What I learned growing orchids outdoors last summer
Great to be able to share stories here. I have been a hydroponic grower of orchids for about 6 years; I have about 35 orchids on the Jersey Shore. I have been growing under lights with success. After talking to Jeree at one of the local shows, I decided to ship most of my orchids outside for the summer.
My orchids had better growth, longer spikes, and multiple buds/flowers being outside this summer. I had a few orchids I was ready to give up on trying to grow under the lights. By putting them outside for the summer, they finally went into bloom this year. I have been very happy with the outcome.
My orchids are outside under a covered porch on the west side of the house. They get direct sun from about 3 pm- 7 pm daily (bright light from 1 pm until sundown). I started out placing them completely in the shade for the first 2-3 weeks mid/late spring. Next, I gradually moved them into the sunlight. I put all the orchids in flats (roughly 8 orchids in a flat). Once I had all the orchids in the flats, I added water to the desired location on the water indicator. I placed multiple holes along the side of the flats to allow for drainage. This works great when you go on vacation and need your neighbors to water your orchids. Rest assured, they won't overwater your orchids because of the spill holes you have on your flats.
About once a month I gave the orchids a good spray down with a Neem oil/water mixture. This helped keep the pests under control (it's best to pull the orchids out of the direct sun on the day you spray them to help avoid burning the leaves).
Now that the nights are cooling off I will be bringing them back inside soon. Orchids are very resilient. During hurricane Sandy I was without power for nearly 2 weeks. The temperature in my house dropped into the 40's. I was surprised to only lose 2 orchids. Some of my other orchids produced great blooms during that cold snap.
I will be interested in reading other stories. I think we can all learn from each other. Thanks Jeree for website, it's been a big help.