Growing Orchids Outdoors in Pacifica

We moved from San Francisco to Pacifica over two years ago, and ever since, I’ve been learning how to grow orchids next to the ocean. Since I keep my cool growers outdoors, they’re subjected to all the elements which Mother Nature can throw at them. These outdoor orchids prove their toughness day after day, and Pacifica has taught me to appreciate them even more.

Cymbidium flowers, orchid hybrid, green yellow and white flowers, grown outdoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaMasdevallia chaparensis flowers, orchid species, grown outdoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaCymbidium flower, orchid hybrid, grown outdoors in Pacifica, California

Our home is less than 1/2 mile (0.8 km) from the ocean, and we’re on a hill, about 360 feet (110 m) above sea level. We occasionally get a light coating of salt, but, surprisingly, it hasn’t damaged the orchids, or any other plants in our garden. Maybe it’s infrequent enough, or a light enough coating, so it doesn’t cause problems.

The wind is another story. We sometimes experience 50 mph (80 km/h) winds, and gusts which are even stronger, and they can do a lot of damage to any outdoor plants. Despite this, it’s surprising how many orchids are fine with strong ocean winds. The Cymbidiums, Sarcochilus, and Epidendrums live fully exposed on the back patio, and brave the strongest winds without much problem. The Masdevallias, Zygos, and Odonts grow right next to our house, and enjoy some shelter from a wall. However, even there, strong gusts can damage leaves and flowers, knock over flowerpots, and blow debris around. Despite this, you can see from these photos that many of these orchids survive and thrive.

Sarcochilus hartmannii plant in bloom with dozens of flowers, orchid species from Australia, grown outdoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaSarcochilus hartmannii flowers, orchid species, grown outdoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaMasdevallia ignea x falcata flowers, orchid hybrid with orange flowers, grown outdoors in Pacifica, California

Not all the orchids have escaped the wind. The Cyrtochilum which thrived in our San Francisco garden didn’t do so well here. The first year, it put out a much smaller flower spike than usual, and then continued to decline until it was gone. On the other hand, I brought my Sobralia inside to stop its slow decline. It was probably at the limit of its cold tolerance growing outdoors in San Francisco, and couldn’t handle the chilly winds here. It’s putting on nice new growth indoors, and I’m hoping to see its big purple blooms soon.

See more great cool growers loving life in Pacifica in my previous posts about a Tough Masdevallia, Pacifica Blooms, the Blue Orchid, the Giant Hyacinth Orchid, Orchids on the Coast, and Orchids Love Fog.

Explore posts in the same categories: Cool Growers, Growing, Growing Orchids in San Francisco, Photos

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2 Comments on “Growing Orchids Outdoors in Pacifica”

  1. Jim Says:

    I really love your blog. Very nice flower colors.

  2. AboutOrchids » Blog Archive » A Big, Purple Sobralia Orchid Says:

    […] Recently I mentioned this plant in a post about Growing Orchids Outdoors in Pacifica. […]