Tips For Growing Orchids Outdoors
Author: Celeste Booth1 Comment
Growing Orchid Plants Outdoors Information Overview
Properly selected and cared for, orchid plants can be among the showiest and most exotic of all garden or patio plants. There are many areas throughout the southern and central United States where temperatures for a good portion of the year are compatible with the needs of many orchids. Some coastal areas are nearly frost-free year round and make perfect climates for growing orchids outdoors. In these areas, with some protection from excessive sun, wind and rain, lovely orchid plants can be successfully cultivated and cared for on the patio or as a part of the landscape. In frost-free areas, the plants can be left in place all year. Where frost or temperatures below 40º threaten, plants can be brought inside to be grown on windowsills, under lights or on an unheated patio where the coldest temperatures are avoided. The trick is in selecting orchid plants that are already adapted to your particular area. It is also a good idea to consider some basic care and culture needs of the orchid plants.
Growing Orchids Outdoors
- Light and Shade – No flowering plant will do well in deep shade, and orchids are no exception. Orchids generally come from environments where dappled light is the norm. The hotter the sun, the more midday shade is required. In humid or coastal areas, more sun can be given. The required amount of light will also dictate your selection of plants. If you can offer only one light situation, select only plants that can do well under those conditions.
- Temperature – In most cases, you will be limited to whatever Mother Nature provides, eased only by the amount of shade you supply. Generally, there are many lovely orchids that will do well in the temperature range from 40º to 90ºF. Your particular temperature conditions will influence your choice of orchid plants.
- Watering – This will depend greatly on your orchid plant selection, and whether the plants are grown under cover. In general, orchids require at least some air circulation around their roots yet are intolerant of excessive moisture at the roots.
- Humidity – Most areas with satisfactory temperatures will have adequate humidity. Anywhere from 40 percent and up will do. Only in the deserts will it be unsatisfactory. In such areas, grouping orchids with other plants can create a microclimate that will suit them.
- Fertilizing – Fertilize regularly, at a low dosage of approximately one-quarter to one-half strength, with a fertilizer appropriate to the potting mix in which the orchid plants are grown. One highly recommended fertilizer is Green Jungle Orchid Food, especially formulated to work with rain, distilled, reverse osmosis water or water low in alkalinity. Fertilize with Green Jungle every time you water, all year round.
Popular Outdoor Orchid Plants
- Cattleya Alliance Hybrids – Especially good are hybrids with Laelia anceps in their ancestry; half sun, temperature-tolerant.
- Cymbidiums – Only in areas with cool summer nights, not for the Gulf states; nearly full sun.
- Dendrobiums – Among the many choices, Indian and Australian types best; half sun, temperature-tolerant.
- Encyclia Species and Hybrids – Half sun, very temperature-tolerant.
- Epidendrums – Especially the brilliant reed-stem types; need almost full sun, temperature-tolerant.
- Oncidiums – Mexican species, or higher-elevation types; bright shade to half sun.