Orchid Greenhouse Table With Lights

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After several unsuccessful years of trying to grow certain orchids that need high light, I decided I either would either get serious or quit altogether. I did not want an ugly system as I use our living room and would be looking at it constantly. I also needed to create a greenhouse effect since we live in Upstate NY and our house gets cold in winter. After lots of research, and finding nothing quite ideal, I jumped in and ordered the components listed below and could not be happier. The table is 5 feet long, the light system is 4 feet wide, using 4, 48 inch high density fluorescent lights. It's fairly attractive, easy to maintain, and within months my cattleyas were producing sheaths and have had several bloom. In fact, this summer I did not move them outside since they were doing so well. We don't have air conditioning and they were quite happy sitting in the warm, humid temps, with our ceiling fan going. As I write this, every cattleya I own has sheaths so I'll have flowers throughout winter. The necessary items are listed below. Most were purchased on Amazon. Total cost was just under $400.

Step 1: Necessary Items Are Listed Below

The necessary items listed below. Most were purchased on Amazon. Total was just under $400.

Lifetime 5-Foot Folding Table – Pearl. About $120

https://www.amazon.com/Lifetime-5-Foot-Folding-Tab...

Hydrofarm JS10059 4-Feet Jump Start Stand for Plants. About $60

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002OU8TLG/ref=o...

Agrobrite FLT44 T5 Fluorescent Grow Light System, 4 Feet, 4 Tube. $90, but now $120?

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005H1C7NA/ref=o...

Apollo Horticulture GLRP18 Pair of 1/8" Adjust Grow Light Rope Hanger w/ Improved Metal Internal Gears $9

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0098R0600/ref=o...

VIVOSUN Durable Waterproof Seedling Heat Mat Warm Hydroponic Heating Pad 48" x 20.75". $36

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01EMXI6VA/ref=o...

VIVOSUN Digital Seedling Heat Mat Thermostat Controller 68-108℉. $20

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B015F4VFGI/ref=o...

For the humidity Trays:

10 Plant growing trays, 20”x10”. $22. (Only need 4, but flimsy so doubled them.)

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0058PTK6M/ref=o...

Plaskolite 4 ft. x 2 ft. Suspended Light Ceiling Panel. $12 at Home Depot

https://www.homedepot.com/p/Plaskolite-4-ft-x-2-ft...

Also:

· Unless you prefer to leave it white, you will need black spray paint suitable for to paint plastic ceiling panel grid.

· Table cloth of your desired color.

· Sheet of clear plastic 4’x 8’. I got it off a role at ACE hardware. Covers the whole system to maintain humidity and temperatures. $12

Step 2: Hanging the Lights

Hang the lights off the frame preferably using a pulley system. Initially I had the light too close to the plants and they all turned red within a month, telling me they were getting too much light. Then I had it too high, and now I seem to have found the sweet spot.

Step 3: Warming Mat and Humidity Trays

I placed the warming mats and humidity trays. Living in the northeast, I need to keep my plants warm when we reduce our house temperature at night or leave for the day. So during winter, I keep the warming mat on 24 hours and turn it off in spring.

The plant trays I bought seemed pretty thin, and to avoid a water disaster I opted to double them. I've now been able to use the same trays for a year, cleaning them every 3-4 months. I use vinegar as lime builds up from our hard water. I never get it the lime completely off, but it's not visible once assembled. One gallons fills each tray about halfway. Mold became a problem during our warm summer, but putting just a few drops of bleach per gallon of tray water eliminated that issue.

The humidity tray grid (leaned against the right side of the table in the last picture) came from Home Depot, and is designed to be a ceiling light cover. It was white, and my husband volunteered to spray paint it black. We let it sit 2-3 days per paint can instructions, and to my surprise, it's lasted a year without chips.

Step 4: Thermostat

I attached the thermostat probe so it is at the level of the base of the leaves. I leave it on constantly with the base on the floor for quick glances. Having the thermostat was critical in determining when to have my heating mat on, and when I needed to remove the plastic overlay as it became too warm in summer.

