Orchids are often thought of as the fussy debutante of flowers. Prized for their enchanting and exotic beauty, they're primarily an indoor plant. But they don't have to be!
Whether you get year-round heat or three feet of snow in the winter, there's a variety of orchid that will thrive in your yard. Be the envy of your neighborhood by adding this eye-catching flower to your garden this year.
This tropical hybrid orchid likes it hot and wet, limiting the areas of the country where it can be grown outdoors. But for gardeners in zone 10, the copper queen makes a great addition to a year-round garden, with pink and yellow flowers that mellow to a buttery copper as they age make. If the conditions are right, it blooms in the winter and then again in the summer.
As a native of Southeast Asia, this species requires warm weather all year long. Venus slippers are unique among orchids in that they are nearly impossible to propagate without seeds. There are approximately 80 varieties of Paphiopedilum, and each one blooms with only one white flower with green or purple markings.
The Zygopetalum genus contains plants that are everything an orchid should be. They bloom with that iconic orchid shape in various stunning colors and are easy to grow. While they are less labor-intensive and fragile than tropical orchid varieties, they still need regular watering and are temperature sensitive enough only to be appropriate for coastline gardens.
If you're below the Mason-Dixon line, you can add Calanthe discolor, also known as the Japanese hardy orchid, to your outdoor garden. Instead of blooming with only one or two flowers, this plant puts out sprays of tiny, dark reddish-brown and white flowers. Plant the Japanese hardy orchid in moist soil with at least partial shade for the best results.
Looking to fill a spot near a water feature or in a part of your garden that floods? The common spotted orchid thrives in moist, cool conditions where other plants would become water-logged. This beginner-friendly variety is most notable for its conical spires of white, purple, or pink flowers with ornate, swirling designs.
If you want an orchid but don't want the flashy colors that come with most varieties, choose an eggleaf twayblade for your garden. With its small, yellowish-green blossoms, this species of orchid blends into the surrounding foliage more than it stands out. Only the peculiar shape of their blooms hints at a relation to their more brightly-colored cousins.
If you want the kind of plant that will make people stop and wonder what they're looking at, then the white egret orchid is the one to add to your garden this year. This plant gets its name from the way its impressive snow-white flowers with feather-like petals look shockingly similar to a white egret with its wings outstretched.
The round-leaved orchid may not have the brightly colored blooms of other orchids, but it makes up for it with its unique and attractive foliage. Platanthera orbiculata produces two dark green, glossy leaves that sit at the base, flat on the ground. It blooms with a spray of up to 30 greenish-white flowers that perch near the top of the stem.
Don't plant these orchids in your yard if you don't get at least a few inches of snow a year. With over 50 varieties, many native to North America, this variety is an exotic-looking standout in a native plant garden and comes in an array of exciting colors and shapes. Just ensure you plant them in the shade, as direct sunlight can damage their delicate blooms.
Possibly the smallest orchid on this list, it's recommended that the viewer bring a magnifying glass to best appreciate the flowers of this particular twayblade. A native of North America, Listera cordata or heart-shaped twayblade grows best in shaded environments and is one of the most cold-hardy varieties of orchids, able to grow even where the temperatures fall into the negatives during long, cold winters.