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meyermike_1micha

Had to choose between warm or cold for my trees. Do you have to?

9 years ago

It was hard, but I had to give up my greenhouse for my Orchids..

I have realized that I can't grow the same type plants in my greenhouse and it bums me out! Lack of sunshine for a better word around here.

I am not getting enough sunlight, maybe 1 day a week if lucky of clear skies and the warmth in there is causing massive leaf drop. If I could keep it much on the colder side, that would help, but orchids need temps in the 70's by day to thrive and not rot.

Both spider mites because of of the lack of sunlight and leaf drop are so pervasive, I have had enough. So now they are no my cold porch with temps no higher then the low 60's. The leaf drop has already stopped and they couldn't seem happier.

Do you have to store your trees at colder temps because of a lack of sunlight? Do you lack enough sun to watch them grow rapidly in winter too?

This is why I hardly ever get any growth except for spring summer and fall and the reason why I will never see them as big as I would like, not in my life time. I have accepted this fact now. The most I can do is keep them healthy.

Mike

Comments (35)

  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I've seen magnificent photos of your orchids and wish I could grow them. Cymbidiums are the only orchids that do well in my greenhouse with the citrus trees. The citrus trees stop growing in late fall but start up after the first of the year-I can see some tiny growth buds forming now on some of the citrus and some of the cymbidiums are in spike. I believe you are right (as usual)that the lack of sunlight slows everything down. We can't compete with CA but you are growing some of the healthiest trees I've seen. One question-do you have a Kishu mandarin?
    anne

  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Mike - Why don't you add supplemental light to your GH?

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    Hey Jojo!!!!! I am so happy to see you back! As for the citrus, they shut down once the root temps in pots drop below the 55 degree mark. So If I want to keep them actively growing the best possible way, I MUST keep them above those temps to continue to produce healthy rich green leaves and avoid stressing them. They will survive, but will behave very badly as all citrus do up here in my region in pots exposed to temps that cold. That is why even the nurseries here refuse to let theirs sit out when temps drop that much. Once it gets way to cold to even keep them in my greenhouse, I will bring them in with room temps hovering around 50 but never above the 60;s and they are just put on hold. They stay green and keep the fruit. They may not grow much, but I also avoid leaf drop and many other stress related issues. If I want to keep them actively growing all winter, then I give them sun and artificial light well over 12 hours in room temps higher than the 60's and they thrive once again continually growing and taking up nutrients. If I lower the sunlight level to less than that in rooms that warm, they dramatically drop their leaves, loos their rich greeness and invite pests. If I provide sunlight levels to lets say just a south facing window through the winter or less, then they can handle regular house room temps without drawbacks, but if they are in windows that can not provide as much sun as a south facing one, then they MUST be in a much cooler room and stay that way until I am ready for active growth again come the spring. As you can tell, it took me many years to accomplish this and many years to understand my citrus trees react the way they do in CONTAINERS and how to avoid very stressful situations on them. So far so good! Yes I may not kill them, right away that is, but they will produce poorly and not live up to my standards. Now if they were in the ground, then that is a whole different story! I would care less if we had many frigid nights knowing that the ground temps will not coll off as fast as a mix in pots no matter what size. I have a friend that lives in Daytona Florida whom gets lots of freezes, and as much as he will loose some branches and leaves, he never looses the whole tree because the ground stays much warmer than his potted ones. Those have to go in for him. Ok, I am all breathed out..lol Jojo, WELCOME BACK! Maybe we can have a bit more fun around here. Mike
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  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Yeah what he said. My citrus are in a branch growing mood with no sun.

  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    a grow light in the greenhouse would help with heat. A 400w t5 gives off more heat than you would think.

    This post was edited by pip313 on Mon, Dec 15, 14 at 19:10

  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Citrus in zone 5 is a difficult task. I give you 5 stars for trying!

  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    It's actually extremely easy, just not cheap. A light is a must. A humidifier is recommended.

