Tri-pane windows OK for growing indoors
QUESTION: Is it possible to grow herbs in front of windows that are triple pane, low-E and UV safe? We recently installed new windows in our older home and they are all triple-glazed with low-E coating. It is my understanding that the sun’s rays don’t penetrate these types of windows, although there is plenty of light.
How would I go about growing herbs and should I consider using grow lights instead of trying to use sunlight from the windows? I am an avid gardener and belong to our local horticultural society. I also work part time in a greenhouse.
ANSWER: Thank you for your question from sunny Regina. Because lowE windows allow visible light through, your herbs should do fine. According to one of the manufacturers, Loewen, low-E argon-filled windows will block most of the UV light entering through the window but allow all visible light to enter. The loss of UV light should not affect plants. In fact, there are companies that manufacture low-E argon greenhouse windows specifically for growing plants.
QUESTION: Last summer, I saw an Alaskan weeping cypress and was tempted to buy it, but thought I should get some expert advice first. The trees looked healthy, were about two metres tall, designated Zone 4 and were about $100. I was reluctant to spend that kind of money on something that may only make it a year or two. I looked it up online, where it is considered Zone 5 and all information was from the West Coast.
My 50-year-old maple was dangerously damaged in the July storm last summer, so I have taken it down and would like to put something unique in its place, but I want something that won’t grow to 15 by 15 by 15 metres! It would be sheltered to the east by the garage, to the north and south by two-metre fences and houses and to the west by my house. Would that provide enough shelter for this sort of tree? I need a new gutter on my garage, so I could direct run-off water to the vicinity for some extra moisture.
Do you think it makes sense to try to grow one of these? Hopefully, Zocalo was able to overwinter them because they had five trees and I don’t think any of them sold. They were down to half off by the end of the season.
ANSWER: I love writing this column because of the many interesting questions I receive and this is certainly one of them.
I have to admit I had never heard of the Alaskan weeping cypress, so I started doing research on it. According to the references I checked, the plant is hardy to Zone 4A on the USDA climate map, which translates to hardy to -34.4 C. Other references put it as hardy to Zone 4. The plant is not a true cypress.
Would I personally plant this in my garden? That depends on a few factors. First, I would be much more inclined to try a plant that was priced at $50 instead of $100, but that’s me. It would also depend on the nursery offering a guarantee.
While your description of how it would be sheltered sounds promising, I might be more inclined to try it if it were closer to a building rather than out in the middle of the yard, which I assume it will be since it is replacing a large maple.
You are also asking a guy who regularly spends money on borderline plants. I have tried growing everything from rhododendrons to butterfly bushes.
For me, the joy is in trying to get something to grow where it really is not supposed to. A Zone 4 plant is not nearly as much of a gamble as one designated for Zone 5.
So, to make a very long answer short, I would try it. I would make sure I screened the plant from the winter winds as well. Don’t wrap it, but erect a burlap screen around it in the fall.
Grow your herbs in pots in a sunny window inside your home during the winter.