Why I Want to Build an Orchid Greenhouse?
I used to grow all my orchids indoors when I lived in Kansas, USA, but I have recently moved overseas (2023). I am now in the southern most part of Brazil where it gets both extremely cold (it froze once) and sweltering hot.
I can grow my orchids inside, but space is an issue for me. I have to move my plants outdoors. So, I am in the process of researching information to build my greenhouse that will both; 1) keep the orchids cool in the hot, Brazilian sun and 2) keep them warm when the temperatures drop to nearly freezing. Do would a greenhouse benefit my orchids? After all, they aren’t cheap to build.
Greenhouses for orchids are essential when it comes to temperature control, humidity regulation, light optimization, and they protect the orchids from pests and diseases.
In this article, I’ll be referring to greenhouses as they relate to temperature. I had tons of questions about how hot or cold it would get in a greenhouse and how that would affect my orchids. Here are the main questions I had about greenhouse temperatures, and I hope they answer some of your questions too.
How do I Know I Need a Greenhouse?
Greenhouses play a crucial role in the growth and development of most all flowering plants, especially seedlings. For seedlings, greenhouses provide a controlled environment that promotes optimal growth conditions. The temperature, humidity, and light levels can be adjusted to create the perfect conditions for seed germination and early growth. This helps to ensure that the seedlings have a strong start and are more likely to thrive when transplanted outdoors.
Seedlings aren’t the only type of flower that greenhouses will aid. When it comes to orchids, greenhouses are essential for creating the ideal micro-climate that mimics their natural habitat. Orchids are known for their sensitivity to temperature fluctuations, and greenhouses provide the stability they need. Here are some reasons why orchids grow better in greenhouses:
1– Temperature control: Greenhouses allow for precise temperature control, ensuring that orchids are kept within their preferred temperature range. This is especially important during colder months or in regions with extreme temperature variations.
NOTE: If your region doesn’t surpass the extremes, then you probably don’t need a greenhouse, but a lath house. A lath house is a pergola-type structure with open slots that allow for plenty airflow, but reduce the shade to 50%. I don’t have an article about lath houses (yet) but you can read about one here, by Arthur Chadwick, published in the Richmond-Times Dispatch.
2– Humidity regulation: Orchids thrive in high humidity environments, and greenhouses can maintain the necessary moisture levels. This helps to prevent dehydration and promotes healthy growth. With the fully enclosed structure, humidity has a hard time leaving, thus raising the humidity inside.
3- Light optimization: Greenhouses can be equipped with shading systems or artificial lighting to provide the right amount and quality of light for orchids. This is crucial for photosynthesis and flower development. I’ll add a special paragraph about how to control the lighting below.
4– Protection from pests and diseases: Greenhouses offer a physical barrier that helps to keep orchids safe from pests and diseases that can damage or kill them.
By providing a controlled environment with optimal temperature, humidity, light, and protection, greenhouses create the perfect conditions for seedlings and orchids to flourish. Whether you’re a hobbyist or a professional grower, investing in a greenhouse can significantly improve the success and health of your plants.
What Temperature Do Orchids Like?
Orchids are known for their sensitivity to temperature, and understanding their temperature preferences is crucial for their successful growth. Most orchids prefer temperatures between 60°F to 80°F (15°C to 27°C). This range provides the optimal conditions for their growth and flowering.
It’s important to note that some orchid species may have specific temperature requirements outside of this general range.
To provide a more detailed understanding of temperature preferences for different orchid species, refer to the table below:
|Preferred Temp in F°
|Preferred Temp in C°
|65°F to 75°F
|18°C to 24°C
|65°F to 80°F
|18°C to 27°C
|60°F to 75°F
|15°C to 24°C
|70°F to 85°F
|21°C to 29°C
|60°F to 75°F
|15°C to 24°C
|60°F to 75°F
|15°C to 24°C
|65°F to 75°F
|18°C to 24°C
|60°F to 75°F
|15°C to 24°C
Humidity plays a significant role in how orchids perceive temperature. When humidity is high, the temperature may feel warmer to the orchids due to the moisture in the air. In contrast, when humidity is low, the temperature may feel cooler to the orchids. It’s important to consider the humidity levels in conjunction with the temperature readings to accurately interpret the conditions for your orchids.
By understanding the temperature preferences of different orchid species and considering the impact of humidity, you can create the ideal environment for your orchids to thrive in the greenhouse. Monitoring and maintaining the appropriate temperature range will contribute to their overall health and encourage optimal growth and flowering.
