Orchids are tropical and unique ornamentals that can easily be grown indoors. There are hundreds of different types of orchids, and, to make things easier for you we’ve selected the most popular ones. Keep reading to learn more about these fascinating ornamentals.
Orchids belong to the Orchidaceae family of plants, which comprises over 700 genera and around 28,000 species. It is one of the biggest plant families, with its members distinguished by the flower’s bilateral symmetry and upward-facing petals.
There are numerous natural orchids across the world, but tropical orchids seem to be the most typically grown by home gardeners as houseplants. Most orchids are epiphytic plants, meaning they grow on the surface of other plants, taking moisture and nutrients from the atmosphere.
During warm months, potted orchids are frequently placed outside to enjoy some bright shade (partially filtered sunlight) but brought back inside once temperatures start to drop. When potted orchids are put outside during favourable months, even a few hours of direct sunlight might be harmful, which is why bright shade is the perfect environment.
Orchids that are grown indoors often require a lot of light, provided in the form of additional lighting or by being placed in an area with diffused natural light, even though most are classified as “part shade” plants in their native environment.
There are over two dozen genera of orchids that are regularly used as houseplants, each containing dozens of species and hundreds of cultivars. Now, it would be almost impossible to put together a complete glossary of orchid species, so we’ve decided to select some of the most interesting ones and compiled this list of 11 orchid species that will brighten your home garden the moment you bring them home. Keep reading to discover them!
1. Brassavola Orchid
This orchid genus is ideal for novice orchid lovers who want to see results right away. Brassavola is a simple to grow plant with exquisite star-shaped flowers that appear even when the plant is very young. If you take proper care of your Brassavola, it may bloom several times throughout the year, bringing some interesting shape and colour to your indoor garden.
Flowers have a broad, curled white lip and are generally white-cream in colour, with a green core. You’ll also get to enjoy a very special fragrance from them at night!
Brassavola nodosa (also known as The Lady of the Night) is a fantastic species to experiment with. It blooms almost all year, and the nocturnal citrus aroma is almost as wonderful as the pure white blossoms themselves.
Brassavola orchids are native to Mexico, Central, and South America and flower during summer and fall in their natural habitat. They need bright, indirect light and thrive in temperatures between 65°- 75° F (18°- 24° C). When it comes to its water needs, make sure the soil is completely dry before watering them and provide careful misting so that the leaves don’t collect a lot of water. Also, keep in mind to reduce watering after the flowering period. You can also add fertilizer once every other watering and consider a pebble tray for optimal humidity levels.
2. Brassia Orchid
It’s easy to see why these delicate blossoms are known as ‘Spider Orchids.’ The long, thin spikes resemble the legs of the spider, and the bloom lip in the centre resembles the spider’s abdomen. The blooms are placed in precise rows along hanging spikes, giving it a unique, elegant appearance.
Brassia blossoms have a delicate creamy-white colour with specks of brown or purple. Most varieties are approximately a foot tall, but some can be substantially huge, growing up to one meter, and will require additional support to maintain their upright position and prevent the stems from breaking due to excess weight.
Brassia orchids thrive nicely on a windowsill, but they need to be protected from direct sunlight with net curtains or another light-diffusing screen.
One of the most popular Brassia orchids belongs to the Brassia verrucosa species, which is the classic Spider Orchid you’re likely to spot in shops or in orchid lovers’ collections. The flowers can reach 10 inches, and they emanate a heavenly fragrance you’ll fall in love with immediately.
Brassia orchids are native to Mexico, Central, and South America as well, and they bloom during late spring and early summer. When watering, allow the soil to dry out completely and reduce water quantities during cold months.
If you want them to thrive, keep spider orchids at medium temperatures, between 65°- 75° F (18°- 24° C) and stop fertilizing them during the winter.
3. Cattleya Orchid
Cattleya orchids are perfect for those who want to impress with their orchid-growing skills. They are the show horses of the orchid family, with blooms that may measure up to 8 inches in diameter.
They feature frilled flowers, with a strong contrast hue on the lip. The majority of them are also quite aromatic, having beautiful vanilla and cinnamon aroma.
Hybrid Cattleya plants are highly coveted because of their unique colour combinations. Wedding corsages frequently use the hybrid Cattleya Bob Betts.
The peril of the extra-big flowers is that the plants grow to be rather enormous as well. Because many are 2-4 feet tall, they should be kept in a greenhouse rather than on a windowsill. However, the Mini-Catt species only reach 8 inches and is perfect for those who want to brighten their windowsill with these delicate flowers.
Being so beautiful doesn’t come easy, as Cattleya orchids tend to be a bit finicky and won’t like dry air with too little ventilation. It is very important that you use a humidity pebble tray to ensure the air around them is kept moist.