  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Supplemental light has helped me in my mixed orchid and citrus tree greenhouse during these gloomy days we are having with hardly any sunny days. My greenhouse T5 lights are on a timer which turns the lights on about 2 hours before dawn and then again for several hours after dusk to try to mimic summer day length. Even though the days are gloomy I think they are still brighter in the greenhouse than being indoors in the home. I think the extra hours of light are helping as many of my trees are sending out new growth and the various types of navel oranges are flowering as well as the lemons and limes. I had leaf drop early due to a variety of reasons, but those trees are now sprouting new leaves which I am attributing to the extra hours of light even though it is no where near daylight intensity. I keep my minimum temperature set at 63°F to accommodate my warmer growing orchids and find microclimate within the greenhouse for plants that need cooler or warmer conditions. It seems to work pretty well for me. However I know other growers who keep their greenhouses cooler and do not provide supplemental lighting and their plants are doing well too. They are in a more resting state than growth state. Mike, was this your tree that was planted in the ground in your greenhouse or is it another one? 65°F doesn't seem too warm for citrus trees or too cold for most orchids. I think they should be able to cohabitation in your greenhouse. If you are hanging your orchids you have to make sure they are not blocking the light for your trees. I had that problem last year so did a major reorganization of the greenhouse and added the lights above the citrus tree rows. The orchids that need more light still get light but are not blocking the light from the trees as much. If the tree was in the ground maybe putting black fabric over the roots to the drip line would help to heat up the root zone. Maybe they were below 55°F while the leaves were much warmer and the plant could not move the fluid and nutrients to the leaves fast enough. If it was another tree in a pot, maybe you could put a heat mat under it or something else to warm up the roots a bit. Maybe wrap a blanket around the pot or other insulation to hold in the heat on the very cold nights. Is the tree directly on the ground? If so raise it up or put a board, a foam block, or something else so the cold floor is not transferred to the pot and roots. I don't think it is the air temperature that is the problem, it is the roots are getting below 55°F. Maybe keeping it on a black container filled with water that gets heated up by the sun and warm daytime temperatures would help. I have been growing citrus and orchids together for years.

    Cory

  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    My plants get 10 hours light, no sun. They are growing branches right now. Simulating summer is nice but in zone 5, to me, it doesn't make sense to simulate summer in winter. I want my plants to know its spring when I set them outside this spring.

    Just another perspective on zone 5 growing. If you didn't make te connection to my location from my name I live by detroit.

  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    If we're talking about evergreen trees native to the tropics or near tropics (e.g., Citrus), then providing simulated direct daylight 10 hours a day during your winter makes total sense.

  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Hi Cory))) Thanks for all your input)) If my greenhouse was bigger, I would give it a shot, depsite the electris bill, but it's not doable...((
    The one in the ground is doing very good, but it could use more leaves..It's stingy in that department because I don't get enough sunlight again...
    The one I was talking about is mu HUGE orange tree in the pot..It does GREAT at work in all day sun, even when it gets hot there, and great in very little light if it is kept cold...But in a very warm environment, which it can get to over 70 in my greenhouse, it hates it....Just like any other citrus I put in there. I have to keep taking them out..NOt a leaf dropped or bug if they are all kept on the chillier side..So I have resorted to keeping them all on the porch where they pit themselves on hold on growing leaves, but not flowers and fruit....It's much eaiser and more cost effective...It smells good there right before I enter my home..In fact, I like them there because they are just a door open from the kitchen away!!
    I even keep all the coller growing orchids there and they thrive.

    Now the only thing left in there, the greenhouse is the ingound planted Meyer Lemon which will never fill out, but still looks good, and every orchid I could fit..lol Including all mt CC and TC cactus..They love it in there.
    No bugs in there either because all those plants are very healthy and still thrive depsite the lack of sunlight..

    Again today CLOUDY!! I swear I see blue sky once a month here..It's soooooo depressing....

