Outdoor orchids are ones that are vibrant and the ones to first grab your attention whenever you see a garden bed or a beautiful lawn. They do not have many requirements for caring for them and can bloom all year round.
But there is more to them than just this, so keep on reading and learn more about their types, needs, preferences, and everything!
Outdoor Orchids: Two Unique Types
There are two types of outdoor orchids: the epiphyte and terrestrial. The epiphyte type is the one that grows in raised garden beds when outdoors. On the other hand, the terrestrial ones are ones that tolerate the range of cold weather and less watering requirements.
The types of outdoor living orchids that you can invest in would change according to where you live; if your region is humidity most of the year, Vanda and Epidendrum are good options. Cymbidium orchids are suitable if you live where the days are mild and the nights are cool.
The outdoor ones are the showiest and the most exotic of all plants, as they can be grown anywhere, and every season as long you provide basic care. They don’t have to grow only in the ground; some species prefer growing above ground too. These plant varieties are found all over the world and are one of the oldest flowering plants.
Once germinated, orchids can take up to five to seven years to bloom. The outdoor orchid plants for sale are many decades old. They are fairly easy to grow at home and can repeatedly bloom several times a year. The orchid seeds are very tiny, as one seedpod can contain up to three million seeds.
– Epiphyte Orchids
These types of orchids do not grow well in soil, because they prefer growing in a raised garden bed with a well-drained orchid mix. If your region experiences less extreme weather conditions, you can grow them in a three-foot raised garden bed filled with large pieces of bark and charcoal.
They cling to the tree and can climb to the highest places, reaching for maximum sunlight and this is how they will grow. This variety is one that is incapable of absorbing water and nutrients like the ones that grow in soil; rather, they store water and absorb nutrients from unpredictable rainfall.
– Terrestrial Orchids
These orchids are different from the rest because of their ability to tolerate cold temperatures. They grow well in cooler climates, and sometimes plants are required in almost freezing temperatures to bloom.
There are more than two hundred species of terrestrial orchids, and they differ in care. Like epiphytic orchids, terrestrial orchids form pseudobulbs at the plant’s base. These bulb-like structures absorb water, and you should let the soil dry completely between the watering sessions. Like all orchids, they need more water in their growing and blooming seasons and less water in winter.
These orchids have been named ‘hardy’ because some of the most colorful species are in temperate regions. Most epiphytic orchids are native to tropical regions. Not all terrestrial orchids are from temperate climates; they go as far as the Artic Circle and Patagonia.
– In-ground Orchids
Bletilla Orchids grow in clumps and can be between one and two feet tall. They do not prefer bright sunlight but can tolerate harsh sun under shaded trees. Furthermore, they have average water needs; water them sparingly at the beginning of each growing season.
Ladyslipper Orchids are the most desired hardy orchids that add color everywhere. They prefer growing in mild sun and have low to average watering needs. Most of its species are close to extinction in America and Europe due to their diminishing habitat.
Orchis Orchids contain only one species and are also called ‘Jewel Orchids.’ They are mostly grown under thick canopies to protect them from sunlight. Too much sun can burn their leaf tips. The orchids like to be kept moist at all times. Long periods without water can kill them.
– Above-ground Orchids
The Phalaenopsis Orchids are the easiest orchids to grow outdoors. They are so common that you will see them growing in every household. We often think: Can I put my orchid outside in summer? Gardeners recommend growing them indoors to have the most blooms. You only need to water them once a week during their growing season.
Cattleya Orchids are another favorite to grow, also known as the ‘Queen of Orchids.’ They are easy to care for and do well with the simplest outdoor orchid care for beginners. They prefer indirect sunlight, and you do not need to water them much, only when the growing medium is completely dry.
Oncidium Orchids are sunlight-forgiving, unlike most orchid species. They can tolerate the bright morning light and even bright to direct sunlight. The orchids also differ in their watering needs; you must water them every seven to ten days.
Outdoor Growing Orchid Planting Requirements
The outdoor growing orchid planting requirements should be an indirect light source, giving it the right air circulation. You must also water it sufficiently and apply the right fertilization to the plant. Lastly, make sure that the humidity level is sufficient.
In general, abiding by a few general rules can help your orchids bloom longer than expected.
– Indirect Sunlight
You can check the leaf color to know if your orchid is getting more or less sunlight. Bright, lush green leaves indicate that the plant’s light needs are being met. Dark green leaves show that the plant is not receiving sufficient sunlight, which means you must adjust the indirect light.
On the other hand, red, yellow, and green leaves signal that the plant gets more sunlight than needed. Plant your orchids under overhead trees when growing outside and near the north or south-facing windows when growing indoors.
