This article was written for the March Now & Then Magazine, so pictures were taken in late February.
Spring Fever hits many adults this time of year. Thoughts of vegetable and flower gardens have some gardeners starting seeds of their favorite plants indoors. But not everyone has the time or patience to carry out this slow process.
That’s where greenhouses come into the picture. After visiting several greenhouses of all sizes, it makes a person ready to plan what flowers they want for their gardens. My favorite hanging basket, a pink and purple fuchsia, has already been ordered.
The first order of business for greenhouses consists of ordering various sizes of containers for planting and lots of good soil, often by the truckload.
Some begin in February sowing seeds in good loose soil filled with air that plant roots need. This type of soil also holds moisture well, but drains easily so as not to over-water. Extra care is also taken not to give the plants too much fertilizer as then they will grow tall and spindly. Others wait until March to start their seeds.
Surprisingly, many of the plants are started in the fall of the year from cuttings of healthy mother plants. Succulents, ornamental begonias, and coleus are examples of plants started from cuttings. While the greenhouse owners make it appear easy, it may not be that easy for everyone. They cut the branches from a mother plant, and simply stick it in good soil, while keeping the correct moisture in the soil. Soon small roots appear!
Some plants, however, have patents and greenhouses are not permitted to grow new plants from cuttings. These they have to purchase in trays from a supplier, such as Proven Winner . When they arrive they are very small plants, but with a little tender care, they will be ready to re-pot for use in hanging baskets, custom orders, or for sale as individual plants.
One greenhouse just recently installed heated floors in the section where they were doing the seeding and cuttings. By use of a wood burner, it keeps the floor at about 70 degrees, the perfect temperature for these young plants.
Not every place has economical heating available, so they delay potting things until later in March. That is one reason that more greenhouses are now purchasing their small plants in trays of plugs. It just isn’t cost effective to heat their greenhouses while they start plants from seed.
Of great importance is getting the plants at their peak at just the right time. That takes perfect timing especially when you are selling the plants. Requests for custom orders in special containers or hanging baskets is one special service of the greenhouses. So each greenhouse has their weekly schedule for planting so their plants peak at the correct time.
Flowers aren’t the only thing you’ll find at the greenhouse. Right now specialty trees that are high risk reside inside a covered, yet cool, greenhouse to keep them in their dormant state. Fruit trees, magnolias and small shrubs and pines still need extra protection.
For those with a passion for gardening, a few are fortunate enough to have their own greenhouse. These are often filled with plants from their garden that they want to save from year to year, along with some they want to experiment with. Often they take cuts of their favorites for expansion of a certain flower bed, or perhaps to give to their friends.
When talking about greenhouses, a unique one visited a couple years ago keeps coming to mind. This greenhouse is made of over 1000 plastic pop bottles, which will never need replaced as they don’t decompose. This is used year round to start plants and grow food for the family. Solar panels provide heat for this plant haven.
People who work with plants enjoy “watching things grow”. When you place a seed or a cutting into the soil, it’s a miracle to see them develop into a beautiful plant. The fascination never stops.