From The Greenhouse

It seems like just yesterday we were writing about the views out the windows. Oh that’s right, it was just yesterday. Funny how time slips away when we are daydreaming. Anyway, as the photos were snapped for that story, we also took some shots from the greenhouse/sunroom. That is a room of windows and skylights we had built as part of the 2000 renovation to house and grow the orchids and start seeds. You can read the full story in an older post here. There are a few things blooming now in that room that might interest you. Let’s start with the cattleya that has decided to open quite early this year, Cattleya Slc. (Pumpkin Festival ‘Fong Yuen’ x Naomi Kerps ‘Fireball’).  There are four fully open blooms on this plant, let’s call it Pumpkin,  a gift from The Financier a few years ago for Christmas. There is the key to the problem as I see it. It should bloom at Christmas. Certain types of orchids are known for the length of time the blooms appear under the right conditions. Some can last several months. The catts are not known for that however.We did bring the orchids in slightly early after they had the death drench. There were some very warm days in October, near the ninety degree mark that caused the glass walled room of the greenhouse to heat up dangerously. Some tender perennials even lost their leaves with the heat. I doused everything with cool water to try and cool them down. The temps outside eventually became more seasonal. It could be that heat jolt was enough to force this orchid into bloom. It thought it was at the equator! Hope for blooms at Christmas time should not be high, but we can enjoy the beauty before us right now.A new little plant that was given to us for free from a local nursery when we took our friend Gail there on our plantextravaganza shopping spree while she was visiting here is this little begonia. Isn’t it just the most luscious color?We know zero, nada, nothing at all about these plants. It is believed that they must winter over inside the greenhouse. That is the extent of our knowledge. We do remember some breathtaking photos on some of the blogs last winter and had thought about trying one at some future date.That future date became now when this little one was spotted on the ground way in the back of their greenhouse. I was going to purchase it but the owner just gave it to me. Gail was buying a few things and I have spent considerable wealth at this business in the past so this was not unreasonable. It was the only one they had, I don’t remember seeing any of these begonias there before either. The name is not known but we love it and will raise it as though it were our own. Added:  The tag was found and this is tuberous begonia ‘Mocha Orange’.  If anyone out in the blogdom has some helpful tips for properly caring for this begonia, I am assuming that is what it is, there was no tag, please leave them in a comment.  A google search did not yield much info.  I would like to put it out for the summer with the orchids in a shady protected spot.  That is if it can be kept alive over the winter.This lady slipper is the type of orchid we are attracted to right now. The plant is small and takes up little space in the close quarters of the greenhouse. The blooms are longlasting and several buds can be produced on a single plant through the year. This one is Paphiopedilum ‘Starr Wars’. There are many more names to this but we have shortened it for the sake of our sanity. This plant has been in bloom since April.This is another Paph. that is bearing the tag P. Raven, but I know this is not Raven. As the name implies, Raven is a dark red, not this lighter shade. There must have been a mix up somewhere along the way. We will try and find out the correct moniker for this lovely. Wish me luck, for tags are not a high priority with the orchids. They come in, go out, get repotted, dunked, fooled with by squirrels, it is hard to protect those little white plastic pieces with the vital information printed on them. It could have fallen out while the plant was outside and blown far away by the wind into the birch leaves by the fence, then sucked up into the blower/vac to be used as compost on the beds all around.  Who knows?
The greenhouse is a marvelous place for plants. The fan runs constantly, the humidity is high and the light strong but not too intense. The temperature has a good high and low range with the cold of night penetrating the glass more than the single heat vent can make up for. The sun warms the room in the daytime. That spread of temps is what triggers the bloom in the orchids. It has taken years to find the right mix of conditions for these finicky but fabulous floozies to thrive. I think we are there.

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27 Responses to From The Greenhouse

  1. WOW!!! AMAZING!!!!

    Hi Linda, thanks. I love your new ceramics photos!

  2. Siria says:

    Hi Frances! Your orchids are beautiful. I love my orchids, but unfortunately do not have a greenhouse/shade room and sometimes the sun is to much for them in my yard. I try to only get those that can survive in my outside conditions, but sometimes I can’t resist those beautiful blooms. Pumpkins is just gorgeous!

    Hi Siria, thanks. I have lost many many orchids before figuring out how to keep them outside in the summer without drying up too much or too much sun or too many insects! Also getting the greenhouse the right temp was tricky. I used to use a space heater, but that did not allow the night temps to drop enough for bloom production. Sometimes it is just finding the orchid for your conditions, not the other way around. Pumpkins has never looked so good, although it is way too early. There will be no blooms from it for Christmas. ;-<

  3. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Oh to have a greenhouse or sun room. I simply drool at the thought of one. As it is I just have to live vicariously and enjoy all the exotic plants you and others have during winter Frances. I think you will love your begonia. I just love them myself. They don’t ask for much. Just a little water and fertilizer from time to time. They bloom easily in low light too.

