Most people who want to grow orchids outdoors will only be able to do so year round if they live in a tropical or semi-tropical area. Orchids are generally unable to survive temperatures below 55 degrees F, so living outdoors in any region that might get a frost will make living outside all year impossible. For those who do live in a climate warm enough for orchids to live outdoors for 12 months of the year, orchids can definitely add to the beauty of the patio or yard.
When living in warm areas, it is possible for the grower to actually simulate the rainforest habitat by attaching their epiphytic orchids to trees. As these will be fairly permanent fixtures, it is important to keep in mind the light requirements of the particular orchid and place them accordingly. Many orchids prefer diffuse sunlight, and placing them in the full sun or total shade will injure the plant and probably prevent it from blooming. Bear in mind that orchids that live outside will be visited by pollinating insects while in bloom, and once the flowers are pollinated, seed formation will begin and flowering will cease.
Although orchids can be grown outdoors all year in warm, moist climates, most orchids are grown by people living where the temperatures go so low that the orchids would be harmed or killed if left outside. However, there is no reason not to put indoor orchids outside during the summer months to enliven the patio or deck. As orchids prefer certain conditions of light and moisture, be sure to duplicate these outside as well.
Putting orchids out on a bench in the full sun will harm the plants. Most orchids like dappled sunlight fairly steadily throughout the day, and if there are not properly situated trees, it can be possible to produce this condition in several ways. Shade cloth comes in varying degrees of coverage, and can shield your orchids from damaging rays while still providing them with the proper amount of light.
Some people build a lath or lattice house for their orchids where the correct level of sunlight will be unavailable. This can be the perfect answer to a yard where the sun is too strong and will allow the orchids to enjoy the outdoors during the summer without harm. Lath or lattice overhead and on the sides will provide the broken, diffuse sunlight orchids require, and the good air circulation will allow quite a few orchids to be housed there.
Even in areas where the orchid must be taken indoors during the cold months, it is possible to attache the plants to trees temporarily to create a tropical feel to the yard. If the orchids are grown in baskets, it can be relatively easy to wire them to tree trunks – as long as the proper light is available.
Although terrestrial orchids can be planted in the ground during the summer, it is probably a better idea to leave them in their pots. Uprooting the orchid to put it in the ground can disrupt the flowering cycle, and even if the whole pot is put into the ground, the orchid will be more susceptible to attacks by pests, especially slugs.
In temperate climates, attention must be paid to the frost dates in the autumn, and the grower must take care to bring the orchids inside as soon as the temperatures begin to dip below 55 degrees during the night. All in all, a summer spent outdoors can definitely be beneficial to any orchid as long as attention is paid to all its requirements.