Welcome to the AOS Beginner�s Newsletter. We will be sending you monthly tips on how to grow orchids and help you get them to bloom again. In addition to the information presented here, we invite you to visit the AOS website at www.aos.org and check out the information found under ORCHID INFORMATION > ORCHID BASICS.
Before you can determine how to care for your orchid, you must first be able to identify what kind of orchid you have. Most people who have just a few orchids will have a "moth orchid" or Phalaenopsis (fail-eh-NOP-sis) like the plant shown at left.
Identify Your Orchid
Although Dendrobium (den-DROH-bee-um) is a very large and wide-spread genus, several types have impacted the pot plant market. These are popular because they are very floriferous and flowers can last several weeks. Commonly encountered are plants that look like that shown at right: miniature "Phalaenopsis-type" Denrdrobium hybrids.
Another popular house-plant genus is Paphiopedilum (paff-ee-oh-PED-ih-lum) or lady slipper orchid. Like Phalaenopsis, Paphiopedilum plants have long-lived flowers. They are characterized by a slipper-like pouch and look like these to the left. These Asian lady slippers are related to the native American lady slipper orchids.
Plants in the Oncidium family often have flowers that resemble dancing ladies. Many plants in this group have very complex intergeneric backgrounds and a wide range of colors and shapes, The flowers are also long lived and plants can be found in big box stores and garden centers. Some examples look like these to the right.
Although less common as pot plants, cattleyas or hybrids from the Cattleya (CAT-lee-ah) family may very well have caught your eye - or nose! Many of these plants have delightful fragrances and can be irresistible. Cattleyas come in many sizes, shapes and colors on both big and small plants but can be recognized by their generally symmetrical flowers.
In California, the genus Cymbidium (sym-BID-ee-um) is favored as a house and garden plant. Cymbidiums have large lily-like leaves that can be broad or narrow like this warmth-tolerant Cymbidium Golden Elf.
In Florida Vanda (VAN-duh) orchids and hybrids made from vandas are very popular because of their rainbow of colors and frequency of flowering. Vandas look like this Vanda (Euanthe) sanderiana shown at right.
If you have Phalaenopsis orchids, they probably are either finished blooming, or the flowers are close to fading. Where to cut a Phalaenopsis inflorescence, or flower spike, is the #1 most frequently-asked question. This video will show you how.
Did You Know?
Vanilla comes from an orchid! Vanilla planifolia is known as the "orchid of commerce". It was first used by the Aztecs to flavor chocolate. Vanilla beans are the dried seed pods of this orchid. (Reinikka, Merle, A History of the Orchid, Timber Press, Portland Oregon, 1995.)