To succeed in planting your garden orchids, nothing could be easier, just follow our step by step instructions in 6 simple steps. Reputedly difficult to grow, Cypripedium is no more difficult than any other plant. If your soil is suitable, don’t hesitate to start!
Can we plant orchids in the garden?
When we talk about orchids, we inevitably think of the beautiful tropicals that require heat and constant care, but some orchids are very hardy and easy to grow, which allows them to be planted in the ground.
Many species share this privilege, ensuring staggered flowering from April to October if you make room for them in your garden. Generally low maintenance, they require little care and over time form large clumps that decorate beds, undergrowth, rock gardens or driveway borders with charm. Beware, once convinced, you may well collect them!
Which orchids to choose ?
The Venus’s shoes (Paphiopedilum) can be recognized by their labellum – the lower petal – transformed into a slipper.
They bloom from the end of April to June.
Their port is bushy and dense, they bloom from May to July, in the sun or in light shade.
The flowers of the dactylorhizas, or wild orchids, adopt mauve, or purple to purple tones, more or less vivid. They are gathered in spikes, and bloom in May-June.
What soil for garden orchids?
Cool soil even in the hottest part of the summer, but draining: this is what Venus’ slipper requires. An environment favorable to ferns is likely to please the perennial orchid.
Be careful, however, not to let the soil get soggy in winter: a minimum of drainage is essential. A slightly chalky soil is not a problem, but you will need to amend the soil from time to time if you want to maintain your orchids properly.
When to plant orchids in the ground?
Generally speaking, we recommend planting orchids in the ground when they are at the end of their annual cycle (end of summer, autumn) or before their growth resumes (spring). Avoid periods of high heat or intense cold.
In addition to the beneficial effect on recovery when planted in average temperature conditions, sending orchids by parcel post is also less stressful for the plants when periods of extreme temperatures (too hot or too cold) are avoided.
Finally, when orchids are delivered during the dormant period (or pre-dormant period), the natural cycle of the plants is not disturbed. On the contrary, a shipment made during the vegetation phase can lead to disturbances in development and flowering due to various stresses suffered by the plants during transport or at planting (heat, darkness,…).
To avoid some specific problems (late frosts, wounds on the leaves,…), it is moreover preferable if possible to order the orchids in the ground at the end of vegetation (end of August to end of December). In this way, they will be able to settle gradually in the garden and their development will be done in the spring in accordance with the vegetation recovery: in the more or less southern regions, they will develop a little earlier, the development will be later if you live in a colder region of the North or in Altitude.
Planting in autumn thus allows to limit the risks of late frosts which can occur when you buy in spring species which are already growing and which are planted in a colder region…
Where and how to plant orchids in the ground?
More than the winter cold, the majority of orchids in the ground do not appreciate the summer heat. However, they do appreciate soil that remains cool, especially in summer. For this reason, we recommend a location protected from the sun during the hottest hours of the day.
You should also choose wooded environments. The coolness of the evening or the night will allow the plant to ‘recover’ even in case of strong daytime heat.
Which potting soils to use for planting orchids in the ground?
Cypripedium, Dactylorhiza and Epipactis orchids love sandy or clay soils but do not like peat or pure soil.
For the plantation of your orchids, it is advised to realize a pocket of plantation of approximately 8 inches of depth on 8 to 12 inches of diameter.
For an optimal substrate, mix 1/3 of fine lava stone (pumice), 1/3 of potting soil for aquatic plants (which generally contains sand and clay) and 1/3 of soil from your garden.
The lava stone, which has the characteristic of being very absorbent, will help keep the substrate moist (and therefore cool) during the summer period while providing important drainage during rainy periods (avoiding excess water).
Dig a large planting hole, remove the growing pot and place the plant and its root ball in the hole.
Make sure the root ball is level with the surrounding soil surface. Make sure the root ball is in good contact with the surrounding soil and then water thoroughly. Also, be sure to water regularly for the first two weeks after planting, especially if the climate is hot and/or dry.
What mulch should I use for my garden orchids?
There are many types of mulch available to prevent weeds from growing in the garden. Some of these mulches also allow to keep more moisture in the soil.
In general, we do not recommend the use of pine bark or RCW (broken wood) for your garden orchids, but rather the use of neutral materials such as lava stone (Pumice) or argex.
Also avoid, at least for the species most sensitive to winter humidity, a mulch of dead leaves at least during the winter.