Step 5: Watering

Using this system, I can do my midweek watering of those plants that like it wetter right on the humidity trays. For full weekly waterings, I prefer to do them all at the kitchen sink.

Step 6: Greenhouse Plastic

These images show the plastic sheet draped over the system from the side. When it's new, the plastic is nearly invisible from the front. It has to be lifted to water the plants, otherwise, I leave it down most of the time in winter, and remove it for the summer.

Step 7: Then Enjoy Your Orchids!!!

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    11 Discussions

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    I don't have a green thumb at all. In fact I reckon that I kill pretty much most plants that come inside my home. What I really need is an automated plant carer if I'm going to let anything living stay under my roof! Haha!

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    I didn't know this was even possible indoors. I used to have an aunt who was engrossed with orchids but it seemed that certain restrictions made her unable to achieve her passion on the intended level. Hope this projet could change that fact.

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    randyhough

    Question 6 months ago on Step 7

    Hi, you told me you buy your orchid soil on Amazon, could you tell me which brand. It seems rather expensive on Amazon but if it's sterile without gnats then it would be worth it to me. Thanks for all your help on this.

    1 answer
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    jsetlarandyhough

    Answer 6 months ago

    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005OK9KRK/ref=o...

    If the link doesn't work, it's Sungro 5002 Better Bulb Orchid Grow Mix. The bark is medium sized.

    As I look at the bag, I do not a claim to be sterile. Not sure why that stuck in my head. It has worked well for my Cattleyas by itself. I added sphagnum to it for those orchids that never want to be dry.

    Again, before you spend lots of money and time, I strongly suggest you check out the American Orchid Society for suggestions. Much of its information is free but I decided to join this year and their video library has been helpful. Another suggestion is to get a picture of your pest and send it to your local Cooperative Extension. They can often identify bugs which could lead to a more useful Google search.

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    randyhough

    Question 6 months ago

    Ihave 6 mini orchids on my window seal and they do quite nice, but I can't get rid of gnats that are living in the orchid soil, and they're driving me crazy. Any ideas?

    3 answers
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    jsetlarandyhough

    Answer 6 months ago

    This happened to me last fall. I doubt they started in your orchids, but found their way there as it's a comfortable home. There are certain infestations that would be concerning, but if your plants look good, these guys are just hanging out there. I suspected mine were actually variations on fruit flies brought in on grapes, that liked my orchids. I made several fruit fly traps with balsamic vinegar. I placed them by the orchids for several weeks and gradually they disappeared.

    I would not rush to repot if your orchids are healthy. You could consider rinsing them really well, top to bottom, to remove any bugs. Then moving them into another closed room for several days as an experiment. If the insects are really laying eggs in the bark, they'll hatch quickly and they'll take over again. Repotting with sterile medium would make sense. If they're just hanging out like those on my orchids, they should be unable to follow. That suggests an insect trap has a good chance of working.

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    randyhoughjsetla

    Reply 6 months ago

    Trying to get rid of gnats, I've tried the vinegar, heavily rinsing
    the soil, putting sand on top of the soil, but they're still there.
    I'm pretty sure they are laying eggs and multiplying. I suspect
    the soil I've bought at Home Depot is already infested as they keep
    it in a nursery area that's open to the outside. How do I
    sterilize that orchid bark soil.

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    jsetlarandyhough

    Reply 6 months ago

    I can't think of a way to sterilize bark while you're orchid is in it. I buy sterile bark off of Amazon and have not had any issues in the 5 years I've been doing this other than the fruit flies this past fall. You might need to bite the bullet and buy some fresh sterile bark and repot your plants. First consult the American Orchid Society website as well as they recommend treatments for disease and infestations. I opted to pay for a year's membership and their short videos have been worth the investment.

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    shaunashagrila

    Question 6 months ago

    Is the plastic sheeting left open on the ends or is it draped over completely covering the table and contents?

    1 answer
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    jsetlashaunashagrila

    Answer 6 months ago

    Open on the sides. The plastic is exactly 4 feet long so rests nicely on the metal support bar. I recently set up a small rotating fan on the side to allow air movement through the system as a result. It still keeps the heat reasonably well.