Perhaps you are wondering if you should put your orchids outside because you want them to have the best growing environment. Perhaps you would love to walk outside and enjoy your orchids. This leaves you wondering, can orchids grow outside?
Yes, you can grow orchids outside. However, there are some environmental conditions that must be met. If the environment isn’t right for your orchids, you should not allow them to grow outside.
Factors That Affect Growing Orchids Outside
Generally, orchids love warm weather. However, the truth is that different types of orchids thrive in different temperatures. When determining if the outside temperature is right for your orchids, you’ll need to know the temperature and what temperature range is best for your orchid.
If you know the species of your orchid, the simplest way to know the best conditions for them is to consider their natural habitat.
Orchids that are native to cooler climates will tolerate cold better than those who are native to tropical areas. When it comes to heat, tropical orchids can tolerate higher temperatures than those native to cooler climates.
Generally, orchids do best in temperatures between 50-80 degrees. Many types can tolerate temperatures up to 85 to 90 degrees. If it gets beyond 90 degrees, the orchid may experience heat damage. If the temperature drops too low, this will also cause damage.
Heat stress is more likely in cool orchids, including phalaenopsis, pleurothallids, paphiopedilums and miltonias. However, even warm weather orchids can get heat stress if the temperature rises too high.
Heat stress causes the orchid to become dehydrated. It’s tempting to overwater them, in an effort to rehydrate them. However, this can make matters worse. An orchid can only take in so much water at a time. Excess water can cause root rot.
Cold damage is just as bad, if not worse, than heat damage. Just like heat, some types of orchids can tolerate cooler temperatures than others. However, all orchids can become damaged in temperatures that are too low.
The first sign of cold damage is the whitening of the leaves and stems. Over time, this will turn brown. A bacterial infection may develop, causing the orchid to ooze brown fluid.
It’s important to note that many types of orchids need a period of cool temperatures. This triggers a new part of their growth cycle, which eventually leads to them blooming.
However, cold is not good for orchids. Most orchids prefer temperatures over 50 degrees. Cold damage usually occurs at 32 degrees or less, when the water in the plant freezes. This causes cells in the leaves and stem to die.
However, temperatures between 50 and 32 degrees can still put undue stress on your orchids, particularly warm-growing orchids. It may affect their health and severely slow their growth.
Sunlight is another important consideration when deciding to place your orchids outside. Like all plants, orchids require sunlight for photosynthesis.
However, most orchids grow on trees, underneath the tree canopy, or on the shaded forest floor. They don’t tolerate extended periods of direct sunlight.
Too Much Sunlight
Orchids need at least 6 hours of indirect sunlight each day. They thrive with even more hours of sunshine. However, you’ll want to avoid exposing them to long periods of direct sunlight, particularly in the summer.
Indirect light means that the plant is exposed to plenty of filtered light. A curtain, a tree, or another plant can all create indirect light. Most orchids can be damaged with even 1 to 2 hours of direct sunlight exposure because they have adapted to shady conditions or indirect light.
If your orchid doesn’t have access to shade, consider getting a shade cloth if you plan to grow your orchid outside. These cloths block about 50% of sunlight, creating similar conditions to indirect light.
If your orchid leaves turn pale green or yellow, they may be getting too much light. Excessive light can burn the leaves, eventually causing them to turn brown or black. They can also develop reddish spots.
Not Enough Light
Not enough light is also harmful to your orchid. They will struggle to thrive and bloom in low light conditions. The leaves will turn a deep green. Growth will slow or stop. The plant may not bloom if it doesn’t get adequate sunlight.
Advantages of Growing Orchids Outside
There are a few advantages of growing orchids outside if the conditions are right.
Orchids love indirect sunlight. Growing them outside gives them plenty of access to the sun, which can help them grow.
They also prefer a humid environment. If the weather is humid, this is a great reason to allow them to grow outside. They also have access to rainwater.
Orchids prefer warm temperatures. They thrive in an environment between 50-80 degrees. If the outside temperatures are in this range, you can consider allowing them to grow outside.
Moving Orchids Outdoors
If you decide the conditions are favorable for your orchids and you want to move them outside, there are a few steps you should take.
Instead of moving them outside quickly, allow them to acclimate. Begin by leaving a window open, to expose them to the outside air. Then place them outside for a short period of time, perhaps an hour.
Increase the time they are outside over the course of one to two weeks. Then they will be ready to stay outside permanently, or until the weather conditions change.
When moving them indoors, it’s best to follow a similar process. However, if you plan to move them inside, do it before there’s a sharp change in outdoor conditions.
Orchids are fairly adaptable, but fast environmental changes stress the plant.
Final Thoughts on Growing Orchids Outside
Growing your orchids outside can be a good idea if conditions are favorable for them. Most orchids can tolerate temperatures between 50 to 80 degrees. Temperatures above 90 degrees or below freezing can cause damage to them.
They love sunlight, but it must be indirect. Place your orchids in an area with shade and lots of indirect light. They prefer high humidity. If the air is dry or rain doesn’t occur frequently, you will need to water your orchids.