    Ppi, exactly..If I can't grow them in teh climate they belong in the the perfect tee, I am not going to push them...I'll let them react to longer sunnier days as they come..Now my main focus is to keep them bug free and heathy which is easy if they are kept in cooler conditions when light levels are to their minimum..

    Ryan...Thanks pal..I would do that but it would be one big hassell with such a small greenhouse...Besides, I can't stand having to deal with mites and other critters keeping all 50 or so trees that warm all winter...If my greenhouse was bigger, I would consider it if electricity was cheaper...I use to use a 600 watt bulb in my sunny plant room, and I dealt with spider mites every year..It stunk...My electric bill was more expensive than the space heater ones(

    Hermitian, thanks for your kind comments..It can be a challenge for all of use I tell you.
    I have finally become comfortable with the fact that I don't excpect anything much from mine except to be healthy and bug free, if if the grow smaller and slower than those that can grow them all year huge.

    Anne, exactly! Thank you so much..So kind))
    Yes, I grow the same way you do..I now have certain growing areas for certain plants and that's it...I try to accomodate ALL my plants the best way I can and it seems to work..
    1. I have a room that's kept very cold for dormant plants like figs and other souther perennials that can not freeze but must go dormant.

    2. A room for all my plants that can still thirve or est in cooler temps on my porch which includes certain orchids and all my citrus. The humidity stays pretty high out there.

    3. A greenhouse for all my warm loving plants like orchids and other rare tropicals which love warmth despite the lack of sun and high humidity.

    4. My bsasement for dormant plants agin such as Brugs and Bannana trees.

    5. My home for any other tropical plant and bloomed orchids because anything will grow well in the home depending on the window they sit in.

    Whew, that was exhausting..lol

    Cory, and others, have a nice day..

    I know many others who store their trees cold and other very warm with lights..Some in just sunny south facing windows...Any more?

    MIke

  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    If you need to heat your greenhouse you should use florescent bulbs of T-8 or better. Any light bulb puts out the same amount of heat as an electric heater of the same wattage. The bulbs however put out about 12% of that heat in the visible light spectrum. So I tell people to

    ---------------------------------------HEAT WITH LIGHTS-----------------------------------

    Steve

  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    My green house has had zero leaf drop so far, spider mites are only on one plant. I have very aggressively treated it and the others and they are going away and not spreading as of yet. However I got a lot more sunlight than you do so that makes the difference i guess. Some of the seedlings i chose to keep in my living room lost leafs because of the change in sunlight. My sumo tree is in my living room by a sunny window. Growth on the sumo is totally stopped but it hasnt lost not one leaf yet. I use 3 100 wait CFLs in a floor lamp at night to help with light issues in living room. I try to not let my house get below 70 but sometimes it does when im gone. Sorry your having winter issue Mike hope it gets better.
    Trace

  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Hi Tracy))) I will never get better as regards the greenhouse and my citrus unless I pay a mint for lights or stick nit on a field that has absolutely anything to block the sun from sunrise to sundown....My neighbor has all the sunlight all day..I think I am going to ask him if I can put my greenhouse there..lol

    With the amount of sunless days I get and short days, the only way I can prevent leaf drop is to keep the areas they grow cool or utilize the very sunny south facing windows for my best trees.

    Thanks Tracy fr stopping by and your comments...

    Steve, actually, with the temps I get here outside in winter, lights would not be enough to warm my greenhouse of any significant value and I would still have to use a space heater . tow by night or three and the lights...My electric bill would be astronomical...So thus far I choose the easier less expensive method, and keep them cool to slow growing...

    I must sacrifice huge growth for this method, but far worth it for me...

    MIke

  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I really didn't mean mimic summer even though I wrote that as I could never provide that much light. I am trying to give them more hours of light because our days are so short and mostly cloudy this time of year. I think I read years ago in a book about growing orchids under lights that it helps to provide more hours in lower light conditions as the light is cumulative in a plant. I don't know if this is true, but my plants always did better with longer day length. They still need a dark rest period though I think. Anyone know anything about this?

