Orchids are very familiar houseplants. They can be hanged in baskets or they could be potted as houseplants.
Orchids are native to forests and generally the wild. Because of this, they are known survivors. However, because they have been cultivated through the years and were crossbred with other types, they have grown sporadically diverse in terms of characteristics (size, color, visual display).
Nonetheless, they remain to be popular houseplants because of their eccentric hues, freckled petals, huge color selection and also because they are relatively easy to grow. In this post, we will give a rundown of the most popular types of orchids for orchid enthusiasts.
Facts about Orchids
In themselves, orchids already provide a phantasm of colors and various visual displays. But before we get to know the different types of orchids, here are some facts about these flowers that you should not miss.
- It has the largest number of recognized species and hybrids. In total, they are close to 25,000.
- They are survivors and could last to up to 100 years.
- They are the largest yet most diverse plant group in terms of colors, appearance, growing habit and size.
- They can root and can turn into gigantic clusters weighing to up to 1ton.
- All orchid flowers are bicolored and are considered as bilaterally symmetric. This means that they can be divided for cultivation.
- They lure almost all types of insects including wasps and spiders. As a matter of fact, their flower’s appearance seems to attract specific types of pollinators.
- Depending on species, the bloom time of orchids could last for a few hours to six months.
- Although considered as tropical flowers, orchids can actually bloom in all continents (except Antarctica) and in a wide range of growing conditions.
- Orchids have the tiniest known seeds in the world.
- They are prolific seed producers with almost 3million seeds in each orchid seed pod.
- Vanilla beans are actually extracted from orchids.
- An orchid pollen was found in a fossilized bee dated to 15 million years ago.
31+ Types of Orchids To Grow As Houseplants
As have been mentioned, there are 25,000 recognized orchid species to date. It will be a giant’s task to mention them all so here, we will cluster our favorite orchids in terms of their types.
These types of orchids were chosen in terms of their popularity, unique appearance, growing habits and in terms of their native locations.
1. Angraecum Orchids
This genus has more than 200 species and is native to Africa particularly in Madagascar. They are known for their leafed stem, alternating leaves and medium-sized, white flowers.
Some species of this orchid could be low-growing while others could grow tall at up to 6ft. Other more sought-after species of this orchid are loved because of the strong musky scent that they emit at night. This one enjoys partial shade.
2. Brassavola Orchids
These orchids are attention catchers thanks to their white/green, narrow, slightly pointy flowers. These ones are notable for their musky fragrance especially in the night when their fragrance is at its peak (because it is only released in the dark).
There are at least 20 species clustered in this genus. The most popular and easiest to grow species is the Nodosa.
It loves the outdoor shade but since it is more common as a houseplant, you should know that it loves bright, indirect light. It is native to south and central America.
3. Brassia Orchids
It is also called the spider orchid because it has long sepals that look like spider legs. It is also known as a prolific bloomer with 8-12 flowers resting on each stem.
The appearance of its flower is the most riveting characteristic of this flower though. It has yellow/white upper petals, bicolored stems of old rose and cream and maroon markings all throughout.
They enjoy full sun and high humidity locations. They are native to south and central America and there are at least 40 species of Brassia orchids.
4. Catasetum Orchids
This orchid group is known for its vibrant and waxy flowers. Before entering dormancy during winter, its foliage will naturally become yellow and will drop off eventually.
They are also very distinct because it is one of the rare orchid species that will produce male and female plants.
Only the male plants will automatically eject pollen to nearby pollinators, most commonly bees. They will enjoy partial shade but are normally grown as houseplants. They are native to south and central America.
5. Cattleya Orchids
It is one of the most cultivated orchids used as a base plant for orchid hybrids. As such, it offers a wide range of color selection. They are most known for their bicolor features and freckled petals.
The most common is the purple and white color with brown freckles. And while they are common houseplants, Cattleyas are also the most widely sold orchids for corsage because of their subtle fragrance and beautiful appearance. This orchid is native to central and south America.
6. Cycnoches Orchids
It is considered as the distant cousin of cattleyas which also goes by the name swan orchids. They got the name from the male plants whose necks look like swan necks. Each stem produces solitary flowers.
