The orchid family includes 20,000 to 30,000 species and more than 70,000 hybrids or cultivars. Orchids are extremely popular as house plants, garden plants and corsage plants and can today be found all over the world. Some people believe that orchid care is very tricky to keep, but the truth is that even novice plant keepers can reach great success as long as they chose the right orchids and are prepared to do some reading.
The orchids are a large and diverse family of plants. Orchids or Orchidaceae are in the family of monocot flowering plants in the super order Liliiflorae. Orchids bloom in a range of colour and forms (view some examples in our photo gallery). They also live in a range of habitats (full sun, shade, climbing, on rocks, trees or on the ground).
Orchids typically come in two main forms; Monopodial orchids and Sympodial orchids.
Monopodial orchids have stems that grow indefinitely. In this type of orchid, leaves always grow from the end of a stem. Monopodial orchids often produce aerial roots along their stems. The flower spikes (or inflorescence) in monopodial orchids grow from the side of the stem (not from the end). Popular cultivated monopodial orchids include the Vandas and the Spider or Scorpion orchids (Aracnis and related genera)
Sympodial orchids are characterized by having a succession of shoots or bulb like stems, referred to as pseudobulbs, each arising from the base of the one before it. Each pseudobulb has limited growth. Roots tend to form at the base of pseudobulbs, or along the rhizome (occasionally however, young plants complete with roots may form high up on the parent stem). The flower spike of sympodial orchids arise from the base of the pseudobulb, the end of the pseudobulb, some point along it, or even from a rhizome. The majority of tropical orchids are sympodial. Popular cultivated sympodial orchids include the Cattleyas, Dendrobiums, Oncidiums and Spathoglottis species.
Orchids are also described according to their manner of growth; whether terrestrial, epiphytic, climbing or lithophytic.
Terrestrial orchids, as their name would suggest grow and flower on the ground. Spathoglottis orchids are terrestrial.
Epiphytic orchids are found naturally in the canopy of trees. These are the main group of tropical orchids. As they are epiphytes, they use the trees for support and exposure to sunlight, but do not directly take any nourishment from the trees on which they grow. They produce aerial roots which do not thrive in soil. Many Vandas are epiphytic.
Climbing orchids are monopodial. They often originate on the ground and climb up trees. These orchids are characterized by extensive aerial roots.
Lithophytic orchids grow on rocks. This type of orchid is rare and not commonly cultivated. Bulbophyllum membranaceum is an example of a lithophytic orchid.
Meanings of Orchids Meanings of Orchidsing and particularly elegant type of flower, making them the perfect gift for many occasions. Their graceful appearance draws immediate attention, and their reputation as an exotic and unusual flower evokes a sense of refinement and innocence. With many orchid varieties to choose from and the meanings of orchids being so special, you are sure to find one that can express the right message, whether it be Thank You, Happy Anniversary, Congrats on Your Promotion, or anything in between.
With an estimated 25,000 different types existing naturally and more being discovered each year, orchids are of the largest flowering plant families. Although they are commonly thought of as tropical flowers, orchids grow naturally in almost all climates. Despite their versatility, there is something distinctly exotic about orchids. They are intricately beautiful to the everyday flower lover and are considered to be some of the world’s most evolved flowers to flower specialists. Of the many orchid varieties, the Phalaenopsis (or Moth), Cymbidium, and Dendrobium orchids are the most popular types, and the Vanilla Orchid (and its vanilla bean) is the most highly produced variety.
Orchids can impart a wide variety of messages, but historically the meanings of orchids have included wealth, love, and beauty. To the ancient Greeks, orchids suggested virility, and after the rise in popularity of orchid collections in Victorian England, the meaning of orchids moved towards being symbolic of luxury. Orchids have also been believed to carry various healing and protective properties, allowing them to ward off disease. The Aztecs were said to drink a mixture of the vanilla orchid and chocolate to give them power and strength, and the Chinese believe orchids can help cure lung illnesses and coughs.
Today, the meanings of orchids are generally regarded as a symbolic of rare and delicate beauty. Orchids are the most popular houseplant, a top honor they share with the peace lily. Their charm and mystique delight those who receive them, for few other flowers have the ability to impress their recipient in the same way that the orchid can. Among the many different types of flowers available, the orchid holds a special place as one of the most alluring and captivating, making them a special choice for the treasured people in your life.