Growing outdoor orchids can seem challenging, but before we dive into the subject and I share tips on which types of orchids to choose, and how to provide optimum conditions for them to thrive, let me remind you that, originally, orchids were/are wild plants, which developed in the woods and different areas all over the Planet and they did, and still do, grow outside.
It is true that if you choose some orchids of tropical origin, you might not succeed to grow them, completely outside, in cold climate areas. Or if you live in desert-like areas, with a whole day full of sun, and dry air, as in general they prefer shadow and moister. But due to the enormous diversity of this plant family, there will always be enough species to choose from
How To Make Your Outdoor Orchids Selection
To choose your outdoor orchids, first, you need to look at the climate conditions of your location, and then choose orchids that have similar growing requirements. Here I will mention a couple of types, and give a description for each one of them, but in the upcoming period, you should return to this blog as there will be more and more orchids to discover and choose from.
In this response, we will cover the following types of outdoor orchids: Cymbidiums, Dendrobiums, Epidendrums, and Terrestrial Orchids.
Basic Suggestion For Outdoor Orchids
|Type of Orchids||Temperature||Light Requirements||Blooming time||Propagation|
|Bright, filtered light||Winter, up to 8 weeks||through division|
|Bright, filtered light||Spring, up to 8 weeks||through division or by taking stem cuttings|
|Epidendrums||tolerate a wide range of temperatures||Bright, filtered light||Summer, up to 8 weeks||through division or by taking stem cuttings|
|Terrestrial Orchids||Day: 59°F to 77°F/ 15°C and 25°C
Night: 50°F to 68° F / 10°C to 20°C
|Partial shade||Diferent species, different blooming time||through division|
Cymbidiums are one of the most popular types of outdoor orchids. They are native to Asia and Australia and are prized for their beautiful, long-lasting flowers. Cymbidiums prefer bright, filtered light and can be grown in USDA hardiness zones 9-11. They prefer daytime temperatures of 70-80°F /20-27°C and nighttime temperatures of 50-60°F/10-15°C .
Here are some tips for caring for Cymbidiums:
- Propagation: Cymbidiums can be propagated through division. When the plant becomes too large for its pot, carefully remove it and separate the pseudobulbs. Plant the divided sections in a new pot with fresh potting soil.
- Care: Cymbidiums prefer well-draining soil and should be watered when the top inch of soil feels dry. Fertilize every 2-3 weeks during the growing season with a balanced orchid fertilizer. Cymbidiums typically bloom in the winter and can produce flowers for up to 8 weeks.
- Problems: Overwatering can lead to root rot, while underwatering can cause the plant to become dehydrated. Spider mites and thrips can also be a problem.
Dendrobiums are a diverse group of orchids, with over 1,500 species. They are native to Asia, Australia, and the Pacific Islands and can be grown in USDA hardiness zones 9-12. Just as cymbidiums dendrobiums too prefer bright, filtered light. Their favorite day temperatures are between 70-80°F/20-27°C and nighttime temperatures are in the range of 50-60°F/10-15°C.
Let’s see how to maintain proper care for Dendrobiums:
- Propagation: Propagation can be done through division or by taking stem cuttings. You should choose stems that have not yet flowered and plant them. Fresh potting soil is something that goes without saying.
- Care: Another thing that goes without saying is that soil must be well-draining and the watering schedule must be carefully planned, to avoid overwatering. Good care also implies regular fertilizing, every 2-3 weeks during the growing season. Dendrobiums usually bloom in the spring and can produce flowers for up to two months..
- Problems: Root rot if you overwater it, or dehydration caused by underwatering. Other problems can be caused by scale insects and mealybugs.
Epidendrums are a large group of orchids, with over 1,000 species. They are native to Central and South America and can be grown in USDA hardiness zones 9-11. Provide them with bright, filtered light to be on the safe side. On the flip side, they can tolerate a wide range of temperatures. You can expect the to bloom during the summer, for about two months.
Caring for epidendrums is not hard and it includes:
- Propagation: Epidendrums can be propagated through division or by taking stem cuttings. Sterilization of tools is a must if you want to grow healthy plants.
- Care: I know I’m repeating, but the soil must be well-draining. Do not water them until the top inch of the soil is dry. Fertilization is recommended during the growing season, with balanced orchid fertilizer. You can schedule it for every 2-3 weeks.
- Problems: Epidendrums are susceptible to usual orchid problems: root rot (if overwatered, and grown in inadequate soil), and prone to parasites like spider mites and thrips.
4. Terrestrial Orchids
Terrestrial orchids are a type of outdoor orchid that grows in soil rather than in trees or rocks. They are a diverse group of plants found in a variety of habitats around the world, and as such, their temperature range can vary depending on the species and their natural environment.
However, in general, most terrestrial orchids prefer temperatures between 59°F to 77°F/15°C and 25°C, during the day and slightly cooler temperatures at night, with a range of 50°F to 68°F/10°C to 20°C. Some species may tolerate slightly lower or higher temperatures, but extreme temperatures, both hot and cold, can be detrimental to their growth and survival.
It’s important to note that temperature requirements can also vary depending on the stage of growth, with some species requiring specific temperature ranges for germination or flowering. USDA hardiness zones 6-10, offer the best conditions for most of these orchids.
There are many species of terrestrial orchids, including the lady slipper orchid and the jewel orchid. Terrestrial orchids prefer partial shade and well-draining soil. When it comes to flowering, terrestrial orchids can bloom at different times of the year, depending on the species. The blooming period varies too.
- Propagation: Terrestrial orchids can be propagated through division. When you notice that the plant fills up its pot, take it out carefully, and separate the roots. Plant the sections in new pots and enjoy their growth.
- Care: As it’s been said above, terrestrial orchids are a diverse group of plants so generalization of their features or needs would be wrong. Some species are easy to care for, while others are very demanding and challenging. It’s best to learn about each specie and its own needs.
- Problems: While care for different types or species of orchids might differ, problems are similar: root rot, and parasites, but with the terrestrial orchids, we have an additional threat: slugs and snails.
In terms of difficulty to care for, the tеrrestrial orchid, lady slipper, is considered one of the most challenging outdoor orchids. It requires specific soil and lighting conditions, as well as careful watering. Cymbidiums are considered the most popular outdoor orchid, as they produce large, colorful flowers and are relatively easy to care for.
Whether you prefer a commodity of easy care or challenges to overcome, the diversity of the orchid can offer you many options to choose from. At the same time, no matter where your affinities lean, and which orchid or orchids you choose, outdoor orchids are a beautiful addition to any garden.
By understanding the specific care requirements for each type of orchid, you can ensure that your plants thrive and produce stunning blooms year after year.