Shadecloth/outdoor growing

xmpraedicta(3b Saskatoon)May 23, 2010

Hi all,

Two winters ago I moved to a place that has a relatively little patio that gets good morning - early afternoon sun. This year I'm considering putting some of my orchids outside, but I am nearly 100% certain the sun is too strong for them. I'm thinking about some shade cloth setup, but was wondering whether anyone has small shade cloth setups. It's a shared backyard between facing town houses, so it has to be somewhat small, not ugly looking and inconspicuous. If it blends in as another piece of attractive patio furniture that would be ideal. Does anyone have experience building/owning a similar small setup?

I only have about 10-15 plants that would go outside. I was thinking of some sort of plant rack with shade cloth taped across the front, but I don't even know where to get shadecloth. Open to ideas!

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I just put about 15 orchids outside yesterday. They're on a 3 tier-shelf unit on my stone patio against a lattice fence. I stapled a sheer nylon curtain to the top of my fence so I can let it hang down over the shelves on really hot, sunny days. Right now the cloth is down most of the time to keep the leaves from getting sunburned, but when they're acclimated I'll probably let them fend for themselves because that area is basically under tall oak trees and pretty shady most of the day. This is a first-time experiment, so I don't know if it qualifies as advice to you.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2010 at 5:18PM
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I have found rolls of shade cloth that can be cut to different lengths at Lowes. There were many rolls of different colors in a display in the garden greenhouse area with info around it stating it could be used to shade dog runs, decks, plants, etc. and that it was 70%. I got mine on sale at the beginning of the season for 6 foot wide x 70 cents a foot. I have a small 6 foot wide 4 foot high simple wood A frame on the end of the deck that I tack the shade cloth on both sides to cover the phals. They sit on the deck on old refrigerator trays so I can easily move them in or out as needed, no shelving. Color matches the house/deck so it really isn't noticeable. All is truly temporary and removable, nothing extra to try to figure out how to store it during winter. The stuff really lasts and it's worked great for the past 2 years now.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2010 at 8:03PM
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xmpraedicta(3b Saskatoon)

Thanks for the ideas - I'll check out Lowes although Lowes in Canada doesn't seem to carry the same stuff as the Lowes in the states. I have 0 trees so some kind of shading is necessary

    Bookmark   May 24, 2010 at 10:36AM
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hello, Calvin, "Lee Valley" on Morningside and Sheppard in Toronto has shadecloths. the kind they have provides (I think) only 25% shading but it can be doubled etc.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2010 at 1:53PM
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aachenelf z5 Mpls


Are you absolutely certain you need shadecloth? I've been growing all my plants outside in the summer for years now and have never used anything. The amount of sun they receive sounds similar to yours - morning until about mid-afternoon. In fact I never do the gradual-introduction-to-the-sun thing when I first put them outside. They go straight from their winter home to the great outdoors with no protection. Nothing burns. Our latitude must be similar.

As you know, my plants are in a chickenwire enclosed cage, so I suppose the chicken wire offers some protection from the sun, but I can't imagine it's all that much. Also take into account if you do the shadecloth thing, it could really be a problem during a thunderstorm with high winds unless everything is very secure.

My 2 cents


    Bookmark   May 24, 2010 at 3:20PM
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orchid126(z6, NJ)

I agree with Kevin. Actually, your conditions sound great for a lot of orchids, with the exception of phals and paphs. The sun here in NJ must be a bit stronger than the sun in Toronto, and I put my catts, dens, oncidiums out without a shade cloth. What type are you growing?

    Bookmark   May 24, 2010 at 3:51PM
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xmpraedicta(3b Saskatoon)

Thanks all,
Sue - thanks for the local lead!

Kevin/orchid126: I'm actually more concerned about having to water everything constantly then actual burning. These are essentially large dendrobiums and misc. cattleya alliance hybrids that sit behind the window facing the porch (so they get all that sun anyway).

I was thinking that a bit of shadecloth might keep things a bit cooler and save me from watering too often. Long story short, our house has a water softener. I've recently discovered a 'bypass' control, but I'm still concerned whether the water is actually genuinely bypassing the softener. I'm using it to water the vegetables to test it out, and until I figure it out, I'm carting precious RO water to the plants rather than soaking em down with the hose, which would be my prefered method of watering.

I want to move them outside so they can enjoy the air movement and breezes. The house gets quite stuffy in the summer, What do you guys think? Maybe I won't actually need it the cloth but it does get really hot when the full day sun is beating down. Full sun from morning till about 2PM, with absolutely zero shade (no trees)

I'm fortunate in that it's kind of a raised roof-top porch type thing, so no squirrels!!

    Bookmark   May 24, 2010 at 8:10PM
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susanblooms1(5, Milwaukee, WI)

Does your home have an overhang? I just put my plants against the house, under the gabled roof (overhang). The back of my house is a E-NE exposure, and mine do great with no further shading. The overhang also keeps them from getting too much water during rainy periods. I water twice weekly, except in the hottest times.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2010 at 9:30AM
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quinnfyre(z7 PA)

I'm curious, why do you think there will be no squirrels? Unless it's enclosed, squirrels can climb to just about anything, in my experience. Not to try and discourage you or anything. But if you have some secret weapon in your arsenal that keeps squirrels away from plants you grow outside, I wanna know about it!

    Bookmark   May 25, 2010 at 12:02PM
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xmpraedicta(3b Saskatoon)

No overhang unfortunately. I put a cattleya outside to experiment and see what it does. We have really warm weather these few days although nights still get cool.

J-I don't know what it is, but I haven't seen a single squirrel on the complex. I suspect it's because it's a new construction site and the trees are pretty's a raised roof top with no big trees nearby so unless they climb up a drainage pipe or something...? But maybe I'm jinxing myself!

    Bookmark   May 25, 2010 at 12:37PM
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orchid126(z6, NJ)

I don't know how many plants you have, but you might also consider a beach umbrella. You can purchase a stand for it.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2010 at 3:31PM
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quinnfyre(z7 PA)

You can also try a big palm tree. Position it so it shades them during the hottest part of the day. You get some dappled shade, it won't look ugly, and you'll have an excuse to get another plant, ha.

Ah, I see. No squirrels because there are no squirrels, not because of the raised rooftop porch thing. Although I kind of did wish you had a magical squirrel-be-gone trick. Get worried if someone starts feeding birds, that attracts squirrels quickly.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2010 at 7:10PM
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vickys(5b ON CAN)

Hi Calvin,

I take all my Cats outside, I have 2 upside down L shape stands that my nephew made for me which I attach to the railings. I bought from HD black screen for screen doors and at the begining I put double then later on when they get accustomed I leave only one and I fasten it with clothes pegs. I put a plastic pipe or bar across the metal L and I hang the pots on the bar. I do not like them to be on the ground, I don't like any bugs getting into them. It works for me.

Vicky S

    Bookmark   May 26, 2010 at 12:10PM
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Sometimes, I get SO confused by "conflicting" abbreviations! Ever since the USPS and the internet decided that CA = California and Canada!

vickys, you will be amused to know that I was at first doubly perplexed when I saw your ON CA. I didn't know what to think, at first. Then, I had a EUREKA moment and decided that you must be from Ontario, California! I have only seen Ontario, Canada abbreviated ONT in the past. :)

Alas, I know better now....

another Stitz moment from


    Bookmark   May 26, 2010 at 12:48PM
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orchid126(z6, NJ)

I too assumed he was from Canada.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2010 at 3:12PM
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