Types Of Orchids

On this page we will try to help you identify the most common genera of orchids that are marketed for your enjoyment at home. Identification, sometimes, is not easy due to the large number of existing hybrids. 
Determine the species in particular will allow you to know what are the characteristics of your plant and how to take care of it. Keep in mind that the care of each gender (humidity, temperature, etc.) can vary significantly so once identified we recommend you visit the corresponding page of each orchid genre 

In any page of pseudo-information in which we look for types of orchids, they directly tell us about the different species of orchids that are commercialized, without going into more detail.
This information is very basic and also incomplete.
The ideal is to know a little more about their growth habits and their place of origin, to then establish a classification according to the species to which they belong.


  • Types of orchids
    • 1.1 Epiphytic orchids
    • 1.2 Earth orchids
    • 1.3 Semi-terrestrial orchids, lithophytes
  • 2 Varieties Of Orchids
    • 2.1 Aerangis
    • 2.2 Brassia
    • 2.3 Calanthe
    • 2.4 Cambria
    • 2.5 Cattleya
    • 2.6 Coelogyne
    • 2.7 Cymbidium
    • 2.8 Dendrobium
    • 2.9 Dracula
    • 2.10 Epidendrum
    • 2.12 Lycaste
    • 2.13 Masdevallia
    • 2.14 Miltonia
    • 2.15 Odontoglossum
    • 2.16 Oncidium
    • 2.17 Paphiopedilum
    • 2.18 Phalaenopsis
    • 2.19 Vanda
    • 2.20 Zygopetalum

Types of Orchids

According to their growth habits, we can distinguish three different types of orchids:

Epiphytic orchids

There are amateur gardeners who mistakenly think that epiphytic orchids are parasitic plants, growing on patterns.
It is not like this. The epiphytic orchids obtain the nutrients they need for their growth from the humidity and humus deposited on the branches they inhabit.
They grow near the treetops, to provide the light they need in places where there is hardly any light at ground level.

Terrestrial orchids

Among tropical orchids there are some terrestrial species, such as Paphiopedilum, Cymbidium or Calanthe. 
Terrestrial orchids grow like other plants, with their roots inside the earth and getting their nutrients from the soil.

Semi-terrestrial orchids, lithophytes

The semi-terrestrial orchids are a small group. They grow rooted on stones covered with moss , or on decaying leaves on the ground. The most well-known species is Laelia.

Types Of Orchids: Variations In Species

In the world there are some 30,000 recognized species of the genus Orchidaceae, which is the scientific name of orchids.
To those 30,000 known species, which increases from time to time thanks to new sightings, we must add some 150,000 crosses of orchids, called hybrids, produced by professional gardeners.
The most commercial orchid genres (and others not so well known, but equally beautiful), that we can find for sale are:


  • Scientific name: Aerangis Orchid
  • Common name: Hummingbird orchids
  • Origin:  Tropical Africa and Madagascar
  • Orchid type : Epiphyte
  • Flowering:  End of spring. It lasts about 4 weeks
  • Location:  Little light
  • Watering:  Regular. Frequent with high temperatures
  • Humidity:  High 60% -70%
  • Level of difficulty:  Medium-high

The species Aerangis is native to tropical Africa and Madagascar, where it grows as an epiphyte on the forks of the branches and the tops of trees.
These are small orchids, with hanging panicles loaded with flowers usually white, very perfumed and usually not exceeding 4 centimeters.


The Brassia are characterized by the special shape of their flowers by which they are popularly known as the “spider orchids”, since their shape is reminiscent of these animals. 
The plant has, like other genera of orchids (for example oncidiums), a base of pseudobulbs from which emerge the leaves and floral rods.


  • Scientific name: Orquídea Calanthe
  • Common name:  Calanthe
  • Origin:  Asia
  • Type of orchid : Terrestrial
  • Flowering:  Spring. It lasts about 6 weeks
  • Location:  indirect light
  • Watering:  Regular. 2 times a week during the growing season
  • Humidity:  High 60% -70%
  • Level of difficulty:  Medium-high

This precious species of orchids, come from South Africa, China, Japan, Australia, Tahiti and Central America. Unlike most tropical orchids, Calanthe grows in a terrestrial manner.
They generate a good amount of flowers, magenta, white, yellow or pink. Some varieties attract a lot of attention, because at certain times of the year (some varieties) they are left without leaves, but nevertheless they generate splendid flowers. 
The first hybrid of orchids was cultivated in 1854 and was the result of the crossing of two species of Calanthe.


