Document Type

Gardening - Interior

Publication Date



Orchids are becoming increasingly popular as flowering houseplants due to improved cultivars and affordability. Once considered a rich person’s hobby, orchids are now more affordable, thanks to recent advances in propagation techniques. Since the first attempt to grow orchids in the mid-1700s, they have had a reputation for being difficult to grow; however, many orchids are as easy to grow as houseplants. Orchids are quite resilient, and can survive many years in the home with proper care.

Orchids are in the family Orchidaceae (or-kid-ACE-eeee). The orchid family includes more than 900 genera and about 25,000 species, making it one of the largest families of flowering plants in the world. Orchids can be found in nearly every environment in the world. Most of the orchids grown in the home are native to the tropical and subtropical areas of South America. They are usually epiphytic, meaning they grow on the sides of trees, or lithophytic, meaning they grow on rocks. Orchids originating from temperate regions of the world are generally terrestrial, meaning they grow in the soil.

Orchids are valued mostly for their exquisite flowers, which are available in a vast array of colors from tints of blue, yellow, white, orange and red to almost black. Some blooms are striped or spotted with intricate combinations of color. The blooms can last from one week to four months, depending on the species. Given the proper growing conditions, some orchids may bloom continuously throughout the year, while others may bloom only once per year.

The foliage is usually a medium-green, but some orchids have beautiful leaves with intricate mottling and variegation. Many orchids are fragrant. While some may smell like rotted meat, others have more pleasant fragrances like lemon, orange, chocolate, hyacinth, cinnamon, wintergreen, watermelon and coconut.

Publication Number

PB1634-1M-3/00 E12-2015-00-083-00

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