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Cool growers in hot and humid summers

Discussion in 'Orchid Culture' started by Raven, Dec 20, 2017.

  1. Raven

    Raven Well-Known Member

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    Hello all,

    ADVICE NEEDED!

    This moment has come. My career is moving me from the Pacific Northwest to Midwest. Growing orchids here in Washington was so easy. I have a collection of more than 120 species, roughly 70-80% of them are cool-intermediate growers (Pleurothallids, PNG Dendrobiums, Bulbophyllums). I’m growing them in a basement with open windows year round and in several terraria in a special “orchid room” with windows wide open all summer. Doing this I was able to maintain the summer nighttime temps at about 57-58F.

    In July I’ll be moving to Indianapolis. I’m a little terrified of their summer temps of 85-87F during the day, and 66-68 at nighttime (I guess it can be above 70 sometimes easily). What should I do? Should I just trade/sell them before I move or will it still be possible to grow them in a basement? My plan is to get a greenhouse (my dreams are coming true!), but I’ve heard it is almost impossible to cool it down when the climate is HOT and HUMID.
     
  2. carl

    carl Active Member

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    That's what air conditioners are made for.

    To be more specific, I have an enclosed growing space in my basement, and an air conditioner in the basement window, with a styrofoam box on the outlet, and some ductwork leading into the growing cabinet. Kept night temperatures in the mid-upper 50s all summer, and the days in the 70s. This when nights were in the 70, days low 90s.

    Cost: ~$100 for a wally-mart a/c, some dryer hose and pink foam. Plus electricity of course.
     
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  3. Raven

    Raven Well-Known Member

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    Thanks, Carl.
    Did you try to cool down the entire basement to the mid-upper 50s at night in summer? My problem is that I have some plants that would be too large to grow in cabinets (Cyrtochilums, Esmeralda, some Dendrobiums), so I wonder if it could be possible to convert an entire basement into a cool growing area.
    I've never lived in a climate with hot and humid summers, have no idea what to expect! LOL
     
  4. carl

    carl Active Member

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    No, just the growing space.
     
  5. Kipper

    Kipper CoffeeCoffeeCoffee... Supporting Member

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    It'll be an adventure! Species you couldn't grow before will now love you.
     
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  6. Raven

    Raven Well-Known Member

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    I'm actually pretty excited about being able to grow all the warm-growing bulbos and Dendrobiums
     
  7. Chuck-NH

    Chuck-NH Well-Known Member

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    Hi Raven, in Indy they can get quite a few days in the 90's in the Summer. In a greenhouse, Swamp coolers and Jaybird type foggers can reduce daytime highs, but don't reduce night temps much due to the higher relative humidities at night. Hoosier Orchids used to be in Indy, I wonder what they did. I'm thinking you could do well with many of the Himalayan Orchids that like monsoonal conditions. Warm and humid Summers and cool dry winters.
     
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  8. Raven

    Raven Well-Known Member

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    Chuck,

    How about growing in a basement? Do you think basements can be cool enough in summer in Indy?
     
  9. Chuck-NH

    Chuck-NH Well-Known Member

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    Not sure, but even in NH which is cooler in the Summer than Indiana, basements will heat up over time, so some kind of artificial cooling would be needed if you wanted intermediate to cool growers.
     
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  10. naoki

    naoki Well-Known Member

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    I went to a grad school in Bloomington. I didn't grow cool growers around that time, but I'm pretty sure you need some kinds of cooling even in the basement. I'm trying not to get too many cold growers, but if I have to increase the cold grow area, I probably would go with a large chest freezer.
     
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  11. Chuck-NH

    Chuck-NH Well-Known Member

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    Hi Raven, there was a thread back in April "Florida Orchid Enthusiast" that talked a lot about cooling an orchid room. Sorry, couldn't figure out how to copy a link to the thread on this IPad.
     
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  12. Raven

    Raven Well-Known Member

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    Thank you, Chuck and Naoki for your input.
    I don't think many people are growing cool growers in hot summer areas but good to see that it is doable!
    I checked the "Florida Orchid Enthusiast" thread and seems like using a CoolBot (or something similar) with a compatible AC could be an option to cool a small basement enough to be able to grow most of what I would like to grow. The only other problem is to figure out how to control the day/night temperature difference with this setup.
     
  13. Chuck-NH

    Chuck-NH Well-Known Member

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    Change is always an adventure...hopefully the career move will provide you with the resources to experiment!
     
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  14. Raven

    Raven Well-Known Member

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    This is one of the reasons why I'm moving :)
     
  15. Selmo

    Selmo Active Member

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    Wondering why more people from that part of the Midwest have not responded. As they would have first hand knowledge on growing some of these cold/cool types of orchids in that kind of climate ,intermediate /warm/hot. Maybe they are all snowed in, or maybe no one grows these types there. We live east of Kansas City and grow in a outdoor greenhouse. We don’t grow many cold-cool species because it is gets so hot in the summer and sooo cold in the winter. We spend half the year trying to keep the heat inside greenhouse and the other half of the year trying to get the heat out of the greenhouse. We do use a 70% reflective shade cloth from end of March to the beginning of November, to try to keep the temps down and the plants from getting to much sun. That and few fans seem to be able to keep the temps inside the greenhouse tolerable, within 5-10 degrees of outside temperatures. This can still be over 100F during July and August. Most of the plants go outside as soon as the fear of frost is gone. Because it is so humid here in the summer, that swamp coolers (evaporative cooling systems) are not very efficient. People do use them, in greenhouses, not to cool their homes, as the farther you are away from the cooling wall, the less cooling you get. At 10-15 feet away, the cooled air and the warm air start to cancel each other out. With the warm air winning out.
    Your best bet to grow what you are growing now is to set up a indoor greenhouse. You say that you will have a basement, do you know if it will be completely under ground or will it be open on one or more sides. Being completely under ground the temps inside should average about 65-68F all year long. If the outside walls of the basement are exposed it will be a little warmer in the summer and and a little cooler in the winter. As Carl and Chuck said, wall off part of your basement with some plastic and 2X4s and make a room that you can then expand as your collection grows and you need more space. This will let you control the temps and humidity better. Use a small a/c unit to cool the space to the desired temps, especially during the night. Or you will not get any temperature differential between day and night, as the basement temperatures will be fairly constant. Using a dedicated a/c unit for your grow area, means you will not have to cool your whole house to these temperatures. Your lights should provide you with enough heat and you may need a humidifier/fogger for extra humidity and a fan or two.
    Don’t be to afraid, if there is a will, there is a way. The hardest part will be that you are moving in July, the beginning of the hottest part of the year. If you and your plants survive the first couple of months, you should be good. Best of luck with your move and new job.
     
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  16. Raven

    Raven Well-Known Member

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    Thank you a lot for your response! I don't have a house yet, but I'm planning to get one before my move, and I'll try to find one with a completely underground basement. I'm thinking now, that two growing areas will be better than one! The one in a basement for cool-intermediate growers, and a greenhouse with 60F night minimums for warm-hot growers!
    Happy Holidays!