Growing orchids in a small backyard hot house can be easier than you might think. If you take pleasure from the beautiful blossoms that well-tended orchids produce, then a hot house can be a good way for you to pursue this hobby. Perhaps your orchid fancy has outgrown the space you have available in your home, or perhaps you have found it difficult to maintain the temperature and humidity that most orchids require. When you have a special place to grow your orchids, you can escape into a fantasy land every time you enter it.
Design your hot house on paper before you begin to build it. It needn’t be large—8 feet by 10 or 12 feet will give you plenty of space for shelves and hanging orchids.
Decide what type of building materials you want to use and how much you’ll need to buy. A simple hot house consists of a 2-by-4 frame covered with either clear corrugated fiberglass or heavy clear plastic. For example, if you want your hot house to measure 6 by 10 feet, 8 feet tall and with a roof that is hinged so you can pop it open on warm days, calculate how many 2-by-4 boards you will need to purchase.
Construct the four walls of your hot house by nailing together four 2-by-4s into four identical rectangular shapes. Nail one supporting 2-by-4 board vertically in the center of each wall structure.
Prop up your four wall sections in place and then screw them together with metal braces. If you are building your hot house against a building, bolt the frame that rests against it to the building. Allow for a door on one side of your hot house: 2 feet by 6 feet is a good size. Be sure to insert two 2-by-4s on either side of the door’s location—you’ll be attaching your door with hinges to one side of the opening.
Construct the roof by nailing together four 2-by-4 boards that are the same size as the footprint of your hothouse. Support this piece with one or two 2-by-4s in the center. Cover it with your fiberglass or clear plastic and then attach heavy-duty hinges to one end, which will connect to one end of your hot house. Lift the roof to sit on top of your hothouse and then secure the hinges to the frame.
Cover your hot house with corrugated clear fiberglass designed for greenhouses or heavy gauge clear plastic.
Build a door from 2-by-4s and cover it with clear plastic or fiberglass. Attach it with hinges to the opening you created on one side of the frame.
Cut the 1-by-12 boards to the length you desire for your shelves. Then screw on shelf brackets and attach them to the hot house frame an appropriate distance apart for the size of your potted orchids that will sit on them.
Determine how many fluorescent grow lights your orchids will need, based on the types of quantity of plants you plan to grow. Some orchids need shade—if you are growing a low light orchid variety, hang shade cloth above the area where it will sit.
Provide a heat source and a fan or two for your orchids—you might choose an electric space heater, kerosene heater or solar heat source. The fan will facilitate air circulation and you can use it on warmer days to cool the temperature inside your hot house. Also install a thermometer in a shaded area of your hot house so you can monitor the temperature and control it accordingly.
Set up an automatic watering and misting system if you want.