The orchid, a flower of elegance and magnificent beauty, has over 700 types, more than 25,000 species and over 100,000 cross-breeds or hybrids. Did you know that? Well, you do now. Amazing, isn’t it! Such a splendid flower multiplied by these numbers means so many varieties of orchid flowers that a person could talk on and on about them. However, there are some kinds of orchids that are most commonly known and are available for commercial or private purposes.
Did you know that some people even become orchid addicts! How so? With vast numbers of orchids present in the world, they are almost impossible to resist once you start getting to know them. They are amazing creatures that are extremely attractive and delicately beautiful. This is not restricted to just one member of the orchid family but to all of them. Each has its own unique features, different growing conditions and individual beauty.
There are so many different types of orchid flowers but here is a list of the ones that are too incredible to miss:
The Phalaenopsis orchids are the most commonly found orchids used as household plants. They are extremely common because they are easy to grow and re-bloom in average household conditions. These are the perfect orchids for beginners because they are forgiving of mistakes as well. The flowers of a Phalaenopsis orchid are said to look like moths in flight, hence the name. This is one of the types of orchid that you can find in any color, making them the perfect gift for anyone and any occasion. Read more about Phalaenopsis orchids here.
Cymbidium orchids (or Boat Orchids) are another popular orchid best known for their use in corsages. The flowers from this species last for a long time after they are cut and placed in water. The flowers have been known to last a few months if placed in a vase with water. This type of orchid is also good for beginners, but needs to be in a location where temperatures drop into the mid-50s at night. Read more about Cymbidium orchids here.
Paphiopediulum orchids (sometimes called Lady-slippers or Venus Slipper) are one of the most exotic types of orchids that you can readily find. They are harder to grow because they need to be well rooted. If you can keep the root system strong, then this flowering plant will thrive. They require a repotting every year to avoid salt buildup and to replace the nutrients depleted from the growing medium. Read more about Paphiopedilum orchids here.
The Phaius orchid species is very easy to grow indoors and produces a large amount of flowers in bunches. These flowers are very fragrant and are available in a wide variety of colors. This orchid does best living in temperatures between 65 and 70, with cool nights that drop to around 60. This makes them perfect for a drafty window in your house! Read more about Phaius orchids here.
Most people know vanilla for its great flavor and scent that can be found in ice cream, soda, and fragrances. What most people don’t know is that it originally comes from orchids. This orchid type is the original source of vanilla in nature. They are well known for the scent and large cluster of white flowers that they produce. This is one of the types of orchids that is hard to propagate and is growing increasingly rare. Read more about Vanilla orchids here.
The Laelia orchid grows large flowers that can reach up to 8-12 inches in some plants. They mostly enjoy bright, indirect sunlight and varieties can be grown in both warm and cool areas. You can also grow this species clinging to bark or in well-draining soil. These orchids are considered the workhorse of orchids because they were used to cultivate most of the most beautiful orchids that are popular today. Read more about Laelia orchids here.
Epidendrum orchids were one of the first established genera of orchids. They produce bunches of medium-sized flowers on reed-like stems. You can find this orchid with clusters of orange, yellow, lavender, red, or fuchsia flowers. They require a good amount of indirect light and will suffer greatly from direct sunlight. Read more about Epindendrum orchids here.
The Cattleya orchid, formally referred to as the queen of orchids, was a prerequisite for all special occasions before the creation of hybrid species. Of all of the types of orchids, this type has one of the most storied pasts. It takes four to seven years for this orchid to be mature enough to flower. After that, they will produce flowers year after year if cared for properly. These flowers can be found in a wide array of colors, including just about everything except true blue. Read more about Cattleya orchids here.
These types of orchids are some of the most common found as household plants. There are over one thousand types of Dendrobium orchids, and all have different requirements for air, light, and water. They can be found with large or small flowers of just about any color. Make sure to reference the basic care information that was provided with this orchid when you purchased it. Read more about Dendrobium orchids here.
Brassia orchids are often referred to as “Spider Orchids” because of the size and shape of the flower. The elongated, spike-like legs make this orchid look like a spider. The spider shape is as effective for pollination as it is cool to look at. They are designed like this to attract spider wasps that hunt spiders in its natural habitat. When the wasp moves in for the kill, pollen sticks to its body and transfers to the next flower. The flower petals are green or yellow and are accented with maroon, the same colors as local spiders. Read more about Brassia orchids here.
Most people view orchids as tropical flowers and believe that all types of orchids live in tropical environments. Masdevallia orchids break that stereotype, needing cool air to survive. These orchids are natural to cool, damp mountain tops and can also be found in cool coastal cities. When grown at home, they need to be provided with a large amount of humidity in order to stay healthy. They produce showy flowers that are different than most other orchid species. Read more about Masdevallia orchids here.
The Brassavola orchid produces a very unique shaped flower that either attracts or repels people’s attention. The petals of this orchid are typically white or golden in color. They also droop straight down from the base of the flower. These orchids are highly adaptive and can adjust to growing indoors as long as you can provide the bright light that they need. Read more about Brassavola orchids here.
The Vanda orchid is one of the types of orchids that you will commonly see sold as house plants. These orchids are easy to grow as long as you provide warmth and a lot of humidity. They produce surface roots that are also used to absorb water in the atmosphere, so humid conditions are a must. You can find hybrid species of this variety in almost any color and size. The strongly scented flowers also last for several months as long as the conditions stay healthy. Read more about Vanda orchids here.
