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|Vol. 9(12), pp. 6-8||The McAllen International Orchid Society Journal||December 2008|
I've been growing orchids for the past twenty years, the first twelve years of which were spent in the area of the Rocky Mountains. Since 2001, however, I've been growing in Edinburg, Texas, in semi-tropical conditions. Estimated November temperatures: 80's down to the 60's!
Fig. 1. Exterior of cedar fence. Note the open areas at the base, allowing for air flow through the structure.
I grow outside, year round, on my patio, in an area of 10 by 18 feet. It's enclosed on three sides. My mobile home is on one side, and it is sheltered by a cedar fence on the other two. It should be noted that the fence is raised above the ground level to allow air flow into the growing area (Fig. 1).
Fig. 2. Ceiling shade cloth structure supported by pipes which double as plant hanging supports.
During the winter months when the sun is tracking more to the south, I use 50% and 60% shade cloth (Fig. 2). I also elevate my plants to take advantage of the diminished sunlight.
Fig. 3. Interior of growing area. Note screening back of the plants.
Fig. 4. Interior of growing area. Winter time, and slatted bench in minimal use.
In the summer months, when temperatures are staying in the high 90's (35-38°C), I drop my plants to a slatted bench which allows for higher humidity. Silvered sheer curtains are also added to increase the shading (Fig. 3) (Fig. 4). Despite these measures, running fans 24/7 is a must for keeping the temperatures down.
The city water quality in Edinburg is adequate, although a pH test will show alkali levels that are elevated somewhat higher than I would like. To counteract this, I do try to capture as much rain water as I can.
For security purposes, I keep a Guard Cat ("Mr. Cat") on duty at all times.