How to Plant Orchids Outside


Orchids can thrive in the outdoors out of their natural habitat but do require environmental conditions that support their unique needs. Most orchids can survive in containers, terrestrially and some in air plantings in climates that do not get cooler than about 40 degrees F, which translates into USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 10 and 11. Soil for orchids needs to be amended with mulch, organic fertilizer, peat moss, sphagnum moss and shredded wood mulch to maintain a delicate balance between moisture retention and good drainage, which is essential.

Difficulty: Moderate


Things You’ll Need:

  • Peat moss Wood mulch Organic fertilizer Charcoal shards Container Orchid bark Sphagnum moss 24-gauge or finer plastic-coated wire
  1. Mix a special blend of orchid-friendly soil for use in ground and container plantings. Add equal parts peat moss, shredded wood mulch such as cyprus, a gentle organic fertilizer such as worm casings and chipped orchid-safe charcoal to the native soil in a 50-50 mix.

  2. Dig a hole in the ground that is twice as wide and at least 4 inches deeper than your orchid grow pot in a well-drained location in partial to full shade. Add some of your orchid soil mix and dig it into the bottom of the hole. Evenly mix the prepared orchid soil with the soil removed from the hole. Fill the bottom of your container with a few inches of the prepared orchid soil mix.

  3. Slide the orchid gently out of its pot while on its side. Carefully unfurl the roots so that they are not girdling the root ball and some are facing outwards. Place the orchid into the hole in the ground or a container with well-established drainage holes.

  4. Fill soil in around the orchid roots, tamping down lightly to make root contact. Water in well and add orchid soil mix as necessary to fill in any collapsed air pockets so that you have an even soil surface to the preestablished soil line on the orchid stem.

  5. Mount an epiphytic or air-growing orchid in a tree crevice or branch joint with a bit of sphagnum moss underneath the plant’s roots to cushion them and secure with a length or two of fine-gauge plastic coated wire wrapped around the plant roots and tree branch. Once the orchid is established, the wire can be snipped away or replaced so it does not impede growth.

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