Greenhouses or outdoor ideas for tillandsias?

askafaslMarch 30, 2014

Hello! I have a growing indoor tillandsia collection that I'd like to move outside so that they can grow and live at their best. I would like to keep them in a greenhouse as I don't have a lot of places to hang them in the backyard, however I'm not sure what greenhouse would be best for tillandsias specifically.

I don't want to invest in too crazy of a greenhouse and need something small (max 8' for a side). I've seen some shadehouses linked on here, however they are only available in Australia, and I live in the US.

How do you guys typically grow your tillandsias outdoors, and if you use a greenhouse what kind do you use? Also, how do you water them in the greenhouse? I don't think our tap water is that hard or basic/acidic, but most people recommend using rain (we don't get enough of that here) or filtered tap water. Would hose water be too harsh? It's very breezy here so I'm not as worried about air flow as I am about water levels...

Would this greenhouse work?

I'm also open to ideas other than greenhouses if I can make it work. Thanks for any help!

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Hard to answer your question without knowing you local climate conditions. They are your primary factors in investing in a growing area.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 11:02AM
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Sorry, I'll try to provide a little more info.

I'm near the coast in southern California, but the micro-climate of the area makes it rather windy and dry (we don't get the nice humid coastal fog very often), and it stays relatively cool. If a greenhouse or other set-up has vents or is open, I'm not worried about air flow at all. Also not very concerned about light levels. What I am worried about is humidity and pests (we have a lot of spider mites here and of course aphids, haven't seen much scale). These are the main reasons why I was hoping to find some sort of workable greenhouse: retain some humidity and keep bugs out as long as I myself don't track them in. It would sure be easier to keep my tillandsias inside, but if I open windows for air flow then frickin' aphids fit through the window screens (and I don't want to be spraying my windows with insecticides and can't find small bug screens).

As an aside, do you think the only way to grow tillandsias outside is to water them yourself every day, especially in a dry area? Would a humidifier in a small greenhouse work well on days you couldn't water (not sure if I'd honestly want to go this route)? I know there are some species that would probably love it here with little watering, like t. tectorum (?), but I was hoping to grow a greater variety.

I'm still a bit of a beginner to plants in general, but I want to take care of them as best I can, haha.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 9:21PM
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I use a shadehouse equipped with a micro mist system with a timer. Then I can manually water or use the time when I am away. I use a 50% aluminet shade cloth. Frame for the shadehouse is galvanized pipe so if we have a cold winter(rare here) I can cover it with a plastic cover.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2014 at 11:52AM
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Hi askafasl

Firstly I think we all need to know what your definition of a green house is. In Australia we would call the one shown on the link a "shade house" as it seems to be covered in some sort of woven shade cloth.

The definition of a green house in Australia, is one covered in glass, plastic. Lazer Light or Fibre Glass and I imagine other countries call them by different names as well, so are we talking about a structure covered with shade cloth, slats, brush etc which will still let the rain and wind in - or some other covering such as glass, plastic etc which excludes rain and wind? The reason I ask is that both of these "houses" provide very different growing conditions for the occupants.

Not knowing your climate and not knowing much about Tillandsia culture either as I don't grow them, I'm not really in a position to comment; but I would like to mention an idea a friend of mine uses in a part of Australia where it snows for part of the year.

He has several old security screen doors which he bought from a re-cycling yard and he has these hanging by hooks on his fence where it gets sun for most of the day. He has his Tillandsia collection all hanging on these doors fully exposed to the elements where they get abundant light and and airflow for most of the year.

During the snow season, he just lifts off the screen doors (plants and all) and hangs them by hooks on the inside of his garage wall until the snow season is finished when he returns them back to the fence.

Depending on your weather conditions, I thought this may be a cheaper option than going to the expense of a green/shade house.

As for the bugs, I use a spray called "Clensel", it's a natural contact insecticide but I use it as a repellant and not an insecticide. I find that by spraying the pots, the top of the mix and around the base of the plant I rarely see any bugs except the odd scale. As I'm not in favour of spraying toxic insecticides around my collection, I've found this to be a good alternative. As for the plants that occasionally get scale, well I treat them individually by immersing the whole plant in a container filled with a systemic insecticide. I do this for about half an hour and then quarantine the plant for a few weeks until I'm sure there are no new hatchlings...... Maybe not everyone's cup of tea, but It works for me.

All the best, Nev.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2014 at 6:57PM
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Hi there, where in So Cal are you? I live in Huntington Beach, about 2 miles from the ocean. It gets very windy here, but usually every night the marine layer moves in and almost everything outside is covered with dew most of the night most of the year. But days can be dry and during a Santa Ana wind, it's as dry here as anywhere else.

I've got tlllandsias all over my patio, tons of Spanish moss draping from the orchids I have in boxes hanging from the palms, and I have a large variety of tillandsias stuck between pots of orchids. Some get a lot of sun, some don't, and they all seem happy. I do spray down everything on the patio once a week when it's cool, two or three times a week when it's hot, and they and the orchids seem happy with it. No need to invest in a greenhouse in our climate. I find Neoregelias love it too, and Vrieseas, although I have most in shaded areas on the north side of the house.



    Bookmark   April 12, 2014 at 3:56PM
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Gonzer is probally the best one to answer this since he grows many tilly's. I live on the gulf coast but far enough away I don't get salt spray from the prevailing south winds. I use the shadehouse to slow down the wind and its drying effects. We have several months that are 95 - 105F for several months a year and 80-85F most of the rest of the year. The sun is very hot here and damages even the tough neo's that I grow without some protection. No matter why you live you must also learn your micro climate where you live.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2014 at 10:34AM
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I'm in Oceanside and all my plants are outside under fiberglass paneling or grown directly in the open. We're 5 miles inland, right at the buffer between ocean-influence and inland. I only hose them down about 2-3 times a week depending on the weather, some weeks less, some more. The only problem species for me are the Brazilians and the funkiana/andreana forms due to the lack of humidity. After all these years I no longer try and grow species that are either marginal or hard. The sub-family Diaphoranthemus group do extremely well in our climate. The more air circulation you get the better but watering every day may be too much.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 7:21AM
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