Amazing Types of Orchids: Varieties of Plants, Flowers and Their Classification

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Types of Orchids
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Orchids are among some of the most beautiful and delicate flowers you can grow. Orchid flowers come in many varieties, with almost any shape, color, and size. Some of the smallest mini orchid flowers may only be about half an inch (1 cm) across. Large orchid flowers may be as large as 3” to 5” (7.5 – 12 cm). Orchids and orchid hybrids can be purple, white, red, orange, deep blue, pink, or yellow, or any combination of those colors.

Botanically classified, orchids belong to the Orchidaceae family of flowering plants in the order Asparagales. There over 28,000 species of orchids that are officially recognized. There are even more hybrids, with some estimates putting the number at over 100,000!

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The different types of orchids vary in height and color. The smallest orchid is the Platystele orchid which measures just 2 mm in size! However, typical orchids grown as houseplants range in size from 6” (15 cm) tall to around 30” (76 cm). The size of orchid and its wonderful colors depend on the type of orchid you decide to buy.

In this article, you will learn about some of the most popular orchids to grow indoors. You will also find out identifying features of these orchids and how to care for them properly.

Types of Orchids (With Pictures and Names)

Phalaenopsis Orchids

Phalaenopsis orchid

Phalaenopsis orchid is a popular type of orchid genus with about 70 species

Orchids in the Phalaenopsis genus are some of the most popular and easy to care for orchids. Their common name is ‘moth orchid’ due to the unusual shape of their petals.

Moth orchids are identified by their large overlapping leaves at the base of the stem. These succulent leaves are large and leathery and usually grow in two rows. It is the large pretty flowers that are the attraction of phalaenopsis orchids.

There are usually 5 small to large petals that make up the flower. On each long stem, multiple flowers may bloom, and they can appear at varying times throughout the year.

Moth orchid flowers such as the Phalaenopsis aphrodite can be just pure white. Other orchids in this genus can have flowers with striking contrasts of oranges, reds, and whites. Some especially pretty varieties may be delicate pastel shades of purple, pink and orange. The more unusual varieties have yellow and red harlequin spotted patterns on the leaves.

If you are a beginner and want a type of orchid that is easy to grow, then pick a type of phalaenopsis orchid.

Care tips: very easy to grow and they withstand repotting. Flowers last a long time and may bloom multiple times

Dendrobium Orchids

dendrobium

Dendrobium is popular and easy growing type of orchids

Dendrobium orchids are another popular type of houseplant that is easy to care for. Dendrobium orchids are identified by their large number of blooms on the end of long stems. This makes these orchids somewhat top-heavy and they usually need stalking.

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There are over 1,800 species in the Dendrobium orchid genus. The most common colors of Dendrobium orchids are purple, white, and yellow, or various combinations of those colors. Very often, the labellum (the “lip” part of the orchid flower) is a contrasting color, which just adds to its beauty.

A pretty feature of these orchids is the shape of their petals. The pastel-colored petals tend to be spindly or tapered, with some species having wide ruffled ones. However, as with many orchid species, it is difficult to specify an exact type of petal shape.

One reason why these orchid varieties are popular is that they can grow in almost any zone. One of the challenges of growing these orchids is preventing them from falling over. Some orchid experts recommend using clay pots and stalking to help keep them standing upright.

Care tips: only repot orchids in this genus when new growth appears. They also need plenty of light to thrive.

Epidendrum Orchids

epidendrum

Epidendrum orchids need enough light if grown indoors as houseplants

Epidendrum orchids are some of the prettiest orchids that you can grow at home. There are over 1,000 species in the Epidendrum genus and even more hybrids.

The delicate attractive flowers are thin and elongated rather than wide and oval. In general, flowers on this type of orchid are small and dainty. Epidendrum orchids aren’t as large and showy as other popular types of orchid, however, they can be quite fragrant. Flowers are usually pink, dark orange, and there are some very dainty white varieties.

With proper care and lighting, your Epidendrum orchid should bloom yearly.

Care tips: it can be difficult to grow these orchids indoors due to high light requirements. Therefore, they might only bloom once if they don’t get enough light.

Cattleya Orchids

cattleya

Cattleya orchid flowers are stunning with their contrasting colors

Cattleya orchids are some of the most stunning types of orchids you can grow indoors. The striking feature of these plants is the contrasting colors of the petals and labellum. Other interesting features of these orchids are specks, freckles, or streaks that pattern the petals.

One identification feature of these orchids it that many of them have delightful fragrance. Some hybrids that have large ruffled white petals look stunning contrasting with a deep orange center. Other popular hybrids have thin, long, elongated petals that make these orchids especially decorative.

