Tips for Having a Great Greenhouse Experience
Know Your Light: Whether you’re looking for indoor Tropicals or outdoor Annuals or Perennials, the one thing you cannot change is the amount of sunlight that shines on your intended area. Here at Belgian, we categorize our outdoor plants as Full Sun, Part Sun/Part Shade, or Full Shade, while Tropical Houseplants are labeled as Bright, Medium, or Low Light. Below are some tips to help determine your area’s lighting conditions:
Outdoor Plants: Annuals, Perennials, Herbs
- Full Sun: Sun all day with little to no shade. Minimal shade only in the early morning or late afternoon, not exceeding a few hours.
- Partial Sun: Direct sun shines on the location for approximately half the day, preferably in the afternoon. Light filtering through a tree canopy for most of the day can be considered Part Sun.
- Partial Shade: Direct sun shines on the area for approximately half the day, preferably in the morning. A tree canopy that allows some beams of light through and filtered light for the remainder of the day is also considered partial shade.
- Full Shade: Shade all day with little to no sun. Under tree canopy or along the North side of a building, hedge, etc.
- Deep Shade: No sun; under dense canopies of trees. These locations are usually very dry.
Highest Sun Energy Levels: 11am to 4pm
The sun’s energy is less intense in the morning and gets stronger as the day progresses, with the highest levels reaching your garden between 11am to 4pm. So if your area gets morning sun but is in shade before 11am, or receives no direct sunlight until after the dinner hour (6pm) then you’ve got a Shady location.
Indoor Plants: Tropical Houseplants, Cacti, Succulents, Orchids, Bonsai, Herbs (grown indoors)
- Bright Light: Bright, sunny direct light. Close to a window facing South or West. Three hours or more of sun daily. In summer these areas receive hot and intense sun.
- Medium Light: A bright location with indirect light. East window with morning sun, West window with evening sun or slightly away from a South window.
- Low Light: Indirect light. Usually North, Northeast windows. Room interior or any window with closed sheers.
Keep in mind that closed curtains or sheers will turn a high light location into a low light area. You can supplement a Low Light area with grow lights if needed to upgrade the area to Medium Light.
Shop by the Season:
Belgian’s availability of certain plants and products changes with the seasons. When you come to visit the greenhouses, keep the time of year in mind as we do not carry Amaryllis bulbs in June or Marigolds in December. Here are some of the most popular seasonal items Belgian carries:
Cacti, Succulents – in Belgian’s Cactus & Succulent House
Orchids, Bonsai, Air Plants (Tillandsia) – in Orchid & Bonsai House (Greenhouse #2)
Tropical Houseplants – in Tropical greenhouses
Fresh Potted Herbs – popular varieties available in Greenhouse #4
Seeds & Seed Starting Supplies – full selection from Jan to July, with reduced assortment in Aug to Dec.
