Pennsylvania Sunroom 2014+

Since March 2014 when I landed in this state, SRQHoyas has been evolving from inside the sunroom. A lot of trial and error has occurred and now I believe I have 'Nature from Within' figured out and the plants have been rewarding me with much new growth and few dropped leaves.

From the outside this structure seems to be very simple and calm but from within there are various ecosystems that I had to learn about and deal with keeping the needs of the hoyas in mind.  First there was the layout of the room which I had already mapped out prior to giving the builders the dimensions of the space.  There was little room for rearranging but at one point I thought all of the benches must be moved to the perimeter of the room in order to capture as much sunshine as I possibly could.  But as the seasons changed, I soon learned that I was going to spend much time and energy 'chasing the sun'.  My goal was to find what worked best and leave it that way.  The plants now have their 'forever home' and are all in their 'forever space'.

I access this room by thru sliding glass doors that are in my Dining Room.  These doors stay open most of the day when I am at home since I am in and out most of the day and because Nico, my doggie, then has access to her doggie door to the fenced backyard.  I find that when I close them, someone ends up walking or running into the glass because they expect it to be open.  As you can see, the brick wall was the exterior wall of the home prior to constructing this room.

I refer to this area as Nico's Lounge since this is where she spends most evenings sleeping while I work.  Her job is to keep me company and she does her job well if it is after 5pm EST.

As before in the Florida Set Up...the hoyas are placed on the benches in alphabetical order as to make the fulfillment of my orders easier.  This is the beginning of the alphabet and also the start of the big 'U shaped' configuration of the benches.  This area also gets the afternoon sunshine from the windows which provides some but not near enough light for growth.  Keep in mind that this is an actual structure built to keep nature out and comfort in.  The windows are tinted and well insulated although they do open to one side.  The warmth provided is also welcomed during any season so this is the space that was most coveted prior to installing the lighting sytems throughout.

Walking back toward the huge wall of windows that make up the west end of the room is where the Hoyas that names begin with the letter L have ended up.  The West Facing wall would be ideal for the most light except for the 55 year old tree that blocks a good bit of the natural light for most of the summer season when it is full of leaves.  Also the hanging hoyas provide a screen from the west side so what I thought would be bright light year round is at best filtered light.

The hanging hoyas line the western side of this room and as with the plants that are being supported upright with bamboo hoops. These also are in alphabetical order for the most part.  Much sunshine comes through when the leaves have fallen from the change of seasons but again is filtered through tinted windows.  The hoyas near the hanging support bar dry out quite quickly since the temperature is a bit warmer up closer to the ceiling.  These plants are rotated often so they receive ample light on both sides of the plant.

Hoyas hang in 4" as well as 6" pink and white pots for the span of the glass wall like a curtain of green.  The other advantage to this is they provide privacy from the backyard neighbors that seem far enough away but during the darker hours the inside of the room is visible since it is lit up like daytime.

As you can see in the photo, I have also supplemented the outside light with 3 LED lightbulbs which I daisy chained together and positioned to shine on most of the plants.  I am not yet convinced these lights are as desireable as the T5 fluorescents and the Metal Halide bulbs I am hanging from up above.  But the need to shine vertically as well as keeping the pathway open to foot traffic warranted this homemade solution.  For a closer look at the configuration, I show more in a blog.

Also along the back wall I have positioned a pump system that I use to transport water from a Rainbarrel outside the room to water, feed and mist the hoyas.

During the warmer months I have four rainbarrels collecting water for the hoyas as well as irrigating my yard and vegetable garden. For the colder months I find that only one barrel is neccessary as I must keep the water from freezing with the use of an aquarium heater which hangs inside the conatainer.

This hose is then run in through a window, that I sealed off, then down along the wall on the floor to the irrigation pump.

I have found the plants respond much better to rainwater all year even though the water, from a faucet inside the room, is chlorine free and set at 80°F.  Of course if the barrel runs dry the inside water will work just fine.

The 'Daddy' of all my lights is the 1000 watt Metal Halide light with a round reflector.  This fixture covers a 10ft x 10ft area and provides much needed winter heat to the room.  The plants that I stratigically placed under this light are the newest finds from Thailand...or at least some of them.  I brought 3 of these lights with me, when I relocated, but decided to only hang one at this time due to the cost of operation.

To hang the fixture was tricky since I chose not to hang fixtures from the ceiling if at all possible.  The existing ceiling fan turned out to be very stable and useful in this process.