The most common color of swan orchids is scarlet with yellow center. There are more than 40 species under this family. They are native to Mexico and central/south America. They are commonly cultivated as houseplants known for their spicy smell.
A special requirement is needed for this orchid to grow well: they need one whole drying period after blooming time to ensure that more blooms will take place after.
7. Cymbidium Orchids (Boat Orchids)
They may have relatively smaller flowers compared to most orchid varieties, they won’t disappoint. They bloom profusely and in masses, hence, providing an eye-catching display.
It is also the genus with the most number of award-winning cultivars. This includes the lime-green colored Chica, the pink Frae and the bicolored yellow and red Showoff.
It is commonly hanged in baskets to be displayed as houseplants. Potted boat orchids could grow to up to 4ft. They are native to south and central America.
8. Dendrobium Orchids
It is one of the largest genus in the orchid family with more than 1000 species in its fold. Regardless, they are also one of the easiest orchids to distinguish because of their signature appearance.
They bear waxy and top-heavy blossoms in hues of yellow, white, lavender and deep purple. When potted, they can grow to up to 4ft. Its basic care requirement is diffused bright light. It is native to southeast Asia and countries in the Pacific.
9. Encyclia Orchids
These orchids also go by the name cockleshell orchids and they are commonly growing in the wild. Because of this natural habitat, they are planted in orchid mounts either in pots or hanging baskets.
This is to ensure that their wild habitat is simulated as they are naturalized as houseplants. It is also fondly called as octopus orchids by homeowners because of the unique dangling habit of its petals and flowers.
Although not fragrant, it is still a popular houseplant choice because it will bloom flowers for a significant number of years. They are native to south and central America. They will thrive best in bright diffused light or in partial shade.
10. Epidendrum Orchids
Like the Dendrobium, this orchid genus also have more than 1000 pure species and almost 300 hybrids. They are not just petite in size but their flowers are also tiny and a bit pointy.
These orchids require bright light when grown outdoors. If grown indoors, they might need supplemental artificial light to achieve their brightness requirement. Depending on species, Epidendrum orchids could grow to up to 6ft. They are native to north and south America.
11. Reed Stem Epidendrum
They are notable for their bright orange flowers with rounded shape. It blooms throughout summer. Its yellow speckles form a tube-like appearance where hummingbirds directly feed from.
It is a low-growing orchid that is easy to grow and used as informal ground cover in tropical climates. It is also considered as one of the most adaptive orchids because it can thrive in various soil mixes. It is also called the crucifix orchid or firestar orchid.
They are native to south and central America. They will thrive best in bright diffused light or in partial shade.
12. Intergeneric Orchids
The term intergeneric is given to these orchids because they are the products of orchid cross-breeding. Not much is said about these orchids aside from they are visually appealing because of their non-generic look. Most of them have even surreal flowers.
They are hard tricky to grow however, because of their different orchid lineages. As a matter of fact, some intergenerics are too crossbred that they have lost their parental lineages. When this happens, they are clustered with Oncidiums. They will thrive best in bright diffused light or in partial shade.
13. Ludisia Orchids (jewel orchids)
They are called as such because they provide a beautiful display even when they are not in bloom.
They offer masses of white, small flowers with yellow centers, clustered all through the stems during fall up to winter. When the blooms fade, they still provide a good visual display as their leaves remain deep green all year long.
It is very easy to grow with its minimal care requirements. It is a very rare genus with only one orchid species in its fold. It is native to southeast Asia. They will thrive best in bright diffused light or in partial shade.
14. Lycaste Orchids
They are considered as deciduous orchids with woody stems. They are one of the kinds of orchids that shed off leaves during winter as they enter dormancy. When the leaves shed off, the spines in the bulbs will be visible.
These spines are sharp enough to get you wounded so you have to be careful of them the next season. It will grow relatively long flowers in hues of lavender, pink, white and yellow.
They are native to central and south America with at least 30 species under this genus. Their blooms will last long. They will thrive best in bright diffused light or in partial shade.
15. Masdevallia Orchids
They have one of the most visually compelling flowers because they do not resemble typical orchid flowers. Some of its species have thin, triangular flowers while some have whiskery, elongated and narrow flowers. They also have beautiful bicolors.
