January 12, 2014

Let the sunshine in

outside

Do you like our conservatory?

room

Well, it isn't really a conservatory, it's a partially heated sunroom.

It's been here all along, but it's always been a little too cold for tropical houseplants.

inside2

I guess it is a conservatory by some definitions. It's south-facing, and has windows on three sides.

Definitely not a greenhouse, because it's part of our house and it doesn't have a glass roof.

lemon1

Perhaps I can call it our Orangery. Or our Lemonry/Camelliary, because those are the plants we plan to grow in this room during the winter.

lemon2

We purchased a Meyer Lemon as our Christmas present to each other. The Fishman was as excited about it as I was--maybe more so.

camellia1

Now we I want a Camellia to keep the Lemon tree company. (Ahem ... also because I have a thing about Camellias.)

camellia2

Any cultivar suggestions?

  • It will need to be potted.
  • During the winter months, the room temperature ranges from roughly 40F to 50F at night, and 40F to 60F during the day.
  • During the summer, the Lemon and the Camellia will be outside on the patio.

I'm picturing them now ...

Isn't it fun to try new things?

37 comments:

  1. Beth, it looks great, and I think it will work out for both lemons and camellias. My lemon does not show frost damage until it drops down to the 20s, and even then it is superficial. Camellias are unfazed. There are some camellia cultivars that are modestly fragrant, maybe it could be a good choice. All camellias shed their petals making for somewhat arduous cleanup.

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    1. Good to know about your experience with Lemons, thanks Masha! The room got down into the high 30s for a while, but then during the deep freeze we cracked the door (between the house and the sunroom) to keep the temperature to a minimum of 40F. Today, with the sun pouring in, it got up to 64F! I suppose the Camellia will be able to stay outside a little longer and go back out a little earlier. Thanks for your advice--I need it! ;-)

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  2. I am laughing at you Beth! Even at the first photo i know it is your house, you're just bluffing, camelia and citrus are too privileged to live there while others are suffering outside!

    Here, it is the opposite, because of too much sunshine and hot temperature outside, i also bring some plants inside, so they wont be scorched.

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    1. Tee hee. Yes, you are so right! We certainly have the opposite challenges, don't we? Sometimes challenges are what make gardening fun and rewarding, though, I guess. Well, I do hope that eventually I will have Lemons and Camellias, but we shall see. It will be a fun experiment, anyway.

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  3. I have never think that a lemon tree look so stunning in door. Maybe on your cold climate it's really doing. A nice 'conservatory'. Great

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    1. It seems to be doing OK in the sunroom--not the ideal conditions, but perhaps simulating a mild winter. It will be very exciting to see actual buds. I think I see some tiny ones, but it's still too early to really tell. And harvesting our first Lemon will be very exciting!

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  4. It is lovely to have a sun room/conservatory, my experience is that in my conservatory I am always in trouble with spider mite or other nasty insects on my lemon and other plants. That's why I keep the shrub as long as possible on the porch untill real frost arrives. Camellias are also great for tubs but are inside susceptible for mealy bugs and scale insects. O no, I don't want to discourage you, may be they are growing and flowering like mad at your place. Can't you grow Camellias in the soil outside in your climate? In our garden they can have certainly - 8 degr.C.

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    1. I wondered about the bugs. I will have to watch out for that! We are a bit too cold in the winters for Camellias. We sometimes have temperatures as cold as -28C. But I think I could keep them outside through part of December, and then move them back outside in April--depending on the plant cultivar and the weather patterns in any particular year.

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  5. I like your Orangery/Lemonry/Camelliary ;) I know nothing about growing any of those, as I've just never tried them. I hope you are able to add to your collection, and get lots of fruit from all of them!

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    1. Thanks, Jan. Just a bit of fun to keep me occupied during the winter, since I don't start plants under grow lights. My cats are too destructive, and I don't really have a place for them. This particular sunroom is closed off during the winter, so the cats don't get in there. During the summer the Lemon and Camellia will be outside, so the cats won't be a problem (except the neighbors' cats, so maybe I'll keep the Camellia on the screen porch).

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  6. Fruit, and camellias, as well ;(

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  7. Love your conservatory/Orangery! I've always wanted a sunroom, but haven't convinced my husband, and I have a feeling adding one to our older house may be a lot more difficult than I think. Have you picked any lemons yet?

