The Different and Most Popular Types of Orchids March 19, 2019 08:58
When you want a flower that says luxury, few flowers convey the message quite like an orchid. Anytime you see this coveted bloom, you can understand why--orchids are just the right mix of delicate, exotic, graceful, and strong. Funnily enough, orchids in ancient Greece were a symbol of virility. The connotation of luxury came several centuries later with the Victorians.
However, you may not know that there are many different types of orchids to choose from, each with its own distinctive look. Here, we're breaking down a few beautiful orchid varieties for you to consider in your next arrangement.
The Phalaenopsis orchid, or Moth orchid, is probably the orchid you picture when you think of orchids.
That's because you've seen them all over design magazines and coffee tables across America. It's also one of the easiest orchids to grow at home.
It is a gorgeous, simple plant with thick leaves, an arching stem, and sprays of vibrant blooms with wide outer petals around smaller, richly-colored petals at the center.
Now, easy is a relative term. The Phalaenopsis doesn't like direct sunlight and has a low drought tolerance. If you buy a Phalaenopsis as your first orchid plant, you need to water it when the exposed roots turn silvery, usually once a week. It should get water only every other week during the flowering season.
One of the other most popular orchid species (besides Phalaenopsis) is the Cattleya Labiata orchid, often hailed as the Queen of Orchids for its delightful fragrance and rich colors.
It's named for William Cattley, the first person to grow the orchid in the 1800s.
The good news for orchid lovers is that the Cattleya has been widely hybridized, which means there's a variety of colors and styles, though bicolor features are especially popular.
If you do wish to grow a Cattleya, you're best served by growing it in a greenhouse, as they need heat and humidity to thrive.
Cymbidium orchids are commonly known as Boat orchids and are frequently used in corsages because of their small blooms.
But don't worry--the cymbidium packs a lot of punch in a small flower. A single plant has multiple flower spikes with showy six-petal blooms. Even if they're not in bloom, they put on a show with long thin leaves which can reach up to four feet in length.
Dendrobium orchids are considered one of the most common types of household orchids, which makes a lot of sense since they're relatively easy to care for.
There's also a huge variety of Dendrobiums out there--about 1,200 species. The even better news is that they grow in a wide range of clients from hot, swampy lowlands to high, cold mountains.
This means you can select the type of Dendrobium that's best suited to the climate you live in, rather than trying to create a greenhouse in your home to keep the orchid alive.
Don't be worried about everyday blooms, either--Dendrobiums produce impressive blooms in a variety of colors (all with minimal maintenance).
Encyclia orchids are a highly unique flower, even among their exotic family members.
Encyclias consist of a small, upright central petal with several long, curling petals under it, sort of like fingers. Some horticulturalists liken an Encyclia flower to an octopus.
It isn't fragrant like many of its cousins, but the Encyclia has a lot more attitude to go around. It also blooms longer than many other orchids--in fact, they usually for several consecutive months at a time.
Once you see the Miltonia orchid, it's easy to understand where it got its nickname as the pansy orchid. It has the same features that make the pansy so welcome in cold weather. However, the Miltonia stays in bloom from late spring into summer.
Of course, the blooms are stunning and aromatic in their own right, which makes it easy to understand why homeowners love the Miltonia so much.
While you might be tempted to keep this flower in the sun and tropical conditions like its warm-weather cousins, the Miltonia actually prefers low light. You can tell if the orchid is happy by touching the leaves--cool leaves mean one delighted Miltonia.
Vanda orchids are just as exotic as their name implies. Sometimes called the Singapore orchid, Vanda orchids are often displayed in special hanging baskets.
When you see one, you'll understand why. Vanda orchids have a small collection of delicate blooms topping a spray of slanting green leaves. What's visually distinctive is the tangle of thick white roots that spread underneath the plant, many as long as the stem itself.
Because of this, Vandas need to grow in specialized baskets or a chunky growing medium. These are not for the uninitiated--in fact, Vanda orchids are extremely picky about their growing environment. They like high light and humidity and won't tolerate much else.
Also known as the lady's slipper orchid, the Paphiopedilum only produces one flower per plant. It doesn't sound like much until you see that one bloom.
The name comes from the Paphiopedilum's unusual appearance. It has one upright petal on top with two long, narrow petals sprouting downwards at an angle. Between the two long petals is a large, cup-like petal--the lady's slipper.
It's an intriguing flower, and if you take care of it, it will reward your hard work. In fact, some healthy Paphiopedilums can bloom for a whole year. The good news is that it's also a hardy orchid, which makes it very beginner-friendly.
Choosing the Right Types of Orchids for You
Now that you know all about the various types of orchids, are you ready to choose one to make a statement?