  • Scientific name: Cambria Orchid
  • Common name:  Cambria
  • Origin:  Crossing of different orchids, does not exist in nature
  • Orchid type : Epiphyte
  • Flowering:  Spring or early autumn, according to environmental conditions
  • Location:  Good lighting, without direct sun
  • Watering:  Regular. Weekly in summer
  • Humidity:  High 60% -70%
  • Level of difficulty:  Low
  • Card: Orchid Cambria

The most curious thing about this genre called Cambria is that they do not exist naturally at any point on our planet.

In fact it is a plant artificially created from hybrids mainly Odontoglossum but also Miltonia, Oncidium and other less known.

The result of all this are plants with flowers of an extraordinary variety and beauty and that possess the characteristics of the mother plants that were crossed.

The genus Cambria is the result of a large number of orchid crosses, so we are not talking about a variety that we will find in nature.
Its origin begins in 1911, when a new variety is generated, fruit of the crossing of: Odontoglossum crispum, Miltonia and Cochioda noetzliana. But this is not the Cambria we know, if not a variety called Vuylstekeara. 
It is the crossing of the Vuylstekeara with the Odontoglossum Clonius variety, which really gave rise to the Cambria.
They grow from pseudobulbs, from which their leaves and flowers are born.


  • Scientific name: Cattleya Orchid
  • Common name:  Cattleya
  • Origin:  Costa Rica and Argentina
  • Orchid type : Epiphytic or lithophyte
  • Flowering:  Spring. Its flowers last between 1 and 3 weeks
  • Location:  Lots of light, even direct sun, but not the half-day
  • Irrigation:  By observation, when the substrate is dry. In winter you have to space the irrigations a lot
  • Humidity:  High 40% -70%
  • Level of difficulty:  Low
  • File: Cattleya Orchid

The Cattleya receives its name from William Cattley, the first European who managed to successfully cultivate an orchid of this species.
They are native to the Caribbean, Central America and South America.
This species is characterized by having very large flowers, intense and colorful colors. Some flowers can measure about 30 centimeters in diameter.

Cattleya and its different families are, without a doubt, the most popular group of orchids among fans from all over the world.

Curiously, it was a specimen of Cattleya (specifically of the species later called “labiata”), the first orchid to arrive in Europe in an unusual way.

Normally, this orchid generates very few flowers on each stem but they are large.


  • Scientific name: Orchid Coelogyne
  • Common name:  Coelogyne
  • Origin:  South Asia and Western Pacific
  • Orchid type : Epiphytic or lithophyte
  • Flowering:  March to October
  • Location:  A lot of lighting, without direct sun
  • Watering:  Every three or four days in summer, once a week in winter
  • Humidity:  High 60% to 80%
  • Level of difficulty:  Medium

It is an orchid with origins in Sri Lanka, Southeast Asia, New Guinea and the Pacific Islands.
The group gathers a good number of species, with different habits of growth and form in its flower, some even with hanging panicles.
Perhaps the best known is the Coelogyne cristata, which offers a large number of bright white flowers and a yellow reproductive organ.


  • Scientific name: Cymbidium Orchid
  • Common name:  Cymbidum
  • Origin:  Africa, tropical Asia and Australia
  • Type of orchid : epiphytic or terrestrial
  • Flowering:  Autumn-winter. The flowers last several weeks
  • Location:  Lots of lighting, without direct sun. It can be even outside
  • Irrigation:  Frequently, the substrate should not be allowed to dry
  • Humidity:  Average 40% -50%
  • Level of difficulty:  Low
  • File: Cymbidium Orchid

This variety is well known and appreciated in florists, for its flowers, which are very durable and look like wax.
The variety comes from Asia tropical and Australia.
The plants are easily recognizable, due to their elongated and thin leaves, as well as their rounded and strong bulbs.
Around 40 species are known. The best known are: Cymbidium insigne, Cymbidium eburneum and the Cymbidium devonianun.