    Cory

  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    My Key lime and Meyer lemon is in my house under lights. I bought a Washington navel orange to experiment to see if I could keep citrus outside under a roof. The orange tree is in a styrofoam cooler with a mylar lining and hot water bottle to keep the roots warm at night. So far it has worked, with a low of 19f with no damage. It hasn't grown at all but I didn't expect it too. Jack

  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I put all my citrus,tropicals,you name it in my defunct stainedglass studio,T-8 fixtures and a cozy 72*. It is a mess but come April they will be out in the field again.I n my garage i have some more stuff( figs etc.)

  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Here is the left side of the shop.

  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Warmth AKA heat, needs a place to go or space for it to travel. If known where the complete dimensions of your hot house would be something to consider.

    Before hanging any lighting I think you would want to move the residual heat to an exit area that any bulb would supply

    I often choose warmer cause most of what I grow can handle warmer lighting with winter southern indoor sun and can remain in my personal monetary plant budget. Warmer here on any given winter day is a high of 87 F. briefly this bulb/sun warmer rea is not an ideal place to attempt any indoor tropical or semi tropical If you care to try I am safe to say it'll be dried out to the point of a baked a cake that's three weeks out of it's box in two weeks
    A few tries with citrus, tropical, semi tropical, arid tropical and arid dry I remind myself each winter season If I don't already have the right lighting for healthy growing conditions I don't need the warmth AKA heat.

    Not to suggest you should confirm that hard earnt vacaction but on the bright side, less warmth or heat with less lighting equals less watering.

  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    nomen_nudum: please restate your reply in western English.

  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    A 600w light uses the same amount of energy as a 600w heater so technically it's not cheaper to use a heater over a light.

    In practice the heater isn't always on like the light is. So if you found the average usage of the heater over however long the light would be on you could substitute a light at no running cost. Let's use 10 hours as an example. If you use 4 kilowatt hours in 10 hours you could run a 400w bulb for the same 10 hours and use the same 4 kilowatts. Producing the same 400w of heat. This heat could be ducted underground before being returned to the greenhouse air to use the greenhouse soil as a heat bank. That would require digging the entire soil out of the greenhouse in a good portion of it to something like 18 inches depth or more to install pipes and foam insulation. A one time cost.

    An easy but only average and lots of math way of doing this is starting with how much your electric bill goes up every winter. Then do the math using your price per kilowatt to get kilowatts per month. Then used per day. Then by the hour of day time giving the wattage you should run of light. Buying a light slightly less than the number you get would allow you to use a heater or not depending on weather that day and not break your budget.

  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I heated with lights last winter in a cold dark basement. My trees put on 3 to 4 times as much growth in the winter than all spring summer and 2/3 of fall. My citrus trees had close to 300 watts in CFL's over head. In a green house I would use the lights to add maybe 20 degrees F and augment with another bank of halogen spot lights for more heat when needed. The halogens could be set to come on at lower temperatures. Either way you will be providing more winter light when the trees are starving for light and heat.

    Another Perfect solution is to grow your citrus trees in zone 9 B or higher then you don't have to heat, light, or greenhouse and your trees can get to a good 10 feet cubic size and really produce fruit.

    I have an advantage over all northern citrus tree growers in that my house's 35 foot south wall heats my greenhouse so that I don't have to. Also the greenhouse slows down the heat bleed from my house to save me money.

    The only draw back is my trees do not grow in the winter with any speed. The advantage is my early ripening fruit will mature so slowly through the winter that I should have fresh fruit to pick all winter with only one variety of tangerine.

    Last; I have learned that growing citrus trees north of zone 8b east of the Mississippi river or with in 500 mile west of the river (no winter sunlight to heat a greenhouse) is probably not a wise idea. Grow figs. They are easy. They go dormant. You can't buy fresh figs so they will be a real treat, and you can always buy citrus fruits for under a dollar a pound.