– Air Circulation
The plants need free access to air, and continuously moving air evaporates the standing water, which gives rise to fungal and bacterial diseases. As a result, you must initiate good ventilation so that it would help the plant survive intense heat waves that otherwise cause the leaves to burn. In short, open windows in the summer to let the cool breeze in.
– Sufficient Water
Most gardeners state that most orchids die due to inappropriate watering. They should be watered only when the top few inches of the soil feel dry. It would be best if you only watered them once a week in winter and twice a week in summer and late spring. As a result, you should not water it excessively, nor should you water it less than the right amount.
– Proper Fertilizer Application
Fertilize your orchids during their peak growth and monthly during their dormant phase. Prefer using fertilizers with equal amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, diluted to half their strength, when the plant is blooming.
– High Humidity Level
The ideal humidity level for orchids, especially Phalaenopsis Orchids, is between 40 and 70 percent, possibly even more in hot weather. You can increase the humidity level by placing the potted plant in a dish filled with pebbles and water and placing it outside, or you may also try to mist around the plant, but make sure that it is not done in a direct way, so that the plant will not suffer.
Pros and Cons of Outside-growing Orchid Plants
The pros and cons of outside-growing orchid plants are that they are low-maintenance plants that grow without requiring so much attention.
However, they are pricey plants to take care of, even though the positive result is that you will have a beautiful garden with colorful flowers.
Most of the orchid species are water-sufficient ones that can go without days of watering as you only need to water them once or twice during their growing season. Some can even tolerate the afternoon sun as well. They are not heavy feeders; feeding them once or twice during active growth is sufficient.
You can place the terrestrial orchids, however, you want, as long as they are in the sun. They can be made attractive with containers of various shapes and sizes. With epiphytes, you only have two options: hanging or mounting them on trees.
Contrary to popular belief, mounted orchids can live longer than terrestrial ones. But they also need more water than the ones growing in the ground. On the other hand, terrestrial orchids must be repotted, while you only need to mount the epiphytes once.
– The Setup Cost
Though the showy blooms make them seem pricey, the plants are affordable and must be purchased only once if you are not propagating them. The orchids bloom for months with proper care, reducing additional fertilizing and insecticide expenses. This makes it less pocket friendly than you can think about.
– A Fresh Pop of Color
The orchids add color to your outdoor and indoor plant collection. They maintain their attractive color as long as they receive the needed sunlight, which is why you must use them to brighten up any dull space. They look great on patios, near benches, around water features, or in vases indoors.
Common Problems and Mistakes Caused
The common problems and mistakes caused for your outdoor orchids would be watering and locating issues, in addition to excessive fertilization being placed. On another note, you may also face issues like pests and diseases of different kinds, which would result in different damages.
Growing orchids come with a fair share of mistakes and problems. Apart from not giving them basic care, the plants are hosts to many other problems like aphids, spider mites, etc. The leaves are the first to lose color and change their appearance in unusual circumstances.
– Watering and Locating Issues
As beginners, we tend to go over the top with watering, thinking the orchids will benefit more from watering. It is a common misconception, but this happens when notice would water them more, even though the soil’s top inches feel dry or according to the species’ needs. They would irrigate it excessively, causing the plant to get damaged in the long run.
The second beginner mistake is placing the orchids in direct sunlight. Most new orchid growers place them at spots receiving the most sunlight, claiming that the orchids need sunlight to grow but not too intense. As a result, the plant would face different problems such as weakening and discoloring of the leaves.
– Excessive Fertilization
Orchids can be easily over-fertilized because when you fertilize them excessively, they can cause the leaves to dry and turn brown. The discoloration starts from the tips and slowly spreads to the entire leaf until the leaf can no longer survive. It applies to full-strength and diluted fertilizers.
– Pests and Diseases
These plants are often infested with insects and pests. Aphids particularly like to live in clusters on orchids. They feast on flower spikes, seedlings, and buds under development. Thrips also attack the orchids, and they are so tiny that you need a magnifying lens to spot them.
Two-spotted spider mites love orchids because they feed on the lower sides of the leaves and suck out all the chlorophyll. The affected leaves have a silver appearance with yellow dots all over them. These spider mites are eight-legged yellow bugs that attack stressed plants.
Now that you know everything about outdoor orchids, you can easily distinguish between the types and can care for them according to their needs. Let’s sum up the key points so that you are in a better position to care for them:
- The outdoor orchids can be classified into two types: ones that grow above, epiphytes and in the ground terrestrials.
- All the species are low maintenance. They are light and water-forgiving to some extent.
- You can place the potted orchids anywhere for a quick pop of color.
Apart from many interesting characteristics, you must have learned about other aspects like the growing conditions, the pros, and cons, etc. You can play with outdoor orchids and grow them according to their species.
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