I have several Care Guides listed in this website for specific orchids. Instead of repeating that information here, I’ve divided the list into two groups: cool-growing and heat-lover orchids. But before you simplify the matter, please ask your grower. Some orchid groups, like Dendrobiums, have so many varieties that it is a crime to add them to a simplified list like this.
1) HOT: How to Control Excessive Heat in the Green House
To control excessive heat in the greenhouse and keep the orchids cool during extremely hot temperatures, there are several effective methods you can employ. To control the excessive heat in a greenhouse, the orchid enthusiast can rely on ventilation, shade cloth, and evaporative cooling.
1. Ventilation: Proper ventilation is crucial for regulating the temperature in the greenhouse. Install vents or louvers that can be opened to allow hot air to escape and fresh air to circulate. This helps prevent the greenhouse from becoming too hot and stuffy.
2. Shade Cloth: Covering the greenhouse with shade cloth can significantly reduce the amount of direct sunlight and heat that enters the structure. Choose a shade cloth with a suitable density to provide the desired level of shade without blocking too much light. This helps create a cooler environment for the orchids.
3. Evaporative Cooling: Evaporative cooling is an effective method to lower the temperature in the greenhouse. Place a misting system or evaporative cooler inside the greenhouse to release fine water droplets into the air. As the water evaporates, it cools down the surrounding air, creating a more comfortable environment for the orchids.
In addition to these methods, here are four items you can add to the greenhouse to further cool down the temperature during summer:
1. Fans: Install fans to improve air circulation and create a gentle breeze. This helps dissipate heat and keeps the air moving, preventing hot spots from forming.
2. Dampened Floors: Spraying water on the greenhouse floor can help cool down the overall temperature. As the water evaporates, it cools the air above it, providing a refreshing effect.
3. Shade-loving Plants: Planting shade-loving plants around the greenhouse can provide additional shade and help reduce the temperature inside.
4. Reflective Coverings: Use reflective coverings on the greenhouse walls or roof to reflect sunlight and heat away from the structure. This can help maintain a cooler temperature inside.
By implementing these strategies, you can effectively control excessive heat in the greenhouse and create a more favorable environment for your orchids to thrive.
Cool Growing Orchids
The measures listed above will be specifically crucial to growing cool-growing orchids. Certain orchid species thrive in cooler climates and lower temperatures. These orchids have specific temperature preferences that are important to understand in order to provide them with the optimal growing conditions. Here are some orchids that prefer a cooler climate and the temperatures they thrive in:
- Cymbidium Orchids: Cymbidium orchids are known for their ability to tolerate cooler temperatures during the night. They prefer daytime temperatures between 65°F and 75°F (18°C to 24°C) and nighttime temperatures between 50°F and 60°F (10°C to 15°C). These orchids are popular for their beautiful, long-lasting flowers and are often grown in cooler regions.
- Odontoglossum Orchids: Odontoglossum orchids are native to high-altitude regions and are well-suited for cooler temperatures. They prefer daytime temperatures between 60°F and 70°F (15°C to 21°C) and nighttime temperatures between 45°F and 55°F (7°C to 13°C). These orchids produce stunning, colorful blooms and are a favorite among orchid enthusiasts.
- Masdevallia Orchids: Masdevallia orchids are known for their vibrant, unique flowers and their preference for cooler temperatures. They thrive in daytime temperatures between 60°F and 70°F (15°C to 21°C) and nighttime temperatures between 50°F and 60°F (10°C to 15°C). These orchids are perfect for cool growing conditions and can be a great addition to any orchid collection. (Check out my growing guide in terrariums for Masdevalias here).
By understanding the temperature preferences of these cool growing orchids, you can create the ideal environment for their growth and ensure their health and vitality. Providing the right temperatures will help these orchids thrive and reward you with their stunning blooms.
2) COLD: How To Control Excessive Cold Weather in a Greenhouse
To control excessive cold weather in a greenhouse and keep the orchids warm during winter, there are several strategies you can employ. One important aspect is to ensure proper insulation of the greenhouse. Insulating the walls and roof with materials such as bubble wrap or thermal blankets can help retain heat and prevent cold drafts from entering the structure. This helps maintain a more stable and warmer environment for the orchids.
Another method is to use heating systems in the greenhouse. There are various options available, such as electric heaters, propane heaters, or radiant heating systems. These can be used to provide additional warmth during extremely cold temperatures. It’s important to monitor the temperature closely and adjust the heating system accordingly to ensure the orchids are kept at the ideal temperature range.