    -------------------------------DON'T WAIST YOUR TIME ON CITRUS-------------------------------

    Check out my hardy Chicago fig forum and the picture below to see what you are missing.

    Steve

  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I have no idea why everyone is trying to convince me to turn to lights?lol

    I did say that all my trees are thriving on my cool porch and that is the way I would prefer it..I deal with no bugs,and very healthy trees although they do grow a bit slower than what i would like..It's the sacrifice I will take for having a small greenhouse full of orchids with room for only ONE citrus tree...The amount of work to go into having a lighting system and teh cost would be far worth it for me if my greeenhouse were larger than what I have atleast..With the size of my greenhouse, lights from the peak with that kind of heat would most likely burn most of my nedium light plants which makes up most of my orchids...Now, if I have a huger greenhouse, and just plants that like what citrus like, well then, lights it would be for sure. BUt then you always run the risk of high pest populations when I have none when kept cool...

    Thanks for all your input everyone and for trying to help...

    But I would still love to see your setup and why you chose cold over heat or visa versa)And how your trees are doing..

    To the ones that showed their set up and their trees, great work..Love them all)

    Pip, I must say that your soi idea sounds magnificent.....Is that doable with a 6x8 greenhouse? I am sure it would be awesome for a huge greenhouse)

    MIke

    This post was edited by meyermike_1micha on Thu, Dec 18, 14 at 16:04

  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    The deeper the foam the better and the smaller the greenhouse the easier it is to do. It's an idea many have used online. I don't have a greenhouse but if I get one I'll rent a trench digger and put in foam board then backfill before building the greenhouse. It takes most of the work away. With a greenhouse that small I'd consider taking the greenhouse down and doing it in summer then rebuild. I hear 4 feet would keep most ground cold from transferring. 2 or 3 feet would still be very benificial as the frost line is what 18 inches?

    Thicker board is better but at least 2 or three inch thick should be good. 4 inches would be best I think, not positive its been a long time since I thought about this as I moved to an apartment.

  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Indoors, no sun, obviously heated, 1000w hps light.
    Valencia, Red smith valencia, Moro, Vanguilla sanguigno, Sanguielli, Flame grapefruit, Lisbon lemon, key lime, tango mandarin. Also other misc plants including crillo cacao and cinnamonium verum

    Why? Because I want trees not bushes and giving up winter growth doesn't make sense to me. It's a hobby worth the $37 a month for light for me, also the spare bedroom. My only regret is not having more lights and plants. My next plants will be New Zealand lemonade, bream tarocco, and oroblanco from fourwinds.

    This post was edited by pip313 on Thu, Dec 18, 14 at 19:34

  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    build your greenhouse on a footer with a 2 foot tall insulated stud wall perimeter. This give you an extra 2 feet of hight to your greenhouse and the pots fill in the bottom 2 feet. On the outside of your greenhouse you can pile rake up leaves for insulation. Its free and you get compost next spring.

    Steve

  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    That would work but has many downsides. Lots of labor that you will have to do every year, moisture damage to stud wall, the leaves will compress loosing insulating thickness, and if your installing underground pipes to use the soil as a heat bank you'll have to dig anyway but your against light so that moot. Also the best insulation occurs with something like 4 feet of depth which could be done in an hour or two for the whole greenhouse with a rented trench digger.

    This post was edited by pip313 on Thu, Dec 18, 14 at 20:16

  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    My current setup is 17 feet long. Next year it will be 35 feet long by 6 feet wide at 12+ feet tall. The dirt is between my house and garage with the garage wall insulated to R 19. The basement wall is uninstalled. This way the ground will stay close to 60 F and above. Any plants in my basement will get lights. The waist heat from my lights will heat my house. My wall are R 40 and my roof is R 150. All of my other basement walls are below ground and do not loose heat. You are correct in that I will not waist any money on outside lights. My green house won't need the heat but a hand full of days per year.

