Hurricane!…? Maybe not, but…

Yes, we do live in Florida, and that means we occassionally get visited by Hurricanes. Next week’s coming event will be wet, but probably that’s about the size of it. However, it also pays to be prepared – especaily if you have Orchids gowing outside.

This weekend is your opportunity to get ready. With that in mind, and especially if you are new to Florida (or missed out on the last Major Rain Event), consider preparing your orchids and growing spaces now!

A couple of recommendations:
Loose items – Move any loose items inside a protected space. That means Orchids, but it can also include grills, chairs, and anything that can become a projectile.
Hanging Orchids – If you have hanging orchids (like myself and others), make sure they are secure and won’t get blown loose. If there is any doubt – move them inside!
Saucers – If your orchids are sitting in saucers, empty the saucers at least once a day. Orchids don’t generally want to be wet, and although they love Rain, they aren’t aquatic plants. Give those roots an opportunity to dry out. (Thanks Cammy!)
Anti-Fungal. After the blow passes by, treat all of your outside orchids to a dose of anti-fungal. It can’t hurt and may help to control fungal blooms that are common after long periods of wet.

You can probably come up with your own thoughts and recommendations. The point here is that don’t just let the wet weather happen; plan for it before hand, and take action before, during, and after!

Greenhouse Survey

My small greenhouse is falling apart and I’m running out of room. This summer, along with other work around the house, I plan to put in a new greenhouse among other things. But what type, how large and how configured? I’m limited to 18×14 feet for a total of 252 square feet. In comparison, I now have approximately 112 square feet of greenhouse space between two dissimilar greenhouses.

With those limits in mind, I’m interested in what others are doing to meet their greenhouse (or shade house or however they are caring for their orchids) requirements. Along the way, I determined I’d do a short survey to see how others approached the situation. I’ll also share the results of what I find as I’m sure others have entertained the same question – what type of greenhouse should they get.

So obviously, I need your help! With that in mind, I’ve put together an online “Green house” survey that I’ll be be sharing. I will not share your personal information (name, address, etc.) unless you state that I have permission to do so. Instead, your survey data will be folded into the larger data set generated by this survey. Your survey information will NOT be used to develop marketing products and you won’t be receiving SPAM or other such products from me.

The survey is located at:

Thanks for your assistance and sharing your thoughts about your green house or other orchid structure.

– Art



Orchid Slum Greenhouse Tour

Jane and I hosted the Jacksonville Orchid Society’s tour of Art’s “Orchid Slum” on 6 October 2013. I currently have approximately 260 orchids split between two greenhouses, plus another 20 or so under the trees, or in the house if they are blooming.  Approximately 10 JOS members were on hand for the tour during which I passed out Epidendrum radicans and Dendrobium cucullatum keikis.








By way of background, Bonnie Myers, JOS President, gave me the first greenhouse, which is an 8ft wide x 8ft long x 6ft tall “Dream House” by Flower House greenhouses that she’d used for several seasons before replacing it with a considerably larger rigid-wall greenhouse. This greenhouse is for all intents and purposes, simply a large tent with a fiberglass shock-pole skeleton. As I’ve owned several smaller tents, I immediately knew how it went together and had it up within 30 minutes of after getting it home. I also built two 7ft x 2ft orchid benches for this greenhouse as well. The “tent” is a rip-stop weave of polypropylene fabric that has unfortunately not done well with Florida’s relentless ultraviolet light. A week before the greenhouse tour, the top panels ripped out (no rip-stop here!), but fortunately, I already had on hand a 20ft x 25ft roll of 4mil clear plastic, and it is now the top of the greenhouse!

Last year, I rescued my father’s orchids (75 or so) and his greenhouse came along with the deal.  This one is 6ft wide x 8ft long x 7+ feet tall and the plastic is considerably tougher, at least 6mil, if not more, with a true rip-stop weave. Unlike the “Dream House,” this green house has a rigid steel tube skeleton and is considerably stronger. Did I mention that it is taller as well?  I can stand up fully and its rigid structure makes it ideal for my Vandas and mounted orchids.  Like the “Dream House,” I have orchid benches, but in this case I purchased a 5-tier plastic shelf system at Home Depot and repurposed it for my orchids.


Both green houses are equipped with fans in the summer and electric heat in the winter, with one heater in each green house running at 750 watts easily providing sufficient heat. Both green houses also have watering systems, with each timed separately to meet the needs of their individual collections.

Photos by Margie Johnson

Greenhouse Disaster Averted

Disaster Averted! Looking out this morning I noticed that my smaller greenhouse looked “different.” Upon closer examination I discovered that two panels of “ripstop” fabric had indeed, ripped. Er, without stopping.

What to do? The good news is that I was already planning for the cooler or cold weather soon to come and had a 20×25 foot roll of 4mil plastic. All this really did was move my plans forward.

And give me something else to talk about during the “Orchid Slum Greenhouse Tour” next weekend.

Total cost? About $35 dollars and 35 minutes of time.

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