Cactus and Succulents forum→New Greenhouse project Thread & Plant Therapy

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Name: Connor
Boerne, TX
Mar 21, 2021 7:01 AM CST
Hey friends!!

So I work at a treatment center for addiction/dual diagnosis and ive been at this one for about a year and there has been this old greenhouse that has sat unused, looking sad, and always peaking my interest. Long story short we are under new management and my horticulture background has been acknowledged and informally I was given the greenhouse by my boss a few weeks ago 3/7/21 and the clinical A-Okay to officially work in plant therapy to the weekend scheduling! Very exciting and has made me very happy to have the ability to do this!!

This is how the greenhouse sat just a few weeks ago....

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There was once power and heat running to it, bothh of which are not working right now, for safety reasons for clients, I will probably have to bury a power line to get power restored.

So for my group we meet for 1:30min on saturdays and yesterday was yard work group, not everyone attended, 4 out of 9 showed up and we split into two groups, the girls began work on a landscape bed removing leaves, dead plants, and weeding. I let this woman who has been asking to do this bed, and let her take control of of this task and direct the other woman. I took the two guys and we began the task of scrubbing the greenhouse to remove 20 years of Texas dirt, grime, and lichen.

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Starting the roof. (for safety reasons only myself was allowed to get on a ladder and scrub ;) )
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Sure pressure washing may have been a much more efficient process but that required approval to rent one, and that would be quick and wouldn't allow multiple people to scrub at the same time.

The clients were all done with group, but I went at it alone to get the one side of the roof finished and 'clean'. Almost there!!!

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And just for effect Before and After!!

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Still the siding and roof is pretty milky, degraded, and brittle but the quality of light getting through is a heck of a lot better than it was at the beginning of the day, and it will probably be beneficial to have less light getting through in the throws of Texas summer sun and heat. I am not sure I will immediately get approval for a new roof but I will make do with what I have been giving and remain grateful that this opportunity was given to me, I think it was an effort to help me out during a time where I have been struggling medically and they wanted to give me a boost, which is very heart warming. There's a million things they could have done, but playing to my horticulture side was a smart move ;) and fortunately it is not just me that will benefit from this, the clients will get some nature and plant grounding exercises as well.

So I want to open it up to all of you, do y'all have any suggestions of plants to work with, I plan on doing as much simple propagation as I can to produce stock in house, so that in addition to doing group plantings and growing, each client can go home with a plant, most likely a small succulent or something. I am hopefully going to try and set up a relationship with one of the local nurseries to get wholesale prices, cause retail prices on an extremely regular basis is a little too pricey. I am starting to purchase stock material each weekend, but I would be open to any and all suggestions on what each of you think would be good to use for plant therapy!!

I will definitely use this thread to post greenhouse updates and plant therapy activities that the clients do, work, on and complete!! Ever since I have worked here, and I even mentioned in in my interview a little less than a year ago, that we need plant therapy here, I am a recovering dual diagnosis addict/alcoholic and know just how amazing working with plants can be to someone attempting to get sober and or stable. I do not know that I would be where I am 9 1/2yrs later and still stable and sober if it had not been for plants and horticulture by enrolling in a horticulture class newly sober; which went on to have me apprenticing with a bonsai master for 4 years, working the Philadelphia flower show, doing bonsai demonstrations and exhibiting trees, then falling in love with caudiciforms, and going on to be a large tree pruner and climber. Plants have the power to change peoples lives, it certainly has changed mine drastically, I just want to share a little slice of the Plantae Kingdom and horticulture with folks just like me, and I welcome any of you to join and help me share with them a little of what you all love as well.



Name: TK
Ontario, Canada (Zone 6b)
Cactus and Succulents Sempervivums Adeniums Bromeliad Tropicals Aroids
Hibiscus Sedums Container Gardener
Mar 21, 2021 10:37 AM CST
That's awesome! Smiling

I have no experence with greenhouse work, so I can't offer much insight... But this sounds like a great project and opportunity for you and the clients! And I totally agree. Plants can have such an amazingly positive effect on people. Between their relaxing effect, providing opportunities to get more active and be outdoors in the sun, and how rewarding it is to see something you've so carefully nurtured, grow into a strong and healthy plant.

They did wonders for me going through my own difficulties. I hit a major rough patch in the second half of 2019, into 2020 (before the pandemic happened, only to add in more stress). Gardening did wonders for me. Between giving me something relaxing to work on, keeping me occupied, feeling so rewarding when my plants responded positively to my efforts. It gave me something to keep me motivated and active when nothing else did. It's definitely a therapeutic hobby. Thumbs up

Best of luck on the project, and definitely keep us updated! Smiling
Name: Donald
Eastland county, Texas (Zone 8a)
Region: Texas Enjoys or suffers hot summers Raises cows Plant Identifier
Mar 21, 2021 10:50 AM CST
Have you considered just gettting some larger, popular varieties of plants that are easy to propogate and then using those to generate new plants? It's not as fast as purchasing them, but it could be an investment in time for those participating. Jade plants seem always to be popular, along with Echeverias and Sansevierias. It would give clients a plant they've grown from the start to take home with them. The biggest expense would be the planting medium, I think. You can buy plastic pots in quantity for not too much cost. Or have them donated for re-use. Just a thought.
Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
Cactus and Succulents Seed Starter Foliage Fan Xeriscape Container Gardener Hummingbirder
Native Plants and Wildflowers Garden Photography Region: Mexico Plant Identifier Forum moderator Plant Database Moderator
Mar 21, 2021 9:20 PM CST


The roof is a totally different color now. Thumbs up

Do you have a light meter? I would think the main limitations in there for many succulents would be relatively low light and the accumulated Texas heat in there during the summer. To some extent problems can be avoided with the right choice of plants. I think Echeverias would need more light and tolerate less heat, for example. Sansevieria might be good. It might be a matter of you working out which plants enjoy the space by trial and error, maybe get some strong air flow in there, go with whatever works.

I like Donald's idea, and the idea of plants as therapy. My only concern would be the slow rate of growth for many of our favorite cacti and succulents, often manifesting itself over months or years rather than weeks. So there's a delayed reward, compared to many container plants anyway.

All my own plants get really strong light, and rarely experience temps over 90°F, so I'm probably the last person to ask for suggestions for that space.
[Last edited by Baja_Costero - Mar 21, 2021 9:22 PM (+)]
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Name: Donald
Eastland county, Texas (Zone 8a)
Region: Texas Enjoys or suffers hot summers Raises cows Plant Identifier
Mar 21, 2021 10:16 PM CST

You should check out greenhouse operations in your area. There used to be some near Schertz at Marion and Cibolo, but I think there are probably a lot more than that in the San Antonio. Wholesale nursery/greenhouse tend to be year round operations. Summers are going to be a larger issue than winter, I think. A good many ornamental plants aren't edible, so there's no salvaging them when they are thoroughly cooked. I know the one in Marion had a huge greenhouse dedicated to strawberries when I visted - decades ago. Still just seeing how they operate during the summer in your part of Texas should be beneficial. It's possible that your plan would qualify you to purchase direct from from a wholesale operation as you suggested. That would reduce retail pricing if you can locate one that will accommodate you. The wholesalers sell to small retail establishments as well as larger ones.

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