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Bluestar Gardens 02-20-2021 12:58 PM

Help with shelf height
1 Attachment(s)
Hello! So I did it and bought wire shelves and Orchid hobbyist LED lights. The shelf unit is 74” tall with 4 shelves. I have recommendations on how high the light should be above the canopy of the different orchids, but my plants and collection are so young that I don’t know how high the canopy will become. Could you kind people help me determine the height I should set the top 3 shelves? The lower shelf will be about 3” off the ground.

Shelf 1. Lowest shelf - Medium light orchids like oncidiums, Zygonisia. Recommended to have lights 7-8” above the canopy. How many inches above the lower shelf should I put shelf 2?

Shelf 2. Low light orchids. Phals and Paphs. Recommended to have lights 12-14” above canopy. Would 2’ to the lights be about right?

Shelf 3. High light orchids, which I don’t own yet. Recommended 3” above canopy. I will probably try Catts. The top shelf will be the easiest to adjust down the road I would imagine. Thoughts on the top shelf spacing needed here too.

estación seca 02-20-2021 01:09 PM

You can probably adjust the shelves as they grow? You might need to adjust them quickly, because every situation is different. What plants do you have now?

Bluestar Gardens 02-20-2021 01:20 PM

I have a couple of no ID oncidiums, a Heaven Scent ‘Sweet Baby’, and a seedling sized Twinkle. I have several no ID full sized Phals, a mini, and a bellina. I have Paph lawrenceanum, a Paph delenati, Zygonisia cynosure ‘Blue Birds’, Chondrorhyncga Amazonia, Lc. Kiyoka Kitou. I also have lots of other houseplants including succulents and carnivorous plants.

I’m hoping to set it up and not have to keep adjusting it down the road. I can always prop plants on risers while they grow into their space.

estación seca 02-20-2021 03:59 PM

You have plants of all different heights and light requirements. That can be managed under lights by putting high-light plants on pedestals so they are closer to the light.

Here's how I did it:
Set the bottom shelf at a height that allows you to sweep underneath. Now temporarily set a shelf near the top. Attach the light. Measure the distance from the shelf to the bottom of the light. Remember that. Measure the height of the typical pot you would use, and the height of the tallest plant you want on that shelf. Add those together. Move the shelf to a position above the bottom shelf so the bottom of the lights is about 3"-4" / 7.5-10cm above the calculated height of pot plus tall plant.

Bluestar Gardens 02-20-2021 04:43 PM

Thanks. I don’t know if you saw my attachment, but I was going to try and group plants by light requirements on each shelf. Low light plants together, etc. But I think the issue is that it really depends on the height of the plant. Sigh. I was looking for an easy answer, like put the shelf X number of inches above the one below it.

estación seca 02-20-2021 08:32 PM

No gardener can go by formula. It's always trial, error and adjustment. That's why people here are so appreciative of flower photos. We know it's a lot of work.

Leafmite 02-21-2021 01:06 PM

I have the same shelving units (2). I use one of those rubber mallets to loosen and adjust the shelves. It is best to have someone help (to hold the shelves so they do not keep falling back into place). It is a pain to adjust them but I have done it many times. I started with four shelves of orchids and two of other plants and now have one and a half of orchids and two and a half of other plants (took out a shelf from each shelving unit). My other plants grew much taller and I am growing fewer orchids. :)

Good luck!

With the LED lights, you won't need to worry about them being too hot for the orchids which is a plus. I am still using fluorescent lights.

Bluestar Gardens 02-21-2021 04:34 PM

Thanks. I think I will probably put the shelves about 2 1/2’ apart. The lower light orchids I have are shorter, while my oncidiums and others are taller, which should compensate for how far from the light they need to be. And I will have a shelf for misc. and seedlings. Very excited to get it all set up!

Bluestar Gardens 03-01-2021 07:54 AM

1 Attachment(s)
I finished putting the shelf together on Friday. Now I just gaze lovingly at my plants. I swear I heard them breathe a sigh of relief when I turned the light on.

And thanks for the reminder that I didn’t set the shelves in cement. I’m sure I will want/need to change the configuration around as the plants grow.

estación seca 03-01-2021 04:06 PM

That really looks nice.

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