Our Traditional Greenhouse

Traditional Greenhouses

January 2014


Succulents are an easy plant to grow inside the greenhouse.  They are tolerant of neglect and require little watering.  Growing them in a container will produce an abundance of foliage in a few months.  The succulents will spill over the brim of the flower pot and continue to spiral down the container.

December 2013

Growing inside a greenhouse is a raised bed made out of felt.  The raised bed allows more space for the plants’ roots to grow and expand.  Inside this bed are succulents, a cactus, purple heart and house plants.  The raised bed never leaves the greenhouse, has minimal weeds, and is easy to care for each week.This is a look inside one of Solar Innovations, Inc.’s greenhouses.  House plants grow inside this greenhouse year round.  The greenhouse is heated and cooled and has both ventilation and humidifiers.  Shown here is a rod system that holds numerous hanging baskets.  Succulents, palms, geraniums, cacti, and trailing vines are growing.

October 2013

Solar Innovations, Inc. raises pineapple plants in their display greenhouses.  The plants are easy growers in a heated greenhouse.  Solar is based in Pennsylvania, and a pineapple would never survive the winters, but they thrive inside a greenhouse.  It takes two years for a pineapple to fruit.  At this time, the fruit is harvested, and the next year’s foliage is already growing.

September 2013

It is very easy to grow new plants without spending any money.  Succulents are simple plants to propagate.  Simply snap off a leaf of an existing plant, stick it in soil, water, and wait.  In about two weeks, you will start to see new growth emerging.  The one leaf will continue to grow into a new plant.

July 2013

Solar Innovations is attempting to raise caterpillars in their display greenhouse.  Several customers have shown interest in raising butterflies in greenhouses, so Solar has decided to do some R&D work.  By raising the butterflies, Solar will learn more about what butterflies require to live inside a greenhouse.  The butterflies were bought as caterpillars and will need a few weeks to morph into a butterfly.  After hatching, the butterflies will be released into the greenhouse where they will feed on the nectar of flowers and on slices of fresh fruit.


Greenhouse Strawberries

June 2013

Another two quarts of strawberries were picked from our manufacturing facility’s strawberry patch. The plants are grown outside in a bed which adjoins our warehouse.

April 2013

The cold frame beds have been fully planted now. There are three beds filled with soil where seedlings and seeds were planted.  The radishes have sprouted under just a week, and the tips of the beets are emerging. Containers are planted in the last cold frame.  Lettuce, flowers, and broccoli are growing in this cold frame.  Seeds are also being started for May transplant into the garden.

Cold Frame Greenhouse

February 2013

Back in September I planted daffodil bulbs in small flower pots with the intention of winter blooms.  The bulbs were planted in a 4″ terracotta and kept in an unheated greenhouse, under a flower pot that is kept out the sunlight.  About once every two weeks the bulbs were watered.  Around Christmas the bulbs started poking through the soil.  They have now grown to full height and produced two clusters of petite white daffodils in February.  There is snow outside, and we are enjoying spring flowers.

November 2012

All greenhouses gather dirt throughout the year.  It is imperative to keep the greenhouse as clean as possible to prevent the buildup of diseases and pests.  Keeping the floor swept and as clean as possible helps reduce the greenhouse dirt.  Make sure to clean in the corners of the greenhouse where a lot of leaves, potting soil, and algae like to live. Another way to keep the greenhouse clean is to clean your flower pots after use.When a plant dies, or you transplant one to a larger container, make sure you wash the container.  Bugs or scale will continue growing in the remaining potting soil, on the bottom of the pot, and under the lips.  Photographed here is Solar cleaning their containers for the winter.  We use a mixture of water, dish detergent, and a dash of vinegar.

October 2012

Here is a new project for the garden next year or greenhouse over winter. Grow your own peanuts.  Most gardeners have never thought of growing a peanut, but they are a simple and easy plant to grow.  Mostly grown in southern states, they can be grown up north.  They need long hours of sunlight and average soil.  You can buy the seeds online and plant them like a regular seed before your last frost date which gives them a head start.  The peanuts will bloom like a regular flower.  At the end of summer, we harvest the peanuts and get around 10 fruits per plant.  You can roast the peanuts for a homemade snack.

October 2012

A popular fall activity is to force bulbs for winter blooms.  In February there are no flowers blooming outside, if you live in the North. By forcing a bulb it starts there will be blooms in February for the windowsill.  It is quite easy to force a bulb.  All you have to do is find a container and fill half of it with potting soil, place the bulb top up, and fill the remainder of the container with potting soil.  Keep the flower pot in a cool location under 50 degrees, water occasionally, and wait.  When you start to see the green sprouts, bring it to daylight, and water it consistently each week.  Soon you will have February blooms.

September 2012

Recently I read an article online that said you can start a lemon tree from a seed in the fruit. I found this hard to believe but decided to give it a try. The lemon I used was from the local grocery store. Four seeds were removed from the fruit and placed into potting soil. They were treated like regular seeds that are started in the spring. The seed packets were placed in a tray over-top a heat mat and covered with a humidity dome. I almost fell over when two weeks later there were sprouts in the container. Sure enough, I have three small lemon seedlings growing.

August 2012

Greenhouses are limited in space and are quickly filled with plants. Large vegetables like cucumbers and watermelons are often not grown in a greenhouse, because they require much space. Our benches are no different in the greenhouses. In order to grow a cucumber this year we are growing vertically. An English cucumber seedling was planted in the bottom of a bucket and grown upside-down. English cucumbers will typically pollinate on their own which makes them a great candidate for a greenhouse. The plant seems to grow slower, and now that it is August, we have our first cucumber starting to develop. Since the fruit is inside a greenhouse, the delayed start time will not matter. It can continue to grow well into the fall months when the greenhouse remains warm.