    Oh thanks, Lisa, I was hoping someone would know how to grow the begonia. Do not overwater, right? Maybe it should be moved to a lower light window from where it is now? I don’t want to cook it! ;->

  4. linda says:

    Beautiful orchids Frances! I think your pretty new begonia will probably be fine as long as it doesn’t get too much water, since they’re prone to rotting. I’ve never lost a begonia over the winter. I water them very little, and let the soil dry out pretty thoroughly between waterings. What a great space you have for overwintering tender plants!

    Hi Linda, thanks. All the info out there online says the same thing about rotting. It is hard to know when it will need water. Any ideas? The orchids get a spray once a week. The begonia is going to have to live in the same conditions as the orchids but I can water it less. Should the water be kept off the leaves? How about feeding? Will it continue to produce buds? Thanks for any info! ;->

  5. Gail says:

    Frances, Good morning! I love your orchids, the pink is a beauty! Such lovely ruffles. You have the perfect orchid house/greenhouse….it’s warm, humid, there’s a drain and you can close it off from the rest of the house. On a cold day it must be a lovely space to spend time. Did you get frosted? Gail

    Hi Gail, thanks. It is a pretty one, the Financier chose well. There is an orchid breeder in Knoxville that has a good business out of his home. I did tell him no more orchids though, no room! In the winter the greenhouse is too crowded and too humid to spend much time, but it is fun to play in there, especially when starting seeds. In the summer I have moved chairs in there to enjoy the views, but really it is nicer to be outside since the lower deck has been built. And since it never rains, there is no reason to view the garden from inside. ;=> I can see frost on everything out front, that always gets it first. Surely this will be the end of the coleus and I can have fun planting the containers with bulbs and pansies. How about your garden?

  6. Good morning, Frances!

    My what beautiful blooms you have! Those orchids are so delicate and stunning. That ‘Starr Wars’ sort of has that Darth Vader mask look, doesn’t it? Very powerful!


    Hi Cameron, thanks. Finding the blackish orchid, and even a paph, which is now the criteria for new ones, was a real score. It was a birthday gift from Semi that we saw at an orchid show at the mall in Knoxville a couple of years ago. What a treat.

  7. Barbarapc says:

    You made me feel so nice and toasty. It’s -1C this a.m. Those colours and your flowers are just a tonic!

    Hi Barbara, thanks. It is pretty cold here this morning too. The flowers in the greenhouse can really cheer one up.

  8. Lola says:

    WOW,Those Orchids are gorgeous. Now I’m jealous. I sure would like a green house for my plants but alas no go. I don’t know anything about the begonia. I don’t have much luck with them. My brother did bring one to me that he had rooted. It looks like a rex.

    Hi Lola, thanks. I had to kick and scream to get that room into the reno design. It is just a very small room, 8 x 12, but it has the perfect south east exposure with a deciduous tree at the corner that gives shade during the summer but sun during the cold months. And hot and cold water, a drain in the tiled floor. The orchids love it in there. Thanks for the ID on the begonia.

  9. Marnie says:

    That pink orchid is the loveliest color. I never realized they were hybridizing the ladies slippers.

    Hi Marnie, thanks. It is much lighter than the photos from last year for some reason too. These lady slippers are not the native hardy cypripediums, or something close to that name, they are paphiopedilum, a tropical native. They are both called lady’s slippers but are very different plants except for the flower form.

  10. Randy says:

    What beautiful Orchids. I would love to have a greenhouse or sunroom one day.

    Hi Randy, thanks. That room is such a joy. Be sure and cover the walls in something besides dry wall. We used the *green* drywall that is used in bathrooms, with an exterior primer and exterior paint, but should have tiled it or something else that could take more moisture. Just to helpful hint for your dream room. ;->

  11. tina says:

    Very nice spot to overwinter plants. I sure wish I had an area like that. For now the crawlspace and craft room will do. Fortunately (or unfortunately) I don’t grow and beautiful orchids like you. It sure is nice to have blooms inside in the winter. I have begonias and don’t do anything special. They are in a shady area in my house, with other plants. Regular water. They bloom off and on all winter. I love yours!

