Orchid Wise

Shade Houses…….Should I Buy or DIY?

Well, I guess it all depends on how many plants you have, how many plants you want and how serious you are as to whether you need a shade house. It depends on your goals!

Most start out growing their Cym’s under a tree, or pergola.  Whilst this is not regarded as super ideal, so long as your plants receive good, filtered light (50% to 70% shading) and very regular watering, many will achieve good results.

But make no mistake, you won’t end up buying just 5 or 10 Cyms…..your collection will grow and grow, and get out of control faster than you can say ‘I need a shade house’!

Let’s face it, the backyard Cymbidium orchid enthusiast usually spends all their hard earned on new plants, and a space to grow them is usually left until there is just nowhere left to fit them all in!

So what do you do then?

Do it Yourself

I’m a DIY kind of guy. I’m handy, I’m an engineer, I’m a perfectionist, and I like to build things! And I like to get my monies worth. I like value!
And I especially don’t usually like conforming to someone else’s measurements that don’t end up using my space effectively and efficiently.

So, when I built our house, I built my own shade house at the same time. Built from timber, I designed my shade house to fit within a certain space and make good use of that space. It totals about 25 square metres. I even matched the roofline slope with the house, as pictured here. It is clad in 50% black shade cloth to give it just enough sun protection in Summer and not too much in Winter. The two long sides face east and west, and the front short side to the north, where most of our sunshine comes from. We get no sun from the south, so it butts up against the house in this direction. Aspect is everything!

Remember that your Cym’s really do need as much sunlight as you can give them without burning them. And placement of a shade house is important. Make sure there are no shading trees around it and it receives full sun during the day, otherwise your Cymbidium orchids will end up with too much shade, and might not flower.

HOWEVER…….very quickly did I come to the conclusion that it was WAY TOO SMALL! I really don’t know what I was thinking, other than it fits the space really nicely and is awesome to raise seedlings in. To be honest, I really needed something 5 times the size I originally built, at least!

Building your own shade house will give you a great sense of achievement. You can build it to your measurement specifications and you can spend how much you want to doing it.

Personally I use a 50% shade cloth. I believe any more will shade your plants too much during the winter months, and you need as much filtered light as you can get to encourage a Cymbidium to flower. And to that end, I go to the extent of removing two sides of my shade house (the eastern and northern) during winter to bring in more light. It’s a bit painful, but it’s worth it in my mind.

But, for those who don’t have the skills, or the ability, or mobility to build, then it’s time to look at some of the alternatives on the retail market.

Retail Shade Houses

Below is just a very small selection of the variety that can be found on the retail market. There are plenty more so jump onto the internet and and have some fun looking at what is possible! And how to break the budget!

Sproutwell manufacture glasshouses, greenhouses and shade houses. They aren’t cheap, however they are very well manufactured, and very sturdy.

Pictured here is the shade mesh panel shade house more suited for Cym growing. It is unclear what the shade rating of the mesh is, so best to ask that question of them.
Sproutwell will also supply internal shelving to match your house, at an extra cost of course….
You can also easily raise the Greenhouse onto a dwarf wall (timber or brick) and add internal doors to create multiple zones or sidewall doors.
All the reviews and feedback about this manufacturer are pretty good, and their product looks impressive.

Aussie Green House Shade & Hot Houses
These guys have a slightly different approach to the backyard shade house.
The shade houses and greenhouses have commercial grade shade cloth in varying colours and coverages as well as built-in shelving systems and are easily adapted for all seasons.
They can be rain and frost protected in winter and shaded in summer, and the conversion only takes a few minutes.
Their kits are DIY when it comes to assembly and installation, with only a rubber mallet, drill and screwdriver needed.
A neat solution for a moderate sized shade house.

Garden Master
Again, Garden Master have a different take on the backyard shade house.
Made from steel and 50% shade cloth that comes in different colours.
This product comes as a flat pack for you to assemble and tiered plant stands to suit are available.
Suited to a small backyard or even courtyard, this would suit the beginner with a limited amount of space and a small number of plants, without the desire to amass a huge collection!
Made in South Australia, they are available from numerous stockists listed on their site.

Winter Gardenz
Winter Gardens have a similar style of shade house as Sproutwell, but based in New Zealand.

Their shade house range is widely available in Australia and made of 1.5mm expanded aluminium mesh which is locked into the framing with a patented rubber-beading system. With numerous size options, there would be one to suit almost everyone.
Winter Gardenz also manufacture greenhouses, shelving, and other related products for your shade house.
You can also easily raise the greenhouse onto a dwarf wall (timber or brick) and add internal doors to create a dual zone house.

Protectagrow Enthusiast Shade houses & Tunnel houses.
With a range of standard sizes available they are constructed with heavily galvanised weldmesh or pipe. To finish off they are covered with premium commercial grade shade cloth or horticultural grade plastic films.
With integrated shelving and a reinforced roof to carry the weight of hanging pots, this is another option for the backyard enthusiast.
They are a neat, and cheaper option to satisfy your Cymbidium orchid obsession.
EnviroTec also provide some impressive commercial shade houses too!

And to the grand daddy of them all, and my all time favourite, the Hartley Greenhouse!
A Hartley is probably well out of the price range of most, including me, but they look awesome! I don’t think I need to talk about these too much as a picture is worth a thousand words, so I’ll just leave this here….!

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