Cymbidiums comprise a broad family of orchids that are highly prized for their shape, color, duration and, in some cases, fragrance.

It is an evergreen and epiphytic plant, although in its natural habitat it can also be terrestrial.


  • Scientific name: Dendrobium Orchid
  • Common name:  Dendrobium
  • Origin:  Southeast Asia, Australia and Tasmania
  • Orchid type : Epiphyte
  • Flowering:  Spring. Some specimens have flowers that last up to six months
  • Location:  A lot of lighting, without direct sun
  • Irrigation:  There are two types of Dendrobium, with different irrigation needs. To know how to water each one, visit his file.
  • Humidity:  Average 50% -60%
  • Level of difficulty:  Low, although it is very important to respect the periods of rest, so that they return to bloom
  • Card: Dendrobium orchid

The Dendrobium refers to an epiphytic variety, which lives almost exclusively in trees. 
It is one of the varieties with a huge amount of specimens, more than 1,500 different.
Its origin is in Sri Lanka, India, South of China, South of Japan, some islands of the Pacific and in the east of Australia and Tasmania, therefore, it likes temperate and fresh environments. 
Despite the great variety of growth habits, with species that provide hanging or upright flowers, what they all have in common is the so-called “chin”, a characteristic characteristic of these flowers, similar to a spur.

Perhaps the best known is the “Dendrobium Nobile” that produces beautiful white flowers distributed along the stem.

The leaves are narrower and longer than in the Phaleanopsis, ending in a point and distributed along the central stem.

We highlight 2 large groups.

The first of them is characterized by the flowers are distributed along the stem.

The second produces in the upper part of the stem a small floral rod from which different flowers are born.

The colors are varied with predominance of white, pink, violet and yellow.


  • Scientific name: Dracula orchid
  • Common name:  Dragon Orchid
  • Origin:  Mexico, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela (South of Mexico, to Peru)
  • Type of orchid : Epiphyte and terrestrial
  • Flowering:  Summer
  • Location:  Low lighting, no direct sun
  • Irrigation:  Daily, or every other day
  • Humidity:  High 70% -100%
  • Level of difficulty:  Medium
  • Card: Dracula Orchid

Although we think that Dracula orchids owe their name to the famous Count, it is not like that. It has to do with the name in Latin, which means little Dragon , a little in allusion to its original and strange flowers.
They are epiphytic orchids and some terrestrial ones, originating in Central America , being in Colombia and Ecuador the countries where more varieties of these orchids we are going to find.


Orchids of the genus epidendrum comprise a wide variety of species. They are perhaps the easiest group to care for since they can withstand different environmental conditions and are easy to reproduce by dividing the adult plants or by replicating them (keikis), that is, by plantlets that emerge from the stems of the plant. 
Its flowers are smaller and perhaps less exuberant than that of other genera, however, some of them give off a delicate perfume.


  • Scientific name: Lycaste Orchid
  • Common name:  Lycaste
  • Origin:  Cuba, Peru and Brazil
  • Type of orchid : Epiphyte and lithophilus
  • Flowering:  Spring
  • Location:  Medium lighting, without direct sun
  • Irrigation:  Depending on the vegetative period. Frequent in spring and until autumn, lower the frequency of watering in winter
  • Humidity:  Average 50% -60%
  • Level of difficulty:  Low

This orchid reproduces by pseudobulbs, from which large folded leaves emerge, as well as its flowers, also of good size in nature and much larger in gardening specimens.
We can find them in Mexico, some Caribbean islands, Peru and Brazil.
They are not easy to find varieties, they are not usually for sale.


