All types of orchids
Table of Contents
- Written by Holly Hughes on March 23, 2022
Coming in almost every shape, color, and size imaginable, orchids are famed for their majestic beauty and powerful elegance. However, did you know they are also one of the largest of all the plant families?
In their sprawling family are some of the most diverse groups of flowering plants on the planet.
So, if you’d like to see beyond the stunning petals and sweet-smelling fragrance of these luscious plants, here’s everything you need to know about the many different orchid types and just how diverse its many species can be.
How many species of orchids are there?
There are somewhere between 25,000 – 30,000 different species. These populate every continent except Antarctica, meaning that, no matter where you live in the world, there will be a variety of this plant that is sure to thrive in your climate.
Coming in every color except pure black and with flowers weighing everything from a nickel to a ton when in bloom, these blooms are one of the most fascinating plants out there. While some varieties live underground, others live in the soil, or even grow on rocks. However, most live on other plants and trees.
The common types of orchids
Despite the overwhelming amount of all kinds of orchids out in the world, there are some common species of orchids you are sure to recognize. Here’s the names of orchids that are most well-known and that also happen to make an exotic and majestic addition to your home or garden.
This white orchid’s name is also moth orchid. Phalaenopsis are one of the most popular varieties sold across the United States due to their affordability, low maintenance nature, and of course, their stunning beauty.
This orchid variety has wide, flat leaves that are dark-colored and mirrored by flat and wide flowers that sit atop their long stems. If seeking a perfectly crisp, white flower variety, the Phalaenopsis Aphrodite is by far the most beloved.
This plant is the ideal option for beginners – choose yours at 1800Flowers here.
Famed for its use in corsages, Cattleya varieties have large, striking flowers with ruffled edges and a delectable fragrance. It’s little wonder that they were once considered the rightful kings of the orchid world. Their large lips with contrasting colors in the center – like the popular yellow and purple orchid color combination – make this flower stand out like royalty.
For a beautiful yellow plant, choose this one at SendFlowers.
This is one of the most abundant varieties of this shrub with roughly 1,500 species found everywhere from the foothills of the Himalayas to the tropical islands of the South Pacific.
Popular with gardeners, dendrobium varieties show off with dramatic flowers that pose on top of tall stems that are cane-like in appearance. Some are even deciduous, shedding their leaves during times of little rainfall.
FromYouFlowers has some stunning arrangements of dendrobiums here.
Also known as the “dancing ladies” due to the similarity between their flowers’ wide, flat lips and the ruffled skirts of a female dancer. While in the oncidium alliance there are any number of flower shapes and sizes, oncidium varieties are typically known for having lots of small to medium flowers spread along a branch-like stem in a kind of Christmas tree silhouette.
The most well-known oncidium species are yellow and brown in color. However, green, magenta, red, and white flowers – often decorated with exotic markings – are also grown.
Common features that identify orchids
Considering the variety and sheer immensity of the many different kinds of orchids that exist, there are still certain commonalities that can be found throughout.
For example, their flowering parts typically form in groups of three and the floral arrangement of all species is the same. There are three sepals which are green and make up the outer part of the flower and three bright and beautifully colored petals, which form the inner layer of flower parts. One of these petals has been distinguished by becoming the flower’s labellum, or lip.
You can also find common characteristics in how they conserve water. Unlike most other plants, orchids use their leaves specifically for water conservation. This is why orchid leaves are typically heavy with a wax coating. This helps to prevent water loss as the plant breathes.
Orchids with long leaves
A classic feature we associate with orchids is often its height, particularly its long leaves and stems. If looking for a long-leafed variety, cymbidium orchids are a good option with their long, grass-like leaves that drape like foliage and are often longer than even the flower stems.
This grassy foliage makes them a popular outdoor plant for the garden, particularly as cymbidium can grow year-round in warm climates.
Orchids with small flowers
Contrasting its tall and striking leaves, cymbidium is an orchid type that has small flowers and petals. Unlike other orchids, cymbidium grows many small flowers instead of a few large ones, offering a beautiful spray of gorgeous flowers to enjoy.
These delicate, attractive flowers are thin and elongated rather than wide and oval.
Epidendrum orchids are another variety that choose more delicate and dainty flowers over the showiness of other large orchids. Epidendrum flowers are narrow and thin instead of the wide, flat flower we often associate with orchids and come in fantastically vibrant colors like orange and pink. They also can be delightfully fragrant.
However, if you want the smallest orchid of them all, try Platystele orchid – a flower that measures just 2 millimeters in size!
As you can tell, the beauty of orchids extends far beyond their appearance – their true magic is in their diversity and unique ability to bloom in any number of locations, colors, and shapes. Begin a love affair with orchids by purchasing your first plant at the plant delivery specialists, Plants.com.
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