Growing waterlilies in through winter doesn't require a big space or an elaborate setup! We asked Lou Belloisy, Connecticut USA, to describe two that are part of his home and daily life.
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By normal standards, my greenhouses are small but they serve my purpose nicely. They were originally designed to be sunrooms, but the gardener in me took over and the nice furniture went into storage.
The smaller one is a "Four Seasons Sunroom" that is 10 feet by 10 feet by 8 feet, (see photo above). The exposure is southwest and the direct sunlight that comes into the room averages 8 hours a day. The room is heated by electric forced air, has two 14" vent fans and water is plumbed to the room. There are two awning type windows that help circulate the air. The floor is tiled and has a 2 inch drain in the low part of the floor. The floor has a 3 degree pitch going toward the drain.
The temporary growing tank that is in there is 8 feet by 4 feet and 24 inches deep. The water is heated, when needed, and circulated through a Tetra UV sterilizer so I don't have an algae problem. Temporary tank water is heated by a Pinnacle Systems 1500 watt spa heater. It will use either 120 or 220 volts. It has a thermostat that can be adjusted from 65 degrees Fahrenheit to 105 degrees Fahrenheit. I have the water temp set at 75 degrees and it will maintain that temp +/- 5 degrees. Light is supplemented with a 1000 watt sodium vapor lamp which is on for 6 hours each day, coming on at 0800 and going off at 1400.
The larger greenhouse is custom built and is 12 feet by 10 feet. The exposure is southwest also and the duration of direct sunlight is a little less that the smaller one due the shading of the other room. The room is again heated by electric forced air and has a large floor vent fan that is 2 feet by 2 feet, giving good exchange of air. There is a skylight (4 feet by 2 feet) built into the ceiling that opens up at 80 degrees F and helps with the air circulation. There are also two windows that add additional venting.
The floor is on a 3 degree slope for water drainage with a 2 inch drain. The temporary tank is 8 feet by 5 feet and 24 inches deep. Water is heated by a Pinnacle Systems spa heater set at 75 degrees F. I overwinter most of my tropical lilies in this tank. To retain the heat in the water during the long cold nights that we get in Connecticut, I place hoops over the tank and I place clear plastic over the entire tank. I heat the greenhouse to 65 degrees F during the winter, take what I can the rest of the year. I use the circulation system in this greenhouse only in the daytime because I can't stand the noise at night. I have had the temp as high as 120 degrees F on rare occasions with no damage to the plants but some burning on the flowers.
I did have a major setback with ants, aphids and fungus this past spring that killed some of the plants. I tried many different possible solutions and none worked until I set up a dehumidifier to get rid of the excess humidity and strong fans to keep the air moving. I have not had a fungus problem since. I then used a mixture of 50% rubbing alcohol, 50% hydrogen peroxide with few drops of peppermint oil to kill the aphids. After the aphids were eliminated the ants also disappeared. The ants were "farming" the aphids. When you have an infestation of aphids, there is usually fungus that follows.
The trick with this solution is to put it on early in the morning, wait about 30 minutes and then wash it off the pads to prevent burning in the sunlight. This solution works gently on the plants but is the end for aphids. You may have to repeat the procedure a few times. I also do this every couple of weeks to make sure any eggs that might have hatched are eliminated also.
Lou's Guide To Photographing Waterlilies
Lou's Web Site