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Old 02-21-2009, 11:56 PM
 
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Hello!

My family hopes to build a greenhouse this summer which we plan to enjoy for many years. A lot of the information I've read puts forth the idea that greenhouse hobbyists keep their greenhouses either "warm" (75+ degrees during the day and as low as 60 at night) or "cool" (55-65 degrees during the day and as low as 45 at night), choosing the plants accordingly.

We live in frigid Minnesota, so to save on our electric bill, we plan to keep a "cool" greenhouse. My confusion is that I'm having a hard time figuring out exactly which hardiness zones correspond to those cooler temperatures.

As we plan to populate our cool greenhouse, which zones should we focus on?

Thanks so much for your input, as this is a new hobby for us, and we want to be sure that we invest in plants that will do well under the conditions we create.
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Old 02-22-2009, 02:37 AM
 
Location: rain city
2,956 posts, read 11,055,746 times
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What do you plan to grow in the greenhouse? When? Summer, winter? For starting seedlings or keeping tropical plants year round?

A proper greenhouse needs good ventilation in the summer, even in the north. Generally it would need to be right about 70F all the time. To accomplish this it would need heat in the winter and good ventilation in the summer.

I worked in a place of 55 degrees north latitude, approximately the same as Edmonton, Canada, well north of you. The ventilation fan system was broken and during the summer the greenhouse ran between 90F to 100F. Only the agaves survived. In the winter the door and window seals leaked and with extra heaters we were barely able to keep it around 60F. The tropical plants suffered.

Greenhouses are not 'cool' in the summer, as they are designed to maximize warmth. This can be too much of a good thing. It also depends on where you plan to locate such a greenhouse. Freestanding? Attached to the south side of a building? Under trees? Out in the open?
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Old 02-22-2009, 02:54 AM
 
Location: somewhere close to Tampa, but closer to the beach
2,035 posts, read 4,421,035 times
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Karlaina,

From what you are describing,..you might consider researching plant specimens from cooler tropical mountainous regions of China, Australia, Chile, New Zealand, and Mexico..especially if your night time temps. will hang out in the 40's year round..

If, during the winter you might keep temps. closer to freezing..look into plants from places like the Alps..or other "alpine" type regions..



one question i might ask is how big of a greenhouse are you planning?..what would be the winter conditions you'd have the greenhouse set to follow?..ok, that was two ?'s..lol..

Zone wise, your set up sounds like it might mirror something like a cool 10a-b,..like foggy San Francisco..or New Zealand,or higher altitude regions of the tropics..

Plants which like this type of climate include:

Chilean blue crocus (Tecophilea cyanocrocus)..a rare and spectacular bulb from the high elevations of Chile..everyone should have this one..

Many species of Primrose, Gentian, and Campanulas (bluebell sp.) from Europe must have cooler conditions to succeed. These are species which come from the Alps, and Pyrenees mountains and may often covered in snow for months.. While harder to locate, many are available in the US..

Because of the temp. profile you are looking to set up,..you might look into many of these..even if the plants won't see snow cover..i can't imagine having trouble..


Also of note, several unusual bulbs and iris species come from similar conditions as well..

In this type of environment is also perfect for several species of orchids and tropicals which come from the cooler cloud forest regions of Mexico, Central America, China, and Australia..the most widely available orchids i can think of include Cymbidiums and many Dendrobium species..There are also a few tropical-looking palms which prefer this type of set up over a hot greenhouse, which is geared towards growing tropicals from hot lowland places like the Amazon basin, Tropical Africa, and Asia..

You may also look into many alpine type plants common to the Rockies as well.
A couple examples include: sky pilot..can't remember the scientific name on this one.. several species of Shooting Stars ( Dodecatheon sp. ) and some or the Erythroniums (trout lilies)..Though a couple of these grow in lower elevation areas of the west, most like cooler conditions..Ther are also several lily species from Europe, Japan, and China which hate any sort of heat..hense why i can't grow them here..lol

Greenhouses whether cool or warmer can be a really consuming hobby as you discover and obtain unique plant specimens..Another positive about the hobby is the chance to see something you might not otherwise have the opertunity to enjoy as many plants from higher,cooler environments are especially threatened with extinction..

The Chilean blue crocus i referanced earlier was only recently re-discovered in the wild after it was deemed extinct for decades in its native habitat..

A neat web site to look into is the cloud forest cafe..they frequently discuss plants from cooler places and might have some great advise.. hope this helps..

Last edited by si33; 02-22-2009 at 03:49 AM..
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Old 02-22-2009, 07:14 PM
 
Location: Alaska and Texas
202 posts, read 730,857 times
Reputation: 138
Default check with cooperative extension

Quote:
Originally Posted by Karlaina View Post
Hello!

My family hopes to build a greenhouse this summer which we plan to enjoy for many years. A lot of the information I've read puts forth the idea that greenhouse hobbyists keep their greenhouses either "warm" (75+ degrees during the day and as low as 60 at night) or "cool" (55-65 degrees during the day and as low as 45 at night), choosing the plants accordingly.

We live in frigid Minnesota, so to save on our electric bill, we plan to keep a "cool" greenhouse. My confusion is that I'm having a hard time figuring out exactly which hardiness zones correspond to those cooler temperatures.

As we plan to populate our cool greenhouse, which zones should we focus on?

Thanks so much for your input, as this is a new hobby for us, and we want to be sure that we invest in plants that will do well under the conditions we create.
There are many variations on climate zones, even in your yard. A plant may die in one spot and grow like crazy in another. You probably have a Cooperative Extension or maybe a college based information center that can make suggestions for you.
I have a greenhouse in Alaska and can usually depend on it being 5 degrees warmer at night and many degrees warmer on sunny days. I grow lots of cool crops like lettuce, spinach, crucifers, beets, asian greens so my greenhouse is not sealed or heated at all. Your hot summers will require some sort of ventilation on sunny days. You either have to manually open it up or have a fan to exhaust the hot air out. I built mine using corrugated plastic panels from Home Depot. Cheap, looks good and very durable.
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