lava rocks. It is also important to keep in mind that various soils differ in drying times. Lava rock for example, dries much more quickly than peat soil.
Orchids differ in their needs for light as well. As a general rule of thumb, plants with fewer or leathery leaves will prefer high light environments. Soft and limp leafed orchids will need less light.
Orchids thrive on indirect light. Direct light will cause them to overheat. So, it’s important to check the leaves once you have the plant placed. If the leaves feel hot to the touch, the plant is getting too much direct light and would benefit from a shadier location. On the flip side, if the leaves are an extremely dark green, the plant is not getting enough light and should be moved to a more sun-lit location.
The right balance of light is a key factor in your orchid’s care.
Watering your orchids correctly
It is natural to want to water your orchid frequently, but over watering is a top mistake many new growers make. Plastic pots dry faster than clay ones; and the type of soil you plant your orchid in will also affect the watering schedule. The climate, especially humidity, is another determining factor for your watering schedule.
Proper orchid care guidelines say that you should only water when the soil is completely drained. Orchids can go many days without water and prefer to be underwatered than overwatered at any time. Plant problems don’t stem from the amount of water you give your orchid, but from giving your orchid water too often.
An easy way to check this is to keep the plant identification stick that most store-bought plants come with. Keep the stick in the soil and remove it and check for dampness. If it is still damp, your orchid does not need additional watering. When you do water, you should give the plant at least 30% of the volume of its pot in water.
The best time to water your orchid is in the morning. This gives it plenty of time to begin drying before night slows down the process.
Fertilizer can be added to your watering at your discretion. Be sure to check the mixing strength of the particular fertilizer you choose to ensure a healthy mix.
If you follow these easy steps, you will find that orchid care is a fun hobby. You will see the fruits of your labor in beautiful blossoms and take delight in the aromas they exude.
Why greenhouses for orchids are a good idea
Greenhouses, both indoor and outdoor, are great ideas for plants. It’s not just for orchids, but even other sensitive plants prefer the enclosures of a proper greenhouse. Take a look at some of the best plants you can grow in greenhouses along with orchids here.
There are many reasons why greenhouses are great for orchid cultivation, such as:
- Greenhouses can control temperature and humidity
- They can protect orchids from adverse weather
- They can ensure plants get correct exposure to sunlight and drainage
When growing orchids, you can set up greenhouses based on two categories – based on function and based on temperature.
Greenhouses for orchids based on function
1) Cold frame greenhouses
Cold frame greenhouses are those that rely solely on solar power for heating. The covering of the greenhouse traps sunlight and heat and maintains the inside temperature. Because of so much reliance on solar power, you’ll need to set it up at a south-facing corner which gets maximum sunlight. It will also be better in regions where winters are not very harsh. Maximum yield will be produced during spring, summer and fall.
In these greenhouses, you can set seedlings directly on the garden bed. Gardeners use it for seed germination and the sprouting stage. These features make cold frames a good option when considering greenhouses for orchids.
2) Starter greenhouses
Starter greenhouses are great for beginner gardeners. They are compact and come in sizes ranging from 6×8 feet to 8×24 feet. They are usually low maintenance and can easily be used to propagate seeds and grow starter plants. Starter greenhouses are usually portable and covered in lightweight polycarbonate material.
Orchids can do well in them if you are serious about taking your gardening skills to the next level. They provide proper insulation and good climate control. Many people also often use it as a shed to store garden supplies and harvested crops.
Starter greenhouses easily come in kits, hence, they are super easy to install and maintain.
3) Grower greenhouses
Grower greenhouses are for growing crops indoors. You can also use these for propagating seeds and curing harvested crops. This usually has adjustable shelving to accommodate your growing collection. If you’re serious about growing orchids, you’ll need this type.
Greenhouses of orchids based on temperature
Another way of differentiating greenhouses is by its temperature.
Hothouses maintain a temperature of 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. This is ideal for growing tropical plants.
A warm greenhouse has a slightly lower temperature of 50 to 55 degrees. You’ll likely have to use grow lights and heating systems to maintain this level of heat.
Lastly, a cool greenhouse has a stable temperature of 40 to 45 degrees Fahrenheit. This one is the typical choice for germinating seeds and raising starter plants.
For orchids, you want a cheap greenhouse that can maintain 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit at daytime and 45 to 65 degrees at nighttime. Depending on your area, you might need a heating system to achieve these temperatures.
Saving money on your orchid greenhouse
When constructing greenhouses for orchids, there are many ways you can save money by using materials of different makes and functions. Lets see how some of the materials fare against each other:
- PVC is the cheapest and easiest material to use for greenhouses. It does a great job in maintaining the inner environment. However, harsh conditions can damage it in no time.
- Aluminum is another popular low-cost option is aluminum. It’s lightweight and more durable. Maintenance shouldn’t be much of a problem, as it won’t rust or rot. However, it might not fare well in windy regions.
- Resin is a type of plastic used in greenhouse construction. It doesn’t conduct heat like aluminum or steal. It also looks good and comes with a low price tag. However, it’s too flimsy for big greenhouses.
