Where to grow orchids indoors: Windowsills, Greenhouses, Terrariums, Basement

Orchids are the most beautiful of all plants, so it’s no wonder why they are so popular. Given the fact that Orchidaceae family is the biggest family of flowering plants and because of orchids’ bizarre diversity, there are a lot of different growing techniques and ways to grow these wonderful plants. And a lot of people who are new in orchids may wonder – where to grow orchids indoors? In this article we’ll discuss some peculiarities between growing orchids at common living rooms or  in specialized places such as greenhouses, florariums, terrariums and at a basement. All these places can be used for orchid growing with different and varying results, so you could chose something, considering your material security level, your aims, goals and objectives and what specific orchids you want to grow.

First we’ll discuss indoor cultivation in common living room on windowsill. Nearly every person have living room and windowsill to grow plants, so this is the simplest space for orchid growing to set up – just place your orchids on a windowsill and give them water and fertilizers. Though it is simplest to set up, but sometimes it could be hardest to cultivate orchids. First, some windowsills don’t provide sufficient light level for some orchid species – especially in the winter. So, if you do want to grow some light-loving orchids such as Vanda or Cattleya  you should consider the orientation of your windows – in Nothern hemisphere Southern orientation gives maximum light and vice versa, and if it is still not sufficient you should either choose some semi-shade loving species such as Jewel orchids or Phalaenopsis, or consider an additional light source. The second problem is temperatures – if you want to grow some cool-growing species such as Dracula orchids or Ida and Anguloa, you should provide very uncomfortable cool and wet conditions for living room, and you probably wouldn’t happy with them. The third problem is air humidity – especially is winters the air is really dry, which is not good both for your skin and for your plants, so you should increase air humidity or refuse the use of central heating, which lowers humidity. So, if you have only windowsill, you are restricted to some orchid species which are not so demanding and can tolerate high temperatures and low air humidity and light levels. But given the fact that there are a lot of easy-growing species and hybrids you can choose some, which do well in such growing conditions – Phalaenopsis hybrids, Oncidium Alliance hybrids, Jewel orchids, some Paphiopedilums and many others.

Historically, the first place to grow orchids was botanical gardens, winter gardens and greenhouses. Unlike living rooms, such environments are built and constructed specially for tropical plants growing. So, it is much easier to maintain quite specific growing conditions within such a closed environment. Unlike windowsill, it has lots of natural sunlight (in fact, first mission of greenhouses was to collect maximum light and provide sufficient light levels in Northern hemisphere), so you are not restricted to shade-tolerant species, instead you should consider partial shading in summer, because in greenhouse sunburns can occur very often. Temperatures can be adjusted in wide range – so if you want to grow cool orchids, greenhouse is the best place to do that. In fact, you can create different sections within greenhouse with different temperature regimen – so, at a greenhouse you can grow nearly any orchid you want. The air humidity in greenhouse is usually high, which is good but you should adjust some fans to give strong air movement. Having stagnant humid air and water staying in pots or on leaves is the easiest way to spread fungal diseases. Fans should be cleaned regularly because they can also spread fungal spores if not cleaned. Also, if you grow orchids in pots, you should choose more open substrates and make more drainage holes in pots to provide good roots aeration. Greenhouse is the most difficult space for orchid growing to set up, because you should possess some free area to build it and you should have materials and knowledge to build it, but once installed, it is the easiest way to grow orchids; furthermore there a lot of various greenhouses on a market which you can easily set up.

You can also grow orchids in florariums and terrariums which are special tanks where you can make closed environment with high air humidity. It is something similar  to a greenhouse and a windowsill. You can place terrarium in living room, and it can provide orchids with high air humidity.  These are all advantages of terrariums, but it is nearly impossible to effectively cool terrarium and regulate temperature within it – in fact, the temperature within a terrarium is usually higher than in living room. You should install powerful light source to give your plants grown in terrarium enough light. And you should also install some fans to provide air movement. And, maybe, the main disadvantage is a small and limited space. So, terrarium is the best place to grow some small orchids which demand high air humidity and warm temperatures: warm group miniature orchids are a very good choice. Moreover, terrariums are well suited for mounted orchids.

And last but not least, where you can grow orchids, is a basement. You can ask – why a basement, it is dark, cold and not suited for orchids? It is a good place because of some reasons: it is dark, but with different light sources you can make excellent conditions both for shade-loving and sun-loving orchids; it is cold, but it is excellent place to grow cool-growing orchids all year round in a basement, and it is easier to higher temperature than lower it. So, a basement is a good place to make environment with specific condition if you have one and can’t build or set up a greenhouse.


See also:

Grow lights

Various techniques for orchid growing

Easy orchids

Types of orchids

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