Hardy orchids are grown outdoors in soil and there is a broad range of genus and species to choose from if they interest you. A bit of research will be required to make sure you can provide the conditions to give your genus of choice the best chance to flourish. They can be grown in the garden in open ground or a ready made border and large pots. The soil will need to be free draining but retain some moisture so they don’t perish in summer, hence large pots are best to use. Some species are pH specific, so this needs to be taken in to consideration.
They include Dactylorhiza, commonly known as the “Marsh Orchid” which some species are native to Britain. They can be found in wet areas or open sunny aspects, they can populate in sites which once was coal mining areas and have turned to nature. The tubers are dormant in winter, they grow in spring and flower in early summer. They don’t require feeding if grown in the garden but benefit with a top dressing of organic matter in spring, if grown in pots then a organic feed is beneficial.
Cypripediums (Slipper orchids) are found in the northern hemisphere and there are approximately 60 species, there are also natural and many produced hybrids.They are rhizomatous perennials and start their growth in spring with single stems which arise from what we call noses. The more noses(growths) then the larger the plant and the more expensive they will be; and they are generally expensive to buy. The single stems will grow and produce the flowering spike from late Spring/Summer depending on species and come Autumn will die back. They can be grown in garden soil or in large pots and like a regular weak feed when growing to build the rhizome up for good flowering the following season. They require a free draining soil which will prevent water logging in winter but they don’t like to be dry in the summer. They must have a cold period in winter and prefer cool semi-shade in summer.
Other hardy orchids to consider are Bletilla, Ophrys, Orchis, Anacamptis, Epipactis and there are others, some will require some winter protection and more specialized care so be sure to research the plant beforehand to give it the best chance possible.