Adjust Your Latitude

Orchids can grow just about anywhere, but growers need to consider their latitude. Degrees of latitude show distance north or south from the equator. Sunlight levels and day length vary greatly at different locations, and knowing your latitude helps you understand how much or how little sunlight is available over the seasons.

Horizontal lines, or parallels, represent latitude on the globe. Starting from 0° at the equator, latitude lines run up to 90° north at the North Pole, and down to 90° south at the South Pole. (On the other hand, longitude lines show distance from the Prime Meridian in the UK, and aren’t related to sunlight levels.)

Here in San Francisco, at approximately 38° north of the equator, we share a parallel with St. Louis, Missouri, Washington DC, Athens, Greece, and Seoul, South Korea. That doesn’t mean that we have the same climates, but we do share sunlight levels and day length. South of the equator, approximately 38° south, Melbourne, Australia and Auckland, New Zealand share similar sunlight levels and day length, but six months apart from their northern counterparts.

Commonly grown orchids come from the tropics, a region centered around the equator. Here, the sun’s strength and daylight hours vary little with the seasons. That’s why orchids prefer consistent light levels all year. Orchid growers in the tropics don’t need to worry about latitude’s effects on their light levels.

Orchid growers in temperate zones of the world experience big variations with the seasons. Just as the tilt of the earth creates the seasons, it also causes big swings in sunlight levels. Summer brings the sun high in the sky, and longer hours of light. In the winter, the sun is lower in the sky, with less hours of light. Orchid growers in temperate areas should supplement sunlight over winter. This simulates the high sunlight levels of the tropics. Temperate regions include most of the USA, Canada, Europe, Australia, and Asia. In these regions, adjusting for your latitude will help keep your orchids happy.

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3 Comments on “Adjust Your Latitude”

  1. Rosa Says:

    That is a very good tip particularly to those fresh
    to orchid growing. Simple but very precise information. Thank you for sharing this one.

  2. Don Says:

    Sorry, you lost me when you started talking geography. Tell me about orchids!

  3. Jessie Moradi Says:

    I very much like the information you provide in your articles.I’ll bookmark your blog and take a look at again.