Guest Author - Susan Taylor
Spring is now here and it’s time to start thinking about giving your orchids a summer vacation outside. If you live in a mild-winter area, you may be able to put your most cold tolerant plants outside now. When you are sure that the last chance of a sudden drop in nighttime temperature has passed, you can move the more tender plants outdoors.
Move slowly and gradually as you begin taking out your plants. Find a sheltered area that is completely shaded to start out with and move the plants little by little into areas with higher levels of light. You want the leaves to stay a light green—yellowing is a sign that they are getting too much light. Some members of the Cattleya Alliance will actually show a red color on their leaves at the upper end of their light absorption.
Make sure that your plants receive enough water and humidity. In many tropical areas this is not a problem, but in other areas of the country where humidity is relatively low, this can become a real problem. As the air temperature rises, the moisture in the air protects the plant against damage. Check your pots every day if possible and make sure that the plants are receiving enough water. One of the joys of orchid growing is that in most cases you can mist every day and your plants will love it. Stick to your regular schedule of fertilizing since you want your plans to be able to take advantage of the extra light and water.
Be sure to check for unwanted pests such as ants, snails, and slugs. A monthly wash through with water with a bit of dishwashing soap will keep down a number of pests. Snail and slug pellets will keep down those pests under control.
You should definitely try to give your orchids time outdoors this spring and summer. They will thank you with many more flowers during the next bloom cycle.