Orchids all belong to the family Orchidaceae, although they are one of the most diverse plants in existence. Of the 880 genera, there are approximately 28,000 species as well as over 300,000 varieties!



The potted orchid on the left is an example of a monopodial orchid which grows from a central stem. The orchid on the right is a sympodial orchid which grows from a rhizome which means that in time new shoots can form.

Most orchids are epiphytes. An epiphyte is a plant that is supported nonparasitically by either another plant or a different object.


Orchids grow on every continent except Antarctica. They are dated back as far as 500 BC in China, Greece, and Rome. In the 18th Century, new world explorers found and carried orchid varieties back to their home nations.

Growing Requirements

Growing media

Most orchids do not require soil to grow. Many are grown in osmunda fiber which comes from the roots of a fern that grows in the Pacific as well as Australia. Fresh pine bark, peat, perlite, and vermiculite are also used in varying combinations. They can even grow in pebbles mixed with bark. Orchids are more adapted to harsh wind and air exposure than to overly moist conditions.

Orchids grow fairly slowly and require repotting every two years.


Orchids benefit from liquid fertilizers with a 20-20-20 commercial analysis or a 30-10-10 orchid-specialized fertilizer applied once per month. Orchids are generally used to nutrient deficiency so over-fertilization is dangerous and one of the leading reasons orchids are killed.


Orchids thrive in bright, south-facing windows or any place where they enjoy indirect light equal to 1500-2000 foot candles and are protected from any breezes. All orchids need partial shade and are usually damaged under direct, harsh sunlight. 36-48 inch fluorescent light bulbs shining at least twelve hours per day often are great for growing orchids indoors. A fluorescent bulb in addition to window light often increases the chances of flowering.


Orchids are divided into three temperature groups: cool, medium, and warm.

Cool orchids prefer 50 degrees Fahrenheit at night and 60 degrees Fahrenheit during the day. These plants like a lot of light.

Medium orchids include most commercial orchids and have an ideal temperature of 60 degrees Fahrenheit during the night and 70 degrees Fahrenheit during the day. The average home usually provides a good environment to these orchids, and they adapt to some extent.

Warm orchids need 65 degrees Fahrenheit during the night and 75 degrees during the day and do well in high humidity.


Pink, yellow, or light brown spots on the flowers can indicate mold.

Orchids are occasionally susceptible to spider mites, mealybugs, thrips, and scale depending on geographic location as well as the orchid species.

Blackened leaves indicate sun damage, and browning leaves often indicate toxic mineral levels.

Root disease can result from over-watering or old potting material. Slugs and snails can also cause certain root diseases.

pink&whiteFun Facts

-The world's largest orchid can grow up to 20 meters long.

-In ancient and medieval times, the swollen roots of native European orchids were used as aphrodisiacs

-The first man-made orchid hybrid was created in 1856

-Indiana has 42 native orchid species