Native to Mexico and Central America, Cattleya orchids need bright, indirect light. Their blooming period differs from species to species, but all variants need generous watering. They thrive in moderate temperatures and need a humidity tray to ensure proper air moisture. Water them regularly, once the potting medium has dried a little, but give them a resting period with minimal watering for about 6 weeks during the winter.
4. Cambria Orchids
Cambria is the hybrid name given to orchids from the genus Vuylstekeara. Because this hybrid is so popular, you’ve probably seen a lot of these orchids at garden shops and grocery stores.
Odontoglossum, Miltonia, and Cochlioda are the three orchid species merged to create Cambria orchids. They’re ideal for orchid beginners since they can withstand a broad variety of temperatures and don’t need rest time.
On solitary or branching spikes, Cambria orchids produce massive, lavish flowers that can grow on solitary or branched spikes. The majority of species produce vivid red and white blooms with huge yellow lips that can be admired for several weeks.
The beautiful red and white blossoms of Vuylstekeara Cambria’ Plush’ can number up to 12 flowers per flower spike, making it an excellent option. When cared for, they can bloom multiple times per year.
They are hybrid species, meaning they do not come from a natural habitat. Their flowering time is usually during winter and spring and these ornamentals prefer to be kept in the shade during summer. When you water them, make sure the soil is not too soggy and, similar to other species, make sure to provide less water during winter. They prefer moderate temperatures and thrive with a humidity pebble tray to ensure air moisture.
5. Cymbidium Orchid
It’s simple to see why florists and garden stores love this variety so much. The tall upright flower spikes of Cymbidium can support many spectacular flowers in every hue of the rainbow except blue.
Petals are usually spherical and have a waxy feel. The curve of the lip resembles that of a boat, which explains the widespread name for these lovely creatures – boat orchids.
If you’re new to orchids, we recommend staying clear from native Cymbidium orchids at first. There are many beautiful hybrid cymbidiums to pick from, and they are more resistant to temperature fluctuations.
Cymbidium orchids are huge, growing up to 5 feet in height, and they need a cold greenhouse to flourish. Their care is simple if you have the facilities to shelter them. On the other hand, little Cymbidium hybrids make excellent houseplants. They still grow to a respectable height of 1-2 feet, and their gorgeous blossoms can resist up to two months. Cymbidium Golden Elf is a lovely tiny hybrid with bracts of bright yellow blooms that are quite fragrant. Your Cymbidium hybrids will benefit from a summer vacation outside if you want them to thrive.
They are native to the tropical areas of Asia and Australia and bloom during autumn and early spring. Some do provide fragrance, but not all varieties will. They need strong light, but not direct sunlight, and they do need to be watered generously without letting the soil get too soggy. Keep them in moderate temperatures, a bit more on the colder side (60°- 70° F or 16°- 21° C)
6. Dendrobium Orchid
Because the Dendrobium orchid family is so diverse, there is no conventional bloom form. Apart from two tints that no real orchid can have (blue or black), every colour under the sun is accessible
Trying to describe a typical Dendrobium is a little hard due to the tremendous variation. Instead, we’ll talk about two of our personal favourites.
Dendrobium kingianum is an easy plant to cultivate and a good spot to start your Dendrobium collection. The blooms are tiny and delicate, with a pleasant aroma, and are typically pink, lavender, or white. They like a chilly climate, particularly a significant drop in temperature throughout the winter, as do other Dendrobiums.
A popular type of Dendrobium orchid is the Dendrobium Nobile, which grows about 2 feet in height. It usually blooms pretty pink and white flowers, but there are also other colour varieties out there.
Native to South-East Asia, New Zealand, and Australia, Dendrobium orchids need strong light, but protection from the sun during very bright summer days. Water it regularly during the summer and a little less frequently during spring and winter.
7. Miltoniopsis Orchid
Miltoniopsis hybrids are distinguished by their large pansy-shaped blooms on erect spikes, hence why they are sometimes known as pansy orchids.
The blooms can also have an ornate ‘mask’ in a contrasting hue, made up of dots or stripes, similar to pansies. The big flowers are usually white, crimson, or pink in colour and persist for quite a while.
So long as the heating isn’t turned up too high, there are plenty of Miltoniopsis hybrids that thrive in a residential setting. These plants require a lot of humidity to grow, so put them on a pebble tray to keep them happy.
With a charming, pansy-like mask in magenta and yellow, Miltoniopsis Herralexander is a wonderful example of a white hybrid that you can add to your collection.
They are native to Colombia, Peru, Ecuador and even Costa Rica, and will flower during spring and fall. They need cool temperatures (60°- 70° F or 16°- 21° C) and like the air around them to be moist. Protect them from direct sunlight and reduce the water a little during the winter.
8. Oncidium Orchid
Oncidium orchids have been collected by orchid aficionados since the 18th century. The flowers vary in size and shape, but most Oncidiums have a huge cluster of blossoms on tall stalks.
