Terrestrial Orchid Plant Care

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When you think of orchids, you see these iconic yet show plants, right? Think of ornate bloom on an arced stem bought at your local nursery. Yet, these are only a handful of orchids as there are many more like the terrestrial orchids.

Today we will help you care for the terrestrial orchids as their needs differ from epiphytic orchids.

Terrestrial Orchids Compared to Epiphytic Orchids

Terrestrial orchid

In the orchid family, you find epiphytic orchids that grow in your native, tropical to subtropical regions. The orchids cling to tree branches under tree canopies. Then you have your terrestrial orchids native to the woodland in America.

Gardeners refer to them as hardy orchid or ground orchids as they grow in the ground soil. You find them in various colors, sizes, and shapes; some even have a sweet aroma hanging in the night air.

These hardy orchids can grow in containers or in mild climates and plant in the ground. Depending on where you live, planting terrestrial orchids is possible in an outdoor garden year-round.

Compared to tree-growing and rock-growing orchids, terrestrial plants can handle different temperate climates. Nonetheless, it might need freezing temperatures to help trigger blooming, depending on your species.

Most ground orchids go dormant in winter and grow back in spring to bloom as the weather warms up. Neither do ground orchids have aerial roots but hide their roots in the soil.

Terrestrial Orchid Care

Terrestrial orchid

When it comes to caring for your terrestrial orchids, it is similar to another potted plant. Yet, some key features differ in temperature, fertilization, light, and water. The critical thing to remember is that these are ground-loving plants.

The Type of Soil That Ground Orchids Need

Most terrestrial orchids have roots that do not like being disturbed. Hence, the best potting mix must include inorganic matter that breaks down. If it is time to repot your plant, wait until the orchid flower completes the cycle.

We recommend using equal parts orchid potting mix with sand and other soilless potting media. These can be perlite or sphagnum moss. Also, use a fine blend of orchid potting media suitable for your species. Something like small pieces of bark allows for more water retention.

Yet, it helps to know your species as you can alter the mix according to the water needs. For instance, you can add gravel or lava rock for drier soil, while peat moss creates a wetter environment.

Alternatively, you can buy a pre-made mix for your orchids made for the type of species you have. The important thing is that the mixture needs to be airy and well-draining.

Light Requirement for Terrestrial Orchid

ground orchid

If you are a beginner gardener, we recommend planting terrestrial orchids in a container first. Doing this gives you some flexibility to keep them indoors and outside. You can then move your plant around depending on the outdoor temperatures.

Outdoor garden growing helps to keep terrestrial orchid species in an area protected from direct sunlight, wind, and rain. In addition, it helps to place them in a spot to receive bright indirect light or partial shade.

Depending on the ground orchid species, some can thrive in full sun while others prefer partial shade. Still, as with other orchids, keep them protected from too much sun to prevent burning the leaves.

Suppose you are uncertain that your ground orchid is not getting enough or too much light. It helps to check the foliage. When growing terrestrial orchids, the leaves need to be grassy green.

How To Water Ground Orchid

The water requirements will vary depending on the plant species you have. For example, you may find that some ground orchids grow shallow roots and need more water. While other bulb plants need less water as they store moisture in the pseudobulbs at the base of the plant.

But the rule of thumb is that most orchids need more water in the growing and bloom period. You can cut back on watering in winter. Also, ensure that the water drains freely from the pot to remove excess water to prevent root rot.

Fertilizer Needs for Terrestrial Orchids

The fantastic thing is that these hardy terrestrial orchids do not need much feeding. We recommend giving your plant a 1/4 strength orchid fertilizer during the growing season. You may find that some species need less, which helps to check your plant’s specific needs.

Temperature and Humidity Levels

Terrestrial orchid humidity and temperature

While some orchids tolerate cold temperatures, others don’t. So, if you want to keep them in a perennial garden, it helps to know which climate you live in. Hence, choose an orchid that fits in with your temperate regions.

You may find plants grown outside might need freezing temperatures to help trigger blooming in spring. While others cannot handle cold temperatures if left out. If you are uncertain if your plant can tolerate different temperatures to humidity, then rather keep your plant in a container inside.

Propagating Terrestrial Orchids

The best way to ensure you have more than one ground orchid is to divide the pseudobulbs. Yet, others you can propagate through using Keiki growth. For this to happen, you will need to use an orchid paste to help trigger Keiki’s growth.

It is essential to leave the Keiki on the mother plant to continue growing until it develops roots about two inches long with two leaves. Then you can separate the baby from the mother orchid.

Terrestrial Orchid Varieties

If you are interested in growing orchids from different terrestrial species, you can find some interesting plants to grow in the ground or as potted plants.

Taiwan Ground Orchid

bletilla formosana

It is a beautiful orchid you can grow in a container garden and displays leaves with tall flower spikes in spring with pale pink flowers. It is not a winter-hardy orchid, and the best is to bring them inside if you live in freezing climates.

Golden Chinese Ground Orchid

The orchid comes from evergreen forests and is a bit more finicky growing in the garden. It is a slow grower preferring moist habitats with well-draining soil. It blooms a flower stalk from pseudobulbs in spring with light yellow flowers with a lip from dark yellow to light lavender.

Chinese Ground Orchid

chinese ground orchid

The terrestrial orchid is easy growing with upright iris-like long broad leaves that form a spreading clump. The flower stalks appear in spring with lavender flowers. The plant grows with underground rhizomes that spread slowly and are drought tolerant.

Where to Buy Terrestrial Orchid?

If you do want to grow orchids on the ground, terrestrial orchids are the best option for you to buy. You can find them at your local nurseries or browse the Plantly collection.

Whether you want to buy, sell or simply reach out to other plant enthusiasts, Plantly is the right place to be!

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