Pots, Saucers, Home & Garden Décor, Fertilizers, Bagged Goods, Gardening Supplies
Spring (March, April, May):
Primula (Perennial) – in Perennial Centre, March to April
Pansies (Annuals) – in Perennial Centre for cooler growing temperatures
Potted (Forced) Bulbs, primarily Tulips & Daffodils – in Perennial Centre
Spring Flowering Cactus – in Tropical Greenhouse
Annuals – Annual greenhouses open to customers in early May; best selection before May long weekend, some varieties can sell out around Mother’s Day
Perennials – in Belgian’s Perennial Centre; weekly shipments all season start end of March
Fresh Potted Herbs – in Annual greenhouse May-June
Seeds & Seed Starting Supplies – in Tropical Greenhouse, to get your gardens growing
Summer (June, July, August):
Thousands of Perennials! New shipments arriving weekly in Perennial Centre
Annuals are typically sold out by late June or early July
Fresh Potted Herbs – in Tropical Greenhouse & Greenhouse #4
Fall (September, October, November):
Garden (Fall) Mums (Annual varieties only) – in Perennial Centre from mid-August to October
Ornamental Cabbage & Kale (Annual) – in Perennial Centre by the Gazebo
Fall Bulbs (Annual & Perennial varieties) – in Main Store, best selection in September. Plant in Fall for colourful Spring blooms
Winter (December, January, February):
Holiday Flowering Tropicals – Christmas or Thanksgiving Cactus, Cyclamen, Frosty Fern, Christmas Dish Gardens, Mini Poinsettia* – in Tropical Greenhouse in Nov/Dec
*Note: Belgian does not carry large pots of Poinsettias
Primula (Perennial) – in Tropical Greenhouse (Feb)
Seeds & Seed Starting Supplies – Best seed selection in Jan-March in Tropical Greenhouse
Shopping for Annuals: Timing and Varieties Selling Out Quickly
Belgian Nursery grows over 1.5 acres of Annuals and Vegetable plants each year, including over 6,000 Hanging Baskets and Planters for sun and shade. We fill our Annual greenhouses with incredible varieties, many of which can sell out very fast! So here are some helpful tips to navigating our Annual selection:
Research and Pre-Plan your Garden Beds and Containers
Our Annual greenhouses are open to customers in early May, but that doesn’t mean you have to wait to start thinking about your dream gardens! Knowing the sunlight conditions for all your growing areas will be a great help when shopping – our Annual greenhouses are organized by Sun and Shade, since this is the one thing we as gardeners cannot control. Then plan out your gardens and planters; think about what veggies you’d like to try growing this year and how much space they’d need; maybe you’d like to have more flowers for pollinators, or you want a low maintenance arrangement of foliage and texture. If you kept plant tags from previous garden projects, they can help you remember which varieties were amazing (and maybe which ones didn’t work out so well); if you didn’t keep the plant tags, this year is a good year to start!
Timing is Key – Annuals Cannot Tolerate Frost or Temperatures Below 10°C
For Annuals, it is safe to plant outdoors once the day and night temperatures stay above 10°C, usually around the May long weekend (May 24th). Check the weather reports daily and keep your Annuals indoors to best protect them from cold temperatures and frost.
Our best selection of Annuals is typically in early May, but there’s still that danger of frost to deal with after you get your plants home. If you buy your plants early, you’ll most likely get your “first choice” varieties but you’ll also have to give them the light, water, and warmth that they need to survive until it’s safe to plant them outdoors – this means keeping them indoors with adequate sunlight and watering them as needed. Or you can wait, allowing Belgian staff to care for the Annuals in the warm greenhouses, but you may not get the varieties you were hoping for. (Note: option #2 often makes a customer more flexible in their plant choices, and you may find a new favourite variety!)
As stated above, timing can mean the difference between a dream garden and a less-than-ideal final plan. But it doesn’t have to be that way! If you arrive at the Annual greenhouses only to discover that your favourite variety is sold out, there’s no need to worry because there are so many other options! Instead of Green Spikes, use Annual Grasses or tall Gomphrena for your planters; trailing Verbena and Scaevola are great substitutes for Petunias or even Purslane, and German Ivy is great in any arrangement! Keep your sunlight conditions in mind, and you’ll find many combinations to discover in Belgian’s Annual greenhouses!
Ask for Assistance
Belgian team members are always happy to help! From simple questions like “where are your Geraniums?” to more advanced “can you recommend an Annual that can thrive in all day sun?” one of our Belgian team members can help you navigate our selection. Please ask a team member for help with our hanging baskets, as they can be quite heavy and awkward to handle.
Please note: Belgian team members are happy to point customers towards greenhouse locations of specific plants or products, but Belgian does not take custom orders or offer design services.
Looking for Something Specific? Bring a Photo:
If you’ve seen a Perennial in a neighbour’s garden or a Houseplant in a magazine and don’t know its name, bring a photo and ask one of our knowledgeable team members.