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Best Types of Orchids and How to Care in the Garden

Best Types of Orchids and How to Care in the Garden

types of orchidstypes of orchids

Orchids grow throughout the world between the North and South Poles, excluding deserts, and between roughly 0 and 3,5000m in altitude.  The USA has the biggest number of different species in Europe.  Depending on the source, there are 25,000 and 35,000 different species, divided into 800 types.  They are epiphyte (growing on other plants), or lithophyte, (growing on rocks) in hot regions, or terrestrial in regions with a more moderate climate.

There are over 100,000 hybrid varieties, which are sold in most garden centers and which are very easy to grow.  These are familiarly called “window sill orchids”.  Reproduction by meristems, a sort of cloning, make these types of orchids easily available.  They are also easy to grow indoors.  It is, however, useful to know the name of the orchid, or at least its type, in order to adapt its growing conditions to the environment.

Peacock orchid and Bletilla striata orchid bulbs are more and more common in garden centers in spring.  These are Asian terrestrial orchids.

Botanical species can be bought from specialist orchid producers.

Orchids like a high humidity level and the presence of other plants.  They appreciate having their leaves bathed every day and a saucer of humid gravel or clay stones placed under their pot.  They also like gentle ventilation but detest cold air currents which cause their flower buds to fall (for example, the Phall).  In winter they appreciate a maximum of light (put them on a window sill facing south, without shade).  In March or April, they should be placed in slight shade facing north (depending on the species and the latitude).

Terrestrial orchids sleep during the winter in cold and moderate countries.  Those which grow in hot, dry countries, like Australia, may sleep in summer.

The main types of orchids, created to be sold as cut flowers, are :

  • Phall and related types
  • Dendrobium
  • Boat orchids
  • Paphiopedilum (Paph)
  • Oncidium (Onc.)
  • Blue orchid and related types
  • Odontoglossum (Odm.)
  • Cattleya
  • Miltoniopsis (Mltnps)
  • Epidendrum (Epi.)

The most common orchids growing in the wild are the Dendrobium and the Bulbophyllum (Bulb.), each consisting of between 1,000 and 1,500 species.  Orchids have a diversified vegetal make-up :

1. Terrestrial orchids possess :

  • either an underground tuber (Orchis, Dactylorhiza, Cypripedium).
  • or apparent tubers called pseudobulbs (Himalayan Cymbidium).
  • or roots at the base of the plant only (Paphiopedilum, exotic Cypripedium).  This type of vegetation is called sympodial.

2.  Epiphyte or lithophyte orchids possess :

  • either pseudobulb in various shapes and aerial roots which cling onto the plant or rock in order to feed itself (sympodial orchids).
  • or one leafy stem, which grows, and aerial roots (Vanda, Vanilla).  These are monopodial orchids.

The substratum for orchids

The substratum for epiphyte orchids

The nature of this substratum isn’t very important as its purpose is to support a plant that lives on a tree.  It should be as inert as possible, ventilated, and it should retain an amount of water suited to the growing conditions of the plant in its original environment (thus it is important to know the name of the plant).

You can use

  • horticultural pine bark, which lasts around 3 years.
  • well washed coconut fiber, which will get rid of sea salt (be careful of rot caused by over-watering).
  • cork cut up into small pieces (wax-free wine corks).
  • or a mixture of one of the above with polystyrene of different sizes, or with a small quantity of perlite or vermiculite (this helps roots to sprout).

Some epiphytes are sold in baskets.  They may be reported to help them grow.  Or you may simply place the basket in suitable pot three-quarters full of humidified clay stones.

We could all go out of our minds trying to find a personal mixture – but it is much simpler just to use horticultural pine bark (not that used for embankments) of different particle sizes, depending on the thickness of the roots.  Small particle size is suited to thin roots, medium or big sizes to the others.  Good stability and drainage can be obtained by putting 2cms. of clay stones or bits of broken pots at the bottom.  If you suspect that the bark contains parasites or fungi, pour some hot water over it or boil it a bit to destroy these nuisances.

The substratum for terrestrial orchids

It is much safer and simpler to buy the one sold for Cymbidium or boat orchids.  You may add polystyrene for ventilation, if necessary.

Orchids Care


orchids Paphiopedilumorchids Paphorchids Paphiopedilumiopedilum

Are easily suited for home growing, requiring only bright light and your normal home temperatures. Also called a slipper orchid and blooms are long lasting up to 10 weeks of bloom.


Most mature orchids need about 15 to 20f temperatures between night and day.


Never let plants dry out.


Must be fertilized on a regular basis, but requires less fertilizer than most orchids.


should be done about every one to two years. Use a good 10-10-10 balanced ratio.

Orchid Care for Oncidium


Oncidiums originate from sea level to the tropics.


should be 55-60f at night and 80 85 during the day.


Generally, plants with large fleshy roots need less water. Watering should be thorough. Plants not active should be watered less.


Apply a good 30-10-10 balanced fertilizer twice a month.


Re-pot when the plant is about half mature. Keep Humidity high and new pot should be medium dry until new roots form.



Are very common at retail stores. Also called an air plant. Very leafy appearance.


Mature plants like 15 to 20 f difference between night and day. Leaves may drop if temperatures drop below 50f.


They like moist soil but can tolerate dryness when the plant is matured.


They like to be fertilized often especially during the growing period. Use a good 10-10-10 balanced ratio.


Repot every 2-3 years, give good aeration and drainage. They tend to like small pots for their size.



Is a favorite among orchid care enthusiasts. Long-lasting blooms with many colors and are inexpensive.


Needs about 15 to 20 F. Seedlings need about 10 degrees higher than mature plants.


Do not let plants dry out. Younger plants need more watering and attention.


Should be fertilized on a regular basis. A good 10-10-10 or similar ratio. Fertilize every week at one quarter to one half of the recommended dilution.


Should be done every 2-3 years. Better if done during late spring.

Remember always use a good orchid care fertilizer and soil for all type of orchids. Typically the above orchids are what most nurseries have, but there are over 28,000 varieties.

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