When cold weather hits orchid leaves, they can become damaged or even die. It’s crucial to protect the orchids from frost and freezing temperatures. One way to do this is by using frost blankets or horticultural fleece to cover the plants during the coldest nights. This helps create a barrier and traps heat around the orchids, preventing frost damage.
By implementing these strategies, you can effectively control excessive cold weather in the greenhouse and provide a suitable environment for your orchids to thrive during winter. Proper insulation and heating systems, along with protective measures for the orchids, will help ensure their well-being and prevent damage from cold temperatures.
Warm-growing orchids thrive in hotter climates and are highly sensitive to cold temperatures. These orchids require specific temperature conditions to flourish and will not survive if exposed to chilly environments. Here are four to five warm-growing orchids along with their ideal temperature ranges in both Fahrenheit (F) and Celsius (C):
- Phalaenopsis orchids: These popular orchids prefer temperatures between 65-80°F (18-27°C). They are commonly found in tropical regions and are well-suited for indoor cultivation.
- Vanda orchids: Vandas thrive in temperatures ranging from 70-95°F (21-35°C). They are known for their vibrant colors and large, showy flowers. These orchids are often grown in hanging baskets or mounted on tree branches.
- Dendrobium orchids: Dendrobiums prefer temperatures between 60-85°F (15-29°C). They come in various shapes and sizes, and their flowers can last for several weeks. These orchids are native to Asia, Australia, and the Pacific Islands.
- Cattleya orchids: Cattleyas thrive in temperatures ranging from 60-75°F (15-24°C). They are known for their fragrant and colorful flowers, which make them popular choices for corsages and cut flowers. Check out my Cattleya orchid care guide here.
- Oncidium orchids: Oncidiums prefer temperatures between 60-80°F (15-27°C). They are commonly referred to as “dancing lady” orchids due to their distinctive flower shape. Oncidiums are native to Central and South America.
To ensure the optimal growth and health of warm-growing orchids, it is crucial to maintain the recommended temperature ranges. Providing the right conditions will allow these orchids to thrive and produce stunning blooms.
How to Lay Out the Greenhouse on your Property
To maximize the natural light and heat in your greenhouse, it is important to carefully consider the layout on your property. During the summer months, when the goal is to keep the orchids cool, you can strategically position the greenhouse to take advantage of the sun’s movement.
For optimal cooling, place windows on the east-facing side of the greenhouse. This allows the morning sun to enter the greenhouse and provide light without excessive heat. North-facing windows can also be beneficial as they receive indirect sunlight throughout the day, providing a more balanced light source. By avoiding west-facing windows, you can minimize the direct afternoon sun, which can cause overheating. (Remember that these orientations are valid to the northern hemisphere.)
In contrast, when it comes to keeping the greenhouse warm during winter, a different orientation is needed. Position the greenhouse with windows facing south. This allows for maximum exposure to the sun’s rays, capturing as much heat as possible. South-facing windows also provide consistent light throughout the day, which is essential for the orchids’ growth and development.
By carefully considering the orientation and placement of windows in your greenhouse, you can optimize the natural light and heat to create the ideal environment for your orchids. This thoughtful layout will help keep the greenhouse cool during summer and warm during winter, ensuring the well-being and thriving of your orchids throughout the year.
What to Check for in Orchid Greenhouses (Temperature)
When it comes to selecting the right orchid greenhouse, it’s important to have a checklist of key factors to consider in order to maintain the optimal temperature for your plants throughout the year.
First and foremost, insulation is crucial for regulating temperature in the greenhouse. Look for greenhouses that are well-insulated, as this will help to keep the heat in during colder months and prevent excessive heat buildup during the summer. Insulated walls, roofs, and floors can significantly contribute to maintaining a stable temperature.
Next, ventilation is essential for controlling temperature fluctuations. Look for greenhouses that have adjustable vents or windows that can be opened and closed as needed. This will allow for proper air circulation and prevent overheating. Additionally, consider installing fans or exhaust systems to further enhance airflow and temperature control.
Another important factor to consider is shading. Look for greenhouses that offer shading options, such as shade cloths or blinds, to protect your orchids from excessive sunlight and heat. This will help to prevent sunburn and maintain a cooler environment during hot summer days.
Lastly, consider investing in a greenhouse with a temperature control system. This can include thermostats, heaters, and cooling systems that automatically adjust the temperature based on your desired settings. This will provide precise control over the greenhouse environment and ensure that your orchids are always kept at the ideal temperature.
