Cold Hardy Orchids

Bletilla striata plants, or Chinese Ground Orchids, are sometimes referred to as "Hardy Orchids" as a common name.

Orchidists who live in temperate climates are forever looking for cold hardy plants to incorporate into their flower gardens. Anything that grows as a wild orchid in a climate similar to your own can be grown outdoors year-round, usually requiring little attention.

Research native orchids from your area; they'll be good choices. For example, I have a Cypripedium parviflorum in my backyard in Minnesota. Look at the types of orchids page for ideas.

Cold hardy epiphytes are rare. Almost all temperate orchids are terrestrial, growing in the ground. This most often means boggy habitats. It's necessary to prepare the soil to match the conditions your orchid expects. For orchids that grow in bogs, a good technique is to dig a hole about a foot deep and two feet wide, put plastic around the bottom half of the hole, then fill the bottom half of the hole with sand and the rest with a 50/50 mix of sand and peat.

Try to learn the pH of the soil an orchid grows in in the wild; it'll usually appreciate it if you can match that. Also carefully choose a spot that gets the right amount of light; you can look at your garden at several times of day to get a sense of how much sun each location gets. Most orchids don't appreciate direct sun in the heat of the day; it's usually a good idea to pick a spot that gets most of its sun in the early morning and dappled shade the rest of the time.

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