Some are salmon pink and orange while others are red and yellow. There are also purple and white species. They are not recommended for newbie gardeners since these orchids require particular growing conditions specifically in terms of temperature and humidity.
They are mostly grown outdoors although this genus has more than 500 species in its cluster. They are native to southern Brazil and Mexico. They will thrive best in bright diffused light or in partial shade.
16. Miltonia Orchids
It is also called the pansy orchid known for their vibrant colors. They resemble pansy flowers and they are considered as winter annuals. But unlike pansies, these orchids will continue blooming during spring and summer.
It has at least 12 species in it and some naturalized hybrids. It is native to Brazil and it is typically grown as a houseplant. They will thrive best in bright diffused light or in partial shade.
17. Maxillaria Orchids
Although this genus has more than 300 species in its fold, it is not that popular for orchid growers. They have bulky pseudobulbs where its small stems sprout out. It also has an interestingly looking, low-growing flowers of yellow/green base and maroon/brown freckles all over.
Other species also come in red, yellow and purple freckled flowers. These orchids are native to Latin America and Florida. Its most popular species is the coconut pie orchid. They are notable for their strong vanilla/coconut scent. They will thrive best in bright diffused light or in partial shade.
These orchids tend to live extreme as they could be grown in almost all types of climates. While their native zone is Latin America, they can also be cultivated in cooler regions and can be found in humid forests.
They were once grouped with Miltonias, hence, the name, but are now associated with Odontoglossums. Although it only has 6 species, it takes pride in having over 2000 hybrids. They have the signature large, white petals with yellow center. They will thrive best in bright diffused light or in partial shade.
19. Oncidium Orchids
It is often confused with the dancing lady plant because they look almost the same. It is easy to grow and easy to care for. It can tolerate a wide range of growing conditions.
Nonetheless, they can be very specific to moisture levels and humidity. If the right amounts/levels are not met, they will experience leaf deformities. The famous Sharry Baby known for its cocoa fragrance is under the fold of Oncidium.
It has more than 300 epiphytic species which means that they grow mounted on other plants. Depending on the species, this plant could grow to up to 10ft. They will thrive best in bright diffused light or in partial shade.
20. Odontoglossum Orchids
They are considered as winter orchids because they thrive in cooler temperatures. They are houseplant favorites because of their visually appealing flowers of white/yellow with burgundy or brown freckles.
Typically, these orchids are grown in greenhouses before they are transplanted in indoor pots. They are native to south and central America. They will thrive best in bright diffused light or in partial shade.
21. Phaius Orchids
These orchids could grow to up to 4ft tall. They have fleshy and bulky stems, strappy, large, lush green foliage and flower spikes that will produce white, yellow and purple flowers.
It is a winter orchid which also goes by the name of nun’s cap orchid because of its tube-like, downward facing flowers. There are more than 45 species belonging in this genus. It requires partial shade when grown outdoors and bright diffused indoor light when grown inside. It is native to Asia, Australia and Africa. They will thrive best in bright diffused light or in partial shade.
22. Paphiopedilum Orchids (Venus slipper)
This genus is newbie-friendly as it could grow in a wide range of growing conditions with minimum care requirements. They produce unusual fountain-like flowers with bristles, stripes and freckles etched in the petals.
Some cultivars also have speckled leaves making them all the more attractive. They come in hues of pink, white, yellow, burgundy and almost black colors. It could reach a height of 2ft and it is native to southeast Asia and New Guinea.
They need to be watered regularly and they will thrive best in bright diffused light or in partial shade.
23. Phragmipedium Orchids
These orchids love being overwatered as they thrive in moist soils and wet conditions. They are unique for their pouch-like flowers with extended mustache. It is native to southwest Mexico as well as in central and south America.
There are more than 20 recognized species of this orchid. They could grow tall at 3ft and they are most commonly planted as houseplants. Indoors, they need bright, diffused light. Outdoors, they have to be planted in a location where they could get partial shade.
24. Cypripedium Orchids
From the appearance alone, you would already see how exotic these orchids are. They will thrive best in bright diffused light or in partial shade.It earned the brand lady’s slipper because of its striking large flower pouch along with long, twisting maroon petals.
The flower pouch of these orchids are strategic in attracting pollinators in the wild. These ones are pretty hardy and can tolerate varying growing conditions.
