Orchids for Your Environment
Orchids can be as beautiful as they are temperamental. So when choosing to plant orchids outdoors, consider your climate. Do you live in a humid area or a dry one? Can you grow orchids on trees, or is growing in-ground more suitable to your yard? These are factors to consider when choosing both the type of orchid you grow as well as where you grow it.
If you're growing orchids in the ground, you'll need a soil mix that retains moisture, but also drains well and is very airy. Try Black Magic Orchid Mix, which contains materials orchids love like peat moss, fir bark and volcanic pumice. If you prefer to grow your orchids indoors, consult our article "How to Care For Orchids Indoors." Indoors, consider buying or making a potting mix containing materials like coconut fiber (coir), fir bark and perlite to allow for moisture retention and air circulation, since basic potting mix for other types of houseplants is often too dense for growing orchids.
If you live in a more humid climate, you can also choose to grow orchids on trees in your yard. Tree-growing orchids (called epyphytic orchids) wrap their roots around tree bark or other vegetation and thrive in humid locations. To grow one of these beautiful plants, a mounting material such as a piece of tree bark, cork or a basket with oak bark is ideal for support. These materials allow for fast drainage while providing plenty of area for roots to anchor.
Other Materials to Consider for Orchids
Sometimes, you'll see orchids planted in mixtures containing manufactured materials, such as rock wool, perlite or clay pellets. These substances, called aggregates, help increase drainage, and are more commonly seen in areas with high humidity or in mixes for outdoor orchids. Pumice and other volcanic rock are also commonly used and can provide a nice contrast to the vibrant bloom of the plant.
Which Medium Is Right for You?
Factors such as humidity, temperature and how you water can make a difference to your planting mix needs. The more humid your area is, the faster the drainage should be. That's why you often see nurseries in Florida sell orchids in a mixture containing aggregates. In drier areas, you can do well with fir bark or a mix containing bark.