Tips for Choosing Orchid Types and Genera for Beginners
You don’t have to be an expert gardener to successfully grow orchids. Phalaenopsis, Paphiopedilum, Dendrobium, and Oncidium are easiest for the novice to grow.
All identified organisms have been designated a scientific name. This is a two-part Latinized name that helps everyone speak the same language when identifying living things. Orchids are no different. When you look at the labels on orchids the first name, the genus (plural genera), will be capitalized, and followed by second, specific name in lower case.
If the plant is a hybrid, you might see two names with an “X” between the name of each parent plant. To make things more complex, there may also be third name for the variety of orchid. Orchids are so often cross-bred to create new types, a multitude of different varieties exist within each species.
As a novice to the world of orchids, you only need to concern yourself with the name of the genus. Most plants within the same genus will require similar growing conditions, so if you want to keep things simple, don’t worry about the species or variety at this point.
Orchid Genera For the Novice
Novice orchid growers should start with members of the following genera, since these are relatively easy to grow orchids: Phalaenopsis, Paphiopedilum, Dendrobium, and Oncidium.
Phalaenopsis, or Moth Orchids, are one of the easiest orchids for beginners to grow, as well as one that is commonly found in stores. Members of this genus have multiple large, showy flowers on each spike; flowers that may remain open for six weeks or longer. Often when a spike is cut after its blooms are gone, a secondary spike will develop on the old stalk below the original flower head, thus extending the blooming season.
Paphiopedilum, the so-called Venus Slipper orchid, is easily recognizable. Most have a single flower per stalk, but there are varieties with multiple flowers. They are relatively easy to coax into bloom if you provide the plant with the right temperature range: mottled leaves need warmer conditions than do solid green leaves.
Dendrobium inflorescences are loaded with blossoms and are also long lasting. These plants can often be split when mature, since small additional offset plantlets are frequently produced. When an offset has produced several aerial roots, it can be cut from the parent plant and will frequently flower after one year of growth.
Oncidiums, commonly referred to as the “dancing girls” orchid, are also easy to grow. Since this is a large genus with different species originating in a wide variety of climates, it is helpful to know the growing requirements of the particular species you select. Still, these hardy plants generally flower well even under adverse growing conditions.