Also, keep in mind that these kinds of lights depend on a very heavy Digital Ballast to power the bulb.  This too had to find a secure space near the ceiling.  I found plant 'S' hooks in various sizes very useful in the configuration of this room.

I will also thank and give credit to Doug of for advising me to have power installed into the ceiling of this room while it was being constructed.  Since he grows indoors in the Northeastern United States, he had the experience to know that the days can be quite short and grey and hoyas may need to have another light source to thrive and survive! Thanks Doug!!!

The only other Metal Halide light I have installed at this time is a 600 Watt Metal Halide with a rectangular shaped hood. The ballast is a bit less cumbersome and could also suspend that from the great fixture hanger!  I chose to place the un-named species of Hoya (Hoya sp.) below this one. 

Different from the larger light, I was able to suspend this fixture from a Jump Start Plant Stand with extension that I used throughout the room.  What a great find on Amazon!!!

The eastside facing side of the room is also the side that receives a bit of outside light during the night hours.  I found that the plants suffered greatly during those months because they require a very dark period as humans do.  I installed three black room darkening roller blinds on the windows on that side.  As I drilled into the walls of the room, to secure the blinds, I happened to hit a wire and shorted out a breaker that controlled a large part of the room...ooops.  I called the builders and they sent two guys out immediately, to remedy the problem, secure the exposed wire and hang the remaining two blinds...that's great customer servcie!

My propagation area happens to be on this side of the configured room too.  Above I have 4 foot T5 Fluorescent Light fixtures and below I have metal trays that sit on Heat Mats.  My cuttings root with in 7-10 days under these conditions any month of the year.  I also am growing yellow tomato plants and Gerbera Daisys from seed in this area.  I am hoping to get fruit on the tomato plants and get a head start on spring Flower Bed planting with these experiments.

Rounding out the plants are areas in the inside of the the 'U configuration'.  The smaller plants that have been restarted or those that need special attention are here.

The hoyas beginning with M - P are here and share the light from the 1000W light.

The R - Z plants end the alphabet in this space, all below the T5 fixtures with alternating grow and Foliage bulbs.

The Pink are for Blooming and the Blue for Growth.

The T5 fixtures are from Hydrofarm and a 4 feet x 8 bulbs. The great thing about these is that these can hang horizontally of vertically and three can be daisy chained together and powered by one outlet.

I also purchased additional lights and I chose a newer model from EnviroGro. The only drawback I have noticed so far is that they do not offer to option to daisy chain together so I opted for a three outlet adapter to simulate this which just means there are more cords leading to the ceiling outlets.  I note the date I turn these lights on to know when to replace the bulbs for ultimum light output.

The sunroom has four skylights that are useless and do not benefit the plants. If I had it to do over again I would have opted for Solatubes instead since they provide tons more light for less cost and chance for leaking in from the roof.

My 'Old Faithful' potting bench is still with me and continues to serve my needs well.  I stain and seal it every few years, tighten the bolts and screws and it has lasted me since 1998.

This is where I store my supplies, work on my laptop and prepare orders for shipping.  A flat screen TV hangs just above and keeps me informed and entertained throughout the workday and evening.

Since installing the lights the room is easily kept at or above the goal of 73°F. During the day the heat does not assist at all and I have noticed temperatures up to 80°F.  This being during the times when the outside temperatures stay below 40°F.  I can only imagine what summertime days will heat up to inside the room?  It appears that the heaters may only be needed during the winter and when the lights are not in operation which is 9pm through 7am.  Let's see if the power bill reflectes those seemingly advantages to running the lights!?

I had designed this Sunroom would be a very 'Green' area...aside from the plants...I did what I could to make it energy efficient.  The Solar Panels installed just outside the space charges a battery that will run small voltage items.  The sun has successfully powered my Lawn Mower all summer and now is charging the battery to my Snow Blower.

There are quite a few critters who have made this space their home by choice or by being planted there.  I noticed a short time after arriving from Florida that a couple of lizards had stowed away in the plants for the trip. One poked his head out of the conduit bar that I have the plants hanging on and another was noticed being chased by Nico one afternoon.  They has somehow dissappeared by escaping during the summer months when I carelessly neglected to close the doors?

I decided that after noticing many spider 'ropes' being spun each night it might be a good idea to bring a few more of those anoles back to the space.  Funnily enough, in PA I must pay for these critters in contrast to seeing them by the tens each day in the Sunshine State. Either way, Charlie and Freddie are healthy and happy and seem to be doing their job which is to keep the insects at bay without the need for pesticides.  Spiders are welcomed as opposed to the snakes and Cuban trees frogs that used to invade my space although I still am on guard for the frogs who used to camoflouge themselves as rocks on top of the mix in my pots.  I've yet to see a snake slithering anywhere on the property and am getting used to leaving the doors open each time I pass through.

