Time to shade your greenhouse

With the warm April sun starting to have an impact it is time to shade your orchid house if like me you grow cool tropical species in a greenhouse at home.

Inside, these are all species native to the cool mountains of Central and South America, or the Himalayas so the temperature ranges from a minimum of 10C,  to an ideal summer maximum below 30C. Keeping plants cool in the summer is not easy in a greenhouse. The main challenge for an orchid house to grow cool tropical species is keeping temperatures cool in the summer. Standard greenhouses are glass to ground and designed to provide natural warmth in the spring and then hot conditions in the summer for crops such as tomatoes. You can see how my greenhouse is modified for thermal stability.

Firstly the greenhouse has a block wall up to three feet with a chalk bank built against it – the wall also provides 4000 litres of rainwater storage. The next step is double glazing inside with corrugated plastic to keep heating costs to a minimum. Then there is the permanent hurdles which provide deep shade up to the eves, and finally the green roof shade net that went on yesterday.

I find that with a lean-to greenhouse the perfect arrangement for shade is to support it on wooded poles above the vents.

 Inside there are of course different light levels available and so Cattleya coccinea that likes it bright is near the roof.

 While mounted pleurothallis species have more shade lower down on the back wall


Join the Discussion


  1. Gareth says:

    I do hope you realise this will only be giving Jess ideas for our greenhouse

  2. Agnes Jones says:

    With the shading in place to me,your greenhouse is reminiscent of a 1970’s frame tent nestling into the hillside. A wonderful man cave in which to spend your time. I think you have built an amazing space for your orchids to feel at home. After seeing it I was inspired to adapt my greenhouse but unfortunately I find I am now, under current restrictions, unable to purchase the materials necessary to do the job so it will have to wait for a bit. This does however allow me the time to finalize the design.

    I love the way you have utilized the wall and made different sections with mesh to hang orchids on. I really like, as I know I have said before, the dinky potting box.

    To ‘double glaze’ does it have to be corrugated plastic or would flat Perspex work as well. My green house has glass to the floor and I think the hurdles are a really good idea for shading but it will need some sort of insulation on the walls for winter. It is also not as tall as yours so hanging things above will be a problem. I have lots to think about.

    Thank you for sharing your greenhouse with us.

    • Simon Pugh-Jones says:

      Traditional Victorian greenhouse were often excavated so that you went down steps into your greenhouse which then benefited from additional height and thermal stability. All insulation is a good thing.

  3. Agnes Jones says:

    Your photographs show an Aladdin’s cave. What a place for self isolation Simon. Think of all those poor people stuck in tiny flats. How lucky you are.