The Q&A Archives: Orchids

Question: I would like to plant orchids in the shade outside. Will they grow with proper soil? I live in Long Beach, Ca. Suggestions please. thanx

Answer: Some coastal areas are nearly frost-free year round and make perfect climates for growing orchid outdoors. In these areas, with some protection from excessive sun, wind and rain, lovely orchid plants can be successfully cultivated as a part of the landscape. In frost-free areas, the plants can be left in place all year. Where frost or temperatures below 40? threaten, plants can be brought into the house and grown on windowsills, under lights or on an unheated patio where the coldest temperatures are avoided. The trick is in selecting orchid plants that are already adapted to your particular area.

Some popular outdoor orchid plants for your region include:

Cattleya Alliance Hybrids - Especially good are hybrids with Laelia anceps in their ancestry; half sun, temperature-tolerant. Cymbidiums - Only in areas with coot summer nights, nearly full sun. Dendrobiums - Among the many choices, Indian and Australian types best; half sun, temperature-tolerant. Encyclia Species and Hybrids - Half sun, very temperature-tolerant. Epidendrums - Especially the brilliant reed-stem types; need almost full sun, temperature-tolerant. Oncidiums - Mexican species, or higher-elevation types; bright shade to half sun.

Before planting, amend your garden soil with ample amounts of pine bark chips to ensure good drainage.

Best wishes with your new orchid garden!

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