I now again have an area that is set aside for 'Babies' which translated are the return of SRQHoyas offering well rooted plants.  This space is expected to grow as time goes on and the plants are able to produce the vines need to restock SRQHoyas.

We are very happy in our new home and hope to have SRQHoyas running at full capacity in 2015!

Thanks so much for growing hoyas and as always...HAPPY GROWING!!!




Summer 2013 Set Up

By the beginning of March I was ready to begin the move to the lanai, I proceeded slowly but at least I was making some progress. I chose the plants that I had documented as cool weather plant and positioned them on the plant shelf. Also, I thought it would be safe to bring out the majority of the hanging plants since they hang near the house they are not exposed to the cooler temperatures of the wide open space.  Little did I know, on or about the 3rd week of March the nighttime temperatures were forecast to drop down into the 30°s and the days would only warm to 50° during the day.  To protect the plants I had already acclimated to the shelf, I brought out the blankets and tucked them around the plants and anchored then with hooks.  I left the plants covered like that day and night for the entire week.  Unfortunately the winds were very strong as they whipped through the lanai and exposed many of the plants at the ends of the coverings.

This is not a welcomed sight but it was necessary and the result was I did not lose any plants but a large number of plants did suffer extensive leaf damage.  As I removed the blankets for the last time which happened to be during a family visit, they gladly assisted in bringing the entire stock of plants outside to the now sunny and warm lanai.  What a difference a week can make here in the south.  My goal was to take all of the "Mother Plants" outside and continue to grow the 'Babies' inside under the T5 lights until they had been sold. They had grown so much during the winter that they were fairly large, very tangled and in alphabetical order, I did not have the energy to tackle moving them out to nature. But, my sister and nieces insisted they be brought out back also so I would be able to turn off the lights inside...a 'Green' thing to do :0)

These are the plants I have available for sale. Most of them were started from cuttings last summer and some are even getting ready to bloom.  When these have been purchased and shipped to their new homes, cuttings will be all I am able to offer this season.

'Imperialis Row'
Growers of this species know that they grows tall and prefers a secure base. But instead of re potting into a large pot which may result in root rot...just sit the smaller pot inside the heavier pot and fill will rocks or the like.

This was the result of needing more space to hang the new stock so that it would be exposed to many hours of sunshine each day.
I can always find more space for new hoyas!!!

The shelf suspended from the pool cage supports. What a tangled web the hoyas weave being this closely positioned.
But they are very very happy with the 8 hours of light they receive most days.
A poolside spot for many of the mature plants.
Many hangers are just as happy NOT being in direct sunlight most of the day.
I think the Hoya lacunosas prefer this spot.
These hoyas receive the total afternoon sunshine and do see empty spaces for more plants!

I am so happy to show that this is a look inside the Garage/Greenhouse for the summer months.
This is where I will grow out certain plants that may have issues or need special care.

Being able to turn off most of the lights makes me very happy that I am not consuming the vast amounts of power I had in past seasons.
This was a big reason for my decision to offer only cuttings this season....along with just having more time to enjoy the plants and do more with the website and Blog to present information and of course the beloved photos.

I hope you have a very successful and enjoyable 2013 growing season!


Summer 2012 Set Up

Once again plants are moved outside for the advantages of Mother Nature's magic.
No matter how sophisticated the indoor system can be and having total climate control
there is no comparison to how the plants thrive being out in open air and nature sunshine.

It was a very mild winter here in Florida but still too many drastic drops in temperature
to have been able to leave the plants on the lanai.
I very much enjoyed having the luxury of my entire collection happily enclosed within
the perimeters of my Garage/Greenhouse for the 4 months.

New photos of how I have spread out over the lanai once again as well as still
growing under the artificial conditions are to follow.
As always...comments and questions are welcome although being able to
generalize is the best way I describe the care each plant receives.

The hanging plants are removed from in front of the T5 fixtures...the space seems
a lot darker but I am certain the power usage will drop drastically.

The tables have been 'thinned out' and there is space to better provide circulation
around the Mother Plants and also more space for the available stock.

The T5 fixtures were able to be lowered to about 24 inches
above the
available stock since the Mother Plants with bamboo hoops
are happily growing outside!

Sunshine and fresh air growing beside the sparkling pool.
This shelf is the improvement I enjoy most on the lanai...
so much space with a zero footprint.