    Hi Tina, thanks. This room is for the orchids only and a select tiny few more, like this one begonia. I have gotten rid of many unproductive orchids finding that the crowding is not a good thing. There is barely room for the large staghorn fern, this may be its last year inside. I might try our crawlspace for the dahlias next year though, thanks for the idea.

  12. tina says:

    A half way killing frost last night here. Brugs and banana tree bit it so far. You?

    Finally the coleus are toast, or mush. I didn’t really have anything else that would die so quickly. Even the lantanas still look pretty good, some damage but they will live to bloom some more.

  13. Gail says:

    Frances, I was just missing you and wanted to have a cup of coffee (Italian Roast), toast and parallel post! There are some lovely ones up today! Gail

    Hi Gail, that sounds wonderful. The drive out to the jobsite this morning was so pretty with the frost on the standing roadside weeds. Of course I didn’t have the camera. Tomorrow I will take it along. It was too much fun blogging together, talking and looking out the window while enjoying coffee. We must do it again sometime. ;->

  14. What a lovely collection! Is this what keeps your green thumb happy in the winter months? 🙂 I love the rich color of your orchids.

    Hi Karrita, thanks. Absolutely the greenhouse/sunroom gives me great joy in winter. I love the garden outside too then, but the blooming flowers really cheer one up.

  15. Brenda Kula says:

    Those are undoubtedly some of the most beautiful blooms on a flower I’ve ever seen! I’ve never grown orchids, as I don’t have a greenhouse and don’t know how much luck I’d have otherwise. But I can see why you love them so. Blooming since April??? My word! I’m still overwhelmed by your window views yesterday!

    Hi Brenda, thanks. They are very photogenic too, easy to capture inside the light filled room without the glare of the sun. It has taken me over ten years to figure out how to grow the orchids, and each family of them are different too. The paphs are the easiest for me and I like that they stay small. The catt featured was a gift and is getting too big, but as long as it blooms like that is can stay. ;->

  16. Racquel says:

    You are so lucky to have a greenhouse to grow these beauties in over the winter months Frances. Gorgeous blooms in October is a blessing!

    Hi Racquel, thanks. I had to stand my ground to get this room included in the reno, but it was worth it. Of course as with all greenhouses, I should have made it bigger! The blooms are nice now, but there is still alot going on outside. That is why December and January bloom times are so great. Hope there will be something for those coldest days of winter to brighten our mood.

  17. Gill says:

    what beautiful photos. I have a question though, could I have brought my begonia’s in from outside and planted them up in a pot to grow year round? I brought mine in and have popped the bulbs in a brown bag to over winter in the cold cellar.

    Gill in Canada

    Hi Gill, thanks. I know very little about the begonias but it sounds from the comments like they can be grown, not just stored, inside over the winter months in pots. We shall see what happens this winter and if I can keep the little orange guy going.

  18. mothernaturesgarden says:

    A Cattleya show like that would be welcome anytime here. Donna

    Hi Donna, it is hard not to appreciate such beauty. I am hoping there is something pretty when my family all comes here for Thanksgiving, they are all flower and garden lovers. Maybe the begonia will be blooming at Christmas. The catt was supposed to bring Christmas cheer each year, it must have gotten confused! ;->

  19. skeeter says:

    Beautiful colors! Our guestroom is currently being used as a Greenhouse! The cats are not too happy about having a door closed in the house but they are young and will get over it… lol… I just hope the carpet under the door survives, as it is new!

    Vacation got me behind so starting all from here on so hope I did not miss too much. I did jump down to read about Gail’s visit. How wonderful you two were able to meet up again and so soon! I was near your area last week and thought about you but time was on a set schedule and that stunk as I so wanted to stop by and see the Fairegarden with my own eyes! We dont get that way often but should as the area is so beautiful. I was snapping away during our 12 hour drive from Williamsburg, VA to middle TN. Nothing like snapping the camera lens while the Saint drives 70mph or more! lol. And if you have to pee, let him know about 30 minutes beforehand as he does not seem to like to stop… lol. Our goal was to beat the rain and we met our goal so worth the speedy 12 hour jaunt…

    Hi Skeeter, welcome back, we missed you! Our cats are not happy about the closed door either, especially since they get to be in there during summer with their litter boxes in there. It is the perfect spot for those nasty things and I have to find another place during the colder months for them. Yuck. I love Williamsburg, I got to stomp around there by myself when the Financier had a business trip there one year in December. I had lots of time and the hotel was right there so I could walk everywhere and ask lots of questions and take lots of photos.