  • Scientific name: Orchidaceae Masdevallia
  • Common name:  Orchid kite
  • Origin:  Mexico, Peru and southern Brazil
  • Orchid type : Epiphytic or lithophyte
  • Flowering:  Summer
  • Location:  Low lighting, no direct sun
  • Watering:  Once or twice a week, letting the substrate dry between waterings
  • Humidity:  High 60% -80%
  • Level of difficulty:  Low
  • Card : Orchard Masdevallia

The orchid flowers of the Masdevallia family are very exotic, the tips of their leaves lengthen like threads, almost touching the ground. 
These plants of low bearing, sometimes are not recognized like orchids, since their petals are so small that they seem to have only three leaves.
Their countries of origin are Mexico, the Caribbean islands, Peru and Brazil.
For sale we can find hybrids, which can not stand the high summer temperatures too well. There are different initiatives, trying to hybridize some copies, with the intention of improving this problem.


  • Scientific name: Miltonia Orchid
  • Common name:  Orchids Thinking
  • Origin:  Brazil and Peru
  • Orchid type : Epiphyte
  • Flowering:  Spring to summer, with flowers that last up to 8 weeks
  • Location:  intense lighting, without direct sun
  • Watering:  One or three times a week, depending on the season
  • Humidity:  High 60% -70%
  • Level of difficulty:  Low
  • Card: Miltonia orchid

They are known as orchids thought , since their flowers bear a certain resemblance to thoughts.
His name is owed to English orchid collector and aristocrat, Milton. Epiphytic species from Brazil and Peru
belong to this group . Not to be confused with the orchid group Miltoniopsis.

Miltonia orchids offer a range of attractive flowers that, unlike other genera, are relatively flat (without special protuberances) but very striking for their combinations of colors and, especially, for a soft fragrance. 
They are not the most favorable orchids for those not initiated in the care of these plants since they require tropical environment temperatures and high humidity. Even so we can have them at home with the proper precautions.


  • Scientific name: Odontoglossum Orchid
  • Common name:  Odontoglossum
  • Origin:  Central and southern America
  • Orchid type : Epiphyte
  • Flowering:  Spring
  • Location:  intense lighting, without direct sun. They can be outside
  • Irrigation:  Intense during the growing season (2 to 3 times a week), and spaced during the winter
  • Humidity:  High 60% -80%
  • Level of difficulty:  Medium
  • Card: Odontoglossum Orchid

The most spectacular of this genre of orchids, are its flowers of strong and luminous colors, with geometric drawings. 
On sale, hybrid varieties are usually found, more than the original species.
We can find them in Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Guatemala and Costa Rica.


  • Scientific name: Oncidium orchid
  • Common name:  Dancing Lady Orchid, Golden Rain Orchid
  • Origin:  Mexico, Bolivia, Paraguay, southern Brazil, up to Florida.
  • Orchid type : Epiphyte
  • Flowering:  Spring. Hybrids can flourish up to three times in a year
  • Location:  Intense lighting. It can be outdoors, in a place protected from the sun
  • Irrigation:  Intense during the growing season (2 to 3 times a week), and spacing during the latent period
  • Humidity:  Average 40% -60%
  • Level of difficulty:  Medium
  • File: Oncidium Orchid

If there is a color that defines this variety, it is the yellow color, present in most Oncidium species. Sometimes with dots or stripes in brown or magenta.
Its flowers seem to float in the air , since they appear very branched in panicles of many small flowers.
This variety can be found in freedom in Mexico, Bolivia, south of Brazil and Paraguay.

Oncidium are a very popular genus of orchids, especially the one that presents the flowers of an intense yellow color with red traces inside and on the upper petals.

It is popularly called “dancing lady” due to the movement that its small and abundant flowers can acquire when pushed by the wind.

The plant produces flowers on branches that are distributed along a floral rod that emerges from the base of a new pseudobulb.


  • Scientific name: Paphiopedilum Orchid
  • Common name:  Lady slipper orchid, orchid Venus sandal or Venus slipper orchid.
  • Origin:  tropical Asia
  • Type of orchid : Terrestrial
  • Flowering: Spring. Lasts 4 to 8 weeks
  • Location: A lot of lighting, without direct sun
  • Watering:  Regular. Minimum 1 to 2 times per week
  • Humidity:  Average 40% -50%
  • Level of difficulty:  Medium
  • Sheet: Orchid Paphiopedilum

All the orchid flowers have something special, in the genus Paphiopedilum is his lip in the shape of a slipper. 
They are mostly terrestrial, they do not have pseudobulbs or any other type of storage organ, which oblige them to go through a period of rest.
Within the genus Paphiopedilum, several subgroups are distinguished, with one or several flowers and long stem and three or more flowers and slow growth. In total, about 60 different species are known.
The geographic area of ​​origin of the Paphiopedilum, is in the south of India, the Himalayas, southwest of China, southeast of tropical Asia, New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.

