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Author Topic: HAVE YOU TRIED VERTICAL CULTURE?  (Read 2575 times)
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splinter1804
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« on: February 01, 2015, 22:00:45 »

Hi everyone - I just thought I'd share a bit of what I've found since growing brom's over the last few years.

When I first started growing brom's, all of my brom growing friends grew their plants in shade houses on convectional type benches, so obviously being a "learner" I followed their example. As my collection grew, like everyone else, I eventually ran out of growing space and to avoid overcrowding I had to find another way. Building another shade house wasn't an option, so I decided to "go vertical" instead, and started to hang plants from overhead roof timbers.

To all of the experienced growers I knew, this was a definite "No No" and I was told that this method of growing would eventually lead to the demise of my collection due to the spread of disease such as rot. I was told that if any hanging plant developed a disease, this would be passed on via water dripping onto to all plants below it, and before I knew it I would have an epidemic on my hands. This then started me thinking, was this true or was it just that these other growers had never grown plants this way and were assuming this would happen?

I could of course, continue with my idea, and to counteract the risk of possible rot and other types of infections, I could start out on a rigorous preventative spraying programme and bombard everything with fungicides on a regular basis; however this went against my ideals of doing things naturally and avoiding the spraying of insecticides, fungicides and other toxins throughout my collection.

I reasoned that when these plants are in their natural habitat, there is no one available to conduct a preventative spraying programme and although water drips from one plant to the other, whole colonies of plants aren't systematically wiped out due to water dripping from the plants above. I asked myself why this doesn't happen, and the only reason I could come up with was that it was the increased availability of circulating air around each of these plants growing “off the ground” in trees which never allowed them to remain wet for too long therefore not providing the conditions required for the incubation of rot. 

If this worked in nature, then why couldn't it work on a much smaller scale in my own shade house? There was only one way to find out and that was to try it.

Apart from the plants too large to suspend, (these are still grown on benches) I have now been growing my plants suspended above them for the last ten years or so and all I can say is that apart from there being a complete absence of rot (even in during long periods of wet, cold weather), the plants seem to love these conditions and are growing better than they ever did on benches.
I must say that although first impressions are of gross overcrowding, when you look more closely, each plant has its own space with good air circulation, far better than could have been achieved on benches.

If you have a space problem, I would advise you to give this method a try, I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.

All the best, Nev.

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Kayleen C
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« Reply #1 on: February 03, 2015, 11:31:38 »

Nev I have been growing plants on hangers for years also.
As you said, I have had no problems with the plants underneath.
The only thing I have found is the higher pots dry out a bit quicker but this is because it is my minis and the pots are smaller.
This far north I wouldn't like to put my neos up higher.
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splinter1804
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« Reply #2 on: February 03, 2015, 21:40:42 »

Hi everyone.

Sunshine - All of my pots are of the "squat" type and I had the same trouble initially so I decided to hang them according to size, with the largest at the top and the smallest at the bottom. They range in size from 135mm (5.5") at the top, then 125mm (5.0") finally (Mini's) in 100mm (4.0") on the bottom and I have now found that they all dry out at about the same rate. Most of my larger plants are in 180mm (7.0") pots and are on the benches below.

All of my plants are hung using the standard four drop plastic hangers and I buy them through our Brom. Society who get their stock from Garden City Plastics.

This works well for me here in my climate and I find I can hang the highest plants with the top of their leaves about twelve inches below the underside of the shade cloth without any damage from hot or cold extremes of weather.

All the best, Nev.
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jaga
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« Reply #3 on: May 12, 2015, 00:25:00 »

HI ALL,
Nev harping back to this thread, Was going to use metal shelf brackets inverted then remembered you posted this, is the top hanging support off the timber rafters, sections of paint/galv steel flat ? cantilevering off balanced each side the rafter.

cheers Jaga
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splinter1804
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« Reply #4 on: May 12, 2015, 22:56:35 »

Hi everyone.

Jaga - There are several different methods I use; some just a basic screw or nail in the timber rafter to the other end of the scale where I use bits of flat steel of different lengths, wire mesh off-cuts bent at an angle, or mesh off-cuts left straight so they extend either side of the rafter.

I utilised anything I could find in the steel scrap bin at an organisation where I volunteer. Because I was a volunteer I was either given it for free or if it was something that could be re-used by the organisation, (like the mesh off-cuts which were often used as re-enforcing in concrete jobs) I was allowed to buy for a small donation.

If the weather agrees, today I'll take a few pic's of the different methods I use and post them tomorrow, after all, "a picture paints a thousand words" or so they say.

All the best, Nev.

P.S. I also know one of our lady Brom Society members who uses plastic hangers to hang her plants from the pot immediately above it with some times as many as four at a time starting with the biggest pot at the top and the smaller ones below.
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splinter1804
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« Reply #5 on: May 13, 2015, 07:32:07 »

Jaga – Here are a few pictures of the various suspension methods I use for my bromeliads.

As you can see my shade-houses are made out of whatever I can re-cycle, partly to save money and partly because I can’t bare to scrap stuff I can find a use for.

Pic.1  Shows some off-cuts of 100mm x 100mm galv. wire mesh. I got a heap of these out of the scrap bin for a small donation. All I did was to bend them at right angles and fastened them to the 3” x 2”roof rafters with some clips I fashioned out of some scrap stainless steel strip. By attaching one on each side of the rafter it leaves enough space to hang pots on either side of the rafter without the plants touching.

