Can Orchids Be Planted Outside?

Can Orchids Be Planted Outside

Yes, many species of orchid have no problem being kept outside year-round in coastal areas or in warmer areas that do not have winters. In areas that do have winters, you can keep the plant outside during the warmer months, but make sure you take it indoors the moment the weather becomes cold.

Many orchids are native to tropical rainforests, so they thrive in the warm, humid areas under the canopies of the trees. Make sure you do not expose your orchid to direct sunlight; just bright, indirect light is best because direct sunlight can cause sun damage.

In this article, we will discuss how to keep an orchid outside, and what conditions are required.

What are the basic cultural needs of orchids?

Before we dive into how to grow orchids outside, let us first discuss the basic cultural needs of the orchid plant. Once we understand what these plants need, it will be easier to understand why they can only survive outside in certain conditions.

Light

Orchids need light and will not do well in deep shade. As mentioned above, many orchid species are native to tropical rainforests where they live under the protection of the tree canopy. This is why they prefer dappled light. The hotter the climate or the weather, the more shade is required. In humid and coastal areas there is often a lot more sun, so you should take that into consideration when choosing which types of orchids to grow in your garden. If you will not be able to provide shade for your plant, it is better to only grow orchid varieties that do better in intense light conditions.

Temperature

Most orchids typically do well in temperatures between 40 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Choose those that will do well within that range and they should have no problem adjusting to their surroundings.

Humidity

Humidity and temperature usually go hand in hand when it comes to what constitutes a good environment to grow orchids. Usually, if the temperature is good for the orchid, chances are the current humidity is also fine.

As long as the humidity levels are above 40%, it should be alright. If the conditions are too dry, you can remedy the situation by planting the orchid close to other plants that also appreciate higher-than-normal humidity, so that together they can create a microclimate.

Watering

Most orchids only need to be watered when their potting mix is dry. This is the best way to determine when to water the plant. If the top of the potting mix is dry to the touch, water the orchid. If the potting mix is still a bit damp, wait one or two days and check it again.

Fertilizer

During the orchid’s growing period, which is during the spring and summer, fertilize it once a week at half-strength and gradually taper off the frequency as the plant becomes more mature.

Is it okay to keep my orchids outside during the summer?

Yes, it is actually good for the orchid when it gets moved outdoors because you can then put the natural light to good use.

The growing period of most orchids is during the summer. In their natural habitat, they grow in the forest attached to trees and rocks and have adapted to the dappled light that the canopy of the rainforest provides. As long as you place your orchids under the shade of large trees or under a net, they should be perfectly fine being kept outside during the summer.

Can orchids get sun damage?

Yes, orchids can get sun damage when they are left outside under direct sunlight during the summer, or in the afternoon when the sun is at its most intense. The radiation given off by the sun is enough to cause sun damage, which presents as yellowing of the leaves. This change in color is very noticeable against the usual bright green color of the orchid’s leaves.

Fortunately, sunburn is rarely fatal to orchids and can be remedied by reducing the plant’s exposure to sunlight. Simply place the plant in a shadier spot.

If you leave the orchid where it is exposed to lots of sunlight, the yellow leaves will become white and then sunken spots will appear, which will then turn brown. This means the leaves have begun to decay and dry out, and they may die. These damaged leaves will also give pests and opportunistic pathogens an easy entry, causing infestations or infections.

How can I keep my orchid from getting sunburnt?

If you think your orchid could do with a little more sunlight, you should understand that this does not mean you should expose it to more intense sunlight; rather, you should expose it to indirect sunlight for longer periods. The length of time it has in indirect light is more important than the concentration of actual sunlight hitting the leaves.

If your plant has been kept indoors for several months over winter, taking it outside and exposing it to bright, indirect light will do it plenty of good. Aside from the light, the differences in temperature and humidity, as well as the improved air circulation, will do wonders for your orchid.

Just make sure you do not place the plant under the sun immediately. Let the plant acclimatize to the sunlight by moving it onto the patio first for a few days, and then taking it out further into your garden once it has adapted to the changes. A gradual transition is appreciated and will prevent any unwanted stress for the plant.

How do I water or mist my orchid in the summer?

Because summers are very dry in a lot of places, you may have a hard time achieving the humidity required by your plant.

During the winter, you may only have watered the plant once every couple of weeks, but you will definitely need to increase the frequency come summertime.

There is no strict schedule that you need to follow when watering your orchid; it is always best to simply check the plant’s potting mix. If the potting mix is dry, you need to water the orchid, but if the potting mix is still a bit damp, wait one or two days and check it again.

You can mist the plant in the morning and again in the afternoon if the weather is too hot. This will help increase the humidity around the plant.

Conclusion

Yes, you can plant many species of orchids outside, provided you live in a dry or coastal area with no winters. If you do live in a place with winters, it is best to keep the plant in a pot so you can easily transfer it indoors when the seasons start to change.

If you opt to keep your orchid outside, make sure you place it under a large tree or under a net that helps diffuse the sunlight. Orchids prefer dappled sunlight, and direct sunlight can cause sunburn.

Water the plant as needed by checking whether or not the potting medium is dry. You can also increase the humidity around the plant by misting it every morning and afternoon as needed.

Image: istockphoto.com / praisaeng