Oncidium orchids are available in a variety of colours, but the most common are yellow, white, purple, pink, or green. The top of the bloom is shaped like a woman’s body and arms, while the spectacular lip represents the flowing’ skirt.’ This is why they are called Dancing Lady orchids.
Stick to the more robust hybrids if you’re looking for an Oncidium for your home windowsill. The species has some very specific requirements and would benefit from being kept in a greenhouse with rigorous temperature controls.
Oncidium Twinkle is an excellent dwarf hybrid with a vanilla scent and is commonly available in red, orange, pink, and white hues. Another popular option is the Oncidium Sharry Baby, which is larger than the Twinkle, but just as stunning.
They are native to South America and Ecuador and will flower during the fall. Protect them from bright sunlight, but make sure they have lots of indirect light. Don’t keep the soil too moist, but provide a humidity pebble tray for an optimal habitat.
9. Phalaenopsis Orchid
The magnificent Phalaenopsis, also known as Moth Orchid, appears to be perfectly crafted for a contemporary living space. Unlike other orchid genera, they like the warmth of centrally heated houses and have very low light requirements.
The most striking feature of Phalaenopsis Orchids is represented, of course, by their spectacular blossoms. The numerous blooms feature wide spherical sepals and a lovely lip that is divided into three pieces.
The blossoms linger for months, perhaps even years, on the shrub. It’s easy to understand why they’ve become such a popular plant among garden owners all around the world.
It’s not difficult to stimulate your Moth Orchid to grow a new flower spike once they’ve bloomed. Simply trim the spike back to about an inch in length, and a new spike should develop.
Phalaenopsis Lipperose is a classic pink hybrid that has given rise to a slew of pink moth orchids. The gorgeous gold and white lip is framed by beautiful pink sepals and petals with dark red patterns.
Phaelaenopsis schilleriana is a superb show orchid with its big size and dramatic appearance. The spikes may bear many blooms with a diameter of almost three inches. The elaborate lip is framed by pale pink to white sepals with gold and dark pink speckles.
10. Bulbophyllum orchids
There are certain to be a few oddballs among the thousands of orchid species found across the world. Some of these wonderful oddities may be found in the Bulbophyllum genus. The great majority don’t even resemble orchids, and the size range is enormous.
Bulbophyllum fletcherianum, which may grow up to six feet tall, is one of the biggest. Large clusters of pink-red flowers fashioned like a toucan’s bill appear on the shrub. Just be aware that the blossoms have a foul odour that attracts insects.
Bulbophyllum Elizabeth Ann’ Buckleberry’ is a gorgeous hybrid that looks fantastic in a hanging basket. The little pink flowers floating in the air and growing downwards are reminiscent of some sort of sea creature.
This species is native to South-East Asia, Africa, Australia, and even Central America. It blooms between spring and fall, depending on the variety, and needs bright light even during the winter. As with other orchids, protect them from direct sunlight.
The smell of this species is quite an interesting topic, as some smell incredibly good, while others can have a foul fragrance so that they attract flies for pollination, so it’s best that you make the purchase in person.
What Are Color-altered Orchids?
As you shop for orchids, you may come across species with incredible colours, such as blue, orange, bright pink, artificial purple, or even black, unnatural to the respective variety. These are artificially coloured orchids that undergo a process where dye is inserted into their stem to make the flower get an interesting colour and make them more appealing. Most of these orchids are, in fact, white Moth Orchids.
The process has been the subject of criticism for many years now, and while florists who do this ensure us the plants are not harmed in any way, it’s easy to see why plant lovers can get a bit triggered by the situation. Most issues come from the fact that many buyers are not warned the orchid is not naturally blue or purple, and they get disappointed when new blooms come out white or cream in colour. Another issue is that prices for blue orchids are much higher than for natural orchids, which is a bit unjustified given that the process is not as complex as it may appear, and the results are only temporary.
With such a huge variety of orchid colours to choose from, opting for an artificially coloured one is really unnecessary. There are many blue plants you can pick from if you want to add that particular colour to your garden, so it’s best to leave orchids as they are.
While orchids may seem intimidating, not all varieties are fussy and difficult to grow, as you can see. There are, in fact, many orchid types that require minimal effort and will reward you with delightful flowers for the best part of the year.
With so many species available, we hope we’ve piqued your interest and at least inspired you to add one orchid to your plant collection. Sometimes, one is all it takes to encourage you to start growing a collection, especially once you find a variety that you love.
Feel encouraged to visit local orchid breeders and check out these incredible species all by yourself, to decide which one suits your home and gardening abilities best.
If you’ve enjoyed this article, you might also like our Guide to Orchid Pots.
Are you growing Orchids? Let us know in the comments!