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    1. Thanks, Rose. We've had this sunroom all along, but I've always wanted to keep it simple, open and airy. It's too cold for a lot of plants, but about right for these two particular ones--I guess it's kind of like simulating a winter in Georgia or something similar. We just got the Lemon tree around Thanksgiving time. It didn't have any blooms or Lemons on it, so no we haven't harvested any Lemons yet. I think I'm seeing some tiny buds, but I'm not sure. I'll keep you posted!

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  8. I do like your sunroom/conservatory/orangery/camelliery - what ever it is :)
    If you fill it with more plants, it might become a garden room!
    I'm not sure what type of Camellias grow indoors. Camellia japonica Brushfield's Yellow is a nice one. It came to mind because of the lemon colour of it's flowers.

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    1. Tee hee. Yes, a person certainly could fill it up with plants, and I think the previous owners did. Personally, I like it very open and airy. A couple of potted trees seems just about right for me. Plus, during the summer we keep it open to the house so the cats would destroy any plants in there. I've tried houseplants before and they both have bad habits that made it impossible (unfortunately). But since these trees will be outside during spring/summer/fall, they should be fine. I'll look into 'Brushfield's Yellow.' Thanks!!

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  9. How lucky you are. When we created our Great Room I thought it would work for wintering plants. Alas, it is still way too cold.

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    1. Yeah, we've had to make adjustments this winter to make it possible. During the coldest days, we cracked the door just a bit so more heat would get into the room. We're trying to keep it to a minimum of about 40F. The Lemon tree seems to be doing OK, and fortunately it gets plenty of sun in there. :)

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  10. That's a gorgeous room, just imagine the plants that you can grow in there...sigh.

    I'm thinking gardenias...do they do well in there?

    Jen

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    1. Thanks, Jen. Honestly, it's the room that sold me on this house. And of course, the garden--which one sees out the sunroom windows--stole my heart, too. I was mentioning to Angie that my cats are a problem with houseplants. And we do keep the room closed off from the main house during the winter to save on our heating bill. So, it seems like it will work for these two potted trees, but not so well for tropical plants. I thought about Gardenias, too. Hmmmm ... definitely something to consider. ;-)

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  11. An Orangery is a popular addition to swanky homes. I saw call it an Orangery.

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    1. Well then, of course it will be our Orangery! "Sunroom" seems so common and suburban. ;-)

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  12. That is the perfect room for so many tender perennials and tropicals. You need a banana, ginger, lime, grapefruit....I know that would just crowd it up. I do love your new lemon tree. I am heading to FL soon with my Mom and I plan on getting on at Lowe's and bringing it back for the plant room. Stay tuned!

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    1. Ha! It's definitely tempting, Layanee! I have to admit, I am hoping that we have at least one Lemon the first year. Nothing like picking your own organic produce--even if it was nurtured inside during the winter. Enjoy your trip to Florida! We'll have to compare notes about our Lemon trees in the months ahead!

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  13. Our back porch is a lot like your "conservatory". It's our favorite room for watching the birds. We haven't got a lemon or a camelia, though, maybe that's what it needs!

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    1. I've tried to keep this sunroom from being too cluttered. And of course I can't have cats and plants together (at least it doesn't work with the two crazy cats I have). So having plants that can withstand cool temperatures in winter and then be moved outside during the warm weather seems to make sense. We'll see ...

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  14. What an inspired idea, to grow a camellia inside. I didn't think you could do that, but then, why not, right? I am no expert on camellias (I have only one) but I am guessing you'll have to do some serious pruning to keep it room sized. Are you familiar with Camellia Forest Nursery in North Carolina? They have everything under the sun.

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    1. Yes, I'm intending to check with Camellia Forest Nursery--I've looked at the website and am getting some ideas. Apparently growing Camellias in conservatories is somewhat common, so I thought I'd give it a go in the sunroom. I'll have to watch out for indoor pests, as some folks have mentioned. Should be a fun experiment!

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  15. Oh, now this is a cozy place to be with LIVING THINGS! What a relaxing set-up you have here! The more I surround myself with green, the happier I feel...isn't this wonderful that you have this space in your home!

