newbie questions

thahalibut(Z-9 CA, SSZ-9)October 15, 2010

I have an itch for an orchid after watching a tv show on them. I am not sure if I have the right climate though. I am in the Sacramento area & want to plant it outside. Will this be possible, if so can you suggest any good ones for this area?


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richardol(Santa Royale CA)

Sacramento is too warm and too cold for just about anything to grow outside. Cymbidiums grow well near the cost but you have a more extreme temperature range.

I suggest going to Trader Joe and finding either a Phaleanopsis (wide leaves) or a Dendrobium (tall canes) that catch your eye and grow it indoors.

Then go to a nursery or garden center and get the Ortho "All about orchids" to read up a bit.

After you have been successful for 6 months or so, visit Golden Country Orchids (390 Big Ben Rd, Lincoln, Ca 95648) and see what is growing well in your area.

You can ask up it you have more questions.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2010 at 6:19PM
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thahalibut(Z-9 CA, SSZ-9)

I suspected that but hoped there was 1 or 2 that could make it outside. I dont do inside at all. I cant do anything about the dry heat in summer but I can cover it up in winter if I have to. But if it cant make it outside I will have to do without.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2010 at 9:14PM
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arthurm(Sydney, NSW AUST)

Cymbidiums are pretty tolerant, they are a maybe. They are garden plants here and night temps further inland from here in winter can get below 0C.

Might depend on your micro if you are in a frost hollow things get a bit difficult. They need sun, but need a place protected from extreme heat on hot summer afternoons.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2010 at 1:18AM
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orchid126(z6, NJ)

You might research Bletilla Striata. This is a ground orchid that blooms in the spring and grows well outside and withstands 90+ high temps and winter -0 low temps. I live in NJ and our temps fluctuate that much and the Bletilla thrives here.

There are other ground orchids you should come across in your research.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2010 at 6:23PM
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thahalibut(Z-9 CA, SSZ-9)

We have light freezes a few times a year I can protect them from. I wouldn't be able to protect from heat & still give them enough sun.

I am going to look up Bletilla Striata, sounds like that may survive here.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2010 at 3:21PM
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arthurm(Sydney, NSW AUST)

i think you need to contact the Sacramento Orchid Society for local advice. Some orchids are very tough.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2010 at 5:52PM
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thahalibut(Z-9 CA, SSZ-9)

Bletilla Striata looks like it will do well here, lots of people seem to love it when I googled it!

I emailed the Sacramento Orchid Society last week & hope they get back to me.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2010 at 8:46PM
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If by light freeze you mean 27F or up I'd suspect you can grow all kinds of orchids outside. Here in Lakewood it usually dips below freezing every winter. We hit 100 F or very close to it every summer. Despite that I have a backyard full of Cattleyas, Oncidiums, Cymbidiums, AU Dendrobiums and many others that defy their official designation as so called warm growers and thrive without any protection other than shade cloth.

I would get a big, healthy Cattleya hybrid or two, a couple of Cymbidiums and a couple of Oncidiums and put them in partial shade (shadecloth would be better) in your yard. You will be surprised, they want to live and they will.

Contact Reid Kawamoto at Kawamoto Orchids ( and ask him to send you 2 tough Catt hybrids with big floofy flowers, preferably fragrant (example: LC. Melecio Huerta âÂÂSenor Perfectoâ 7âÂÂ/Lav/Wt/P lip) and a couple of Oncidium intergenerics. Request that the plants be 'in bud' or 'in spike' if possible.

The shelves of HD, Trader Joes etc should get full of Cymbidiums real soon. Only problem is that they are expensive and mass produced in perfect conditions and may need time to adjust to the reality of life in your backyard.
Better way to get plants that are used to our climat, is to contact Santa Barbara Orchid Estates at and ask them to send you 2 nice Cymbidiums in spike.

You will get big healthy plants which I'm sure will survive in your backyard and get to see nice flowers soon. If you get a few nights with temps below 27F, you have to bring them inside for the night. When you get summer temps in the 100s, all you have to do is put them in full shade and water them every 2 days.

Most important, join the local orchid society and listen to their advice. You seem to be doing that already.

Good growing, Nick

    Bookmark   October 18, 2010 at 9:55AM
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I just looked over their Ebay offerings and sure enough here was the plant I recommended to you.;hash=item43a273a029

I have a couple of these in bloom and they are terrific. Grew in my backyard without any protection. I could send you one if you want. Contact me directly if you are interested.


    Bookmark   October 18, 2010 at 11:13AM
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thahalibut(Z-9 CA, SSZ-9)

We get to 27 maybe 5-6 times a year, rarely lower but it does happen. We go over 100 around 3 weeks a year. I was planning on planting it in the ground, Ive never grown in pots. I will do more research & hopefully the local nurseries will have some soon so I can check them out in person. I appreciate all the info!

    Bookmark   October 19, 2010 at 8:33PM
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