Guest Author - Susan Taylor
If you are a relatively new grower and have accumulated a number of orchids over the winter, it may be time to think about putting them outside once the temperatures have warmed enough in your area. It is really good for your plants to have a summer vacation outside since they will get more light, better humidity (in most cases), and good air circulation. Depending upon your circumstances, this may be handled several different ways.
If you only have a balcony, you will have to watch and determine how much sunlight that balcony gets. If it’s a western exposure, you will not be able to put your orchids outdoors unless you provide them shade—either with shade cloth, other plants in front of them, or some kind of artificial shading such as lattice. If you have other exposures, you will not have as much of a problem but you’ll have to watch that sun as it moves so that your plants will not sunburn. This is more of a cosmetic problem than anything else, but do be aware of it.
If you have a back yard to work with, then you have many more options. Some people hang plants in trees which is an excellent solution since it closely resembles the natural habitat of epiphytes. They can also be placed on the ground around pools where the humidity will be really good for the, but you must be careful that they receive shade during the hottest part of the day.
One of the best sites I’ve found on the internet for good ideas for structures is provided by Broward Orchid Supply. These are examples of excellent design for growing your plants outdoors. The tiered benches will keep the bugs away from your plants in a much better fashion than putting them on the ground as well as providing a good looking arrangement once the benches are filled. Notice the shade cloth covered top to the bench so that it can be put in full sun while still providing shelter for your plants.
Of course, the large shelter would be the ultimate for any orchid grower – a place to have your orchids grow as well as be able to enjoy them while sitting at a table. Notice the lattice which allows the grower to hang pots all over the inside and outside of the structure. This also is a good way to keep pests such as slugs, snails and ants from invading your orchids.
Now’s the time to start thinking of what you could do outside so you will be able to build and have it all ready once the weather is right!