- Wood and Solexx frames are the most durable materials for greenhouses. They also have great aesthetic value. They are perfect for orchids as they keep frost at bay by distributing heat efficiently.
Window glazing materials:
These are the outer covering materials which determine how much light will penetrate the greenhouse.
- Polyethylene — A cheap option with ample protection. But you’ll have to replace it in a few years as it doesn’t hold well on its own.
- Glass — the oldest and most beautiful option, hence, the one with the highest price tag. It’s average thermal efficiency does not justify its costs.
- Polycarbonate glazing — If you’re looking for longevity and durability, you’ll want multi-wall polycarbonate glazing. It has excellent energy efficiency and doesn’t break easily under force. It’s also great at diffusing light and offers a natural UV protection. Overall, it’s the most cost-efficient material, if not the cheapest.
Saving on greenhouse ventilation
Without proper ventilation, your greenhouse is consistently at risk of overheating. The material you choose might depend on their ability to trap heat in the winter. Your greenhouse should also have a way to release hot air during the warm months. They should allow heat to escape through vents and let cool air in. Proper ventilation can directly affect electricity and hence, your monthly bills.
- Consider installing fans and exhausts to regulate temperature.
- Use larger fans with smaller motors.
- Solar-powered louvers automatically open and close depending on the changes in the temperature.
- Position your greenhouse in a way that it gets natural wind.
- Resin and polyethylene based greenhouses can have roll-up windows to regulate temperature.
- Remember the gimmicks of physics — Hot air rises to the top of the greenhouse, while cool air stays near the floor. You can position your orchids accordingly.
- Pack in more plants so that the natural condensation cools the temperature inside the greenhouse.
Saving on lighting for your orchid greenhouses
- Know how much light is required and its intensity for each plant. Plan for buying lights according to this.
- Use up natural sunlight in every possible way — using reflectors, windows and open spaces. Nothing beats the sun!
- A simple thing you can do to cut costs is increase the height of the light. The higher it’s placed, the more area it will cover.
- Consider using LEDs. They will cut lighting energy costs by 75%.
- Install photocells which can automatically track the intensity of light. It can turn itself on and off according to sunrise and sunset, hence saving you electricity.
- You can apply for rebates and discounts from the USDA in certain energy efficient upgrades and programs.
Panel clarity for your greenhouse
The panel clarity regulates the distribution of light to your orchids. Clear panels offer the plants direct sunlight, which is great if you’re germinating seeds. But if you’re looking to grow plants, you don’t want direct sunlight at all.
Your orchids are better off with diffused or opaque panels that distribute light evenly. If your orchids are not getting enough sunlight, you can also consider installing grow lights. Another option is to get semi-diffused panels, which offer benefits of both worlds.
The apt size for greenhouses for orchids
Keep in mind that there are many kinds of orchids. You’ll need to design your greenhouse with each one in mind to make sure they get the space they need. Even if you have a small collection of orchids, it’ll be beneficial to have extra room for it when it grows. Building a bigger greenhouse now is cheaper than adding an extension later or building a new one altogether to accommodate more orchids.
If you’re a beginner in orchid cultivation, a 14-foot wide and 14 to 20-foot long greenhouse should be enough for you.
Where to place your greenhouse for orchid cultivation
Placing your greenhouse near or beside your house can offer protection from wind. And it will also enable you to connect to water, electricity and gas more easily. Your greenhouse will also be within your sight, which will help you to remember to water the plants.
Furthermore, make sure that the area in front your greenhouse is open. It should also have a path that’s wide and stable enough for wheelbarrows to pass through.
Best foundations for greenhouses for orchids
If you’re growing orchids, you’ll likely need a greenhouse larger than 6×8 feet. And for a greenhouse of that size, you will need a foundation. The foundation must be secure so that the greenhouse can stand against harsh winds. Concrete is by far the most popular choice for foundation material, but you can choose wood too. Concrete is also great in colder climates as it can trap heat more efficiently.
When choosing a location for the foundation, choose a level area without standing water. You may position the concrete slab at a sloping angle to act as drainage and prevent water stagnation. For additional drainage, you can also consider installing French drains around the perimeter.
We recommend you to pick a good time to build the greenhouse foundation. Right after rain and snow is a bad time as frozen and wet ground will be harder to work with. It will also cost more to have contractors thaw and move the snow.
Orchids are fantastic plants to grow as a hobby or to sell. An oasis of orchids in a small garden lined with bird cages, grills and benches is a sight to soak in. Setting up greenhouses for orchids are one of the great ways to grow these beauties all year around. They will protect the plants from frost and create a sustainable ecosystem within their walls.
If you’re worried about the costs of running a greenhouse, there are many ways to save on the major cost centers like lighting, electricity and installation. Greenhouse kits give you options to install a greenhouse without outside help in a span of a few hours.
Orchids can be grown in cold frame, starter or grower greenhouses. You can set up these mini greenhouses indoors, attached to your house’s walls or in your backyard. As these flowers do not require constant sun, they can easily be placed at the bottom racks of your greenhouse as well, thereby optimizing space. With due care, orchids can give you great joy and a full pocket, all while adding to the aesthetic value of your home.