  20. Kathleen says:

    Frances your orchids are magnificent. I am beyond green with envy. I admire all the varieties every time I see them but am too scared to spend the money trying them out. Glad you figured out a system. I do grow begonias, mainly the tuberous ones, but never try to keep them growing over the winter (I don’t have a greenhouse either tho). I usually let the frost kill the foliage, then store the tubers in peat over the winter and start up again with seeds in the spring. Good luck with yours. The orange color is fantastic.

    Hi Kathleen, thanks. It has taken some doing, including killing many and pretty much just throwing money out the window on the orchid growing. I think a greenhouse or sunroom is a must. The humidity level must be kept high and the temps must vary from high to low daily. As for the begonia, all the info online said the same thing as you do about keeping the tuber and then repotting in spring. I will try and not overwater, that seems important, but if it needs a dormant period, it isn’t going to get one! ;->

  21. Hi Francis
    What a beautiful flowers you have in your greenroom, real nockouts!
    It must be fun to have such a room when the fall is coming.

    Hi Ken, thanks. I do enjoy that room very much. It is fun to play in there when the cold and wet hits us. Starting seeds is fun in there also. The orchids are really showing off right now, that’s why they get to be in the blog! ;->

  22. That first orchid is simply amazing!! I know there are a couple of different types of orchids… and I tried the “easier” type a couple of years ago, but I wasn’t very successful. I guess I’ll settle for admiring yours and those of other people, for awhile. 🙂 Begonias might be a little easier…

    Hi Shady, thanks, it is really showing off. There are more varieties of orchids than any other plants! Some of the so called easy ones are not easy for me either and I do not grow the phals or the dendrobiums, both are the main kind you see at the big box and grocery. They are so different than regular plants in their needs, one has to relearn the growing process all over again. Now I am hoping the begonias are doable. ;->

  23. Kylee says:

    What gorgeous orchids you have, Frances!! That first pink one is just exquisite! The only hint I can give you on the begonias is to not overwater! They’ll rot!
    I’ve got a Paph. that looks much like your second photo, but it’s been nearly two years since it’s had a bloom. 😦 Not sure what to do to induce a bloom on it.

    Hi Kylee, thanks so much. Since the orchids are only watered once a week I can try that on the begonia too, and just a wee bit of water then. On your paph, see if the potting mix has broken down too much. They like fresh mix and can be repotted once a year. I have found that using a mix that contains those little clay balls mixed in with the regular paph mix that I order from some orchid supply house works best. Then, and here is the newest trick I have discovered, top the whole thing with dampened spagnum long strand moss. That moss keeps them from drying out without constant watering which washes the fertizer, weakly weekly!, out. These are ground orchids not epiphytes like the catts, but still want a moist by not soggy soilless mix. Sounds impossible but the moss really made a difference for me.

  24. Gorgeous plants–and photos–Frances! I love the little ‘Mocha Orange’ begonia. I haven’t tried to overwinter that kind yet, but of the ones I have overwintered, they have been pretty easy. Potted up, you just treat them the same indoors as you would out–make sure you don’t keep them too wet, or they will rot out, though. That’s what happened to my ‘River Nile’ last year. 😦

    Hi Kim thanks so much. I thought you might like the non pink in this post! ;-> The catt is normally much darker and with an orangey tint to it, hence the pumpkin in the name. Sometimes the orchids are lighter like that, usually it is the light is somehow less. There are still leaves on the maple at the corner that shades the greenhouse during summer, and it is blooming way earlier than normal. I must be careful with the begonia, nearly every comment says not to overwater! Thanks for that and so sorry about River Nile, it sounds like a beauty.

  25. Rose says:

    I envy you your sunroom, Frances! This would be a perfect place to spend a cold winter afternoon, especially surrounded by all these lovelies to brighten the day even further.

    Hi Rose, thanks. It is a treat to go in there and soak up that plant humidity. No room to sit though when the plants in inside! LOL

  26. Kim says:

    Beautiful, beautiful orchids, Frances. To have such lush beauty as the weather gets colder is a treat I know you enjoy. Thanks for sharing with us.

    Hi Kim, thanks, they are looking good at the moment. They give me great delight in the dead of winter, although our winters are not too severe here. The leaves are finally turning and the sheffies are hanging in so the garden outside looks good too. I will be writing about that soon.

  27. Jean says:

    I really like that begonia. I’ve been eyeing tuberous begonias at the nursery for some time now. I love all your orchids as well. I could really use a greenhouse and just posted about my lack of commitment to a permanent one. 🙂 Maybe some day…

    Hi Jean, thanks. I love the color on it too. This is a room that is part of the house, not seperate. It is hooked up to the heating, electrical and plumbing so it can be considered a bedroom believe it or not. I wish it were bigger.

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