By keeping these factors in mind and using this checklist, you can find the perfect orchid greenhouse that will effectively regulate temperature and create the optimal growing conditions for your plants throughout the year.
What Material to Use for The Orchid Greenhouse
When it comes to building an orchid greenhouse, choosing the right materials is crucial for maintaining the optimal temperature for your plants. Some commonly used materials for orchid greenhouses are glass, polycarbonate, polythylene film, insulation, and shade cloth. Here is how they can affect the temperature inside the greenhouse:
1. Glass: Glass is a popular choice for greenhouse construction as it allows maximum sunlight penetration. However, it can also lead to excessive heat buildup during the summer months. To counteract this, consider using tempered or double-glazed glass, which provides better insulation and helps regulate the temperature.
2. Polycarbonate: Polycarbonate panels are lightweight, durable, and offer good insulation properties. They can help to maintain a stable temperature inside the greenhouse by reducing heat loss during colder months and preventing overheating in the summer.
3. Polyethylene Film: Polyethylene film is an affordable option for greenhouse covering. While it provides good light transmission, it may not offer the same level of insulation as glass or polycarbonate. Additional measures, such as using double layers or adding shade cloths, may be necessary to regulate the temperature effectively.
4. Shade Cloth: Shade cloths are commonly used to reduce sunlight exposure and prevent overheating. They come in various densities, allowing you to control the amount of light and heat that enters the greenhouse.
5. Insulation: Regardless of the material used for the greenhouse structure, adding insulation to the walls, roof, and floor can significantly improve temperature control. Insulation materials like foam panels or bubble wrap can help to retain heat during colder months and prevent heat loss.
By carefully considering the materials used in your orchid greenhouse, you can create an environment that promotes optimal temperature conditions for your plants throughout the year. Remember to choose materials that provide adequate insulation and consider additional measures, such as shade cloths or insulation panels, to further regulate the temperature.
Shade Cloth Specifications for Orchids
When it comes to providing the right amount of shade for your orchids, shade cloth is an essential tool. There are various types of shade cloth available, each with its own benefits and drawbacks. When searching for my greenhouse, I came across the following options listed below. Not all of these worked for me, but I found it interesting. I also listed the specifications to help you make an informed decision for your orchid greenhouse.
One popular type of shade cloth is the 30% shade cloth. This cloth allows 30% of sunlight to pass through while providing 70% shade. It is ideal for orchids that require moderate shade and can tolerate some direct sunlight. If your orchids are in a hot climate with full sun exposure, a 50% shade cloth might be more suitable. This cloth allows only 50% of sunlight to pass through, providing a higher level of shade and protection.
For orchids that are more sensitive to sunlight, a 70% shade cloth is recommended. This cloth blocks 70% of sunlight, offering a significant reduction in light intensity. It is perfect for orchids that prefer low light conditions or those that are prone to sunburn.
Another option to consider is the 90% shade cloth. This cloth provides maximum shade, blocking 90% of sunlight. It is suitable for orchids that require deep shade or for areas with intense sunlight. However, it’s important to note that with increased shade comes a decrease in the amount of light available for photosynthesis. Therefore, it’s crucial to strike a balance between shade and light for optimal orchid growth.
In conclusion (for me at least), the best shade cloth for orchids that receive full sun in a hot climate would be the 50% shade cloth. It provides a good balance between shade and sunlight, offering protection without compromising the light requirements of your orchids. Remember to consider the specific needs of your orchids and the climate in which they are grown when selecting the shade cloth for your orchid greenhouse.
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Building My Orchid Greenhouse
As I build my orchid greenhouse, I’m laying it out and making decisions along the way. I understand that many others may have similar questions and concerns, so I wanted to share the answers I have found to specific problems. If you are also building a greenhouse or have experience with orchid greenhouses, I encourage you to post your comments below. Please include your country, zone, and the temperatures you experience in both summer and winter.
By sharing our experiences and knowledge, we can create a valuable resource for others who are embarking on their own greenhouse projects. Whether it’s tips on temperature control, layout design, or material choices, every insight can make a difference.
Building an orchid greenhouse is an exciting endeavor, but it can also be challenging. The right information and advice can help us overcome obstacles and create an optimal environment for our plants. So, let’s come together and support each other in this journey of building and maintaining our orchid greenhouses.
Please feel free to share your thoughts, experiences, and any questions you may have. Together, we can create a community of orchid enthusiasts who are passionate about creating the perfect greenhouse for our beloved plants.
Keywords: “orchid greenhouse”, “temperature control”
Thank you for reading and happy cultivating!