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Pic.2  Shows how I arrange the pots; the first pot with the hanger hooked directly onto the mesh and the next one suspended by a thin wire extension so that the pot hangs with the leaves below the bottom of the first plant. These are alternated like this all along the row. To add extra plants, now all that’s required is to hang them with wire spacers from the pot above in this case giving three levels of plants and still leave space for plants on the floor below.

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Pic.3 Shows the same size mesh only it’s left straight and attached to the bottom of the rafter. This also allows plants to be suspended from each side of the mesh and if they are staggered, touching is avoided. Likewise extra plants can be suspended by using wire extension hangers as mentioned previously.

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Pic.4 Shows another method, this time using mild steel bar which were in short lengths of 6” and 9”(Again from the scrap steel bin). In this case I used the 9” pieces attached with just one 2” roofing screw through both pieces.

The hooks of the plastic pot hangers are located in a hole already in drilled in the ends of these short pieces of bar when I got them. They were spaced apart sufficiently so that a screw could be screwed into the side of the rafter midway between two bars to attach a wire extension with a hook on the end and a hook on the other end to accommodate the hook of the hanger of the pot below. I found it best to cover these wires with thin plastic tubing so they didn’t damage any leaves if they touched them.

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Pic.5 Shows the same method being used to accommodate my Ae. orlandianas so they get maximum light.

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Pic.6 Shows another method using lengths of light weight galv. steel conduit to save timber. Metal threaded Tec screws are screwed into the pipe at the same centres as the other bars were spaced and the same size plastic hangers and wire extensions used to provide a similar method of accommodating the plants. (I’ve just noticed that the only problem here is when the plants grow a bit larger, they weigh more and consequently the conduit begins to sag slightly….(more work for me swapping plants around for lighter ones)

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Pic.7  Shows an extension that can be made and used where the roof rafter is part of the wall and the plants need to be moved away more from the shade cloth. In this case the mesh is still bent at right angles but instead of one 4” mesh square on both vertical and horizontal locations, this time the horizontal has 2 x 4” squares thereby standing the plants 8” from the side of the rafter.

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Pic.8  Shows another simpler arrangement that can also be used where just a flat headed nail is driven into the side of the rafter to act as the suspension point. This is OK when the rafter is away from the wall and the plants won’t rub against the shade cloth.

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Pic.9 Shows how to get the most from your plastic pot hangers. The largest pot I use is 5.5 inches for hanging plants and this is always the one that goes right at the top as it’s stronger and can support the weight of the other plants hanging from it. In this case, one 4” pot from each side.

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Pic.10 Shows that three 3” or 4” pots when judiciously spaced can be easily hung from each of the 4” pots thereby giving nine plants in total of various sizes all hanging from the one suspension point. (I’ve had one such batch hanging in the same spot for over a year and the hangers and the pots are standing up OK, but as the plants grow they will have to be moved to prevent entanglement of the leaves, and besides, eventually they will become too heavy and there will be an almighty crash as they fall to the bench below, Ha! Ha!

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I have tried to paint all metal surfaces with an enamel paint even where it's galvanised, this was to prevent rust and stop zinc surfaces contacting the plants.

All the best, Nev.




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jaga
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« Reply #6 on: May 15, 2015, 10:04:14 »

Hi all, Great stuff Nev. Some very resourceful ideas there. Its good you have able to fashion up all these hanging options and I do worry a bit about those plastic hangers although the 4 armed version would leave 3 if one broke. This will all help us in our quest, our situation is different to yours as our area is part of our house, a house we designed after spending a year back packing around the world and came back to NZ full of ideas. Logic behind this was falling leaves, hence the roof forms, including our conservatory area in question so all our roofs slope in 2 directions. Some images at this point would be useful.

This is the most up to date and the conservatory is located on the top level behind the curved wall
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Lets start with a close up 3d looking from the same direction as the image above.
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Floor plan of the conservatory level with red arrows showing where the following images are taken.
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Image 1
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Image 2
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Image 3
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Image 4 the hanging pots. We have had 5 made in each of the colours shown, that we designed + collected others from parts of asia. The ones hanging were to test out if the stainless steel hanging wires I made up were strong enough to support the weight. This all seems OK as been up for 2 months but would not be good if one fell with anyone under it. As you can see pots hang off the stainless steel strap bracing which is not a long term solution.
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Image 5
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Image 6-very temporary clamped shelf just to test out light levels. various plants been here a year without any burning as transparent roofing takes out 60% of the UV
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Image 7- making use of ply to be used soon as a seedling area
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So all above hanging pots/plant layout is temporary and I need a proper way to hang all from between the rafters. Nev I quite like your idea using the reinforcing mesh as have 2 full sheets left over from our concrete drive, however its all very rusty. I should do 1 sample area ?, cut it to fit between the rafters,rust treat and paint. Will need some stainless clips to hold in place. The other thought I had was to use inverted metal shelf brackets but that would mean the hanging locations would be fixed as the mesh gives you some flexiblity.

Any other thoughts would be very useful.

Cheers Jaga
« Last Edit: May 16, 2015, 09:37:49 by jaga » Logged
splinter1804
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« Reply #7 on: May 15, 2015, 21:47:32 »

Hi everyone.

Jaga - I look forward to seeing some more pic's of your home and growing area. I must say though (as an old carpenter for about 12 years) I think that roof would have been a bit of a nightmare to build Ha! Ha!

Just to dispel your concerns about the plastic hangers, I use the ones with the four droppers which are black and UV resistant. I have been using them ever since I started growing bromeliads and haven't had one break yet, and some support some pretty heavy plants also (I'll try and find pic's of some examples)

All the best, Nev.
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jaga
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« Reply #8 on: May 16, 2015, 09:38:41 »

Nev, added to original post above.
Cheers Jaga
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