    Steve

  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    That last post was directed to the op meyermike. Sorry for the confusion. What you are doing makes sense with the basement wall and all but a free standing greenhouse would benefit the most with 4 foot deep 4 inch thick foam separating the dirt underneath from weather outside of the greenhouse. I'm not saying your method is bad, I wouldn't use leaves but dirt to perminately create the berm if that's doable as far as building up soil in the backyard where the greenhouse is and the taller the better.

  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Thinking about it either way you would have to take down then put back up the greenhouse.

  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Pip I agree with the foam board idea. using a 2 foot riser wall give an extra 2 free feet to a greenhouse as there are no leaves that low to need light. Also in my city we pack our fallen tree leaves in paper recycle bags to be picked up by a plant recycle truck. I nail about a 1000 bags a year which end up on my 1000 square foot rooftop garden after rotting for 3 years. Its a hobby that does not pay.

    Steve

  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I's good to hear you have a porch to winter store plants imagine if it gets to chilled at night you can simply open a door and share some inside heat or use a suplemental heater for a while
    With this in mind is it safe to assume your hot house is not attached to your house ?

    If you have a heater that works for you already I wouldn't suggest adding a lighting system (bulbs) to your hot house as the only sorce of heat simply because they wouldn't be on at night

    Emphisis on night: It gets to cold to often with colder temps at the minus (?) F degrees bulbs that are off aren't going to warm any area


    Some bennifits to a heater are it can turn on and off on an as needed basis by thermatic controls and timers helping maintain disired warmth though out the entire day and night.

    A draw back is loosing power for to long of time with out a second sorce on a colder day
    On a logical thought, a cold frame wont work for you but if it where to work you wouldn't need any added lighting to keep plants warmer

    I agree it's better and easier to grow some plants slower if ideal growing conditions cant be suplied with in a persons means if you dont push growth, it's not uncommon for a healthier plant to be seen in the future.

    Many compliments are read that are directed to Mike
    Mike Your doing something right

  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I set my lights to come on at 1:00 AM and to go off at sunrise so that the plants got the heat when they most wanted and needed it. You will probably need to have additional supply of heat for temperature extremes, but the main heat source can be from Lights. As for the temperature extremes whether you use a heater or halogen spot lights is up to you. You can allow your greenhouse to varry in temperature say, 30 F above the outside temperature. You will have to help out more when the temperature goes below maybe 20 F. The halogen spots could be aimed at the containers to give them the additional warmth to keep the roots above 60 F An electric heater is not capable of this.

    ---------------------------------LONG LIVE THE LIGHT BULB------------------------------

    Steve

  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    This has become a VERY GOOD thread and so much to learn from..This is exactly what I wanted...

    I wanted to see options, peoples ideas, what you all do, what I could do, and what I want to do..
    You have all opened eyes and given me many possibilities to run with next year. A lot to ponder..Then you all have a most unique way of do what is best for good growth and good results..Thank you so much)
    I have personally received e-mail from some that have never posted here thanking us for all this info.

    Please keep sharing your ideas with us..Let's see your choice, whether you deicide to grow on the cold lower light side, or warm higher light side,,,,,,,,or in between..

    This kind of thread is needed fo many too afraid to choose between cold or warm, lots of light or less..
    It goes to show that both can working depending what you are satisfied with or what your aim is..

    Nomen...Thank you for your kind words...They are always appreciated, you know that.
    Steve and Pip, thanks for your views..Love them.

    Pip, nice pics), plants and diagram..Something to mull over.
    Steve, thanks. Get rid if that snow already, will ya..lol

    Mike

  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    The diagram wasn't me. Not my style. I would 100% prefer no berm. Too permanent to the yards levelness. I understand the point and it would be a help but not nessisary and not helpful if doing the 4 feet foam board because the soil would already be insulated.

  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    double post

    This post was edited by pip313 on Sat, Dec 20, 14 at 11:37