    Thank you so much for coming by to leave a comment. Enjoy hunting for hidden beauty! Anita

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    1. Thanks! Yes, it's the room that sold me on the house. I do believe the previous owners had quite a lot of plants in there. I'm trying to keep it more open and uncluttered, but a couple of potted small trees should work well if they survive. ;-)

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  16. Hi Beth, you can definitely have a gardenia, I have just bought a hardy, dwarf gardenia that grows to only about 60cm tall, would be perfect in a large container, and it tolerates temperatures down to minus 5C. It is called Gardenia jasminoides 'Crown Jewel', has double flowers and should be for sale in America as it was cultivated there.

    As for camellias I think you are on to a winner there! Just remember that most camellias like to be in shade or semi shade, you might have to carefully consider where to place the containers with camellias when the spring sunshine gets strong through the windows, the lemon tree might want the blinds away but a camellia would probably like them partly on. Most camellias get very big over time but you can get dwarf varieties and smaller ones that grow to only around 2m tall. Having one autumn flowering, one winter flowering and one spring flowering camellia would really get you flowers from November to April!
    Happy hunting, I look so forward to seeing them in flower!

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    1. Thanks for the advice with the Gardenias. That might be my next experiment. The Camellia should be happy in my shady garden. I'll try to keep it a bit back from the window during the winter when the sunroom gets an abundance of bright light (all the trees out back are deciduous, so they're leafless during the winter). Any thoughts on the best varieties to go with? That's my big question now.

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    2. I have wanted more camellias myself for a long time, and have done research for compact growing ones suitable for containers – I gladly share my list with you! But it is a bit too long for this space, and many of the nurseries over here sell plants that might not be available in America so I have just picked a few here, you might have other visitors that could be interested in these too, but if you want a list of UK nurseries so you can look for what’s possible to find, just let me know.

      Camellia vernalis Yuletide is an early flowering, grows to about 5’ after 10 years and is suitable for container growing. Usually in flower for Christmas!

      Camellia sasanqua 'Reverend Ida', quite compact, 3-5’ when mature, grows down to zone 7 so you would not need to have it in your sunroom for more than perhaps a month or two of the year, it would be much happier out in the garden the rest of the year and with less risk of bugs. Flowers from October and onwards.

      Also, have a look at Camellia 'Winter's Rose', I have tried finding it here, but it is not for sale in UK, you will find it for sale in US though. It grows to about 4’ in 10 years, flowers from October and onwards and is very hardy - although the flowers will be ruined by frost so your sunroom will be excellent during the winter months.

      For spring flowering camellias there are so many to choose from….

      One on my wish list is a gorgeous red peony flowered camellia which will only grow to 1.5m in height and spread in a container, possibly a bit more if planted in the ground. Have a look at Camellia japonica ‘Tom Knudsen’.

      For an earlier flowering, Camellia Nobilissima (AGM) starts to flower in January/February, pure white peony flowering, perhaps a bit too tall for a container, but you can trim and prune camellias!

      I think you need to just go online to a good nursery that delivers to your area and start reading. I bet your wish list will be just as long as mine – happy hunting!

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  17. Camellias and their tight buds can stand a lot of cold, It's the open blooms that suffer and turn brown when they freeze. I can't speak about lemons but I've seen them produce fruit outdoors in adjoining counties here where it gets below freezing for short periods. I found Gardenias are tricky indoors but give it a try, they don't mind near-freezing temps either. Many perennials can stand near-freezing if they are sheltered from actual frost and a prolonged hard freeze: Begonias, certain Bromeliads, Shrimp Plants, Christmas Cactus, Epiphyllums, Ferns, Kalanchoe, Cardamon Ginger and Alpinias all work for me. Gerbera Daisies are a great cool greenhouse plant and you can grow them from seed..Conservatory is a nice word. .

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    1. That's good to know, Jean. I've always been enamored of Camellias for some reason--they seem like the Roses of winter to me. And they have the added beauty of their waxy foliage and blooms. It's always fun to try new plants!

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  18. I have zero advice to offer, except that your conservatory must be a great way to enjoy the sunshine on a cold day. It will be beautiful filled with tender plants. :o)

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    1. Hi Tammy: Yes, the windows do let a lot of sunshine in. And with the main doors closed (which also include glass), I think it helps us save on our heating bill. It's too cold to sit in there during the winter, but it's my favorite place to hang out from April through October. :)

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  19. Beth I love this room....we almost build one in our house....and a Meyer lemon tree...very special!

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