Summer 2012

Here is a current look inside Solar’s traditional greenhouse in August.  The sunshine is streaming onto the plants.  The paint can plants are rapidly growing and filling out with great color. On top of the shelf, a papaya continues growing taller by the day. Coming down the trellis is a soft lilac cork screw vine.

Greenhouse Corner – Spring 2012

This is a vignette photograph of our greenhouse from up high. Last week I had to hang a trellis, and I noticed how different the greenhouse looks from six feet in the air.
The view from the ladder shows a lot of color, and the greenhouse looks very much alive.

March 2012

The traditional greenhouse has crocuses blooming right now. These were bulbs that were forced into bloom. They were started in October and then kept in the dark for months. About once a month I would water them. The temperature was around 40 degrees for the majority of months. Around January the bulbs started to poke through, and now in March they bloomed. There are more bulbs to come which are still growing. 

January 2011

Solar Innovations, Inc. Papya Tree

Last year I bought a papaya plant. I like to shop online looking for exotic plants, something different. I was instantly attracted to the papaya, so, I bought it. I like to grow plants that produce fruit. When the plant arrived to our facility, it was incredibly sick. I thought the plant was going to die, so I sent it back for a return. The next plant I got looked almost as sick. I figured I will have to try and nurse it back to health or it will just die. Grow it did. I tend to have a problem with neglecting my healthy plants. The plants that have insects or a fungus get a lot of attention from me. My other plants get water and fertilizer now and again. Well, I took a look around the greenhouse this week and noticed just how healthy the papaya has become. It has probably grown four feet in a year, which is absolutely amazing. The trunk is getting quite thick, and it looks like a real papaya tree now. Unlike other trees, the papaya does not have branches, but rather a set of leaves at the top of the trunk. The leaves are beautifully shaped, with multiple segments. The tree gives a tropical feeling to any room in which it is grown. I have read that the papaya will reach 10 feet, so hopefully in the next two years we will start receiving fruit. The tree does not like cold temperatures and should not be in rooms below 55 degrees at the absolute lowest.

December 2011

Solar Innovations, Inc.’s Amaryllis Blooms
The latest excitement in the greenhouse is the bloom of our amaryllis. The greenhouse staff has anxiously awaited the bloom on this plant. Last year the bulb was purchased, but it did not bloom for us. Within two weeks of setting a spike, the plant bloomed. We were delighted to find it was a deep pink with white center, as everyone was expecting red. The plant set three flowers and each are around five inches, full and saturated in color. The plant has been moved to the lobby for everyone to enjoy the blooms while they last.

November 2011

Solar Innovations, Inc.’s Jade Vine
This is the newest addition to the Solar Innovations greenhouses, the Jade Vine. I saw a picture of the plant in a magazine and was instantly drawn to it. I was looking for a vine and the jade vine was it. She produces bunches of flowers which resemble bean pods in a deep turquoise color. It will take several years to bloom but well worth the wait. I wanted something interesting to use for a trellis, and I found a personal mister at a local store. I am going to work at training the plant to grow in a spiral form. The vine will certainly outgrow this piece, but then we will move it onto a larger unit.

October 2011

Solar Innovations, Inc. Terrariums
Terrariums are an old art form for growing plants. The terrarium is used for growing small scale plants, often miniatures. Solar Innovations, Inc. has several terrariums at our facility. I enjoy propagating plants and using them in the terrariums. Any glass bowl will work for a terrarium. All of the ones we have used here at Solar have been from a thrift store. Because the terrariums are enclosed, there is nowhere for water to go, so you need to create a gravel base where water can collect. Some people add charcoal next which is not a bad idea to help the potting soil which creates the next layer. Finally you add the plants. In this picture I sloped the terrarium’s ground layer. I placed Styrofoam peanuts on top of the potting soil, then added additional soil around the peanuts. This gave the terrarium some depth and visual interest. I also added gravel to the terrarium for more color and texture. Lastly, you add a glass lid, or a plastic one, whatever you have that captures moisture but let’s in light. I do not water my terrariums as often as the regular plants as they hold water for longer.



April 2011

Solar Innovations, Inc.’s Terrarium
Last month I visited the Philadelphia Flower Show. We are always amazed and impressed with all the displays. We noticed there were a lot of terrarium judging competitions. We took pictures and decided to create my own. The terrariums and wardian cases were beautiful, and we assumed we could make one here at Solar Innovations, Inc. We started by buying two carnivorous plants, a Venus fly trap, and a pitcher plant. Next, was the container. We went to a thrift store and found what appears to be a pedestal dessert bowl. I filled the bottom quarter of the bowl with orchid mix along with Spanish moss. Then, I put the plants in the bowl, covered with more soil, and added more moss. I think the container looks very attractive. The green moss is accented by the red pitcher plant.

March 2011

Solar Innovations, Inc.’s Seedlings
Seeds are sprouting at rapid rates. It seems that everything is happening all at once in the greenhouse now. While it is March and it seems warm outside, it is still too cold for planting vegetables. The rule of thumb in Pennsylvania is after the last frost or after Mother’s Day for outdoor plantings. Until that time, the seedlings need to be kept cool. If they are allowed to be in a warm environment, they will sprout quickly and become equally leggy. This is not what you want in a plant. To get around this I keep my seedlings in a cool location that is between 50 and 60 degrees. You never want it to drop below 40 or go above 70. I have the seeds in a sunroom, and I crack the windows to keep it cool inside here. The seeds will get strong and develop a strong thick stem.

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