Cattleya leaves can also be thick and succulent in an oblong or elliptical shape.

Popular colors of these orchid varieties are orange, white, pink, mauve, and deep purple. Look out for types that have contrasting centers for an especially striking type of orchid.

Care tips: fairly easy to grow indoors and you can repot them when they have stopped blooming.

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Cymbidium Orchids

cymbidium

Cymbidium orchids have grassy leaves and tall stems with many flowers

Cymbidium is a genus of orchids that have small petals and flowers. However, the multiple flowers that grow mean that they give you a fantastic floral display.

If you live in warm climates, these beautiful orchids will grow well outdoors and flower regularly. As an indoor houseplant, Cymbidium orchids are extremely easy to care for.

Some of the most beautiful Cymbidium orchids are bright pink, green, yellow, or red ones. An identifying feature of these orchids is their long grassy green leaves that are often longer than the flower stems.

Care tips: this type of orchid variety is an excellent choice for first-time orchid owners as they are easy to grow and care for.

Lycaste Orchids

Lycaste dowiana

The triangular flower of Lycaste dowiana orchid is quite large and waxy

Lycaste is a genus of orchids that contains around 30 species that grow from pseudobulbs. This means that the storage organ is above-ground rather than underground (like bulbs). This type of orchids generally have 3 large wide petals that point out to the 3 corners of a triangle. Generally, the waxy petals are single-colored with very little or no patterns.

These flowers are moderately fragrant. Some of the aromas from these orchids are described as spicy like clove or cinnamon. A pretty feature of Lycaste orchids is their medium to large-sized flowers. Most varieties have flowers ranging in size between 2” – 4” (5 – 10 cm). However, some hybrids have flowers as large as 7” (18 cm) across.

Because these orchids are a deciduous variety, they lose their leaves and stop growing in the winter. The tips of the pseudobulb have sharp ends that can jag your finger if you touch it.

Care tips: this type of orchids needs medium light and you should repot it after it finishes flowering.

Brassavola Orchids

Brassavola flagellaris

The delicate flowers of Brassavola flagellaris release scent only at night

Also called ‘Lady of the Night,’ Brassavola orchids are a leafy type of orchid with white flowers. The name of this common orchid comes from the heady fragrance it gives off at night.

Most species of Brassavola orchids have white petals and are very fragrant. Some particular hybrids may have a light speckled pattern on them. These orchids also flower frequently and, under the right conditions, can flower all year long.

Another identifying characteristic of this orchid variety is their long reed-like leaves. These make the orchid look like a bushy green clump with elegant white flowers emerging from it.

Care tips: give them medium light without direct sunlight and water them frequently when in the growing season.

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Maxillaria Orchids

Maxillaria tenuifolia

Maxillaria tenuifolia orchid flower is a combination of red and white

Maxillaria orchids are a genus that has about 300 species in it. Although there are not as many species as other groups of orchids, they are very diverse orchids. The Latin name of this orchid comes from the fact that the lip in the middle resembles a jawbone (maxilla in Latin). Some other descriptive names of these orchids are ‘flame orchids,’ ‘spider orchids,’ or ‘tiger orchids.’

Some striking examples of Maxillaria orchids are 3-petaled types in a fiery-red color with yellow tips. Even though the flowers grow on short stalks, some varieties have very large showy flowers.

Although not one of the most popular kinds of orchids to grow at home, some showy varieties are sought after by collectors. Their strong fragrance and outstanding blossoms mean they are a prized type of orchid.

Miltonia Orchids

Miltonia regnellii

The purple and green Miltonia regnellii orchid is beautiful and elegant

Orchids in the Miltonia genus produce very large flowers with large sparse petals. This is also called the ‘pansy orchid’ because the oval flowers look like pansies.

As with many orchid families, there is a wide variety between the hybrids and cultivars. Some exotic orchids have beautiful large pastel-colored flowers with contrasting darker tones. This gives these orchids a grace and elegance that brighten up a room.

Other types of Miltonia orchids have tapered leaves that can be green and brown colors. These flowers are accented by a white petal or white flower lip. Other Miltonia hybrids have papery ruffled petals giving the orchid an ornamental showy look.

Care tips: need to be kept evenly moist throughout the year. They should have bright indirect light to help them bloom.

Odontoglossum Orchids

Odontoglossum crispum

Odontoglossum crispum orchid has showy and unique flower which makes it a fantastic ornamental plant

One of the showiest orchids, Odontoglossum orchids have some spectacular flowering hybrids. The stems of this type of orchids can reach up to 4 ft. (1.2 m) high and produce up to 150 blossoms. There are over 400 species in this genus with even more hybrids to choose from.