The Phalaenopsis are the most common and can be found in any garden center. Its flower, in the form of a butterfly, can have different combinations of colors obtained from different crosses. 
The leaves of the plant are large, fleshy, of an intense green color. The flowers develop from what we call floral rods that are born at the base of the central stem.

The flowers of these orchids are also known as “foot of the lady” or “sandal of Venus” for its peculiar shape. Note that each floral stem only produces a single large flower that can last up to 8 or 10 weeks. 
It is a plant that despite needing the basic care of any orchid, does not present special difficulties for its maintenance at home.


  • Scientific name: Phalaenopsis orchid
  • Common name: Butterfly orchid, garlic orchid, mouth orchid
  • Origin: Southeast Asia
  • Orchid type : Epiphyte
  • Flowering: Spring. Lasts 4 to 8 weeks
  • Location: A lot of lighting, without direct sun
  • Watering: By observation. They do not support wet roots
  • Humidity: High 60% -70%
  • Level of difficulty: Low
  • File: Phalaenopsis orchid

They are possibly one of the best known and commercialized varieties, in the world of orchids. You will recognize them by their flowers in the shape of a butterfly and that you will find them in all the nurseries that you visit.
The reasons are varied, but we could talk about how easy it is for them to flower again, or that it is not very complicated to reproduce them through cuttings, which even the plant itself produces.
The crosses that have been made of this variety are very numerous, although in reality this species has 50 different varieties. 
Its origin is in the south of China, the Philippine Islands, Indonesia and the northeast of Australia.


  • Scientific name: Orchid Vanda
  • Common name:  Vanda
  • Origen: Asia tropical, India, Australia
  • Orchid type : Epiphytic or lithophyte
  • Flowering:  All year round
  • Location: A lot of lighting, without direct sun
  • Irrigation:  Very frequent, up to twice a day if grown in baskets
  • Humidity:  High 70% -80%
  • Level of difficulty:  High
  • Sheet: Orchid Vanda

Normally, we find them in the garden centers in baskets hanging from those that protrude numerous roots that are exposed to the air.

In their natural habitat they usually reach large size and feed on moisture and dissolved nutrients that reach their aerial roots.

Most of them, then, are epiphytes (they live on other plants or trees that take advantage as a support) although there are also lithophytes (they live on or among rocks).

This genus is recognized by the Vanda coerulea that has some wonderful and bright blue flowers, however, the coloration goes from yellow, through red and orange. The size of its flowers is spectacular.
A characteristic characteristic of this genus is its monopodial growth.
They are epiphytes and usually live suspended in the air, hanging from tree branches. And so, it’s how you usually market. To have them at home, we must pulverize their roots with water, so that they absorb the nutrients.
They are species that we can find in Sri Lanka, New Guinea, India and Australia.
These are just some of the best-known varieties of orchids. The genre, as you can read in this blog, has more than 30,000 known species of wild orchids, to which we must add the thousands of hybrids and species generated from different crosses.


What stands out of these orchids is the soft perfume that their flowers give off. Most of them combine the violet, purple, pink and white colors mainly. These flowers have a long life, lasting up to 8 weeks in the plant, which also make it an excellent cut flower for bouquets or other uses.

Don Burke

I am Don Burke, one of the authors at My Garden Guide.  I am a horticulturist that cultivates, grows, and cares for plants, ranging from shrubs and fruits to flowers. I do it in my own garden and in my nursery. I show you how to take care of your garden and how to perform garden landscaping in an easy way, step by step.I am originally from Sydney and I wrote in local magazines. Later on, I have decided, more than two decades ago, to create my own blog. My area of specialization is related to orchid care, succulent care, and the study of the substrate and the soil. Therefore, you will see many articles dedicated to these disciplines. I also provide advice about how to improve the landscape design of your garden.

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