Care for Outdoor Orchids
Orchids kept outdoors are more vulnerable to the elements that can damage flowers and leaves. Placing plants in a sheltered position can help minimize wind and rain damage. Here are some general tips:
- While outdoor plants can be more vulnerable to pests, natural pest predators often mitigate the problem. Check plants for problems frequently, and only use artificial chemicals when absolutely necessary.
- Flower pots on paved or dark surfaces, or in the direct sun, can heat up and dry out very quickly. Keep an eye on them whenever the weather is warm.
- Heat or wind can quickly lower humidity.
- Depending on the climate where you live and the kind of orchid you have, you will need to bring your orchid inside when temperatures become too cold. Remember to check the plant for pests and insects before you bring it inside.
Growing Orchids in San Francisco's Mediterranean Climate
San Francisco's mild climate is perfect for growing many types of orchids. Being so close to the Pacific means that warm summer days are mellowed by cool, damp ocean breezes (that famous San Francisco fog,) and winter temperatures rarely go below freezing. Many orchids that enjoy these conditions come from similar Mediterranean climates in Australia and South Africa. Others come from cool, high elevations of tropical mountains in Latin America and Southeast Asia. Cymbidiums, from the slopes of the Himalayas, and Masdevallias, from the South American Andes, thrive here. Many varieties of Epidendrum, Oncidium, and Dendrobium also do well outdoors. Zygopetalums and Coelogynes species love the moisture from the fog.
- If you live in one of the neighborhoods closest to the ocean, for instance in the Outer Richmond or Sunset districts, plants may be damaged by strong winds and salt spray. Provide some protection by placing plants along walls or beneath other plants.
- Many warm growing orchids can be placed outside when temperatures increase in spring. Keep the plants well shaded for a few weeks to prevent sunburn. Bring them inside when temperatures chill in autumn.
- Pests - Slugs, snails, and aphids are common problems for San Francisco gardeners.
- Heavy winter rains can quickly rot orchids that need to be on the drier side in winter. Shelter dormant orchids, or at least make sure they dry thoroughly after it rains.
- Winter storms sometimes bring hail. Keep plants sheltered under a deck or tree, or bring them indoors.
- Some orchids can survive San Francisco's rare dips below freezing, but others may be damaged or killed. Sheltered plants may fare better. Cover orchids or bring them indoors if a drop below freezing is forecast.
Where to Buy Orchids
- Not Just Flowers in the heart of San Francisco.