The petals of some orchids are oval and ruffled whereas other hybrids have large triangular petals that make the orchid look like a star. The Odontoglossum crispum hybrid has pure white petals with blood-red blotches on it and a yellow center.

Among the species are also a diverse range of colors. There is everything from dark reds, purples, and browns to bright yellows, whites, and pink.

Care tips: experts say that this type of orchids is challenging to grow indoors.

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Paphiopedilum Orchids

Paphiopedilum

Paphiopedilum orchids have many hybrids and are easy to grow at home

One of the easiest types of orchids to grow at home is the Paphiopedilum orchid. This delightful houseplant is also called the ‘Venus slipper’ or ‘Lady slipper.’

These orchid species come in a variety of cheery colors to brighten up any room. Deep pinks, bright whites, and sun-kissed yellows are just some of the types to choose from. However, if you prefer darker colors, there are also paphiopedilums in burgundy, deep pink, and black.

One of the identifying features of ‘paphs’ is their one large oval petal and 2 elongated petals. In many of the hybrids, the single oval petal and other petals are completely different colors. Their large cup-like lip is another way to identify these orchids.

Growth starts with large thick leaves before the stems start to grow and then bloom.

Care tips: keep the plant potting mix moist with regular watering. This orchid variety is particularly easy to grow at home.

Vanda Orchids

vanda

The exotic Vanda orchids come in a variety of colors

Orchids in the Vanda genus are particularly delicate type of orchids that have a thick root system. Due to the size and length of their roots, Vanda orchids are best grown in orchid baskets. These exotic orchids are eye-catching with the pretty blossoms, long light-green leaves, and pale green roots dangling from the basket.

When it comes to their flowers, experts rate these orchid varieties as some of the most magnificent flowers from any orchid. Colors range from pale lavender to deep violet, white, and pink. Some petals are wide and oval with speckled patterns and others are long and tapered with dots or stripes.

With the right care, you should expect your Vanda orchids to grow flowers a few times throughout the year.

Care tips: this type of orchids is difficult to grow at home and not suited for orchid beginners. The balance of humidity and moisture is essential for healthy growth.

Zygopetalum Orchids

Zygopetalum crinitum

The stunning flowers of Zygopetalum crinitum orchid have various patterns and colors

Zygopetalum orchids are an exotic type of orchid that grows outdoors in humid, warm conditions. Several highly-patterned flowers grow on each stem. The combination of long tapered petals and a large oval one gives these orchids a striking appearance.

The unique feature of these orchids is their multi-colored flowers. It is not unusual to have purple and almost black petals making up one flower. Also, some varieties have green/brown leaves and one large white/purple leaf.

These orchids are also known for their long-lasting fragrant flowers. Due to the waxy nature of these orchid flowers, they make great additions to cut flower displays.

Care tips: they have very specific requirements when it comes to humidity, water, and light.

Oncidium Orchids

oncidium

Yellow is a popular color of Oncidium orchids

Because of the beautiful shape of their flowers and bright colors, Oncidium orchids are all named ‘Dancing-Lady orchids’ or ‘Golden Shower orchids.’

The flowers of these orchids look like a lady in a large ball gown with outstretched arms. Some popular colors of Oncidium orchids are bright yellow, pink, red, or white. They are also a very tall orchid with some types reaching as high as 16 ft. (5 m)!

Despite these orchids looking very exotic, they are easy to grow at home.

Care tips: their large pseudobulbs mean that they must be in free-draining orchid mix and they should be away from drafts.

Psychopsis Orchids

psychopsis mariposa

Psychopsis mariposa is a type of an unusual orchid with large antennae-like petals

Some of the most unusual orchid flowers are found on the Psychopsis orchids. Also called the ‘Butterfly orchid,’ these delightful orchid varieties have dainty blooms hanging off tall spikes. The frilly petals have large antennae-like petals which make the orchid look like a butterfly.

Care tips: easy to grow and only needs moderate light conditions to thrive.

Phragmipedium Orchids

Phragmipedium caudatum

Phragmipedium caudatum orchids have a white pouch-like lip

The Phragmipedium orchid is another type of orchid that is also called a ‘Lady’s Slipper orchid.’ This orchid gets this name due to the pouch-like sac that is its lip. One of the characteristics of these orchids is that they can tolerate a lot of water.

Apart from its lady slipper pouch, an identifying feature of these orchids is their oval-shaped petals and narrow leaves. Among the species of orchids with a pouch lip, Phragmipedium orchids are the only ones to have a bright red color.

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