The Smithsonian Orchid Collection has grown from five plants to close to 8,000 specimens since 1974. It is an invaluable resource for education, exhibition, and scientific research. The collection is maintained in the Smithsonian Gardens Greenhouse Facility by staff, interns, and volunteers. The collection is used to beautify the interiors of the Smithsonian museums as well as for special exhibitions.
Smithsonian Gardens strives to cultivate an extremely diverse array of orchids from all over the world. With close to 10,000 plants in our collection, new acquisitions are selected carefully each year based on their display quality, educational value, beauty, rarity and how they complement our present collection.
The collection is especially well represented in New World Genera such as Cattleya, Encyclia, Laelia, Brassavola, Epidendrum, Isochilus and Sobralia as well as Maxillaria, Lycaste, Oncidium, Brassia, Miltoniopsis and a wide array of Pleurothallids. Australian and Asian species of Dendrobium and Bulbophyllum / Cirrhopetalum are another area of specialty. A fine collection of specimen-size Phalaenopsis species and hybrids are maintained in uniquely designed baskets which allow the plants to grow in a more naturalistic fashion. Other Sarcanthine orchids include a large and varied group of Vanda and Ascocenda hybrids and a significant selection of African Angraecoids, many of which are quite rare in cultivation.
Arguably, the best plants are the collection of Paphiopedilum species and selected hybrids. Many fine examples of Slipper orchid species have been grown into large specimens since the plants are not divided unless it becomes necessary. Therefore, there are many large specimens of a wide range of genera that are spectacular when they are in bloom.
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2013 Orchid Exhibition
Do you want to stroll through a tropical rain forest on a cold winter's day? Visit this year’s orchid exhibition to explore the rich crossroads where orchid botany, horticulture, and Latin American cultures meet. Learn about the importance of orchids in Latin American folklore and cultural traditions, see how that region is a hotbed for scientific research on orchid biology and evolution, and discover conservation efforts to preserve orchids and their habitats for future generations. And, of course, enjoy the beautiful orchids from the Smithsonian Gardens Orchid Collection.
This event received Federal support from the Latino Initiatives Pool, administered by the Smithsonian Latino Center.
Orchids Around Us
Use the lessons in this package to learn about specific types of orchids, their appearance, habitats, uses, and cultural significance and history.