It will require a lot of water during its flowering season. While they are common houseplants now, some species of this orchid family is strong enough to be grown outside. They are native to Asia, Europe, and central America.
These are very rare orchids native to south America with only six species on its fold. Due to its small flower size and the tricky growing requirements of these species (making them hard to cultivate), extracting vanilla beans from them and cultivating them for this purpose was generally stopped.
They will thrive best in bright diffused light or in partial shade.They are notable for their long, slender stems and equally long leaves. Depending on species, its foliage is a mix of deep and pale green hues. They produce white or yellow flowers in the summer. Its flowers are spotted with brown or burgundy freckles.
26. Phalaenopsis Orchids (Moth orchids)
Native to southeast Asia, China and Australia, moth orchids are ideal for newbie gardeners. They can tolerate a wide range of growing conditions including clumsy repotting. Except for requiring diffused lighting, these ones are essentially easy to grow.
You can expect orange-beige blooms intermittently appearing through the year. There are at least 75 species of moth orchids and most of them are considered as ideal house plants either as potted or hanging plants. They will thrive best in bright diffused light or in partial shade.
27. Psychopsis Orchids
They are also called butterfly orchids and with its beautiful flowers, they deserve more popularity than what they currently get. They are easy to grow and could tolerate a wide range of growing conditions.
They have showy yellow and burgundy flowers, burgundy freckles and speckled foliage. When grown in moderately bright lights, they would promise you flowers for many months.
They are also tolerant to many temperature conditions and only have five recognized orchid species. It is native to Trinidad and Tobago as well as in central and south America. They will thrive best in bright diffused light or in partial shade.
This orchid genus has 22 recognized species and is native to southeast Asia and southern Australia. Most of its species are epiphytic meaning that they have to be mounted on other plants or elements for them to grow.
As such, they are commonly found in rocks and wood while other species are considered as semi terrestrial. They highly resemble Vanda orchids but Sarcochilus flowers bloom in clumps.
They will thrive best in bright diffused light or in partial shade. Its flowers are mostly yellow and white with red freckles. Its leaves are leathery in texture and branches out in a clasping manner.
29. Vanda Orchids
They are one of the most recognized orchids in the orchid family. They have more than 80 species in its fold. They will thrive best in bright diffused light or in partial shade.They are known for their hardy, long-lasting flowers with wild musky scent.
As houseplants, they are commonly planted in hanging baskets. If you plan to keep them indoors in pots, they have to be mounted in a chunky medium.
They specifically require bright light and high humidity. Depending on species, they could grow to up to 3ft. They are native to southeast Asia and New Guinea.
30. Vanilla Orchids
This genus is where the famous culinary ingredient, vanilla, is extracted from. If you plan on growing one, you have to know that you need to set aside a large, vertical space where they could climb.
They will thrive best in bright diffused light or in partial shade. Vanilla orchids are the only genus that grow on vine. It will bloom fragrant, greenish white flowers that will bloom everyday for two straight months. It is native to south and central America.
31. Zygopetalum Orchids
They are known for their profuse flowering and wild musky fragrance from fall to spring. They will thrive best in bright diffused light or in partial shade. Some cultivars are also more hardy than the others, being able to bloom until winter.
They have compelling veined or spotted petals in hues of purple, maroon and chartreuse. There are only 14 species clustered in this orchid family. It can grow to up to 2ft in outdoor shade or bright light indoors. It is native to South America particularly in Brazil.
For a flower that has been existing for a long time, orchids do not disappoint when it comes to visual display, hardiness and ease of care. With its 25000 species including hybrids, to say that there is a wide range of options for this plant is an understatement.
Of course, each type of orchid has a specific set of care requirements. This is why it is important to sift through the best type of orchid that will grow well in your region, in the type of growth condition that you have right now and of course the personality of the garden that you want to achieve.
Overall, orchids are interesting flowers. If you are a patient enthusiast, orchids are a good choice. They could brighten up your garden and your home for a long period of bloom time, depending on the species.
Some species could bloom to up to six months straight. You can hang them in baskets or you can also pot them. Actually, they are also visually appealing in pots. Not all of them would require stakes so you can have a variety of orchids to choose from.