10 Common Orchid Varieties

by Flower El
cattleya orchid

In many places across the world, orchids are among some of the well-known plants. It is believed that orchid originated in the Mediterranean region although history points to the existence of various species in different parts of the world. The name Orchid is derived from the Greek term.

With the growth in popularity of exotic orchids in Europe, many people turned to growing their own orchids in order to beat the high prices of buying orchid flowers. By mid-19th century growing orchids in homes had become a fashionable thing in the western world with many people trying out new and exotic species with beautiful flowers and unique fragrances.

Today orchids growing techniques has greatly improved making the process of having your own orchids quite easy. In addition, there are a lot of varieties that you can grow and a lot of information on the internet on how to get the best out of your orchids.

Orchid comprise of one of the largest family of plants in the world. In total, there are in excess of 30,000 orchid species and over and over 200,000 hybrids in the world.

Different species do well in different conditions. It is, therefore, important that you know which species will perform well in your local growing conditions. So, orchids are best suited for outdoor conditions while others will do well for indoor conditions. For a start, here are some of the most common orchid varieties you can choose from:

1. Phalaenopsis (moth orchids)

The easiest orchid to grow for beginners is the phalaenopsis. This variety of orchids is native to the Asia region.

The plant has fleshy leaves which grow on its upright stems. It tends to be wider as opposed to being tall. The plant has several long blooms a year. The flowers come in a variety of shade but mostly white with pink or red, salmon or yellow and a host of other strips and spots combination.

The plant requires light as that found in the tropics and will do well where there is more light. The plant will flourish in temperatures between 60 and 90 F. The flowering season lasts for between two and three months.

Here is our guide on care phal orchids.

2. Paphiopedilum (lady slipper)

This is another great orchid variety for beginners. The paphiopedilum is a sympodial orchid and requires the same light as the phalaenopsis. The plant is terrestrial and grows well in moist soils. It produces shorter flower spikes when compared to the phalaenopsis. This makes it easy to position your plants in places where height could be a problem.

This orchid requires temperatures of about 60 to 70F. Their flowers are pouch-shaped and look more like a slipper.

3. Cattleya

Cattleya are the most popular orchids in the world. They are big plants and are known for their large blooms. Because of this, many people do not consider them ideal for indoor gardening.

There are however miniature cattleya which are a hybrid between sophronitis and laelia orchids which are much smaller and do well in smaller spaces. Cattleya generally requires more light than most other orchids and thus should be located near a source of sufficient light. If you don’t live in the tropics then you should be prepared to provide artificial lights for this species.

The plant can also so survive without water for longer period of times and it is recommended that you should let the growing medium go dry before watering the plants. Fertilize at least once a month with a weak fertilizer solution during the active growth period and reduce the fertilization after flowering. Also, remember to provide temperatures of between 50-60F for the plant to bloom.

4. Oncidium papilio (butterfly orchids)

The Oncidium papilio orchids or simply the Psychopsis are nicknamed butterfly orchids because they flowers resemble flying butterflies. The orchids are easy to grow and can bloom in an environment with moderate temperature and sunlight.

The oncidium Papilio is loved by many people because it produces flowers throughout the year. Once it develops the first flowers, new flowers will grow on the same flower spike after the old flowers have fallen off.  The flowers last for about two weeks and new flowers appear after every two months.  As the plant continues to grow the new pseudobulbs grow new flower spikes which make it possible for your orchid to have flowers throughout the year.

They should not be repotted regularly because once they are disturbed they take up to a year before they regain active growth status again.

Oncidium orchids are also very popular across the world because of their amazing fragrance. People love those with yellow or “brownish-red” flowers because they are not only beautiful to look at but they also have a great fragrance.

There are also a lot of oncidium hybrid orchids you can start with. They share most qualities and will do great in your home. It is important to remember that oncidium orchids are prone to fungal infections and you should take care not to over water or over fertilize your plants.

5. Dendrobium

Dendrobium orchids fall into a large and diverse group of orchids with many hybrids. The orchids are easy to grow and can survive at relatively low temperatures (about 50°F). They don’t require too much water and can thrive when watered once a month. Some Dendrobium orchids are really small and can fit into smaller pots and will do well in small spaces in your home.

These orchids are resistant to disease and pest although if not well-taken care off can be prone to fungal infections. The dendrobium orchids flower twice a year usually during winter and fall. Their flowers come in a wide range of colors from white to lavender and usually remain open for between three and four weeks.

6. Cymbidium Orchids

Cymbidium orchids are popular for indoor use. They are easy to grow and take relatively small space. The orchids have beautiful waxy flowers during winter to early spring. They bloom the best when under a bright light. You should water then weekly and fertilize once a month, especially during summer and spring. The plant is best at temperatures between 50 and 70F.

Check out our detailed article on growing and caring for cymbidiums.

7. Ludisia Discolor (Jewel Orchid)

The orchids have beautiful purple with pink stripes foliage which makes them attractive even when they do not have flowers. The orchid is noted for having white blooms in late summer or early spring which are accentuated by the colorful leaves.

The plant is comfortable in places with medium light. This orchid does not require a lot of water and therefore watering should be done sparingly. You should fertilize it once a month and keep temperatures at between 59 and 80 F throughout the year. The plant also needs high humidity throughout the year.

8. Encyclia cochleata (Cockleshell Orchid)

This is another easy to care for orchid. chartreuse green sepals and purple flowers characterize the plant. The flowers are clam shaped giving the orchid a tropical tentacle look. The plant has long lasting flowers and if grown in optimal conditions it can bloom all year round.

The plant favors medium light and needs to be water once a week with a dry period in between. You should do fertilization once a month and keep temperatures at between 60 and 80F.

9. Phaius tankervilleae (Nun Orchid)

Nun is a large orchid that is relatively easy to grow and care for. The plant has corrugated green leaves with white, purple and brown flowers in winter. Num grows well in bright light and temperatures of between 60 and 80F. The orchid requires watering sparingly and fertilization every month.

10. Odontoglossum Orchids

This type of orchid is related to the oncidiums group and shares a lot of characteristics. “The Odonts” produce large long lasting flowers usually in shades of orange, pink, red, white or yellow. The plant does well in medium to bright light with temperatures between 50 and 70F. You should do watering sparingly as it may be harmful to the plant. For the best flowers remember to fertilize your orchid once a month.

People know orchids for their characteristic flowers. Three sepals and three petals make up a typical orchid flower. The sepals protect the bud from damage. In most orchid species, the both the sepals and petals have the same color. To attract insects that help in pollination one of the sepals has to have an attractive color shed or pattern.

Orchids can be classified into two distinct groups; terrestrial and epiphytic orchids. Terrestrial orchids are those adapted to grow in soil. These plants can do well both outdoors and indoors and are relatively easy to cultivate. Epiphytic orchids are the most common type of orchids. They are the orchids that in their natural environment grow on trees, rocks and cliff face. These orchids love to attach themselves somewhere.

When you grow your orchids in pots it is important that you place your pots on benches some feet off the ground. This is important because pots are likely to sink into the ground raising a lot of drainage problems and this may drastically affect the health of your plants. If you grow your orchids indoors then make sure that the shade is just about 50%. This is because orchids do well with exposure to sunlight especially if they need to show strong blooms.

Thank you for your interest in common orchid varieties…

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