On this side of the shelf...
'NEW TO ME!!!' stock as well as personal plants I plan to grow and bloom.
This is a NO CUT hard to abstain...I love to share.

On this side of the shelf...
Eriostemmas who love the bright light and neglect
as well as the maturing cuttings acquired from Australia in 2011.

The hanging plants arranged not by the amount of light they will receive
but by alphabetical order...
a must being the organized person I have become.

The second side of the hanging plants...
these receive the most sun since they are facing south east.
You are also looking at some of my herb and vege containers
who absolutely thrive this time of year under the screen.

Here below the hangers are the plants that have the worst case of the 'nubs'
I have ever seen.
While my helper of last season increased my inventory of available plants
the result was the 'massacre' many of the Mother Plants.

They have mostly maintained over the winter which I am thankful for.
To my surprise...the 'nubs' are now pushing out new leaves.
The drastic trimming has lead to the plants possibly growing into Hoya Shrubs?

I have been documenting this progression and will post
when I have seen a worthwhile conclusion.
All I can say is "these are some tough plants!"

The newest necessary improvement I have made to my set up
is an irrigation system that runs the perimeter of the lanai.
Still experimenting and adding misters and drip hoses...

it is a bit tedious finding the correct water delivery
to keep all of the various plants / pots with the right amount of water on the same amount of water time.

Anything that saves me time away from routine chores...
contributes more time caring for troubles and propagating.

A misting attachment that dangles
to reach the plants sitting on the plant stands below.

Lastly...I have decided to move the rain barrels inside the lanai and attach a solar generated pump to be able to use wonderful rain water to energize the plants.
Now the only thing I am waiting for is some much needed rain :0(



Winter 2011-12 Set Up

Another year of learning an experimenting with 'defying' in addition to 'complimenting'
nature in order to grow and thrive these plants all year round.
It has been and continues to be a learning curve...sometimes very sharp.
I really think that I have found the best system for the amount of plants I am
growing and being able to stay organized so I know what I have.

Here are photos taken after the hanging plants...
growing outside from March to October....
have been brought in for the season.
Enjoy and please feel free to respond and/or comment
on anything you see that may need further explaining.
I will do my best to assist you in any way I can.
The hoyas are set up on greenhouse benches...32 ft x 6 ft...alphabetically.

The Mother plants are in the clustered in the center and run from one end to the other.
The babies, that are available for purchase, run along the outside
and are also alphabetically arranged...up one side and down the other.

A closer look...
I felt the need to set up a labeling system so I am able to view from afar
so each plant has a bamboo hoop with a yellow name tag suspended near the top.

No more picking thru the plants searching for the name tag stuck in the dirt.

During the spring/summer months I found the 1000W MH lights way too hot and scorching for the plants so they rest in another place in the house for those seasons.
I grow exclusively with the T5 panels for that half of the year.

When it is time to bring the 'Hanging' plants in...
I turn the T5 panels vertically along the wall and grow 'sideways'.
I am still experimenting with the distance and how many bulbs will be safe
for the plants that soaked in real sunlight all summer.
After another week of illuminating only 1/2 the bulbs...
I will turn the entire 8 strips on and flood them with light.
Thus the curtains to shade me while I am working out there.

A closer look...they seem to be happy with no shock from relocating?

The hanging area...
reminds me of a large 'Photo Box' over in the back corner of the Garage/ Greenhouse.

I prepared the area by waterproofing the wall
as well as putting in a rubber baseboard around the floor...
hoping to prevent any trapped 'wet areas'.

This table houses the NEW TO ME!! stock from my website.
The majority have been brought in from Australia
and I have them growing solely in 'rock' and am watering them from the bottom.

So far so good...
just another experiment to see if consistency in rooting and growing mediums
offers any benefit.

Just in front of the shelves in the background are two tables
where I pack and process the incoming orders for plants and cuttings.

No need for a lot of space
but I did get tired of bring trays of plants into the kitchen to pack...what a mess.

Now everything happens out here
before they are placed on the front porch for USPS pickup.

I did fit in another table with a 600W light above for Winter Propagation...
waaaay back in the corner.

I had great success with this option last year but have not tackled the task yet this year.
My feeling from experience is that the hoyas that I have continually 'cut on' since March
are depleted of their energy.

All of the sudden the babies were rotting as opposed to rooting...not a pleasant sight.
Most of the Mothers have been growing quietly and undisturbed for a few months now
so I am about to test their stored there enough to root again?


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