orchid527's greenhouse

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May 29, 2011
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southern Indiana
I have posted a few photos and was asked to provide some information about my greenhouse. This is a short photo summary of the construction.

In 2010 we decided to down size both our house and our greenhouse. We moved to this place in southern Indiana and one of the primary factors was the good southern exposure. We decided to remove the deck and build a 26 x 8 foot greenhouse using a kit from Florian. We checked with several companies, but they had the best combination of quality, price and fit. Also, their website permitted us to do a lot of the preliminary
design work.

The first real step was to excavate below grade and dig a trench for the footer. This is the only work I didn’t do myself. The guy doing the excavating was an artist. He operated the back hoe as if it were an extension of his body. He worked for 5 hours, hauling away 3 truck loads of dirt and only charged me $600. Southern Indiana is an inexpensive place to live.

I poured the concrete footer, built the foundation, leveled the dirt, laid sheets of insulation, and moved in many tons of sand. Regarding the foundation, after laying the first course of blocks, I realized there was enough extra space on the footer to accommodate an additional block, so I added extra blocks on end to form the base of a perimeter shelf.

The brick wall was then finished being careful to match the lines of mortar joints on the house and making sure the first layers were well bonded to the blocks.

I then tiled the inside of perimeter shelf, leveled the sand and added pavers to form the greenhouse floor.

The next step was to attach a wood plate to the top of the brick wall, add flashing and attach the base plate of greenhouse frame to the wood plate. A wood header was attached to the house beneath the soffets and the metal top plate was bolted to the wood header. Metal I-beams were then bolted to both base plate and top plate and cross pieces were added to stabilize the I-beams.

This part of the assembly went fast and, although far from complete, it was easy to imagine how the greenhouse would look.

I added the glass panels and the glazing strips and bolted the glazing strips into place. These bolts are stainless steel and they really stood out against the darker frame, so I used some tinted primer and painted them all. It sounds excessive, but it only took about an hour.

I installed the side vents, insulated the brick wall and added concrete backer board for the perimeter shelf.

The roof vents were assembled and the gutter was reattached. It was necessary to relocate the vent actuator and adjust microswitches so that vents did not contact gutter.

All of the work was finished and the area around the greenhouse dressed up in about three months. The greenhouse has a layer of 50% Aluminet shading installed on the inside using 1 inch foam piping in the channels of the I-beams, just like you would install screen in an aluminum frame for a screen window. I also have a layer of 50% polypropylene that I can install on the outside during the summer. It is stretched tight to minimize contact with the glass. I am able to keep the greenhouse at 60 degrees in the winter with a single 120 volt heater. I am guessing that it adds about $40 to our monthly bill. I used to pay more than 10 times as much to heat my old 400 sq ft greenhouse with propane. I have installed a fan for air circulation, but have not yet added a misting system to the greenhouse.

The cost of the kit from Florian was about $14,000. Excavation and building materials added another $3500. The instructions were fairly accurate and the Florian staff was able to answer most questions. They were not of much help when I needed to adjust the actuator, but it was easy enough to figure out. I believe anyone could do this work if they are physically strong enough and they have some common sense. It does take some time, so don’t think you are going to do it in a few weekends. It is probably important to note that this is the third greenhouse that I have built.

This is a picture from a few months ago. Due to extremely hot weather, there is not much in bloom right now. All of the plants in bud have been moved inside.
Regarding the side vents, you can get as many as will fit, but they add to the cost. I wanted a layout that would work and look OK. Regarding the top vents, there are two sections and they go most of the way across the top.
Wow that is some impressive & inspiring work. I would love to someday do the same. Great plants too. Thanks for sharing.
Very nice glass house. How hot does it get in the summer even with the vents open? The low profile of the structure would hamper the use of this style here in Texas. My house is just over 12 feet to the peak in order to get the heat up and away from the plants.
Beautiful :)
You should be proud of your hard work!
Thanks for sharing in detail :)

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The greenhouse runs a few degrees over ambient temperature. It is about 8 feet from the floor to the ceiling at the front of the benches and the floor is slightly below grade. It's is as tall as it can be and still fit. HOA would only permit attached structures. I think with appropriate shading and some cooling, I can continue to grow and flower all of these plants, unless it gets a whole lot hotter in the years ahead, and that is entirely possible.

Not much in bloom?????

That's a beautiful space, and I agree that Florian is the best. We are very happy with ours. But I'm really impressed that you put it together yourself!

The glass panels are about an inch thick with two layers of metal oxide coated glass and a heavy gasket between the two layers of glass. They are not tinted, so the full spectrum of light comes through. I had no previous experience with this type of glass and was surprised at how well it insulates. You can put your had on it in the winter and it does not feel cold.


There is not much in bloom right now. That last photo was taken in May, just before I cut the spikes on most of the phals. The recent heat has taken care of most of the remaining spring bloomers and I don't have much that blooms in the summer, just a few catts, some phrags and a couple of multiflora paphs.

What a great greenhouse! Just a question, as I also have a house with brick walls. Are you not worried about the moisture from you greenhouse affecting the walls/facade of your house negatively? Maybe this is not an issue in your climate?

The humidity is very high here most of the year, with moisture condensing on outside surfaces nearly every morning. We also get about 1 meter of rain per year. Consequently, home are constructed with effective vapor barriers. I would have been more concerned if the outside was made of wood.

This greenhouse tends to run a little on the dry side with the RH dropping below 40% in the daytime and rarely reaching 100% at night. I never spray onto the walls, so I don't have problems with algae, but it would be easy to fix, if I ever did.