Do orchids need sunlight? Orchids originated in the rainforests, under the shade of the omnipresent dense and heavy tree canopies, and thus, evolved as shade-loving plants. However, since the height of the rainforest canopy varies between 30 metres and 45 metres, different orchids were exposed to different levels of sunlight, leading to the evolution of different orchids with varying light requirements. The answer, therefore is: yes, orchids need sunlight, but this requirement varies from species to species.
Types of Orchids Based on Their Affinity for Sunlight
Do orchids need sunlight? The answer depends on the kind of orchid you have. Based on their affinity for sunlight, orchids can be categorized into two types.
Shade-loving orchids are characterized by the presence of soft, pale, and green foliage that quickly changes colour from green to yellow when exposed to direct sunlight. These orchids burn and wither if exposed directly to the sun, especially during the summer months, when the sun is strong. Thus, shade-loving orchids benefit from dispersed sunlight during the summer months. However, during the winter season, the sun remains incapable of affecting these plants and thus, no shade is required.
Orchids like the Angraecum, Ascocentrum, and Rhyncostylis have thick leaves and mandatorily require sunlight to bloom. In the absence of sunlight, light-loving orchids turn into orchids with no flowers and dark foliage. Many orchid-owners do not know these important details and their decision to place light-loving orchids in corners and areas without direct access to sunlight often leads to the plant becoming full of leaves, but with no flowers. As an example, Cymbidium, also known as boat orchids, needs a lot of light to flower. When placed in an area devoid of access to sunlight, the Cymbidium quickly turns into a dull mass of green foliage devoid of any flowers.
Maintaining Orchids During Summers
Many owners complain of their orchids being barren. The truth is if an orchid isn't flowering, it's only because it lacks the ideal conditions needed for blooming. During the summer months, two crucial factors determine the health of orchids: sunlight and ventilation. Summer care prep for orchids should ideally begin in early spring when the sun begins to gain strength. When the summer arrives, orchids must be placed outside to facilitate proper ventilation. However, orchid growers must ensure that the plant is in the shade and is not getting exposed to direct sunlight. The specific requirements for the growth of different orchid varieties vary from plant to plant. However, in most cases, plants placed close to the sunlight and in the shade grow better.
Maintaining Orchids During Winters
During the winter months, the sunlight available is ample to facilitate the ripening of pseudobulbs, an important step in the process of flowering.
However, often, orchids growing indoors do not have access to sufficient light. When available, the light is unidirectional and thus, insufficient to promote blooming. In such a scenario, it becomes important to move the orchid close to the window area to enhance its exposure to the sun. However, proper care must be taken to ensure that the plant's temperature requirements are also being met. This can be done through the use of horticultural fluorescent and high output tubes.
Tips on How to Grow Orchids in Greenhouses and Homes
If you grow orchids in your home, make sure your orchids aren't tackling direct exposure to the sun. If the orchid is placed closed to a window that gets a lot of sunlight, protect the health of the orchid by placing a net curtain or moving the plant to another place with low light and more shade.
If you grow your orchids in a greenhouse, know that artificial shading is not an option, but a necessity.
Install shade netting or shade paint at the onset of the spring. If your greenhouse is located close to a tree canopy and gets natural shade, you may be able to do with light shading. However, if your greenhouse has unrestricted exposure to the sun, you will need heavy shading. At the peak of the summer, when sunlight gains strength, it is a good idea to supplement the first shading layer with a second layer with the larger goal of restricting 50% of the sunlight. Remove all shading at the beginning of the autumn.
Orchids are special - their beauty is unmatched, and their resilience is exemplary. However, they need proper care and attention, especially in terms of light and ventilation. We hope this article written to answer the question, do orchids need sunlight, has also left you with important tips on how to better care for different orchids in different months.