The Angraecum orchid is the most famous of all orchid species because of the research Charles Darwin conducted on it. This orchid’s flower looks like a star with a tail, and the nectar is found at the end of that long tail. Darwin hypothesized that a single moth species in Madagascar would be discovered and would be the sole pollinator of this plant species. Long after Darwin’s studies, we now know that this “hawk moth” really exists as he suggested. This orchid is sometimes also referred to as the Star of Bethlehem orchid. Read more about Angraecum orchids here.
The Maxillaria orchids is well known to orchid growers but are not very popular, because they grow single lowers on short spikes. Normally, they are not visible because they are tucked behind the large amount of leaves that the plant produces. These flowers are known for being extremely fragrant, smelling like coconut with a hint of cinnamon. This is how they got the nickname “Coconut Orchid”. Read more about Maxillaria orchids here.
Odontoglossom Orchids are extremely adaptable and can be grown indoors or outdoors if provided shelter and warm temperatures. Hybrid species have made this Orchid available in just about all colors and patterns. These flowers are well known for the strong fragrance that they produce. Odontoglossom are one of the easiest types of Orchids to grow, making them the perfect choice for beginners. Read more about Odontoglossom orchids here.
Zygopetalum orchids are one of the smallest groups when it comes to species of orchids. There are only 15 types of this beautiful species. They produce gorgeous flowers with a fragrance that is so strong that it can easily fill a room. These blooms are often commercially produced for use as cut flowers for the unique beauty that they provide. These orchids are also one of the tallest orchids that you can find: They can grow up to 2 feet tall with shiny green foliage. Read more about Zygopetalum orchids here.
Bulbophyllum orchids are the largest group of orchids, with over 2,000 listed species. They are native to warm spots everywhere in the world. Being such a large group of species, you will want to refer to the directions given with the plant you received. These orchids can produce single blooms that last a few days or large spikes with a constant rotation of blooms. They are widely known for the strong scent they give off to attract flies, their main pollinator. Read more about Bulbophyllum orchids here.
Miltonia orchids produce groups of two large leaves that sprout from the pseudobulbs. They produce flowers in a wide variety of colors, but are most popular in pink and purple. Those flowers can also be found plain, or with dots and stripes. Many people compare the scent of these types of orchids to that of a rose. The flowers are known for lasting a long time; most last for months before dying off. Read more about Miltonia orchids here.
Anguloa 0rchids are commonly known as “Tulip Orchids” because of the clear similarities. They are also sometimes called “Swaddled Babies” orchids. They produce tulip shaped flowers that smell strongly of cinnamon. You can find those flowers in red, yellow, and greenish white, depending on the species. Each pseudobulb produces one flower a year. The leaves of this orchid are deciduous, meaning they die and grow back every spring.
Bletilla orchids are commonly grown as indoor plants due to the survivability of the plant. You can store this orchid in a package completely rootless for months and then plant it and watch it grow. They function much like the perennial bulbs you would buy for your garden. Unlike most other types of orchids, these produce multiple flowers from the top of the leaves, sometime producing up to 10 flowers each. They are most commonly found in a pink-purple hue, but darker colors do exist. Read more about Bletilla orchids here.
Catasetum orchids are unique becuase they are known for exploding their pollen onto unsuspecting insects as they feed from the nectar. They are also unique because they feed off decomposing wood to supplement their nutrition. These orchids also have a dormant period where they drop all their leaves and grow spikes for protection. You can find this orchid in a large variety of colors that depend on the sex of your specific plant. Read more about Catasetum orchids here.
The Cycnoches orchid produces large clumps of flowers, and the healthier the plant the bigger they will be. They are available in almost any color and grow on large spikes and typically flower a few times a year. These orchids are unique in that they require a dry period after they drop their leaves; watering them during this period will cause the roots to rot and the Cycnoches orchid will die. Read more about Cycnoches orchids here.
Disa are one the few types of orchids that are not pollinated by only a single species. They have evolved several times to get where they are now, using almost every major pollinating insect in the process. The flowers that they produce are typically red and grow in bunches on long spikes. These flowers are commonly used as cut flowers, but are difficult to grow due to mineralogical balance requirements. These orchids are also prone to root rot and need to be kept dryer than most other types of orchids. Read more about Disa orchids here.
Gongora orchids are unique as they grow a large number of surface roots, some even growing straight up instead of down into the soil. They also display flowers on a stem that starts upright but eventually bends. This orchid puts out a distinctive fragrance depending on the species. Some of the most common descriptions of Gongora orchid fragrance are candle wax, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Read more about Gongora orchids here.
The Lycaste orchid produces three petal flowers that are typically marked with red or purple spots. The scent of these flowers is typically compared to that of clove or cinnamon. Each stem produces one flower, but each pseudobulb can produce multiple stems. The flowers are accompanied by veined leaves. These orchids hate to dry out and require that they stay moist at all times. Read more about Lycaste orchids here.
Are These all of the Species of Orchids?
These are only a few of the many kinds, species and hybrids of orchids. Each of these, along with those that aren’t mentioned here, has several species, hybrids and additional relatives falling under their umbrella. The species and hybrids produced by all the types of orchids can sometimes be completely different in terms of looks or other aspects such as growing conditions.
Orchids truly are magnificent and fascinating flowers. With several species being discovered every year, and probably every day, the orchid family continues to grow larger and larger to become perhaps the largest family of all of the flowers. Another amazing fact is that majority of the members/relatives in the orchid family are quite dissimilar to each other. The more you find out about orchids you will realise the less you know about them!