All About Orchids

Everything You Need To Know About Orchids

Here you have it: everything you need to know about orchids, from buying and blooming plants, to descriptions of the five most popular orchids.

  • 01 of 10
    Blossoming inflorescence of red odontoglossum orchid
    Maria Mosolova/Stockbyte/Getty Images

    Orchids are not especially difficult to grow, but they do have some specialized requirements. You want to find the right balance of temperature, water, humidity, air flow and fertilizer. Once you've found that, you can expect healthy plants and blooms year after year.

  • 02 of 10
    Pick a plant with lots of blooms as well as unopened flower buds for a longer display. Photo © Kerry Michaels

    Success with orchids begins in the nursery—buy the healthiest plants possible and ease them into your growing environment. Even gift orchids should be vibrant plants capable of long-term survival.

  • 03 of 10
    Photo © Kerry Michaels

    Improper watering is probably the single most common cause of orchid death -- either too much or too little. The trick with watering your orchid is to replicate, as closely as possible, its natural environment. This means finding just the right balance between air flow and water.

  • 04 of 10

    Well-fed orchids are obvious: they're the ones with the biggest and most profuse blooms. A careful fertilization program is essential if you want to grow the healthiest orchids.

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10
    A freshly repotted cattleya orchid. Photo © Jon VanZile

    Even though they are often epiphytic plants in nature, most orchids are adaptable to growing in pots, as long as you use the right potting media and follow some basic pointers.

  • 06 of 10
    Phalaenopsis flowers are available in white, pink, yellow and striped. These flowers can be expected to last several months, and with proper care, your plant will bloom year after year. Photo © Jon VanZile

    Phalaenopsis are the world's most popular orchid and with good reason. These plants feature dramatic sprays of long-lasting flowers in a variety of colors, and they are well-suited to indoor growing.

  • 07 of 10
    A cattleya hybrid with bright orange flowers. These delicately scented flowers appear in tight clusters and last for several weeks. Photo © Jon VanZile

    Cattleya are among the most popular orchids for collectors and breeders—there are thousands upon thousands of registered cattleya hybrids, with flowers in a mind-boggling array of colors, shapes and even scents. These orchids can do very well inside.

  • 08 of 10
    Dendrobium flowers are often found in floral arrangements, but they can be kept indoors also and will bloom impressively under the right conditions. Photo © Jon VanZile

    Cane dendrobiums are both popular household and florist orchids. Widely available in white and purple, dendrobiums produce large sprays of small, elegant flowers on tall stalks. These are considered warm-house orchids that love lots of light, food, and water.

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10
    Cymbidiums are become more popular thanks to smaller and more manageable varieties on the market. Photo © Westerlay Orchids

    Cymbidiums have been making a major comeback in recent years. These orchids are perfect for colder environments—they can withstand colder temperatures than many of the tropical orchids. And their large, showy flowers are beautiful centerpieces.

  • 10 of 10

    Sometimes called dancing lady orchids, the yellow oncidiums are magnificent bloomers; a healthy plant will put forth sprays with dozens of small yellow flowers like a cloud of butterflies. Another variety of oncidium is known as the chocolate orchid because of its cocoa-scented flowers.