Ideas for outside shelter from the rain?

Downers Grove, IL(Zone 5a)

For the past ten years, my modest but expanding collection has spent summers on my screened in porch. It had a SW exposure and skylights so everyone was happy. This year we moved and no more porch. I spent the summer moving the whole lot from spot to spot outside trying to find optimum conditions. I think I found really good light -- had some bloom for the first time ever -- but the rain was an issue. Just too much moisture around here for their liking. I've been thinking about rigging up some type of "shade" that would let all the light in but not the water. I know the greenhouse supply places have rolls and sheets of stuff that would probably work. But before I embark on my project, I thought I'd check in here to see if anyone has already tackled this issue. I don't know that much about what I'm doing and could certainly benefit from the collective wisdom here!

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

Moisture here was an issue early this summer too. I lost a few to that as I had rock mulch when retained too much moisture.
I hope you will receive some suggestions that I can take advantage of also.

Dundee, IL

What I've seen that works well is a semi-perm "table" set up with a piece of plastic as a roof with a 3ft overhang. Take two 6 X 6 posts in concrete 36" deep (below our frost line). Anchor a floating "table" about 4 feet up no wider than 4ft. About another 4ft up install a cross beam and use that to anchor two 4X8 sheets of corrigated plastic. Provides filtered light and protection from the rain as well. I'll try to get the gentlemen with the setup to send me a picture I can post.

County Roscommon, Ireland(Zone 8a)

hostamomma, I'd also be very interested in seeing a pic of the setup.


Delhi, IA

My brain has been working on something like this. Sort of a little wishing well type thing with the roof a little larger to produce more shade.The corrigated plastic sounds good. I once thought of planting on the roof also ___maybe on the north side only.

Tampa, FL

Here in Fla. a local backyard grower, has used the sheets of translucent corrugated plastic about 2 feet to 3 feet off of the back of his house and sheds...he grows magnificent c&S..we have much humidity and rain in the summer...he used the same "wishing well" structures that jamlover mentions..for his free standing well for him! good luck! sue

Valley Village, CA

There is also available a 3 ply clear hard plastic made for this purpose, we use a two ply at the Huntington Garden nursery It has air inside each layer that help keep the heat in.

There is also a bubble wrap for walls, or sides, or an 8ply plastic to toss over a PCP frame. Wal Mart should know what I'm talking about. The plastic set up worked well for me. Norma

Downers Grove, IL(Zone 5a)

Thank you all for the ideas. I'll spend some of my winter down time designing something. This just caught me by surprise this year - guess I just wasn' thinking! At any rate, I can't spend another summer running around covering everything with plastic garbage bags before each storm!! My neighbors think I'm crazy.

My DH just calls me quirky.


Delhi, IA

Quirky, I went from boards lined up to make a partial shade over mine, to a window pane over them to prevent them from drowning. Guess that makes me quirky to.

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Minneapolis, MN(Zone 4a)

I have a picnic table for my plants, and have a cover made with a PVC frame. On top, I have a sheet of translucent corrugated plastic at an angle to shed rain. I use the seating area for larger plants, and put some underneath, such as Christmas cactus, that don't want too much light. (In the winter, when the plants come in, I remove the cover.) It doesn't look very attractive, but does the job for me.

Susan in Minneapolis

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Phoenix, AZ(Zone 9b)

My solution is similar to smkennedy. This contraption started out as a collapsible 'camper shell' for the bed of our pickup. It turned out to be too much trouble for that but I plan to use it as a mini-greenhouse this winter. Inexpensive, easy to build and can take either shade cloth in summer or heavy plastic in winter.


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Delhi, IA

Susan, What a great looking collection. I am fascinated by the plaid design on the one. What is the plant two to the right of Mr. plaid?

Got the old picnic table with 2 benches. Never thought of that possibility. Now to come up with a roof arrangement. Thanks for the ideas. Jean

Minneapolis, MN(Zone 4a)


Might the Mr. Plaid be the plant on the tiny white trellis, which is in the upper left quadrant of the picture? Then is the plant "two to the right of Mr. plaid" one that looks like an onion, or one that is a lighter blue green with spines?


Delhi, IA

Right behind largest pot in front row, just a little left of center of the photo(that's Mr. Plaid). Then two pots right in same row.

Minneapolis, MN(Zone 4a)

So, the upright one in a clay pot with some large stones at the base; it looks like it has a white coating on it? It is an Astrophytum, I believe. And if I understand who Mr. Plaid is, it is Euphorbia Obesa.


Cambria, CA(Zone 10a)

Wow, has to be the Euphorbia Obesa that Jean's talking about. Definitely plaid.....I saw it immediately Jean. But I've always seen them really short and squatty and round. Different in Minnesota, clearly. Great collection and I'm impressed you do so well with them there. You definitely are doing some right Susan.

Delhi, IA

Someone posted one before, asking why it wasn't round. The reply was young plants are round but as they mature they elongate and become cylindric. I didn't make note of the kind then, but I will this time. Definitely on my must acquire list. That plaid design is sharp!!

Then I'll need to check out astrophytums also. Maybe I'll need to cut another hole on the south side of my house for wintering over plants!!! Actually I need a new 6 X 9 living room window and it may just become a bay or something!!! Fun, fun, fun!!!

Minneapolis, MN(Zone 4a)

Yes, I am the one who asked on DG about the elongated E. Obesa. I think it is just that it has managed to survive so long, possibly 15-20 years or more. I have put them outside in the summer for many years, so that probably helps also.

Making space is always a problem for me too. So far I have resisted the idea of a heated greenhouse in this climate, but I am retiring soon, and I might have more time to think myself into a greenhouse in the future.


Glendale, AZ

OT I guess, but Susan what a terrific Brug in the background! Harold

Minneapolis, MN(Zone 4a)

Thanks for your kind words. I have just gotten into Brugs in the last 2 years (I have three), and this year I moved them to the edge of my rooftop deck, so they would be visible to the traffic on the street below. I have gotten lots of compliments, and some questions about what they are. I fertilized twice a week, and had blooms from early July through now. Are you growing some as well? I imagine in AZ the problem is not having them burn up in full sun in the summer, and giving them enough water.


Palm Springs, CA

I will cover this lath house with plastic and uncover for the summer, the lath provides adequate shade through our Palm Springs summer.

Thumbnail by Pstomjones

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