Landscaping with Orchids

Orchids have always been regarded as collectors’ items. For centuries people have travelled in search for new and interesting specimens to add into private collections.

 

These days’ orchids are easily sourced from garden centres, specialist growers, clubs and friends. However their traditional growing method is now experiencing a change.

 

Orchids are coming out of the backyard bushhouse, escaping from the confines of indoor decoration and are being celebrated as garden plants by cutting edge designers. They are also enjoying a rise in popularity as a curiosity plant for balcony and unit dwellers.

 

Traditionally grown in well aerated pots many orchid growers are realising the adaptability and versatility of these plants as landscape features.

 

Placed in a pot at the entrance of a home, orchids welcome visitors when in bloom.

 

Many orchids are epiphytic, growing on tree trucks. They create a vertical element that dots the garden with colour while the orchid blooms sway in the breeze like butterflies.

 

Orchids suitable for this include:

  • Arachnis
  • Cattleya
  • Dendrobium – especially D. discolor
  • Oncidium

 

Perhaps the biggest challenge is the use of orchids in the ground. However this is the best way to gain maximum floral appeal. The most important issues are raised garden beds and good drainage.

  • Step 1 Dig out the garden bed to a depth of 5cm
  • Step 2 Construct raised edges around the garden bed
  • Step 3 Fill in the lower 2 inches with stones
  • Step 4 Buy in bulk orchid mix or top quality mulch

 

Orchids suitable for this include:

  • Arundina (bamboo orchids)
  • Cymbidium – only select warm tolerant cultivars
  • Epidendrum (crucifix) – Queensland is responsible for creating many stunning hybrids
  • Spathoglottis
  • Vanda – especially terete-leafed forms such as ‘Miss Joaquim’

 

Some orchids prefer a blend of well composted soil and mulch to grow as a ground plant:

  • Bletia
  • Calanthe
  • Phaius tankervilliae

 

Decorating a rockery with flowering orchids will add extra charm to the landscape:

  • Cattleya
  • Dendrobium – especially Australian native hybrids
  • Laelia
  • Oncidium

 

 

There are many orchids available to the home owner and landscaper. Although not necessarily cheap it is their flower, and for many their fragrance, which makes these plants worthwhile investments.

 

It is the diversity of the orchids that creates potential for outdoor landscaping in the subtropics. Careful selection will result in the right orchids producing great displays that become part of the permanent landscape.

 

Seek advice from a specialist orchid grower regarding species and cultivars best suited to your garden and landscape.

  

 

 

Two Good reference books from local writers.

Robert Friend “Growing Orchids in Your Garden” Publ: Timber Press

John Mason “Orchids: a beginner’s guide” Publ: Hyland House

Source books from here: http://plant.id.au/home/newrelease.aspx





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