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Orchid Care: Is It OK to Put Orchids Outside in the Summer?

Orchid Care Orchid Obsession

Orchid flowers prolifically when given an abundance of natural bright light -- that's a fact. Does it make sense to take your orchids outdoors in the summer because of that? Get the full details in this in-depth orchid care article.

Yes, it’s fine to put your orchids outside in summer but…

The short answer to this question is yes. There are, however, a few restrictions and summer orchid care advice that should be considered.

Moving your orchids outdoors to take advantage of the natural light makes sense. Summer is growing season for some types of orchids after all. It’s important to understand that in their natural habitat, wild orchids are frequently found on forest floors or attached to rocks and trees. They are sheltered and shaded under a canopy of trees in most conditions. This means that despite being outdoors, there's a great likelihood that they are not completely exposed to the sun directly. 

Do orchids get sunburn?

When exposed directly to intense solar radiation in summer or in the afternoon, orchids are vulnerable to getting a sunburn. This is indicated by a noticeable yellowing of the leaves, which is a stark contrast from the standard yellow-green foliage of an otherwise healthy orchid plant. 

Sunburn on orchids is oftentimes not fatal and can be remedied by reducing sunlight exposure or putting the plant back into a shadier spot. But when not addressed accordingly, the yellow leaves will turn to white, sunken spots later on turning brown. This signals dryness, decay, and possible eventual death of your orchids. Sunburned orchid leaves also look unpleasant and make the plant susceptible to infections and diseases.  

Preventing sunburn in orchids 

The American Orchid Society emphasizes an important point about the difference between increasing the frequency of indirect sun exposure for your orchid plants instead of the intensity or the concentration, which could be extremely damaging. 

Indoor orchid plants that have been kept inside the home for a significant period of time, particularly during the cold winter months, will see amazing benefits when taken outside because of the difference in humidity, temperature, and natural air movement. The strong light and heat may be too harsh for indoor orchids at first and it may take quite a while for them to adjust. The secret is a slow and gradual transition to avoid stressing or shocking the plant. 

In the beginning, we recommend only moving your orchids to a covered but light-filled patio, a balcony with awnings, or a patch in your garden with trees that can offer shade for your orchid plants. This way, the orchid gets showered with plenty of natural light but in a way that doesn't burn its leaves or orchid flowers immediately. 

Watering and misting orchids in the summer

Summer can be notoriously problematic for orchids because of humidity. In places with dry summers that get extremely low humidity levels, orchid plants tend to dry out faster and mites seem to thrive better. 

If your orchids have been forgiving with your watering sessions every couple of weeks, summertime is definitely the time to step up your game and double the frequency. While there are no hard and fast rules about how to water your orchids, the best tip is to water whenever the potting material is dry to the touch. Depending on where you live and the potting media used, a sufficient watering schedule can range from weekly, every three days, to daily. Each orchid plant is different and it is best to pay close attention to yours so you’ll know exactly how it behaves with certain approaches.

Regularly misting in the morning and in hot afternoons will also work wonders for improving humidity for your precious orchid plants.

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